Jersey 28 Cornish Pirates 2612/04/2015
Former Pirates Joe Buckle and Aaron Penberthy put their old club to the sword with the late points that sealed a pulsating Jersey victory.
The visitors had battled back from a seemingly hopeless position to take the lead inside the final 10 minutes at sun-baked St Peter, but Jersey regrouped and pressed upfield for the killer score. Buckle was at the back of an unstoppable rolling maul for the try that levelled the scores with two minutes to play, and Penberthy's nerveless conversion from 10 metres inside the touchline clinched the win.
Penberthy struck three first-half penalties, two of them within his own half; Pirates replied with Tom Channon's try from a rolling maul, but otherwise had little to show for the dominance that earned them 11 penalties and saw both Jersey locks, Pierce Phillips and Nick Campbell, yellow-carded for foul play amid some ill-tempered exchanges.
The visitors upped the tempo immediately from the kick-off to the second half, bursting upfield with a series of drives, and the force remained with them as prop Marlen Walker forced his way over.
The home side managed a moreorless immediate response, with Martin Garcia-Veiga and Fautua Otto combining to send Phillips away down the left, the second row man then finding scrum-half Sami Fisilai with the scoring pass for a 30-metre canter to the posts.
Garcia-Veiga's try from a rolling maul after 53 minutes put his side nine points ahead, and home supporters hoped their side could kick on and pull clear. But when Jersey decided to go for goal with a penalty just after the hour, and Penberthy's kick went wide, Pirates seized the moment. Kieran Hallett's huge drop-out to restart was allowed to find touch inside the opposite 22, and from this platform the visiting pack gained possession and prop Paul Andrew eventually scored, completing a clean-sweep of tries for the Pirates front row.
Worse was to follow for the home side: replacement Pirate Rheon James made an impact within minutes of replacing Alex Dancer, seizing a loose ball and bursting forward. His kick ahead caused panic in the Jersey defence, and Matt Evans followed up to claim the ball, evade Penberthy's clutches and score, with Hallett again on target with the conversion.
The visitors led by five points with just nine minutes to play, but Jersey held their nerve to carve out the winning score before holding onto the ball in the final 60 seconds to seal the result.
"It's disappointing, but was a game that could have gone either way," said Pirates Player-Coach Gavin Cattle, deputising for Ian Davies. "The maul was a powerful weapon for both sides, but we failed to take two clear opportunities to score, and then our kick-off receipt failed to function at the end.
"Marlen Walker was one of several youngsters who stepped up today and these players will learn from this experience."
The winning margin was identical to the Pirates' previous league visit to St Peter, when it was a last-kick penalty by Niall O'Connor that took his side to a 27-25 triumph in November 2013.
Jersey Head Coach Harvey Biljon claimed his first victory in three attempts against his former club since moving to the Island 16 months ago, and praised an "immense performance" by his injury-hit squad.
"I asked the boys to put in a bit extra, although I didn't really want them to leave it so late!" he said. "From my selfish point-of-view it was great to get the win over the Pirates, but this was also a result that should help the team achieve their end-of-season goals.
"When Paula Kaho went off late in the first half we had six back-row players unavailable, but those who were on the park showed composure and control at the end.
"The penalty count was high in the first half - I'll need to look back at the match, but I thought some of those calls were tough, and in the second half we failed to get the reward we deserved from our strength at the set-piece."
Pirates' two bonus points in defeat helped them move up a place in the Championship table to sixth, above Yorkshire Carnegie and two places above Jersey, who travel to Bristol next Friday before completing the league season at home to Moseley on Saturday April 25th.
See pictures from the game in our Gallery section.
JERSEY: Penberthy, Foster, Locke, McCrea
(Bishop 59), Otto, Robling (Bentley 72), Fisilau (Glynn 77);
Lockwood (Lancuba 78) Garcia-Veiga, Williams (Herriott 78),
Campbell, Phillips, Rae (c), Buckle, Kaho (Markham 34).
Not used: Selway
PIRATES: Evans, Pope (May 72), Hendrickson, Dancer (James 65), Holland, Hallett, Townsend; Walker (Andrew J 49), Channon (Innard 65), Andrew P, McGlone, Barry, Morgan, Atkinson, Parker (Bolwell 65). Not used: Graulich, Homer.
REFEREE: Tim Wigglesworth (RFU)
Man-of-the-match (selected by match sponsor Santander Corporate & Commercial Banking): Aaron Penberthy (Jersey)
Half Time: 9-5
Tries: Fisilau 43, Garcia-Veiga 53, Buckle 78
Conversions: Penberthy 43, 78
Penalties: Penberthy 3, 7, 30
Tries: Channon 19, Walker 41, Andrew P 67, Evans 71
Conversions: Hallett 41, 67, 71