CORNISH Pirates registered a fourth successive win in all competitions with a hard-fought victory over two-places-higher Hartpury at a sunny, but blustery, Mennaye Field.
Winger Kyle Moyle’s eighth league try of the season sealed the triumph after Hartpury threatened with a second-half rally, having trailed 10-0 at the break.
Pirates coach Gavin Cattle said: “We had a few game management issues, especially off kick-offs, but you have got to give Hartpury credit, they really targeted the breakdown area and put us under a lot of pressure, but I am just really happy we stuck to our guns and finished off well at the end.”
Pirates made three changes from their victory at Doncaster, handing a first Championship start to centre Nicolas Coronel, while Alex Cheesman was fit to return at flanker and Billy Keast came in at loose-head prop for Marlen Walker, who felt under the weather but was well enough to sit on the bench.
Hartpury gave a first Championship start to Ed Coulson, with Harry Cochrane stepping in at scrum-half.
Pirates, with the strong wind behind them, took only four minutes to take the lead, with fly-half Will Cargill slotting a penalty after Hartpury were penalised for not releasing.
They stretched their advantage nine minutes later as a series of pick and go moves were finished off by hooker Tom Cowan-Dickie, sporting a severe new haircut, with Cargill supplying the extras.
The first half was full of errors by both sides, but Pirates dominated territory and possession and they were disappointed to only reach the break with a 10-point advantage, with Cargill missing a penalty attempt at goal.
Hartpury rarely ventured into the Pirates’ 22, and when they did, having kicked to the corner and won the line-out, the hosts did well to defend the driving maul and the chance came to nothing.
Pirates made a change at the break, bringing on fit-again Tom Duncan at No.8 for skipper-for-the-day Tom Lawday, who received lengthy treatment for a leg injury in the opening period.
With the elements now behind them, Hartpury looked a different proposition at the start of the second half, and their pressure eventually created a simple penalty for fly-half Jacob Perry.
But that was cancelled out four minutes later when very experienced Hartpury lock and skipper Rhys Oakley was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on of Cargill’s attempted pass to Keast in the shadow of the posts, and Cargill increased the punishment with the three-pointer.
Hartpury’s response was good, with James Williams taking one of two penalty shots at goal to again cut the deficit to seven points at 13-6 down.
But Pirates were starting to dominate at scrum time, and that provided rich dividends in the 65th minute when referee Matt O’Grady awarded them a penalty try after Hartpury illegally halted a five-metre set piece, with Cargill converting to give the Pirates some welcome breathing space at 20-6.
Once more Hartpury stayed in the fight with an instant riposte through a try by replacement Charlie Chapman, improved by Williams, after he had raced through from 30 metres out following Coulson’s kick ahead, which took a fortunate ricochet off Toby May’s outstretched boot into Chapman’s path.
However, two minutes from time, another devastating Pirates scrum provided a platform for them to launch an attack that was rounded off by Moyle to see the Cornishmen leapfrog Hartpury up into seventh place in the Greene King IPA Championship table.
Cornish Pirates: T May, A O’Meara, P Laverick, N Coronel, K Moyle, W Cargill, A Day; B Keast, T Cowan-Dickie, J Andrew, J Caulfield, T Freeman, R Cooper, A Cheesman, T Lawday (capt). Replacements: C Judge, M Walker, A Paver, T Duncan, M Pope, L May, H Strong.
Hartpury: M Wilcox, E Coulson, G Boulton, L Eves, E Sheldon, J Perry, H Cochrane, D Murphy, W Tanner, R Harden, J Quinn, R Oakley (capt), R Langley, M Gilbert, D Dyer. Replacements: H Walker, M Flook, T Heard, J Dancer, I Grieve, C Chapman, J Williams.
Pirates: Try: Cowan-Dickie, penalty try, Moyle; Cons: Cargill (2); Pens: Cargill (2).
Hartpury: Try: Chapman; Con: Williams; Pens: Perry, Williams.
Yellow card: Hartpury: Oakley 54.
Referee: Matthew O’Grady (RFU).