The Phoney War is over! The real meat of the Cornish Pirates’ season is now upon us The Play-Offs. Six games to decide who will progress to the Championship semi-finals, the top two from each of the two pools of four. First up for the Cornish Pirates a trip to the Memorial Ground at Bristol to take on the favourites for promotion to the Premiership. The weekend matches saw the Cornish Pirates final pool opponents decided and surprise, surprise it’s Dawsey’s Albion who have nicked a place at the death with a 20-13 win over Doncaster.
These matches should ensure “full house” signs up at the various grounds up and down the country, and for Pirates’ fans the thought of two westcountry derbies a tasty treat to savour.
Also this weekend the last four of the British & Irish Cup was decided with Munster and Ulster joining the Pirates and Doncaster, it really does promise to be a fascinating few weeks of rugby.
The Pirates completed their league program with a real curate’s egg performance down at the Mennaye on Saturday against London Welsh leading 24-6 at half-time, thanks to tries from Nicj Jackson(2) and “Ice” Havili, all converted by Rob Cook who also landed a penalty, the Pirates switched off in the second half as Welsh scored 22 unanswered points to nick the game 28-24. Chris Stirling conceded that the second forty was the Pirates worst half of the season, well they can’t afford any more slip ups like that second forty in the play-offs.
So Friday night in Bristol it is and I am sure that it’s going to be a cracking game to set the play-offs going. If you can’t make the game BBC Radio Cornwall will be covering the game live and of course Pirates TV will providing live coverage, book up quick to get your pass for the game.
In National League 1, The Cornish All Black’s fine run came to a halt at Esher as the league leaders won comfortably 29-3, Kieron Lewitt with the All Blacks only points. Worse news of all for the Cornish All Blacks was the news that centre Steve Perry has broken his jaw.
Redruth eased their relegation worries with a comfortable 42-10 win at home to Stourbridge, Lewis Vinnicombe scored twice and further tries came from Peter Joyce, Nathan Pedley, Matt Gidlow and youndg prospect Tom Cowan-Dickie. Adryan Winnan getting back to form after his long lay-off kicked three conversions and a couple of penalties.
I was very sorry to hear that Sam Heard is out for the rest of the season with injury following his call up to the England Counties game against Irish Clubs the other week. I wish Sam well for a good recovery.
In the regional leagues in Tribute Southwest 1 West, St. Ives lost 24-10 at Avonmouth Old Boys. Ben Taylor and Nick Hichens scoring a couple of late tries for the Hakes.
In Tribute Western Counties West, Camborne and Wadebridge Camels have pulled clear of the pack. Camborne beat Tavistock 36-0 at the Recreation Ground to maintain top spot. Joe Parma (2), Sam Bartle, Cameron Bone, Adam Notman and Sam Matavesi all crossed for the Cherry & Whites, with Dave Mankee adding three conversions. Camborne have a one point advantage over Wadebridge Camels who won a high scoring Cornish derby at home to Truro by 44-22. Camels won the try count 6-3 with Matt Ballard getting a brace.
Camborne are due to play at Wadebridge on the last day of the league season on 10th April in what could be a championship deciding battle!
It was a disappointing day for our other sides in this league, Bude lost at home to Tiverton 17-15, whilst Penryn lost at Devonport Services 25-17, Newquay Hornets lost the plot at already relegated Withycombe gifting the home side only their second league win of the season 29-19!
In the Tribute Cornwall & Devon League, Wellington march on at the top following their 104-0 win over Plymstock. The best placed Cornish side are St. Austell 4th, they won at Crediton 11-6, with James Earp scoring their try, Andy Ashwin kicking a couple of penalties.
Falmouth won a Cornish derby over Liskeard & Looe 31-10 at the Rec, whilst Hayle won at home against OPM’s 25-8. High-flyers Exeter Saracens beat Saltash 57-5, whilst Stithians were forced to concede their match against against Bideford as they couldn’t raise a side.
Cornwall completed their U.20 County Championship program against Devon on Sunday at the Memorial Ground Penryn. Trailing by 31-8 at half-time the young Cornish players made a better fist of it in the second period before eventually losing the game by 36-15. Cornwall scored tries through Adam Lewarne (Redruth) and James Hawken (Launceston). Rob Banks (Penryn) kicked a penalty. Cornwall finished third in their group, with reigning Champions Gloucestershire advancing once more as the group winners having won all three of their games.
I was very sorry to hear the sad news on Friday that Paul Bawden had passed away that morning. Paul’s contribution to both rugby union and cricket in Cornwall was immense. With the CRFU he was Chairman of selectors as well as being heavily involved with the Colts for whom he was made a Life Member. As well as a reporter for the Packet, Paul reported for the Western Morning News, and Sunday Independent. I spent many a happy time sitting next to him at Redruth on the press benches and learnt much from him.
With Trelawny’s Army Paul was our Chairman from 1993 – 2004 and it was thanks to him that we were “accepted” by the CRFU, Paul always championed the needs of the spectators and supporters at County matches, the Falmouth Marine Band springs to mind, we all owed him a deep debt of gratitude for all he did for our cause.
Our deepest sympathies go out to Paul’s family and friends at this sad time.