Saturday 24th December 2016
Greene King IPA Championship Rd 12
Trailfinders Sports Club
Phil Westren's Report
Yo Ho Ho, the Cornish Pirates have arrived at Christmas in deservedly happy mode, returning to Championship action and securing a most welcome - and thoroughly deserved - win.
Searching for Christmas bounty in the capital was a Cornish Pirates side showing a number of changes to the one that last time out faced London Irishin the Cup. Eight players returned to the starting XV, namely full-back Toby May, wing Kyle Moyle, centre Nicolas De Battista, half-backs Laurence May and Stuart Townsend, lock Brett Beukeboom, and back-rowers Sam Simmonds and Tom Duncan. One influential player missing was Matt Evans who picked up a significant knee injury against ‘Irish’, the extent of damage to which is unclear at this stage.
Playing with the breeze behind them, the Trailfinders started in positive mode at their Vallis Way home. However, the Pirates were up to the task defensively and would not only settle into the game but also, in the eighth minute, open the scoring. It was initial good play from alert scrum-half Stuart Townsend that led to wing Jack Arnott setting up a try for full-back Toby May. Fly-half Laurence May, who was also involved in the build up to the score, was luckless with the conversion.
The Pirates continued to impress, backs and forwards combining to stretch their opponents and force them backwards. Townsend was the spark that seemingly energised the side, whilst another early aspect to please was at line-out time.
Ealing Trailfinders, skippered by the evergreen Mark Bright, had to wait until just past the half hour mark to acquire their first points - three off the tee following a penalty award. Another familiar face, fly-half Aaron Penberthy, was the successful kicker, and 3-5 is how it stayed to the half-time whistle.
Six minutes into the second half it was a second penalty from Penberthy that nudged the home side in front, albeit briefly, as after flanker Alex Cheesman applied pressure from Laurence May’s lofty restart, May ‘L’ duly slotted the penalty kick awarded.
It was not long before 6-8 changed to 6-15 on the scoreboard, thanks to Arnott getting his just reward with a converted try, but the Trailfinders were not beaten yet and would make a strong comeback on their 4G pitch
Two players making their debuts for the Ealing club were replacements Kieran Murphy and Barney Maddison, and it was Murphy in particular who was making an impact.
As the game entered its last quarter Penberthy was on target with his third penalty, and he then applied an excellent conversion to a try scored by wing Curtis Wilson. Set up by a counter-attacking run by full-back Luke Daniels, it was the paceman’s third try in two games against the Pirates this season.
The pendulum had all of a sudden swung the home side’s way - it now the turn of the Pirates to show their mettle. They would.
Prop Tyler Gendall has been a revelation for the Pirates, and it was quite fitting that the modest young Cornishman should be the scorer of what would prove a match-winning try. The Pirates had shown admirable patience as they manoeuvred towards the line, and it was Laurence May’s conversion that added Christmas icing to the victory cake.
There was still time for the home team to hit back, but they would make too many handling errors and the Pirates were also determined to hold firm. Perhaps the late introduction of player-coach Alan Paver had an impact to maintain a resolve, as making his first appearance of the season he took his club tally for the Pirates to an incredible 353 overall.
The Trailfinders for the present stay third in the league table, whilst the Pirates moved up from eighth to fourth. Of no surprise, coach Gavin Cattle was understandably delighted after the game, commenting:
“Having been impressive in past games but too often not taking our opportunities, we needed the win.
“We still left a number of scores out there in the first half but it was pleasing that we stuck to task and played with the required mentality to keep going.”
Gavin also said:
“Our attack showed intent, plus we kicked well and mixed our game up. The defence was also sound and the boys deserve credit for fronting up.
“It also helped that there were good performances off the bench, which enabled us to lift the energy when needed.”
15 Luke Daniels, 14 Curtis Wilson, 13 Aled Jenkins (Lewis Jones 75), 12 Joe Munro, 11 Phil Chesters, 10 Aaron Penberthy, 9 Alex Walker (Charles James-Carter 40); 1 James Gibbons (Ignacio Lancuba h/t), 2 Alun Walker (Matt Cornish 67), 3 Lewis Thiede (Samuel Rodman 51), 4 Carwyn Jones, 5 Glen Townson, 6 Willie Ryan ( Kieran Murphy 21), 7 Arthur Ellis (Barney Maddison 73), 8 Mark Bright (capt).
15 Toby May, 14 Jack Arnott, 13 Max Bodilly, 12 Nicolas De Battista, 11 Kyle Moyle, 10 Laurence May, 9 Stuart Townsend; 1 Marlen Walker, 2 Tom Channon (Jack Innard 60), 3 Tyler Gendall (Alan Paver 75), 4 Chris Morgan (capt), 5 Brett Beukeboom, 6 Sam Simmonds, 7 Alex Cheesman (Jake Parker 73), 8 Tom Duncan (Dan Lee 55).
Replacements (not used): Alex Day, Will Cargill, Bar Bartlett.
Penalties: Penberthy 3
Tries Toby May, Jack Arnott, Tyler Gendall
Conversions: Laurence May 2
Penalty: Laurence May
Referee: Michael Hudson (RFU)