Cornish Pirates 19 Jersey 15
The Mennaye Field, Penzance
by Tom Innes /*reproduced by kind permission of the Jersey
Three tries in six minutes around half-time were enough to see
Jersey's hopes of victory sink into the boggy turf of the Mennaye
The men in red dominated the early stages, taking an early lead
and guarding it tenaciously until close to half-time. After the
break, and by this stage wearing blue shirts to replace their
sodden brown garments, Jersey played with grit and determination
and earned a losing bonus point for their strong finish.
Returning to action for the first time since November, and
playing against his former club, fly-half Aaron Penberthy wasted
little time in making his presence felt. After a second minute
penalty award, one of a stream conceded by the hosts throughout the
match, Penberthy drew some gasps from the crowd when he pointed
confidently to the posts from half-way. The gasps returned when the
ball dropped just over the crossbar to put the visitors ahead.
Both sides were trying to run the ball where possible, although
handling errors were inevitable in the treacherous conditions.
Jersey were most effective at this, helped by the Cornishmen's
inability to stop incurring the wrath of the man with the whistle.
Penberthy had an easier chance to double Jersey's lead but the ball
Jersey tackled aggressively and ran strongly at their opponents,
with forwards Sam Lockwood, Latu Makaafi and Alex Rae especially
prominent and Mark McCrea in the centre also going forward with
Tactical kicking offered the chance to establish territory and
force mistakes from the opposition - as long as it was accurate.
Pirates nearly profited from two wayward Jersey kicks, one an
extraordinary cross-field aberration by Grant Pointer that was run
back with interest.
Having successfully repelled a number of Pirate raids, Jersey's
try-line was eventually crossed when a penalty was kicked to the
corner and a rolling maul rumbled over, with centre Junior
Fatiolofa adding his weight to the forward drive and claiming the
The home crowd were relieved to see their side get on the board,
especially when Kieran Hallett's conversion dropped in off a post.
And by half-time is was a nine-point lead; the home side won scrum
possession on half-way, number 8 Laurie McGlone was tackled by
Jimmy Williams, but gave allowed opposing scrum-half Tom Kessell
the space to burst clear downfield and feed supporting winger Kyle
Moyle for the try.
The pitch condition didn't seem conducive to backs scoring
tries, but Pirates had two of them, and within two minutes of the
restart debutant full-back Max Bodilly was in on the act for a
third. The local boy ran diagonally at Jersey's midfield, outpacing
Elvis Taione and then surging past other defenders to the line.
Jersey had made four replacements by the 50th minute, replacing
their half-backs and both props. Gradually the visitors established
a platform from which to score more points. One drive was ruled to
be held up and the resulting five-metre scrum ended with a Pirates
penalty, but then a driving maul got Jersey close again and Alex
Rae burst clear to score, although the cake was left uniced after a
mediocre conversion attempt by Niall O'Connor.
The odds of another try shortened when Pirates prop Shane Cahill
was sin-binned for bringing down another driving maul. Jersey's
first attempt at another catch-and-drive failed after a botched
line-out, but in the final minute O'Connor fired yet another
penalty towards the corner, and this time Jersey's pack rumbled
almost 20 metres towards the line before the maul again collapsed
and referee Macdonald signalled a penalty try in what was to be the
last move of the game.
Harvey Biljon pronounced himself moderately satisfied after
seeing his new team narrowly beaten by his former club.
Asked if he would have accepted a bonus point in defeat before the
match, Biljon demured and said the sights of his squad had been
higher. But after a bad spell around the mid-point of the game,
when Pirates scored all their points, he was drawing significant
comfort from the outcome.
"I was proud of the way the guys played today - this has never
been an easy place for visiting teams, and the Pirates had marked
it as a must-win and were very charged up," Biljon said. "But we
had also set our own performance targets, and we performed well
against this and showed real character to fight back and take a
In spite of the conditions, Biljon said the match would still be
reviewed with further lessons to be taken forward into the final
seven league matches of the season.
"Slowly but surely the team is improving, the new systems are
coming together and we are progressing in the right direction," he
Forwards: Sam Lockwood, Elvis Taione, Nick Selway, Nick
Campbell, James Voss, Alex Rae (capt), Joe Buckle, Latu Makaafi.
Half-backs: Jimmy Williams, Aaron Penberthy
Backs: Mark Foster, Mark McCrea, Drew Locke, Grant
Pointer, Jack Burroughs.
Replacements: Jon Brennan for Selway (HT), Sean McCarthy
for Lockwood (43), Niall O'Connor for Penberthy (43), Nicky
Griffiths for Williams (46), Dave Markham for Campbell (56), David
Bishop for Locke (59), David Felton for Taione (69).
Shane Cahill (YC 74), Aaron Carpenter, Ben Prescott, Will
Carrick-Smith, Darren Barry, Chris Morgan (capt), Alex Cheesman,
Laurie McGlone; Tom Kessell, Kieran Hallett; Kyle Moyle, Junior
Fatiolofa, Tom Riley, Kieran Goss; Max Bodilly. Replacements
(used): Neale Patrick, Craig Holland, Tom Hendrickson, Jack
Andrew; unused: Kieran Davies, Tom Channon, Joe
Referee: Greg Macdonald
Men-of-the-match: Max Bodilly (Pirates); Mark
Kickers: Hallett (Pirates) 2 from 3; Penberthy
(Jersey) 1 from 2; O'Connor (Jersey) 1 from 2
Tries: Fatiolofa 36, Moyle 39, Bodilly 42
Conversions: Hallett 36, 42
Tries: Rae 61, Penalty Try 80
Conversion: O'Connor 80
Penalty: Penberthy 2
Why not get yourself a Hot Pot (Curry or Chilli served with rice) in the supporters marquee £8 per pot.