Honours even at the Recreation Ground Camborne on Sunday afternoon as the Cornish Pirates drew 17-17 with Plymouth Albion in front of a large crowd despite the bitterly cold conditions. Albion have had a hard time of late but you can always guarantee that coach Graham Dawe will always have something special lined up when he crosses the Tamar to head west. The Pirates faithful will have been mightily impressed by Albion’s flanker Jannie Bornman who has signed for the Pirates next season.
Bornman gifted Rhodri McAtee the Pirates opening try as the Welsh Whippet pounced on the big South African’s error in his own 22 to gleefully score with less than two minutes on the clock, Gareth Steenson adding the extras. Ross Laidlaw cut the deficit with a penalty on 5 mins before reducing the arrears to one point with a second penalty after 24 mins. Albion maintained the pressure especially after Pirates’ Chris Cracknell was sin-binned, however the score remained 7-6 to the Pirates at half-time.
Albion were quicker out of the straps in the second half with Bornman driving over for try to give his side the lead. Laidlaw and Steenson then swapped penalties to leave Albion 14-10 up. The home side pressed for a score, which finally came as McAtee scored his second, try of the game Steenson once more adding the conversion. Albion were not yet done as Laidlaw kicked a fourth penalty to tie the scores. Steenson had the chance to win it for the Pirates but his last gasp penalty attempt sailed wide. On balance a draw was a fair result, both sides are already eying next season and the battles ahead!
Marvellous, superb or simply stunning the superlatives roll of the tongue when you examine the Cornish All Blacks’ latest relegation defying win at the Pillar Data Arena, a 41-0 thrashing of Esher to gain ample revenge for the 20-0 defeat inflicted upon them at Polson earlier in the season. Matt Jess scorched in with three tries to add to the scores from Marc Dibble, Sam Alford and Tinus Du Plessis. John Fabian added three conversions and a penalty with Mark Scrivener coming on and kicking a fourth conversion. Launceston travel to Moseley next Saturday to play their re-arranged league match, they are now only four points adrift of Sedgley Park. Anything can happen!
Saturday saw the finals of the Skinners Brewery Cornwall Knock-Out Cup and the Skinners Brewery Cornwall Clubs Cup, both finals being played at St. Austell RFC. In the Junior event Newquay Hornets hope to make it the first leg of a cup and promotion double as they defeated Saltash comfortably 33-8. Ryan Johns scored two tries and converted four of the Hornets five tries, Steve Potter, Ashley Mann and Lee Woodhatch scoring the other Hornets tries. For the Ashes Dominic Hill scored a try with Will Virgo kicking a penalty.
In the senior final, the first to see two former Junior Cup winners contesting the senior final tie, Wadebridge Camels defeated Bude 15-5. Jamie Kneale opened the scoring for the Camels before lock Richard Hawkey crashed over for the opening try, moments later it was Camels full back Dan Briskham who carved his way through the Bude cover from his own 22 to score a breathtaking try which was converted by Kneale for 15-0. In the second half Bude could only manage to pull back one try through flanker Dave Uglow, leaving Camels skipper Gary Gynn to lift the cup high for the Camels.
Space this week to look over the channel to rugby in Brittany, Vannes who as I reported had qualified for the play-offs in the Jean-Prat trophy in France for clubs in Fédérale 1 (level3) have had a tough old time in their pool. They have found the three sides from the southwest Lavaur, Lannemezan and Périgueux too hot to handle. With five games played and five losses to their name they will hope to round off with a win in their final home match of the season against Périgueux on the 20th April. Another indication of the rise of rugby in Brittany is the fact that the French Rugby Federation (FFR) will be holding it’s annual conference this July 10th – 12th in Vannes. Conference details
Finally four great matches in this weekend’s Heineken Cup quarter-finals leaving us with London Irish vs Stade toulousain at Twickenham on Saturday 26th April and Saracens vs. Munster on the Sunday at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. Could it be a Toulouse vs Munster final in Cardiff? The whole place will rock!