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First the good news for Coventry fans…league leaders Ealing left their penultimate game of the season at Doncaster with nothing to show for their efforts.

Less positively however, Coventry were unable to fulfil their side of the equation by breaking their league rugby duck in Cornwall.

With their league campaign now finished the blue-and-whites must settle for either a highest-ever runners-up spot or a repeat of last season’s third-place finish, this time behind Ealing and the Pirates, depending on the outcome of the final round of action.

The Championship title therefore goes to Vallis Way for a second time without the Trailfinders and their supporters being required to live through a fortnight of nervous expectation ahead of their season-closer on May 25th.

In truth all three clubs deserve plaudits for fine seasons and any would have been deserving champions.

Since promotion to the Premiership remains an elusive pipe dream to which the RFU seemingly applies the logic found in Catch 22 this years principle combatants will also do it all again in September.

At Mennaye Field Cov scored tries through Jimmy Martin and Toby Trinder and led 9-12 at half-time but were unable to convert this promising position into a ninth consecutive league win.

For Pirates Bruce Houston kicked four penalties and their forwards drove hooker Harry Hocking and replacement prop Matt Johnson over from close range for the late tries that clinched the spoils.

Cov’s fast start was rewarded by Martin’s 16th try of a prolific season which got the scoring underway in the fifth minute.

The try owed much to a powerful Trinder carry then some slick handling which enabled the winger to go over for a score which fit-again Pat Pellegrini converted.

The hosts’ well-drilled forwards caused Cov plenty of problems at the Butts Park Arena in January but their lineout misfired during the early stages of this return contest.

However, Bruce Houston put them on the board late in the opening quarter with a well-struck penalty won on the ground by no.8 Hugh Bockenham.

And when the visitors got on the wrong side of referee Harry Walbaum on two further occasions the Pirates’ no.10 fired his team into a 9-7 lead with a pair of long-range strikes.

Cov pressed hard for their second try and although the home side kept their line intact through a long spell of pressure the visitors eventually broke their resistance.

Unsurprisingly a typically sharp Pellegrini break gave Cov field position from which Trinder barged his way over for his first score of the season.

Although the hosts then lost winger Will Trewin to the sin bin for persistent infringement they managed to hold out until half-time without conceding.

Soon after the restart a powerful Obi Nkwocha break set up a position from which Will Wand was narrowly unable to beat the cover to Pellegrini’s chip ahead.

After Cov infringed on the ground Houston split the uprights for a fourth time to bring the match all square.

With Cov’s pack disrupted by injury Alex Rae deployed the bench only for replacement Chester Owen to be shown a yellow card for collapsing a driving maul inside the Cov 22.

And when the Pirates went back to the corner they made their numerical superiority count by shunting Hocking over for their opening try.

As the contest went into the final ten minutes Cov piled on pressure and only a last-ditch tackle prevented an equalising score.

With two minutes remaining the hosts declined a kickable penalty in favour of an attacking lineout from which Johnson was driven over for a score which clinched the match and denied Cov a consolatory losing bonus point.


Cornish Pirates:

Tries: Hocking (70), Johnson (78)


Pens: Houston (16) (19) (22) (53)

Coventry Rugby:

Tries: Martin (5), Trinder (33)

Cons: Pellegrini (5)



Cornish Pirates: Moyle; Trewin, McNab, Elderkin, Relton; Houston, Schwarz; Zigiriadis, Hocking, Richardson; Britton, Barker; Everett, Stevens, Bokenham

Replacements: Walker, Andrew, Johnson, King, Gibson, Dawson, Pittman, Wedlake                                                        

Coventry Rugby: Wilson; Hutler, Wand, Betteridge, Martin; Pellegrini, Chudley; Trinder, Poole, Nicol; Tyas, Anstey; Nkwocha, Ball, Kvesic.

Replacements: Ma’asi, Nairau, Salt, Owen, Ryan, Lane, Mannion, James

Referee: Harry Walbaum

Half-time: Cornish Pirates 9-12 Coventry Rugby