Cornish Pirates – 04/03/2018

22Cornish Pirates

19Doncaster Knights

2:30 pm · March 4, 2018

Cornish Pirates 22-19 Doncaster Knights.

A try from flanker Tom Lawday in the last play saw Cornish Pirates snatch victory from the jaws of defeat after the Knights had lead since the game’s fifth minute.

Having built a 5-19 lead early in the second half, and defended heroically in the dying stages, it seemed as if the Knights had done enough for a fifth consecutive win. However, a late penalty against whilst in possession gave the hosts attacking field position from which they broke travelling hearts to clinch the win.

Following the adverse weather conditions that swept the country in the week there was plenty of speculation as to whether the game would go ahead at all as heavy snow had interrupted travel and training throughout the week.

Successful pitch inspections meant the game was on and the Knights departed snowy Doncaster to be met by spring like, sunny conditions on the Cornish Riviera. However, approximately ninety minutes before kick off, the heavens opened leaving Mennaye Field resembling a quagmire which had a determining effect on how the game would be played.

The fixture was the Knights first since the tragic passing of Ian Williams 12 days previous.

An emotional minute’s silence preceded kick off and the Knights energy level was tangible from the off, the game’s first scrum was reset and resulted in a brief fracas but nothing a quick word from Sara Cox couldn’t resolve.

The Knights looked bright early on and from a solid set piece employed Tom James’ box kick to good use – backed up with a fervent kick chase.

James was influential in the game’s first score as the scrum half attacked on the short side following a lineout before sending a tricky grubber into the Pirate’s 22m. Full back Kyle Moyle covered across to collect but could not stay in field. setting up an attacking Donny line out. A machine like catch and drive saw possession secured and quickly moved into the goal area for Ben Hunter to score.

Donny were dealt a double blow shortly after the score as centurions Paul Jarvis and Ben Hunter were forced off through injury meaning Charlie Foley and David Nelson entered the fray earlier than expected.

Conditions meant there were plenty of errors in both side’s play but the Knights solid set piece and smart kicking game meant they looked assured despite sustained periods of Cornish pressure.

The Pirates did get close to at the game’s quarter point but could not quite get over the line with a driving line out of their own. The Donny forwards conceded a penalty in stopping the drive which Will Cargill elected to kick at goal. The stand off was unable to convert leaving the Knights lead at five points.

The stop start nature of the fixture continued as the clock ticked towards half time with neither side really threatening the other’s try line on a day when open, flowing rugby was at a premium.

Donny had the final say of the first period and extended their lead with a try almost identical to their first.

Jack Ram seized a loose ball and drove deep into the Pirates half before drawing a penalty out of the back peddling defence. Humberstone struck it deep into the home 22m and the pack did the rest with David Nelson dropping over the line for his first Knights try.

Half time score 0-12.

A lively start to the second half saw both sides register tries shortly after the restart with the first went to the hosts in rather fortuitous circumstance.

A kicking exchange came to an end as Charlie Foley saw his clearance charged down and the bouncing ball hacked forward. Winger Alex O’Meara chased after possession with Andy Bulumakau quickly in pursuit after him but the Pirates man that got there first to dot down. Laurence May slipped as he looked to convert, 5-12.

The Knights reacted well and scored what was probably the try of the game a few minutes after.

Hooker Nelson produced a powerful surge to put the Knights on the front foot and, with a good platform, possession was sharply moved infield.

Quick thinking and quick feet from Andy Bulumakau saw the winger break through a ruck, he found Mat Clark in support who continued the attack before being cut down in the Pirates 22m. The centre found Josh Tyrell with an offload from the floor and the back-row crossed under the sticks for a try goaled by Humberstone, 5-19.

At this point the Knights looked very well place to kick on and secure not only a win but possibly even a bonus point but the Pirates had other plans and almost hit back immediately with a break down the left wing; only an error on a pass to Harry Strong prevented a try response.

An error at the following line out put the Knights under pressure and the hosts forced a penalty moments after which Laurence May struck to touch, A smart driving lineout was unable to be stopped with number eight Tom Duncan claiming the score. May added the extras to make it a seven-point game.

The score shifted momentum in the Pirates favour and they spent the majority of the rest of the game probing Donny territory. Time and time again they got in striking distance before being forced into an error by the ardent Knights defence.

With five minutes to play, a penalty in the Donny 22m was struck between the uprights by May making it 15-19 and setting up the most tense of finishes.

Donny brought on their remaining replacements adding some late energy after an exhausting defensive final quarter. A kick exchanged ended as Alex Day attempted a chip and chase which bounced to touch but after securing possession the Knights were pinged on the floor.

The Pirates looked to attack but a long pass out to Nicolas De Battista bounced to touch giving the Knights a line out on half way with only a minute left to play.

Possession was secured and well-constructed rolling-maul rumbled away as the seconds continued to tick. The call to use it came from the referee and just as Michael Heaney spun his pass in field a penalty was given against the Knights as the assistant ref spotted foul play from a Knights player in the melee of the maul.

The Pirates would not refuse this life line and, after their driving line out had been stopped flanker, Tom Lawday broke through some questionable tackling to slide over the line and win the game. May converted to make the final score 19-22 and leave the Knights feel like they’d had their pockets pinched.

A cruel blow for Donny who probably deserved the win on balance and now have a weekend off before aiming to make amends against Richmond at Castle Park on March 17th.

Match Statistics

Pirates XV; 15) Kyle Moyle, 14) Alex O’Meara, 13) Dan Koster, 12) Nicolas De Battista (c), 11) Harry Strong, 10) Will Cargill (Laurence May 40’), 9) Alex Day, 1) Marlen Walker (Billy Keast 53’), 2) Sam Matavesi, 3) Christian Judge, 4) Josh Caulfield (Chris Morgan 48’), 5) Brett Beukeboom, 6) Tom Lawday, 7) John Stevens (Dan Lee 53’), 8) Tom Duncan.

Replacements; 16) Dan Frost, 17) Alan Paver, 18) Billy Keast, 19) Chris Morgan, 20) Dan Lee, 21) Mike Pope, 22) Laurence May

Tries; O’Meara 45’, Duncan 58’, Lawday 80’

Conv; May 58’, 80’

Pens; May 75’

Knights XV: 15) Paul Jarvis (Charlie Foley 10’), 14) Curtis Wilson, 13) Lesley Klim, 12) Mat Clark, 11) Andy Bulumakau, 10) Simon Humberstone, 9) Tom James (Michael Heaney 75’), 1) Rich List (Jack Bergmanas 58’), 2) Ben Hunter (David Nelson 15’), 23) Joe Sproston (Jake Pope 75’), 4) Matt Challinor (Adam Batt 75’), 5) Tom Hicks, 6) Jack Ram (Alex Shaw 60’), 7) Michael Hills ©, 8) Josh Tyrell.

Replacements: 16) David Nelson, 17) Jack Bergmanans, 18) Jake Pope, 19) Adam Batt, 20) Alex Shaw, 21) Michael Heaney, 22) Charlie Foley.

Tries; Hunter 5’, Nelson 40’, Tyrell 52’

Conv; Humberstone 40’, 52’


Referee: Sara Cox

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