Photo: Alan Paver enjoyed a good trundle round the park in his 357th game for the Pirates
Cornish Pirates 38 Scarlets Premiership Select 10
Keen for a positive response following their 18-10 British & Irish Cup defeat away to Scarlets Premiership Select just six days earlier, the Cornish Pirates conjured up just that, to record this emphatic home tie victory. Importantly, the win also keeps them still top of Pool 5, albeit on points difference, reports Pirates’ Media Officer Phil Westren.
The Cornish Pirates showed a number personnel changes from the team that succumbed in Wales, including returns to action for full-back Toby May, centre Nicolas De Battista, and flanker Rupert Cooper. Player-coach Alan Paver started at loose-head prop, whilst named on the bench was former Scotland under 20s prop Jack Owlett. Dual-registered with Exeter Chiefs, he would make his debut appearance for the Pirates.
Home supporters also welcomed the opportunity to applaud Canadian international Matt Evans, who, on his second match since returning to fitness, was first out of the changing rooms, ready to make his 100th appearance for the club. Sadly, though, in a less than ideal start the Pirates, they not only lost his services because of injury but also in just the fourth minute leaked seven points, through a try scored by Scarlets centre Ioan Nicholas and a conversion kicked by fly-half Jacob Botica.
The Welsh visitors continued to menace at the Mennaye, with a Botica penalty extending their lead before a more evenly contested affair then ensued.
It was felt that first points before the break would help the Pirates cause, and they managed just that on 35 minutes, No. 8 Tom Duncan identified as a try-scorer and fly-half Laurence May adding the extras. A 7-10 scoreline left it still all to play for.
During the interval former Wales coach and ex Scarlets favourite Gareth Jenkins kindly made the 50/50 Draw, lucky winner Nick appreciating a worthy financial bonus, just before Christmas!
The Pirates started the second period full of purpose, with their clinically refined focus also given an assist when visiting skipper Shaun Evans was shown ‘yellow’. In the process, including time sat in his soggy sin bin seat, his side leaked a second try registered by Duncan, and then a converted score for centre Nicolas De Battista. A bonus-point-providing fourth try was surely now in sight, and it delivered on the hour mark by replacement Pete Laverick. Mr Paver, at the age of 40, who was making appearance ‘357’ in a Pirates shirt, was also now happy to end his cameo performance – with a bow.
The mood of this match had well and truly changed, backs and forwards making light of the difficult conditions and the Pirates displaying fire in their bellies. Replacement lock Toby Freeman was clearly relishing his gallop around the paddock, whilst Alex Day also had an extra spark in his step.
A 72nd minute converted try by Day appeared to put the result beyond doubt, with victory then sealed when his half-back partner Cargill crossed at the scoreboard corner. May’s extra two points made it 38-10, a result few would have dreamed of at half-time, but it one richly deserved. It might have been the end of a dull and damp afternoon, however under the floodlights at the Mennaye there were beaming smiles aplenty.
Cornish Pirates: 15 Toby May (Will Cargill 67), 14 Matt Evans (Pete Laverick 4), 13 Dan Koster, 12 Nicolas De Battista, 11 Kyle Moyle, 10 Laurence May, 9 Mike Pope (Alex Day 49); 1 Alan Paver (Jack Owlett 60), 2 Dan Frost (James Fish 60), 3 Christian Judge, 4 Chris Morgan (c), 5 Brett Beukeboom (Toby Freeman h/t), 6 Josh Caulfield, 7 Rupert Cooper, 8 Tom Duncan (Tom Lawday 67).
Scarlets Premiership Select: 15 Tom Prydie (Jack Maynard 61), 14 Tom Rogers (Billy McBryde 67), 13 Ioan Nicholas, 12 Tom Hughes, 11 Ryan Conbeer, 10 Jacob Botica, 9 Alex Schwarz (Gareth George 71); 1 Rhys Fawcett (Steffan Thomas 67), 2 Taylor Davies, 3 Javan Sebastian (Scott Jenkins 67), 4 Chris Long, 5 Joe Powell, 6 Lewis Ellis-Jones (Thomas Ellis 71), 7 Dan Davis (Dafydd Hughes 61), 8 Shaun Evans (c).
Yellow card: Shaun Evans.
Cornish Pirates – tries: Duncan (2), De Battista, Laverick, Day, Cargill; cons: Laurence May (4).
Scarlets Premiership Select – try: Nicholas, con: Botica; pen: Botica.
Referee: Adam Leal (RFU)
St. Austell Brewery’s ‘Cornish Pirates’ Man-of-the-Match: Dan Frost