CORNISH Pirates captain Chris Morgan labelled last week’s stunning 41-0 victory at Greene King IPA Championship rivals Hartpury as one of the best results in his ten years at the club.
The Pirates were given little chance of picking up the bonus point win they needed to reach the quarter-finals of the British and Irish Cup after being ordered to play the match at Hartpury’s College Stadium.
The Mennaye Field was declared unplayable on the Friday, but despite the Pirates offering alternatives venues or dates for the game to be played on, the competition’s organising committee insisted the Cornishmen concede home advantage.
It left club officials furious with the decision.
“I think it is up there [with the best performances], especially considering the adversity we faced going into the game,” said Morgan. “The match was postponed, and then it was back on, and then we got a call on Friday night saying we were going up to Hartpury on Saturday morning.
“Everything was thrown against us, we travelled up on the day of the match, which is a good trek for us, but the guys were just in a really good space mentally, and we put in a good performance, compared to where we had been the previous two weeks. I think the difference was how we mentally approached it.
“It might have helped us the fact that we were away, and all these things were being thrown at us, and we just rolled our sleeves up and got on with it, and to score the tries in the manner we did was fantastic.”
Morgan admitted that the sense of injustice the club and the players felt over losing home advantage had helped spur them on.
‘There were other alternatives out there, but we were as keen as anyone to get the game played, and having travelled to Hartpury to play on a decent surface, we wanted to put in a good performance.”
I am sure you would have to go a long way back in the record books to find the last team to ‘nil’ Hartpury on their own patch.
“I don’t think either side was thinking too much about kicking goals in the match, but it was pretty good to nil them,” said Morgan.
Pirates now face a very difficult quarter-final trip to Championship second-place side Ealing Trailfinders on Easter Saturday, March 31, with a 3.00pm kick-off, but with the Cornishmen safe from relegation and not fighting for the title, at least it keeps interest in their season going.
“We have got a big affinity with the British and Irish Cup after we won it the first year and it is a tournament we have always taken seriously and want to play in,” explained Morgan. “The fact we wanted to get last weekend’s game on in whatever circumstances we could shows that.
“It is also a chance to go to a top team like Ealing and put in another good performance. It is going to be difficult, and they might only be playing for the British and Irish Cup come that stage of the season, so I think it is going to be a tough ask for us, but one we are definitely up to. It is just how we mentally approach that game.
“We won the British and Irish Cup the first time it was played for in 2010, and if we can win the last one before the competition is scrapped, it would be a good memory for everyone to take away with them.”
Morgan recently returned after missing the season so far through a neck injury, and he is delighted to be back in action.
“It is good to be back playing again and supporting the guys and trying to help everyone out,” Morgan, who is now aged 36, told me. “I think it is a case of playing more of a supporting role at the moment, trying to facilitate the guys who are playing.
“It is good we have got Brett Beukeboom back from Canada duty and the dual-registration guys from Exeter like Tom Lawday back with us, so we are getting numbers back.
“I had surgery and had a bit of a clean up in my neck, but it was good to get it done and now it is all fine and ready to go.
“If the injury had been any more serious than needing just a clear out, then it probably would have been the end for my playing career, but the fact it was more of just a tidy up, then I could be back to help the guys, which is good, because we run a small squad, and as soon as you get injuries, it puts a lot of pressure on the other guys who are playing.”