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Coventry Rugby slipped to a narrow defeat at the hands of Cornish Pirates in a game in which both sides scored three tries.

The match was deadlocked at seven-all at the break before the visitors built a 14-point lead following Ruaridh Dawson’s interception score.

Fourth-quarter pressure brought scores for Jimmy Martin and Will Lane – plus a Pat Pellegrini conversion – but the Pirates held on to move a point ahead of the blue-and-whites and two behind new table toppers Ealing.

Coventry applied plenty of pressure through the opening quarter without managing to open the scoring.

A long spell inside the visitors’ 22 ended with Will Rigg’s attempted long pass to the unmarked Martin being blocked by a Pirates’ defender.

And when Tobi Wilson sent Ryan Hutler racing to the line play was recalled for a forward pass.

Cov’s patience was eventually rewarded following a superb Pellegrini kick which won a 50-22. A series of penalty awards then ended with scrum half Will Chudley’s quick tap giving Rigg enough space to force his way over for a score that Pellegrini converted.

The home lead was short-lived however as Pirates’ first incursion into the attacking third ended with centre Joe Elderkin cutting a good line to claim a try that replacement fly half Tom Pittman upgraded.

As usual Cov’s no.9 was posing plenty of problems for the visitors around the fringes and when he released Hutler from a midfield scrum only a last-ditch tackle from Pirates’ full back Will Trewin prevented a second Cov try.

Another flowing blue-and-white attack that started with Chudley’s blindside break ended on the opposite flank with Wilson being narrowly beaten to his own chip ahead in the visitors’ in-goal area.

Tiki Nayalo in action against Cornish Pirates (pic – John Coles)

This meant the first half ended locked at seven-all and it was the visitors who seized the initiative by grabbing two scores in as many minutes.

The first of these followed a turnover inside their own half and a long kick which ended in a close-range attacking lineout from which no.8 John Stevens was driven over for a try that Pittman converted with a fine kick.

Then as Cov pressed hard for an equalising score newly-arrived scrum half Dawson picked off a long Chudley pass on his own 22 and raced 75 metres to claim a score which Pittman again improved.

The hosts struck back with 15 minutes remaining through winger Martin who applied a neat finish to Pellegrini’s precise cross-kick after replacement Elliot Chilvers made ground deep into the Pirates’ 22.

As the contest entered the closing stages Cov put together a long-range attack in which Wilson sent Tiki Nayalo racing 40 metres into the Pirates’ 22 before being upended by the cover.

As the clock reached 80 minutes Jack Bartlett broke through midfield and found Lane with an inside ball that sent the replacement scrum half to the line for a try that Pellegrini converted.


Coventry Rugby:

Tries: Rigg (19), Martin (65), Lane (80)

Cons: Pellegrini (19) (80)


Cornish Pirates:

Tries: Elderkin (26), Stevens (51), Dawson (53)

Cons: Pittman (26) (51) (53)


Referee: Joe James

Attendance: 4307

Half-time: Coventry Rugby 7-7 Cornish Pirates


Coventry Rugby: Wilson; Hutler (Titherington 30), Wand, Rigg, Martin; Pellegrini, Chudley (Lane 62); Nairau (Chilvers 45), Poole (Biggs 65), Nicol (Salt 62); Tyas (Anstey 65), Nkwocha; Ball (Ryan 49), Kvesic (Bartlett 61), Nayalo

Cornish Pirates: Trewin; Wedlake, Jenkins, Elderkin, McNab; Houston (Pittman 5), Schwarz (Dawson 50); Zigiriadis (Morris 65), Nelson (Williams 67), Johnson (Richardson 40); Bokenham, Barker; Everett, Gibson (Teague 62), Stevens (King 68) Replacements: Nowell