Cornish Pirates 24 Bedford Blues 17
This game proved to be a great advert for Championship Rugby as once again the Cornish Pirates and Bedford Blues battled it out for supremacy on the field treating th crowd to yet another competitively entertaining match.
The Blues arrived in Penzance sporting an experienced line-up that included former Northampton Saints and England (18 caps) scrum-half Lee Dickson, and ex Cardiff Blues and Wales (9 caps) full-back Chris Czekaj as well as coming off a high with a 33-7 win over their last opponents Hartpury placing them third in the table.
Nicolas Coronel got his league start for the Pirates whilst forwards Tom Lawday and Josh Caulfield made a welcome return to the team. Former England under 18’s player Dan Frost, who is on a short-term loan from Taunton due to the Pirates shortage of fit hookers stepped in with Danny Toolan again named among the replacements. Also on the bench was Canadian International Brett Beukeboom back from international duty.
The Blues put the first points on the board in the eleventh minute when good inter-play involving Dickson and former Pirates lock Will Carrick-Smith saw another try by the league’s top scorer wing Dean Adamson bringing his tally to eleven so far this season at the halfway point. Will Hooley converted to add the extra points.
The Blues continued applying the pressure with impressive running and passing with support always on hand. The Pirates stayed in the game matching the challenge and then applying the throttle to earn a well-deserved penalty. Playing the advantage fly-half Will Cargill almost dummied his way for a score, before settling to kick the three points on offer.
Supporters likely expected this particular contest to provide no shortage of thrilling rugby, and right from the restart a sample of expectation was confirmed – and how!
Taking the ball on halfway, Lawday appeared to fill his lungs with the energy required, to then blast a path that would see him score a quite superb try at the clubhouse corner. Cargill’s successful conversion from out wide wasn’t at all bad either.
Sparked into a response, further good play from Dickson and his skipper Michael Le Bourgeois led to a second try in the match for Bedford, this time one dotted down at the Newlyn gate corner by Bourgeois’ centre partner Richard Lane, who made two appearances for the Pirates back in 2014/15, when dual-registered with Bath Rugby.
Bedford’s score nudged them back in front, however it was the Pirates who would regain the lead come the break, their adjudged man-of- the-match, prop Jack Andrew, scoring a converted try to the right of the Penzance posts. 17-12.
Such a competitive game was inevitably a little feisty at times and, following a fracas early in the second half, referee Mr. Woodthorpe felt obliged to call both captains together. To take a little heat out of the moment, the tannoy system echoed the sound ‘Give Peace a Chance’.
Eleven minutes into the second period, another example of clinical finishing saw Bedford wingman Elliot Clements-Hill breeze in at the scoreboard corner, his effort drawing the scores level at 17-all.
Now was the time when both teams started to regularly introduce replacements into the action, but with there no drop off in intensity. In a match where there was no quarter given, the commitment from both sides was tremendous to witness, this yet another game too close to call. Under the glow of the floodlights, as the Pirates strived for a strong finish, replacement centre Dan Koster tore into Bedford’s ‘22’, with Coronel also going close to scoring out wide on the left.
Sound scrummaging from the Blues rescued them on a couple of occasions, however the Pirates efforts to batter Bedford into submission were eventually rewarded. They had displayed admirable patience and control, aided by replacement Beukeboom’s experience, and it was debutant Frost who scored a final converted try to celebrate his first appearance in a Pirates shirt.
The win for the Cornish side sees them move up one more place in the league table to sixth, whilst Bedford stay third.
One man delighted with the performance and the result was Cornish Pirates coach Alan Paver, who post-match commented: “Gavin and I are absolutely over the moon, as the build-up in the week was tricky and we had put the guys through the mill to prepare to our best. Credit to young Dan Frost for stepping in at hooker and it was great that we all pulled together and showed such commitment and endeavour.
“Seeing us push through at the end was just unbelievable, as Bedford are a fine side and are third in the table because they deserve it. Saying that, though, the Mennaye is our friend and we played a lot of field position in the second half and it told. Yes, there were perhaps a couple of chances we could have taken and didn’t, but the accumulative pressure was so pleasing, as was the emphasis we put on our discipline.”
Cornish Pirates: 15 Toby May, 14 Kyle Moyle, 13 Pete Laverick (22 Dan Koster,22-32, 50), 12 Nicolas De Battista (c), 11 Nicolas Coronel, 10 Will Cargill, 9 Ale Day; 1 Jack Andrew, 2 Dan Frost, 3 Christian Judge (17 Billy Keast, 54), 4 Josh Caulfield, 5 Toby Freeman (19 Brett Beukeboom, 52), 6 Rupert Cooper, 7 Alex Cheesman (8 Tom Lawday, 78), 8 Tom Lawday (18 Tom Duncan, 60). Replacements (not used): 16 Danny Toolan, 20 Mike Pope, 21 Laurence May.
Bedford Blues: 15 Chris Czekaj (22 Ollie Dodge, 50), 14 Elliot Clements-Hill, 13 Rich Lane, 12 Michael LeBourgeois (c), 11 Dean Adamson, 10 Will Hooley, 9 Lee Dickson (21 Jordan Burns, 58); 1 Sean McCarthy (17 Camilo Parilli-Ocampo, 60; 1 Sean McCarthy 78), 2 George Edgson (16 Tom Lindsay, 50), 3 Alex Penny (18 Dave Spelman, 60), 4 Ed Taylor (19 Jordan Onojaife, 50), 5 Will Carrick-Smith, 6 Alex Rae, 7 Josh Buggea (Paul Tupai – wore a blank shirt that should have been numbered 20, 73), 8 Jarad Williams.
Cornish Pirates – tries: 8 Lawday (28), 3 Andrew (39), 2 Frost (70); cons: 10 Cargill (28, 39, 70); pen: 10 Cargill (27).
Bedford Blues – 11 Adamson (11), 13 Lane (32), 14 Clements-Hill (51); con; 10 Hooley (11).
Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe (RFU) Attendance: 1,407
St. Austell’s Brewery’s ‘Cornish Pirates’ Man-of- the-Match: Jack Andrew.