Coventry journeyed to Penzance to face Cornish Pirates at an extremely wet and boggy Mennaye, with the hope of continuing some strong league form.
The weather got the memo and the heavens managed to close just before the early 1.30pm kick-off.
The Pirates are never an easy side to beat when playing at home, but it was Coventry that very much had the better of the opening 40 minutes. After some excellent defence from the away team, Coventry cemented a good start to the match with the opening score of the game inside 8 minutes. A break in midfield followed by some smart handling gave James Martin the chance to race down the left flank before feeding Will Chudley to dive over. Pellegrini added the extras as Pirates received the game’s first yellow card for a high tackle on Will Chudley when he was in the motion of scoring. (0-7)
Will Chudley converted from scorer to provider as Coventry continued their promising start to the match. The scrum half gathered the loose and greasy ball before finding Lucas Titherington who happily dotted down to increase the Coventry lead. Pellegrini converted once more, and things were looking promising at 0-14 after the opening 16 minutes.
The next period of the match was bittersweet for Cov, as the lead was extended again… but not without sacrifice. Tom Dodd left the field through injury just before Coventry displayed some good work at the lineout. With ball secured in the middle, Cov got the driving maul going which resulted in Ollie Andrews eventually rising from the base of a pile of bodies having placed the ball firmly on the Pirates try line. (0-19)
With 10 minutes left to play before half time, the Cornish Pirates showed why they can be so difficult to beat, especially when playing at a wet and sticky Mennaye field. After some well-crafted driving mauls of their own, and some patient pick-and-go’s, the home team’s forwards eventually crashed their way over to open their account for the day. (7-19)
The Mennaye crowd were treated to a further two tries before the end of the first period. Firstly, it was Coventry that managed to secure a try scoring bonus point as a clever kick from Pat Pellegrini caused some Pirates confusion at the back before Cov dived on the loose ball. (7-26) It was then the home portion of the attendees’ turn to cheer as the Pirates kept themselves in the contest on the stroke of half time with a well put-together driving maul.
Half time: 14-26
Unfortunately, from a Coventry point of view, there was to be no more movement from the Coventry side of scoreboard in the second period. After James Tyas was sent to the sin bin for illegally bringing down a maul, Pirates cashed in on the following lineout as, yet another driving maul went all the way, this time with a little help from the backs. (21-26)
By the 66th minute, Pirates had completed an impressive comeback as they displayed further dominance at maul time. The referee was left with no option but to jog under the sticks and award the home side a penalty try after Will Biggs was adjudged to have collapsed a maul that was destined to reach the try line. Biggs was sent to the bin, and the 13 men of Coventry were looking at a scoreboard now reading Cornish Pirates 28, Coventry 26.
As the game reached a vital final 10 minutes, the Coventry side were to feel somewhat aggrieved as Will Chudley looked set to finish off a smart team move and restore Coventry’s lead before he was tackled off the ball. Rather than a penalty try, Pirates restarted the game with a goal-line drop out before building up the field and cementing an impressive second half display with a successful long range penalty attempt in the final play of the game. Full time: 31-26
Thank you to our hosts, Cornish Pirates, and congratulations on a well-deserved victory. We would also like to thank all the supporters that made the long journey down to Penzance, and we look forward to welcoming you all next Saturday as we take on Caldy for our Ladies Day special!