ON-LOAN hooker Dan Frost marked his Cornish Pirates debut with a match-winning try against third-place Bedford.
Frost dived over the top of a ruck from close range with 10 minutes remaining to seal a victory that made it six wins out of seven in all competitions for the Cornishmen.
Frost is on loan from National Two South side Taunton Titans to help the Pirates through a hooker injury crisis, with Tom Channon out for the season with an anterior cruciate ligament injury, Jack Innard still five weeks away from returning from a dislocated shoulder, and Tom Cowan-Dickie now facing weeks, if not months, on the sidelines with his own shoulder problem.
The Pirates have signed Redruth’s Sam Matavesi for the rest of the campaign to help fill the void, with the Fijian able to play both back row and hooker, and he could make his debut in next Sunday’s British and Irish Cup match away to Scarlets Premiership Select.
After a pretty even opening 10 minutes, Bedford scored a superb try that followed a break off a maul.
Experienced back rower Alex Rae opened the defensive door with an inside pass to former Pirates lock Will Carrick-Smith, and three or four offloads later, ex-Northampton scrum-half Lee Dickson put winger Dean Adamson in for a glorious try, easily converted by former Exeter Chiefs fly-half Will Hooley.
Bedford continued to look dangerous, but Pirates weathered the storm and got their first points on the board with a Will Cargill penalty after the Blues had illegally halted a driving maul from a line-out.
They then took the lead just before the half-hour mark with a cracking try from dual-registered Exeter Chiefs No.8 Tom Lawday, who galloped 35 metres to score in clubhouse corner, with Cargill doing well to add the extras from out wide for a 10-7 advantage.
Bedford delivered an instant riposte following a break by centre and skipper Michael Le Bourgeois. It looked like he had butchered the chance when he ignored a two-on-one situation to go for glory himself and was tackled just short.
But the ball was recycled and Hooley threw out a long pass to outside centre Rich Lane, who was previously dual-registered with Pirates from Bath, to canter over.
Hooley missed the difficult conversion, but Bedford had their noses back in front at 12-10.
It was Pirates who finished the half in style though, with a move initially started by a lovely offload out of the back of his hand by Frost to Alex Cheesman, and which eventually ended with loose-head prop Jack Andrew rumbling over, with Cargill converting to give the hosts a 17-12 interval lead.
Bedford dominated the opening stages of the second half, and moments after making a triple substitution in the 50th minute, good hands by Adamson and Le Bourgeois put former Plymouth Albion back Elliot Clements-Hill over in the left-hand corner, but Hooley was off target with the touchline conversion, leaving it all tied at 17-17.
Pirates had a golden chance to take the lead again when a surging run by replacement centre Dan Koster broke the Bedford defensive line, but skipper Nicolas de Battista could not hold onto his offload, with the line at his mercy.
Pirates kept battering away looking for the match-winning score, as they camped in the Bedford half in the closing stages, and they came within a whisker of scoring in the corner but were held up.
However, their efforts were eventually rewarded with a close-range try by Frost, converted by Cargill, and Pirates were able to see out the game to lift themselves into the top six in the Greene King IPA Championship table.
Cornish Pirates: T May, K Moyle, P Laverick (D Koster 22-32, 50), N De Battista (capt), N Coronel, W Cargill, A Day, C Judge (B Keast 54), D Frost, J Andrew, J Caulfield, T Freeman (B Beukeboom 52), R Cooper, A Cheesman (T Lawday 78), T Lawday (T Duncan 60). Replacements not used: D Toolan, M Pope, L May.
Bedford Blues: C Czekaj (O Dodge 50), E Clements-Hill, R Lane, M Le Bourgeois (capt), D Adamson, W Hooley, L Dickson (J Burns 58), S McCarthy (C Parilli-Ocampo 60-78), G Edgson (T Lindsay 50), A Penny (D Spelman 60), E Taylor (J Onojaife 51), W Carrick-Smith, A Rae, J Buggea (P Tupai 78), J Williams.
Pirates: Tries: Lawday, Andrew, Frost; Cons: Cargill (3); Pen: Cargill.
Bedford: Tries: Adamson, Lane, Clements-Hill; Con: Hooley.
Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe (RFU).