Pirates 13 Knights 30
The Knights made the trip to Penzance for the fourth clash with the Cornish Pirates of the season. The three previous encounters had seen both Cup-ties go the way of the Knights with the Pirates running out narrow winners in the Castle Park league clash.
Last weekend’s Castle Park victory over Yorkshire Carnegie put an end to a wretched run of league form and the Pirates last home game saw them inflict a first defeat of the season on the, then, league leaders Bristol Rugby. DoR Griff made just one change to his starting line up as mainstay centre returned to the midfield in place of the injured Andy Bulumakau.
The Knights started brightly and following a penalty on half way Ume Fosita kicked his side into good field position. Patient phase play from Donny was met by fierce home defence but indiscipline on the floor from the hosts gave the Knights a chance to open the scoring. Flockhart lined up the penalty but produced an uncharacteristic miss and the Pirates came into the game. A penalty on half way was kicked deep in to the Knights 22m by fly-half Keiron Hallett and the Pirates looked to drive through the pack. Having worked their way in field the ball was spun to the backs and, outnumbered, Bevon Armitage raced out of the line to make a tackle on Alex Dancer. Bevon looked to have made an honest attempt at a tackle but referee Dean Richards did not see it that was and yellow carded the centre for a deliberate knock on. Hallett converted the subsequent penalty to take the early lead.
A man light in the back line the Knights produced some nice eight man rugby, patiently picking and carrying through that pack slowly making inroads up field. A second penalty in kickable range fell the Knights way after an impressive first scrum but Dougie was again unable to convert.
Donny were not made to rue the missed kicks as almost immediately after the unsuccessful penalty attempt they scored the game’s opening score. A loose pass bounced kindly for Mat Clark who made a smart break before finding Alex Shaw on his inside. The number eight carried the move forward before off-loading to Tomasi Palu who raced over form close range. Flockhart then struck what would be the first of six successful kicks at goal, proving the early couple misses to be nothing more than a blip.
The Knights were playing some attractive, flowing rugby and boosted by the return of Armitage were looking dangerous; unfortunately they were then dealt a serious blow. The Pirates broke from their own 22m having stolen line out ball, Mat Clark and Paul Jarvis did well to cover back but in the following phase Bevon Armitage was pinged for putting his hands on scrum half Tom Kessell as he tried to move the ball. With the home side in an attacking position Dean Richards showed the centre a second yellow card meaning the Knights would have to play fifty minutes down to 14 men. To make matters worse Hallett converted the subsequent penalty to bring his side within a point.
The man disadvantage did not make an immediate impact on Griff’s men who finished the first half in the ascendancy. They patiently worked the ball up field with the forwards and retained possession nicely when they looked to attack out wide. The home defence was hard-hitting throughout the game but the pressure eventually told as the Pirates conceded a penalty for failure to roll away and Dougie kicked the Knights in to a 10-6 half time lead.
The home side came out firing in the second half and were almost immediately on the attack. Full back Max Bodilly broke in to the Knights 22m before the ball was quickly recycled and spun in field, fly half Hallett cut back inside and just about managed to get over the line having recovered from an initial challenge. He then converted his own effort to put the Pirates in the lead for the second time.
Trailing and with a man disadvantage the signs did not look promising for the Knights but they reacted well. Good work in defence by Clark won a penalty that Flockhart converted from just inside Pirates half. Shortly after replacement back row Joel Conlon failed to use his arms when tackling Tyler Hotson and was yellow-carded, Dougie slotted the penalty to reestablish the Knights lead.
Shortly after the Knights found themselves a man to the good. Tyson Lewis broke up field following a free kick that was taken quickly by Alex Shaw the attack was quashed but play was brought back to the Knights half. Centre Alex Dancer was called over and yellow carded for an off the ball trip on Shaw, the sin binning meant that the Pirates were temporarily down to thirteen men.
Fosita put the Knights in good field position with the penalty and another penalty from the following line out allowed the fly half to put the Knights in the corner. Solid line out ball saw the Donny pack set up a powerful driving maul which quickly made it’s way towards the Pirates’ line and hooker Ben Hunter touched down. A nice touchline conversion from Flockhart meant the Knights held a ten-point lead close to the hour mark.
A series of events that the Pirates coaching staff will be less than impressed with created the next Knights attack. Firstly, a restart that dropped short of the ten metre saw Skipper Hills elect for a scrum before some back chat from the Pirates pack saw them penalized and Fosita kicked to touch. Even the most ardent of Knights supporter would struggle to argue that there wasn’t an element of luck involved in the next Knights score. An initial break from Tyson Lewis saw the ball bounce loose, it then bobbled about before Clark hacked forward and Flockhart reacted quickest to touch down. Dougie converted his own score, 13-30.
Both sides made a flurry of substitution shortly after and the Pirates were restored to a full compliment but the Knights stood firm. Chances came for both sides but some fierce defence for the Knights ensured that they never looked like relinquishing their lead.
As the clock wound down Pirates blew caution to the and tried to force attacks which were absorbed by the Knights fourteen man defence to hold out for a second Championship win in a row. This was another solid display from the Knights who will welcome high-flying Bristol to Castle Park next weekend.
Cornish Pirates XV:
15 Max Bodilly, 14 Matt Evans, 13 Tom Hendrickson, 12 Alex Dancer (Rheon James 71’), 11 Craig Holland, 10 Kieran Hallett (Bertie Hopkin 70’), 9 Tom Kessell (Mike Pope 70’), 1 Kieran Davies (Marlen Walker 60’), 2 Tom Channon (Jack Innard 60’), 3 Alan Paver, 4 Will Graulich, 5 Darren Barry (18 Will Carrick-Smith 70’), 6. Chris Morgan (capt), 7. Joe Atkinson (Joel Conlon 45’), 8 Alex Cheesman.
Replacements: 16. Jack Innard, 17 Marlen Walker, 18 Will Carrick-Smith, 19 Joel Conlon, 20 Mike Pope, 21 Rheon James, 22 Bertie Hopkin.
Tries; Hallett; 42’
Conv; Hallett; 42’
Pens; Hallett; 11, 27’
15. Paul Jarvis, 14. Dougie Flockhart, 13. Mat Clark, 12. Bevon Armitage, 11. Tyson Lewis, 10. Ume Fosita, 9. Tomasi Palu, 1. Richard List (Tom Davies 50’), 2. Ben Hunter (Vili Veikoso 69’), 3. Colin Quigley (WillGriff John 69’), 4. Tyler Hotson (Latu Makaafi 69’), 5. Jon Phelan, 6. Matt Challinor, 7. Michael Hills (C), 8. Alex Shaw (Ollie Stedman 73’).
Replacements; 16. Tom Davies, 17. Vili Veikoso, 18. Ollie Stedman, 19. WillGriff John, 20. Latu Makaafi, 21. Piers Francis, 22. Brad Field.
Tries; Palu 22’, Hunter 57’, Flockhart 61’
Conv; Flockhart; 22’, 58’, 61’
Pens; Flockhart; 39’, 44’, 47’
Referee: Dean Richards