Cornish Pirates 7 London Irish 35
Despite the Cornish Pirates playing with a truly commendable spirit throughout, five tries from London Irish, all converted by Ireland international Ian Keatley, saw the visitors to victory, reports Phil Westren.
The teams had already played
each other three times this season, the Pirates in their last meeting recording
a first ever win against
London Irish, which back in mid-December had delivered a perfect
Christmas present. Following that loss, it was always likely that ‘Irish’ would
seek their revenge, with the added incentive of striving to hone towards almost
certain promotion at the business end of the season.
Pirates made three changes in their starting line-up from the one that ran out
at Bedford the previous weekend. AJ Cant slotted in on the left wing and in the
front-row Sam Matavesi was named at hooker and Jack Owlett at tight-head prop.
The visit of London Irish,
combined with that of the Falmouth Marine Band plus sunny weather, helped
create a real pre-match buzz about the ‘Mennaye’, and it one certainly enjoyed
by both sets of supporters.
After a lively start from the competing
teams, it was London Irish who opened their account in the twelfth minute with
a try scored at the old Western National corner by centre Tom Stephenson. Fly-half
Keatley followed up with the first of his five conversions slotted in the
In the period that followed the
visitors dominated possession, ending with Stephenson making it over the line
again for a second converted score.
Conditions were, of course, much
better than Irish had experienced on their last visit to Penzance, and fielding
a side littered with international performers there were threats aplenty for
the Pirates to contend with.
There was credit due the Cornish
team for efforts made in also striving to launch attacks. Centre Rory Parata
and wing Robin Wedlake were to the fore, alongside willing ball carriers in
hooker Sam Matavesi and flankers Josh Caulfield and Matt Bolwell. The Pirates
line-out also functioned well, as did their scrum which was holding up
commendably well against larger opponents. Despite these positives, however, it
was the defensive determination and line speed display of their opponents that
was mightily impressive. Indeed, here was a squad that had arrived fully focused,
their collective will to deliver at a level this particular scribe has seldom
After Pirates’ centre Javier
Rojas Alvarez was luckless with a penalty attempt on 32 minutes, just before
the break the visitors extended their lead when a run from Luke McLean was
given support by scrum-half Ben Meehan who scored a converted try to the left
of the Newlyn posts.
London Irish proceeded to notch a
bonus point just four minutes into the second half, it the turn of right-wing
Ben Loader to get his name on the scoresheet. Making a counter-attack from some
40 metres out, in what seemed just a flash he dotted the ball down at the
Penzance posts, with Keatley’s fourth conversion making it 0-28.
Showing resolve, the Pirates
maintained their effort and boosted by fresh legs gained ultimate reward. After
pressing close to the line, it appeared that London Irish were about to clear
the danger, only for Matavesi to pounce and score a try converted by Rojas
Now was a period when the Pirates
looked in control and pressing for a second score wing Cant was unlucky not to
gather and make it over on the left. It felt that their efforts were deserving of
further points, but it was not to be, Meehan’s second try of the match, again
converted, delivering for London Irish their keenly sought-after victory.
Speaking after the game, Cornish
Pirates’ co-coach Gavin Cattle had praise both for London Irish and his own
team. He commented.“We have to commend
London Irish for a complete professional performance. They made us work for everything
and controlled field position, especially with the breeze advantage in the
“Looking at how we played, there were certainly
positives to take from the match. Our discipline was improved and sticking in
the fight we reacted well from our defeat at Bedford.
“There are a few battered bodies and seeing the effort
put in every week I’m just proud of the boys. Today was a case that at times
you just have to tip your hat to a better team.”
Cornish Pirates: 15 Maliq Holden,
14 Robin Wedlake, 13 Rory Parata (Dan Koster 6), 12 Javier Rojas Alvarez, 11 AJ
Cant, 10 Will Cargill (Callum Patterson 54), 9 Alex Schwarz (Alex Day 54); 1
Marlen Walker (Jack Andrew 40), 2 Sam Matavesi (Dan Frost 70), 3 Jack Owlett, 4
Toby Freeman, 5 Brett Beukeboom (c), 6 Josh Caulfield, 7 Matt Bolwell (John
Stevens 53), 8 Tom Duncan (Dan Lee 53).
London Irish: 15 Alivereti Veitokani, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Tom Stephenson, 12 Fergus Mulchrone, 11 Luke McLean, 10 Ian Keatley (Jacob Atkins 74), 9 Ben Meehan (Scott Steele 74); 1 Gordon Reid (Lovejoy Chawatama 74), 2 Dave Porecki (Michael van Vuuren 74), 3 Ollie Hoskins, 4 Franco van der Merwe (Barney Maddison 73), 5 Josh McNally (c), 6 Albert Tuisue, 7 TJ Ioane, 8 Ofisa Treviranus (Jake Schatz 73).
Replacement (not used): Matt Williams.
Scorers: Cornish Pirates – try: Matavesi; con: Rojas Alvarez. London Irish – tries: Stephenson (2), Meehan (2), Loader; cons: Keatley
Referee: JP Doyle
St. Austell Brewery’s ‘Cornish Pirates’
Man-of-the-Match: Sam Matavesi