By Mark Stevens, of the Western Morning News at Twickenham
CORNISH Pirates skipper Gavin Cattle admitted lifting the EDF Energy National Trophy crown yesterday was the “best experience of his life”.The Welshman helped play an integral part in guiding the Cornish club to a 19-16 victory over Westcountry rivals Exeter Chiefs at Twickenham.
“It’s still sinking in at the moment,” said Cattle at the final whistle. “We left it a bit late, but we showed a lot of character. It was like a furnace out there, but all the boys stepped up to the plate, especially second half, played for the full 80 and in the end we managed to turn it round.”
Having seen their league ambitions fade in the past month following defeats at London Welsh, Bedford Blues and Plymouth Albion, Cattle admitted the Pirates were determine to ensure their season did not peter into insignificance.
“We are bitterly disappointed our league campaign fell apart like it did,” added Cattle. “After the recent results, our focus was to win the Trophy and win at Twickenham, so at least we achieved something, because we do deserve it.”
A spirited second half showing from the Pirates saw them turn around a 16-6 deficit to lift the crown. Cattle explained the turnaround: “I suppose it was our spirit and character which came through in the end. It was like we realised that was our one opportunity, our one chance.
“It could have gone either way, I am not going to deny that, Exeter play a pretty tight game, but luckily enough they did tire towards the end and the gaps started appearing. As for the first half we let them run too much, but in the second we got to our game plan and thank god we came up trumps.” Urged on by thousands who had made their journey up from the Duchy, Cattle admitted the support from the stands also helped play its part in their success story.
“The support was unbelievable,” he added. “Even from waking up this morning and leaving the hotel, you feel like a pop star. The fans have been awesome all year. We get four or five thousand for home games and they are always loud, but today was a different league, it’s definitely my best life experience.”