Photo: Tom Cowan-Dickie on the charge
Cornish Pirates 22 Bedford Blues 20
Although not a classic, this contest was nonetheless entertaining between these two proud teams. Importantly, for the Cornish Pirates, it also delivered a win to kick off their campaign in this season’s new Championship Cup competition, reports Phil Westren from the Mennaye Field.
The Blues were making a quick return to the Mennaye Field where three weeks previously they were narrow 30-29 winners in the Greene King IPA Championship. As per this contest, though, there were changes in personnel for both teams, fresh legs welcoming an opportunity to display their ability.
In the absence of Cornish Pirates’ skipper Brett Beukeboom, who is one of four players away on international duty, Tom Duncan led a home side that included a fit again Dan Lee. The back-rower was making his first appearance of the season, whilst also selected at full-back was Maliq Holden, keen to make a first competitive match appearance in a Pirates shirt. Player-coach Chris Morgan was named on the bench.
As just part of the Cornish Pirates commemoration to mark 100 years since the end of World War 1, a minute’s silence held just before kick-off was impeccably observed by players, officials and expectant supporters. Match then soon underway, the home team was quickly on the front foot and, following due pressure applied, fly-half Javier Rojas Alvarez slotted a penalty on offer.
Rojas Alvarez was luckless with second penalty attempt, however the Argentine international was spot on target to convert wing Harry Strong’s eleventh minute scoreboard corner try.
It was a good start for the Pirates, whereas Bedford Blues were taking a little time to find their feet. There was no shortage of endeavour, however errors hindered hopes. Their scrum looked reasonably solid and there was also an awareness that they held threats out wide in wingmen Ryan Hutler and Dean Adamson.
Approaching the half-hour mark the Blues at last built play to conjure up their first points of the afternoon, scrum-half Alex Gliksten’s try converted by his half-back partner Ed Coulson.
From the restart the Blues fell foul of the referee, enabling Rojas Alvarez to kick his second penalty but it was soon cancelled out when Coulson was similarly on target, Rojas Alvarez, however, kicked another three points just before the break, giving the Pirates a deserved 16-10 half-time lead.
On the resumption of play, despite the visitors looking most purposeful it looked as if they would go further behind when Pirates centre Callum Patterson made yardage into enemy territory. The home crowd was roaring in anticipation only for the Blues to be gifted back possession, and it leading to Adamson blasting off to score an unconverted try to the right of the Penzance posts.
Play was evenly contested for a spell before two more penalties from Rojas Alvarez settled home nerves, just a little.
With eleven minutes left there was still time for Bedford to hit back, and they did. Gifted space, young Hutler displayed his lethal finishing to score at the clubhouse corner. If the conversion was landed then it would be 22-all, but Coulson’s effort stayed to the right of the posts.
There would be no further scores, leaving the Pirates simply pleased to win this Cup match opener ahead of their second pool game to be played away to London Irish next Sunday.
And what of the pre-advertised Championship Cup tackle height trial introduced for the competition? Well, to an average eye there appeared nothing obvious to pick up – credit perhaps to the officials and players.
Cornish Pirates: 15 Maliq Holden, 14 Alex O’Meara, 13 Dan Koster, 12 Callum Patterson (Rory Parata 57), 11 Harry Strong, 10 Javier Rojas Alvarez, 9 Alex Schwarz; 1 Jack Andrew (Tyler Gendall 28), 2 Tom Cowan-Dickie, 3 Jack Owlett (Marlen Walker 28), 4 Toby Freeman, 5 Danny Cutmore, 6 James McRae, 7 Dan Lee, 8 Tom Duncan (captain, Matt Bolwell 64).
Replacements (not used): Chris Morgan, Will Cargill, Jake Ashby.
Bedford Blues: 15 Harry Davies, 14 Ryan Hutler, 13 Lewis Robling, 12 Chris Czekaj (Rich Lane 60), 11 Dean Adamson, 10 Ed Coulson, 9 Alex Gliksten (James Lennon 57); 1 Hayden King (Toby Trinder 45), 2 Tadgh McElroy (Charlie Clare 45), 3 Ben Cooper (Alex Penny 51), 4 Ed Taylor (captain), 5 Will Carrick Smith, 6 Oli Curry, 7 Jack Nay (Jarad Williams 51), 8 Huw Worthington (Justin Blanchet 49).
Scorers: Cornish Pirates – try Strong; con: Rojas Alvarez; pens: Rojas Alvarez (5). Bedford Blues – tries: Gliksten, Adamson, Hutler; cons: Coulson; pen: Coulson.
Referee: Dean Richards (RFU)
St. Austell Brewery Man-of-the-Match: Tom Cowan-Dickie