By Phil Westren


London Scottish 27 Cornish Pirates 38

YES, matches make memories, and memories will be made of this!

In the past near 20 years or so the Cornish Pirates have played many matches, with a number inevitably sticking in the memory, as will undoubtedly be the case reference this latest sublime victory.

So, for the Cornish Pirates, Saturday saw them play their final league game of the season, a ninth versus third contest in the Championship away to an invariably dangerous London Scottish side, who were expected to pose a real threat to Pirates’ ambition of securing a win that would see them finish second in the table, which would be their highest ever in the Championship.

After Cornish Pirates’ fly-half Bruce Houston kicked the game off at a gloriously sunny Richmond Athletic Ground, the visitors made an encouraging start. In accustomed determined fashion skipper Everett was immediately to the fore, and following good approach work by hooker Harry Hocking and prop Morris it was wing Arthur Relton who scored the game’s opening try. Houston was unable to add the extras.

It was not long before the already dangerous home outfit levelled matters, with wing Will Brown linking with his skipper, and try-scorer, Bailey Ransom. Fly-half Alec Lloyd-Seed also missed his first conversion attempt.

This was a game that always had a likelihood to be relatively high-scoring, with the early script going to plan as the Pirates were soon back on the scoresheet after Hocking burrowed his way to the line for another unconverted try.

London Scottish were proving sound at the lineout, with one of their several numbers who have played for Harlequins, lock Matas Jurevicius, providing clean possession. Also, when they moved the ball wide, space was worryingly acquired, and they looked very sharp.

A converted try by lock Matt Wilkinson saw the exiles side take the lead, and they were then quick to extend it when dangerman wing Brown, a top try-scorer in the Championship with Jersey Reds last season, crossed for their second converted try. Lloyd-Seed had found his kicking boots, and he shortly after landed a penalty goal to open up a 12 points gap.

Approaching half-time the Pirates needed to score next, and in the context of the game they importantly would. A kick out of hand by Houston had forced a goal-line drop out by London Scottish, which was then ran back by always impressive Pirates’ number eight Hugh Bokenham. The ball found its way through the hands of such as full-back Kyle Moyle, centre Matt McNab, scrum-half Alex Schwarz, and then Hocking who notched up his fifth league match try in as many games. Houston also kicked the extra two points for the score to read 22-17 at the break.

And what about the second half? Well, London Scottish got off to a dream start when scrum-half Dan Nutton linked on the right with prop Will Hobson who joyously made it to the line for a converted score. That, however, would prove the home team’s last points of the game as the Pirates, despite play being a little frenzied from both teams at times, steadily took control.

A Houston pass found the hands of Moyle who scored the Pirates bonus point providing and converted fourth try, and a next gem came in the form of slick and alert replacement scrum-half Ruaridh Dawson breaking down the right and feeding Bokenham who, just past the hour mark, galloped in from 20 plus metres to nudge the Pirates in front. Replacement fly-half Tom Pittman added the conversion.

The runners-up spot in the Championship was in touching distance, but as Cornish Pirates’ joint head coach Alan Paver had expressed pre-match, achieving the sought after win was “Easy to say” but “Not easy to do it”, and he was right.

However, although at 27-31 there was just the four points separating the sides, there was a feeling that London Scottish had lost a bit of cohesion when they made changes off the bench, and that the Pirates would prevail, which proved to be the case. 

Replacement prop Billy Young featured for his first league game, joining stalwart prop Marlen Walker (playing at hooker) in the last quarter, who was playing his last game for the Pirates. Then, to provide a suitably dream ending, it was ‘Magic’ Marlen who at the very end scored the game’s final converted try, following which celebrations for players, officials, and many loyal supporters present, duly began! 

It was all very special, and recalling other great occasions from the past couple of decades, for varied reasons this achievement was up there with the best. 

CORNISH. PIRATES: 15 Kyle Moyle (23 Robin Wedlake, 65) 14 Will Trewin 13 Matt McNab 12 Joe Elderkin 11 Arthur Relton 10 Bruce Houston (22 Tom Pittman, 58) 9 Alex Schwarz (21 Ruaridh Dawson, 50); 1 Jacob Morris (17 Billy Young, 64) 2 Harry Hocking (16 Marlen Walker, 64) 3 Fin Richardson (18 Matt Johnson, 50) 4 Will Britton (20 Josh King, 69) 5 Steele Barker 6 Alex Everett (captain) 7 Will Gibson (20 John Stevens, 50) 8 Hugh Bokenham.    

Tries: Relton, Hocking (2), Moyle, Bokenham, Walker; Convs: Houston (2), Pittman (2).