“Strictly” Sam Matavesi. Hooker has all the moves – Photo: Brian Tempest
Cornish Pirates 35 Coventry 10
Rightfully pleased to have won their 2018/19 Greene King IP Championship opener 31-24 at home against Doncaster Knights the previous weekend, the Cornish Pirates backed up that result with another victory at the Mennaye Field on Sunday, this time 35-10, reports Phil Westren from the Mennaye Field.
In opposition was a very strong Coventry side making a welcome return to the Championship following relegation at the end of the competition’s inaugural 2009-10 season.
The challenge posed by ‘Cov’ was clearly one the Pirates could not take lightly, noting that they had won their Championship opener 20-15 at home to Jersey Reds, and this following an impressive 55-14 pre-season win against Wasps ‘A’. Their squad was also one littered with gifted players, the range including International, Premiership and Championship performers. Former Pirates scrum-half favourite Tom Kessell featured, as did Tongan internationals David Halaifonua, Latu Makaaafi and Jack Ram, plus former ‘All Black’ Sam Tuitupou.
The Cornish Pirates starting XV showed just one change from the line-up that ran out against ‘Donny’, with Harry Strong selected on the left wing.
Making an early statement at scrum time, with four minutes on the clock fly-half Will Cargill duly posted the first points of the afternoon, which resulted from an almost inevitable penalty award to the Pirates.
The Midlanders were quick to respond, however, and following a rampaging run by flanker Ram a penalty of their own was the reward kicked by fly-half Will Maisey.
Here were two sides up for the challenge and keen for points, so an outcome of a try scored for the Pirates by No. 8 Tom Duncan and converted by Cargill was welcome.
Out of my way, Dunky on the charge – Photo: Brian Tempest
Again, the visitors strived to hit back, with Cornishman Kessell going close. The developing threat looked ‘real’, but the Pirates defended well and then managed to work their way productively up-field.
Cargill added his second successful penalty slot and then one more conversion just before the break. The extra two points proving the icing on the cake to a try scored by man-of-the-match Strong, which resulted from good approach work by Duncan and wing Robin Wedlake. It also meant that the Pirates held a more than satisfactory 20-3 points half-time lead.
To be fair to ‘Cov’, the score at the break wasn’t perhaps a true reflection of the game and they had also been disrupted by injuries, therefore another penalty kicked by Cargill on 50 minutes surely added to their woes. Perhaps, but it didn’t show, as Kessell, now playing out of position on the wing, scored a converted try at the scoreboard corner.
Emptying their bench, another score would bring Coventry back in contention, but it didn’t materialise. Indeed, it was the Pirates who for the second week running finished strongly, with the impressive Duncan bagging his second five points of the afternoon and hooker Sam Matavesi then displaying accustomed explosive power to burst over by Newlyn posts. Replacement fly-half added a conversion to the latter’s bonus-point-providing try and, but for some stoic defending near the very end, work for the afternoon was effectively done.
The crowd present had thoroughly enjoyed viewing match action in the sun, with there a definite buzz and good-feel factor about the Pirates at present – and for good reason!
Cornish Pirates: 15 Kyle Moyle, 14 Robin Wedlake, 13 Rory Parata, 12 Callum Patterson, 11 Harry Strong (Matt Evans 72), 10 Will Cargill (Harvey Skinner 67), 9 Alex Day (Alex Schwarz 70); 1 Jack Andrew, 2 Sam Matavesi (Dan Frost 70), 3 Christian Judge (Tyler Gendall 67), 4 Toby Freeman (Danny Cutmore 64), 5 Brett Beukeboom (captain), 6 Josh Caulfield, 7 Matt Bolwell (John Stevens 64), 8 Tom Duncan.
Coventry: 15 David Halaifonua (Peter White 37), Junior Bulumakau, 13 Heath Stevens, (captain), 12 Tony Fenner, 11 James Stokes (Sam Tuitupou 18), 10 Will Maisey, 9 Tom Kessell; 1 James Gibbons (Luc Jeannot 67), 2 Phil Nilsen (Scott Tolmie 48), 3 Phil Boulton (Charlie Beech 48), Tom Jubb, 5 James Voss, 6 Adam Peters, 7 Jack Ram (Ben Nutley (46), 8 Ben Adams (Latu Makaafi 53).
Cornish Pirates – tries: Duncan (2), Strong, Matavesi; cons: Cargill (2), Skinner; pens: Cargill (3).
Coventry – try: Kessell; con: Maisey; pen: Maisey.
Referee: Simon Harding (RFU)
St. Austell Brewery’s Man-of-the-Match: Harry Strong