Cornish Pirates v Bedford Blues
For a fourth time this season, Bedford Blues were edged out by the smallest of margins as the Cornish Pirates picked up a 16-13 win at the Mennaye Field on Sunday afternoon.
Constant drizzle did nothing to assist either side over the 80 minutes but this was a well fought contest between two pretty evenly matched teams. In the end, it was a single penalty that separated the two.
The match was only minutes old when assistant referee Dino Maddern was forced off with an injury but once the game was underway for a second time it was a full-bloodied contest right up until the last minute.
With James Pritchard away on international duty with Canada, Jake Sharp took over kicking responsibilities and he was called into action in the ninth minute when the hosts were pinged at the breakdown. Sharp took the shot from distance, but his effort didn't have enough on it.
The game regularly swung backwards and forwards with high kicks playing an important role in the chess-like opening quarter. Former Blue Kieran Hallett failed with a penalty attempt of his own in the 22nd minute before Sharp got the first points of the match five minutes later.
The lead lasted just a couple of minutes though as Hallett replied with a penalty of his own before doubling his tally moments later with a second. Sharp levelled the game with a straight forward effort after the Pirates were penalised at the scrum.
Bedford had to dig deep as the game entered stoppage time at the end of the first half though. The Pirates had set up camp on the Blues try line and after being held up, there forwards looked to have the upper hand at the five metre scrum. Bedford held firm though and after getting the put in and then a penalty at the scrum, they cleared to touch and headed to the changing rooms.
Sharp missed a difficult penalty two minutes after the break as the conditions in Penzance deteriorated, but the Pirates soon scored the game’s opening try. Another scrum deep in the Blues 22 saw the Pirates pack shuffle forwards before number 8 Jake Porter broke away and fed scrum half Tom Kessell for the score with Hallett converting to make it 13-6.
The game continued to be ground out upfront with neither set of backs having the room - or possession - that they would normally like to enjoy.
The pirates scrum continued to put pressure on the Blues and when the hosts were awarded a penalty close to the Bedford try line on the hour mark, many expected another scrum with a potential penalty try on the cards but Hallett called for the shot at goal and extended the Pirates lead to ten points.
Both sides made changes, but it was Bedford who benefitted when they were awarded an attacking scrum in the 65th minute. The pack did its job and the referee awarded a penalty which Sharp put in the corner. The lineout collected, the maul was set and Darren Fearn bundled over to score with Sharp converting superbly.
Despite being in the ascendency, the Blues just couldn't get enough of the ball and the Pirates held on to complete the win.
Pirates: Cahill (Andrew 72), Channon (Elloway 66), Paver (Prescott 76), Sandford (Patrick 53), Barry, Morgan (C), Cheesman (Conlon 66), Parker, Kessell, Hallett, Goss, Fatialofa (James 72), Riley, Pope, Holland. Replacements not used: Jones. T: Kessell. C: Hallett. P: Hallett 3.
Blues: Steenkamp (Fearn 58), Spurling (Clare 58), Boulton (Cooper 75), Tupai (Howard 54), Gulliver, Armes (capt), Fenton-Wells, Vandermolen (Barrell 64), Veenendaal (Baldwin 64), Sharp, Morris, Dodge, Burke (Le Bourgeois 75), Edwards, Atkinson. T: Fearn. C: Sharp. P: Sharp 2.
Referee: S.Harding (RFU).