By Phil Westren


Nottingham 7 Cornish Pirates 29

THE third-placed Cornish Pirates took to the road last Friday evening and recorded this impressive bonus point win against Nottingham.

The Pirates had emerged 41-17 winners against the ‘Archers’ at the Mennaye Field in January. 

Changes in the Pirates starting XV from the one that ran out against Cambridge last time out included wing Matt McNab moving into the centre in place of the injured Ioan Evans, and Bruce Houston and Alex Schwarz forming the half-back pairing. For wing Robin Wedlake, this game also proudly marked his 100th appearance for the Pirates. As for the forwards, Will Britton made a return in the second row, with Hugh Bokenham stepping back to his more familiar role at number eight.

After Robin Wedlake led the Cornish side out on his milestone occasion, a first score in the game came the way of the Pirates after fly-half Bruce Houston fired a penalty kick into the home team’s ‘22’. At the ensuing line-out hooker Harry Hocking’s throw found the hands of lock Steele Barker, and following a drive to the line it was Hocking who not only registered the game’s opening try. On an evening less than ideal for kickers, Houston was unable to add the extras.

Nottingham full-back Ellis Mee proved a dangerous performer, and it was he who initiated events to get the hosts on the front foot, with support from wing Harry Graham and scrum-half Michael Stronge. 

The latter was unlucky to knock the ball on before a score from Nottingham soon brought the scores level when a strong advance to the line ended with a try for Archie van der Flier. A successful conversion was then slotted by former England under 18s fly-half Matt Arden.

As the half developed, Pirates had a growing dominance at scrum time, earning a series of penalties.

Also, from another driving line-out opportunity, in the build to half-time play was taken close to the Nottingham line. Patience with a series of pick and goes was the order of the day, and eventually from another potent driving maul it was scrum-half Alex Schwarz who scored a try to which Houston on this occasion added the conversion. 

It stayed at 12-7 going into the break.

When play resumed, despite continuing scrum dominance and bright sparks of play from full-back Kyle Moyle and Schwarz, plus sound kicking out of hand by Houston, the Pirates had to wait until midway through the half before they scored again. Bokenham had shown good control at the back of the scrum, and it was Stevens who dotted the ball down for a converted score.

Nottingham strived to get back into the game, as they had all evening, but the Pirates held control and indeed continued to do so after replacements were introduced.

A fourth try for the visitors, a bonus point providing effort, soon arrived.

Replacement scrum-half Ruaridh Dawson broke superbly and, after support was given, it was forward replacement Josh King who crossed the line for his first try in Pirates’ colours. Houston added the extra two points.

As for a final score in the match, that came in the form of a penalty kicked by Pirates’ replacement fly-half Tom Pittman in the 77th minute.

CORNISH PIRATES: Kyle Moyle (Will Trewin, 71), Robin Wedlake, Matt McNab, Joe Elderkin, Arthur Relton, Bruce Houston (Tom Pittman, 67), Alex Schwarz (Ruaridh Dawson, 54); Lefty Zigiriadis (Jacob Morris, 59), Harry Hocking (Marlen Walker, 67), Fin Richardson (Jack Andrew, 67), Will Britton (Josh King, 40), Steele Barker, Alex Everett, John Stevens (Will Gibson, 71), Hugh Bokenham.

Tries: Hocking, Schwarz, Stevens, King; Convs: Houston (3); Pens: Pittman.