By Cornish Pirates’ Media Officer Phil Westren
Jersey 28 – Cornish Pirates 26
The Cornish Pirates outscored their opponents by four tries to three but ultimately lost this closely-fought contest when a former ‘Pirate’, Aaron Penberthy, held his nerve to land a match-winning conversion.
The young Cornishman’s popularity on the island of Jersey is naturally on a high, for he had slotted a late drop goal to down Worcester Warriors in their last home game. However, for the Pirates there was at least some consolation, as they ended this match with two bonus points, which were fully deserved
There was a setback for the Pirates when prop Alan Paver had to withdraw from the team pre-match because of illness, which necessitated a late re-juggle of personnel. Paul Andrew moved across to the tight-head berth, Kiwi Marlen Walker was called off the bench to make his first league start at loose-head, and Jack Andrew filled the vacant seat on the bench.
Following some morning rain, conditions were fine and sunny at Rue des Landes, St. Peter, when visiting fly-half Kieran Hallett kicked the game off.
Man-of-the-match Penberthy first displayed his credentials in just the third minute with a penalty strike kicked from just inside his own half, and with the islanders starting well it was not long before a second successful penalty put them 6-0 up.
Wearing their usual golden yellow away strip, the Pirates looked to respond by piling pressure upon their opponents. A succession of penalty awards came their way, and although initially unable to score it was surely just a matter of time. Their chances were suddenly enhanced when home lock Pierce Phillips was shown a yellow card by Premiership referee Mr. Tim Wigglesworth, and having had several opportunities to practice their catch-and-drive routine, maul momentum towards the Jersey line ended with hooker Tom Channon applying the pressure for an unconverted try.
The Pirates were keen to apply pressure to create further scoring opportunities, but for them there was no further benefit, despite Jersey losing a second man to the sin bin when lock Nick Campbell was directed on a similar path taken earlier by his second-row partner. Indeed, the only other points of the half came on the half-hour mark when a third penalty from Penberthy made it 9-5.
Looking for a good start to the second period, for the Pirates it couldn’t get much better, as a try scored by Walker and converted by Hallett put them ahead for the first time in the match.
Sudden joy for the visiting team and their supporters was understandable, but it did not last long, unfortunately, because the hosts regained the lead just two minutes later with a converted try scored by Tongan international scrum-half Samisoni Fisilau.
The Jersey ‘Reds’ enjoyed playing a good spell of rugby and, after they went 21-12 up thanks to a try scored by another international performer in the shape of Argentine hooker Martin Garcia-Veiga, it gave the Pirates a challenge to get back into the match.
A penalty miss by Penberthy gave hope that the Pirates could make a resurgence, and they admirably did when a converted try by prop Paul Andrew brought them within just two points of their hosts.
With 67 minutes on the clock the outcome of this contest was very much in the balance, and hopes of a victory soared for the visitors when replacement centre Rheon James hacked on and full-back Matt Evans – who scored a hat-trick on the island in a 20-6 points win back in 2012 – gathered the bobbling ball and dotted it down over the line. The bonus point providing effort put the Pirates back in front and Hallett added the conversion to make it 21-26.
We know, of course, that the Pirates were unable to hold out for victory, as it was actually two former Pirates, of four who were on show, that delivered the telling blows. Flanker Joe Buckle was a late try-scorer who levelled the scores, and Penberthy kept his cool to kick the winning extras.
The Pirates, however, in securing two bonus points have commendably moved up one place in the league table to sixth. Yorkshire Carnegie drop to seventh and Jersey remain in eighth.
Speaking after the game, Coach Gavin Cattle said:
“We were in a position to win the game so to lose is naturally frustrating. Some of our execution was disappointing, and missing a couple of scoring opportunities in the first half proved costly in such a close contest.”
“There were things that we have worked on in training during recent weeks, which were in evidence and was pleasing, and we now look forward to the visit of Worcester to the Mennaye Field next Saturday. Yes, the odds are stacked against us, as they were against Bristol, but we’ll be looking to make it another special day.”
Jersey: 15 Aaron Penberthy, 14 Mark Foster, 13 Drew Locke, 12 Mark McCrea (David Bishop 59), 11 Fautua Otto, 10 Lewis Robling (Jonny Bentley 72), 9 Samisoni Fisilau (Ryan Glynn 77); 1 Sam Lockwood (Ignacio Lancuba 78), 2 Martin Garcia-Veiga, 3 Harry Williams (Danny Herriott 78), 4 Pierce Phillips, 5 Nick Campbell, 6, Alex Rae (capt), 7 Joe Buckle, 8 Paula Kaho (Dave Markham 34). Replacement (not used): Nick Selway.
Yellow cards: Phillips, Campbell.
Cornish Pirates: 15 Matt Evans, 14 Mike Pope (Laurence May 72), 13 Tom Hendrickson, 12 Alex Dancer (Rheon James 65), 11 Craig Holland, 10 Kieran Hallett, 9 Stuart Townsend; 1 Marlen Walker (Jack Andrew 49), 2 Tom Channon (Jack Innard 65), 3 Paul Andrew, 4 Laurie McGlone, 5 Darren Barry, 6 Chris Morgan, 7 Joe Atkinson, 8 Jake Parker (Matt Bolwell 65).
Replacements (not used): Will Graulich, Will Homer.
Jersey – tries: Fisilau, Garcia-Veiga, Buckle; cons: Penberthy (2); pens: Penberthy (3).
Cornish Pirates – tries: Channon, Walker, Paul Andrew, Evans; cons: Hallett (3).
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth (RFU)
About to add to the growing list of Pirates who have played for the famous Barbarians, club captain Chris Morgan and fellow forward Laurie McGlone have been honoured with selection in the ‘Baa-Baas’ squad to play Scottish team Heriot’s Rugby Club.
For Chris, it will be a second appearance for the Barbarians, as he played for them against the Combined Services back in 2004, during his time at Bristol Shoguns.
Heriot’s and the Barbarians are both celebrating their 125th Anniversaries, and competing for ‘The Investec Cup’ the match will be played next Tuesday, the 21st April, at the Scottish club’s Goldenacre ground in Edinburgh (ko 6pm).
Kiwi-born former Scotland international Sean Lineen has been named as Head Coach for the Barbarians, who will also have in his squad international players from Argentina, Canada, Fiji, Namibia, Scotland, and the USA.
The Director of Rugby at the Cornish Pirates, Ian Davies, is thrilled with the recognition being given to Chris and Laurie, commenting:
“I am so pleased that both Laurie and Chris have been selected for the Barbarians. They have been fantastic servants for the Cornish Pirates and this a wonderful recognition of the respect they have earned within our game.”