Cornish Pirates 52, Yorkshire Carnegie 0

Bodies and minds relaxed after a lengthy Christmas and New Year break, to open their account in 2020 the Cornish Pirates recorded this convincing victory, writes Phil Westren.

Second-placed in the Greene King IPA Championship ahead of this Round 8 fixture, the win also sees the Pirates hold on to their lofty position in the league.

The teams had already met twice this season, both matches played in the Championship Cup. In September the Pirates won 48-0 away, whilst more recently, in December, they had won 54-5 at home.

Ahead of this match, however, the Pirates took nothing for granted, especially against a team where former Welsh international and former Namibian Head Coach Phil Davies has made a return as Director of Rugby.

Named in the Cornish Pirates starting line-up was full-back Kyle Moyle who, following his lengthy time out because of injury, had featured off the bench against Hartpury before Christmas. Another replacement in that match, fully fit again flanker John Stevens, was also named in the starting XV, plus there was a return for wing AJ Cant.

Arriving back at the Mennaye Field during the week on dual registration with Exeter Chiefs, lock Josh Caulfield was ready to make his first Championship appearance of the season, whilst listed among the replacements Shae Tucker was keen to make what would be his first appearance in the Championship.

For the month of January conditions were almost springlike, with a good-sized crowd witnessing the Pirates getting off to a fine start at the Mennaye Field. First to score was wing Robin Wedlake, who crossed the line at the scoreboard corner and sped to near the Penzance posts to dot the ball down. Fly-half Will Cargill kicked the conversion.

Lock Caulfield was making a mark on his Mennaye return, firstly with his ball-carrying, and then tackling, before the visitors responded with some good play that almost led to a score. Following a catch and drive on the left the ball had been moved swiftly right. It looked as if former England wing Tom Varndell, playing at centre and who holds the record as the Premiership’s leading try-scorer, was about to register points at the Newlyn gate corner, only for an adjudged forward pass to be called.

Rubbing salt in the wound, after Pirates prop Sam Rodman made a barnstorming run into enemy territory, a second try would soon materialise, with hooker Tom Cowan-Dickie the identified scorer. Cargill again added the extras.

Seeking points, when a penalty award came their way Yorkshire Carnegie’s captain Joe Ford, brother of England’s George, opted to take a kick at goal, but it narrowly missed to the left of the posts.

Once again, the Pirates would soon make their opponents pay, Cowan-Dickie initially in the thick of the action before man-of-the-match James McRae burst on the scene to run 35 metres for another converted try.

The first half would end with both sides down to 14 men. No.8 McRae was first to be yellow-carded, before his opposite number Tom Whitehurst soon took a seat in the Biffa-sponsored sin bin. Then, in the very final seconds, it also looked as if the Pirates had secured a bonus point providing fourth try, but for a forward pass having apparently been spotted.

If the Pirates were disappointed not to score just before the interval, they wasted absolutely no time immediately after it, thanks to a try swiftly scored by scrum-half Jean-Baptist Bruzulier.

Just two minutes later, Moyle and Wedlake also combined on the right for the latter to register his second try in the match. With the scoreline reading 31-0 it also signalled a good time to start introducing replacements off the bench, including Shae Tucker. He would also get on the scoresheet with a well-taken try at the old Western National corner, but only after another man off the bench, prop Jay Tyack, scored what would be later confirmed as the ‘Glengoyne’ try of the match. Cargill, back in the groove, converted each magnificently.

A final converted try came two minutes from the end, McRae providing a pass for replacement scrum-half Rhodri Davies to zip in at the Newlyn posts. Home supporters were understandably jubilant.

Yorkshire Carnegie had been plucky throughout, and if Varndell had passed rather than try to pin back his ears, a try for the visitors in the final seconds was very much on. It was not to be.

A question was asked at the end ‘When was the last time that the Pirates ‘nilled’ opponents two games on the trot?’ (remembering that they won 6-0 against Hartpury last time out), Well, I can tell you that it was way back in March 1883 when Dorset Colleges were beaten 89-0 and Barnstaple 20-0.

Anyway, holding on to second place in the league and scoring eight tries in this latest match provided obvious satisfaction, albeit it against the Championship’s basement side. At the same the Pirates are also aware that a sterner test awaits them away to Jersey Reds next Saturday, as part of their challenge to try and ‘push on’ in the weeks ahead.

Cornish Pirates: 15 Kyle Moyle (Matt Evans 58), 14 Robin Wedlake, 13 Rory Parata, 12 Callum Patterson (Shae Tucker 53), 11 AJ Cant, 10 Will Cargill, 9 Jean-Baptist Bruzulier (Rhodri Davies 47); 1 Jack Andrew (Jay Tyack 48), 2 Tom Cowan-Dickie (Tom Channon 48), 3 Sam Rodman (Marlen Walker 48), 4 Josh Caulfield, 5 Brett Beukeboom (captain, Jake Clemson 44), 6 John Stevens, 7 Antonio Kiri Kiri (Tom Duncan 48), 8 James McRae.

Yellow card: McRae

Yorkshire Carnegie: 15 Dan Lancaster, 14 Andrew Lawson, 13 Tom Varndell, 12 Joe Carlisle (Jack Metcalf, 58), 11 Ryan Shaw (James Magee 69), 10 Joe Ford (captain), 9 James Elliott (Joe Green, 71); 1 Conor Davidson (Jide Ajayi 58), 2 Louis Musetti (Will Routledge 58), 3 Sione Faletau (58), Gareth Smith, 4 Jake Brady, 5 Ed Bloodworth, 6 Trystan Lloyd (William Hill 69), 7 Alex Humfrey, 8 Tom Whitehurst (Jarrid Els 48).

Yellow card: Whitehurst


Cornish Pirates – Tries: Wedlake (2), Cowan-Dickie, McRae, Bruzulier, Tyack, Tucker, Davies; Cons: Cargill (6).

Referee: Fergus Kirby

‘Tribute’ Man-of-the-Match: James McRae

‘Glengoyne’ Try-of-the-Match winner: Jay Tyack

Attendance: 1572