Photo: Kyle Moyle dives in for a spectacular try
Cornish Pirates 36 Nottingham Rugby 28
By Phil Westren
Playing this Greene King IPA Championship Round 6 fixture conditions, the Cornish Pirates impressed mightily in acquiring a 36-0 lead with just 37 minutes on the clock. Amazingly, they did not score again, however it was ultimately enough to secure yet another bonus point win to keep them top of the league table, with considerable credit also due the visitors for their response to get back into the match.
The Pirates were rightly expecting another tough challenge against potentially very difficult opponents, remembering that they lost twice to Nottingham Rugby last season, 34-31 at home and 18-17 away.
Robin Wedlake, who at the end of Round 5 was comfortably the top try-scorer in the present Championship campaign, had picked up a slight injury, so Alex O’Meara filled the right-wing berth. The one other change in the backs from the selection that started away against Ealing Trailfinders the previous weekend saw a return on the left wing for Canadian international Matt Evans. As for the forwards, Number 8 Tom Duncan and hooker Tom Cowan-Dickie returned from injury, the latter making his first appearance of the season.
Listed among the replacements were prop Jack Owlett, recently announced as dual-registered with Exeter Chiefs, and Dan Koster who was another player making a welcome return from injury.
On a fine autumn’s afternoon, flanker Josh Caulfield led the team out for his 50th appearance for the club and the Cornish Pirates were quick to get on the scoresheet. Duncan burrowed over for a try at the Penzance posts and fellow returnee Cowan-Dickie then crossed for a second. Fly-half Will Cargill converted both.
It was a terrific start by the home side, but one that would get even better with a flash of running brilliance from a roaming O’Meara, who also showed strength to score a converted try wide on the left.
Incredibly, the prospect of a bonus point-providing fourth try was already in sight and, after Nottingham had briefly threatened, Pirates’ full-back Kyle Moyle was the man to deliver. Receiving possession near to his own line, with just 18 minutes on the clock he ran nearly the length of the field for a score that made it 26-0. Okay, the Pirates have been playing well this season, but this still seemed somewhat unreal.
A penalty kicked by Cargill extended the lead before the Pirates powerful pack, with six of their number Cornish-bred, built phases to register a fifth try, this time scored by skipper Brett Beukeboom. Cargill converted on the previously mentioned 37 minutes mark, for what did indeed prove to be the Pirates last points in the game.
Nottingham, skippered by scrum-half Murray McConnell, must have wondered what had hit them, so a fine try scored by flanker Jordan Coghlan and converted right on half-time by fly-half Shane O’Leary, at least provided some encouragement.
Into the second half and it was the ‘Green & Whites’ who scored again in the 51st minute, USA international lock Cameron Dolan celebrating a try on his debut and O’Leary converting.
Could the Pirates reassert themselves? The answer on this day would be no. Two more converted tries for the visitors scored by wing Billy Robinson and centre Will Millett not only earned Nottingham a deserved bonus point, but also led to a tense finish.
The Pirates, thankfully, held on. Yes, they had perhaps taken their foot off the pedal and perhaps also their flow had been broken by changes. However, a win was again theirs, and they still sit top of the table.
Cornish Pirates: 15 Kyle Moyle, 14 Alex O’Meara, 13 Rory Parata (Dan Koster 61), 12 Callum Patterson, 11 Matt Evans, 10 Will Cargill (Harvey Skinner 51), 9 Alex Day (Jake Ashby 63); 1 Jack Andrew (Billy Keast h/t), 2 Tom Cowan-Dickie (Sam Matavesi h/t), 3 Tyler Gendall (Jack Owlett h/t, Tyler Gendall 43, Jack Owlett 52), 4 Toby Freeman, 5 Brett Beukeboom (captain, Danny Cutmore 51), 6 Josh Caulfield, 7 John Stevens, 8 Tom Duncan.
Nottingham Rugby: 15 Sean Scanlon, 14 David Williams (Jack Spittle 56), 13 Will Millett, 12 Geared Lyons, 11 Billy Robinson, 10 Shane O’Leary, 9 Murray McConnell (captain, Darryl Veenendaal 50); 1 Aniseko Sio, 2 Jake Farnworth, 3. Mike Daniels (Oisin Heffernan 26), 4 Cameron Dolan, 5 Danny Qualter, 6 Shane Buckley, 7 Jordan Coghlan, 8. Josh Poullet (George Cox 52).
Replacements (not used): Luke Cole, Jamie Jack, Ben Davies-Moore.
Scorers: Cornish Pirates – tries: Duncan, Cowan-Dickie, O’Meara, Moyle, Beukeboom; cons: Cargill (4); pen: Cargill.
Nottingham Rugby – tries: Coghlan, Dolan, Robinson, Millett; cons: O’Leary (4).
Referee: Sara Cox (RFU)
St. Austell Brewery’s Man-of-the-Match: John Stevens