By Phil Westren


Cornish Pirates 22 Coventry 12

THE CORNISH Pirates will finish as runners-up if they can win their final game of the season after beating second-placed Coventry 22-12 at the Mennaye Field.

The Midlanders arrived in determined mode. They were not only fully keen to avenge the 21-19 defeat that the Pirates inflicted upon them at the Butts Park Arena in January, but to also win away to the Pirates for the first time since emerging 27-13 victors from a pre-season friendly played in August 1998. 

After Kyle Moyle proudly emerged first from the tunnel to celebrate reaching his 150 games milestone for the Pirates, it was he who first brought the expectant crowd to its feet, only to be halted by Coventry’s Tongan international fly-half Pat Pellegrini. Then, in the sixth minute it was the visitors who went on the attack, and this time successfully. Former England back-rower Matt Kvesic and prop Toby Trinder were well involved before the ball reached the hands of wing James Martin who dived spectacularly in the old Western National corner. Pellegrini also added the conversion from out wide.

‘Cov’ continued to apply pressure to test the Pirates defence, which held admirably sound, and from penalty awards that then came the home team’s way it was the boot of fly-half Bruce Houston who in the space of just seven minutes nudged the Pirates in front. Three successfully struck long range kicks, the second of which was from over 50 metres out, made it 9-7.

Approaching the half hour mark the Pirates had to defend a series of catch and drives at the Newlyn gate corner, but the visitors regained the lead before half-time.

Good approach work from Kvesic and flanker Obinna Nkwocha led to their second try of the match, scored again on the left. Prop Trinder was identified as the player who grounded the ball, but the conversion attempt from Pellegrini missed. In the general process, Pirates’ winger Will Trewin was yellow carded for ‘a technical offence’. 

After withstanding more Coventry pressure after the break, it was another excellent penalty kick from Houston that drew the scores level, as the Pirates also cemented a positive foothold in the game.

Into the last quarter, after Coventry’s replacement Chester Owen was directed to the sin bin, it was a try scored by young man of the match hooker Harry Hocking, his third in just four league appearances, that put the Pirates back in front. The conversion was missed, meaning there was five points in it.

The tension, quite understandably, was immense, until in the 79th minute a try scored by replacement Pirates’ prop Matt Johnson put the result beyond doubt. 

An Aurora Borealis might have lit up the sky above Penzance in the early hours, but this was suddenly now a time when the good old ‘Mennaye’ had seldom seemed brighter. 

This was also naturally an emotional afternoon, considering that certain stalwart players were playing their last game at the Mennaye Field in a Pirates shirt. 

A win in their final game away to London Scottish on Saturday week would mean a first ever second place in the Championship, which would be quite some achievement.

CORNISH PIRATES: Kyle Moyle (Robin Wedlake, 68), Will Trewin, Matt McNab, Joe Elderkin, Arthur Relton, Bruce Houston, Alex Schwarz (Ruaridh Dawson, 63); Lefty Zigiriadis (Jack Andrew, 68), Harry Hocking (Marlen Walker, 68) Fin Richardson (Matt Johnson, 55), Will Britton (Josh King, 68), Steele Barker (Will Gibson, 55), Alex Everett, John Stevens (captain), Hugh Bokenham. Replacement (not used): Harry Dugmore.

Tries: Hocking, Johnson; Convs: N/A; Pens: Houston (4).

Cornish Pirates man of the match: Harry Hocking.