Cornish Pirates 22 Doncaster Knights 19
A TRY with the last play of the game by back rower Tom Lawday saw Cornish Pirates make it back-to-back home wins by seeing off a determined Doncaster at the Mennaye Field.
So many times this season, the Pirates have been denied an often deserved victory by a last-gasp score, but this time the boot was on the other foot.
With time almost up, referee Sara Cox spotted an infringement, Pirates kicked the ball to the corner, Chris Morgan won the line-out and dual-registered Exeter Chiefs forward Lawday reached for the line to snatch a dramatic victory, with Laurence May adding the conversion for good measure.
It was tough on Doncaster, who were playing their first match since the tragic death of their 27-year-old prop Ian Williams at a training session at Castle Park 12 days before.
A minute’s silence was impeccably observed before the game, and they came out all guns blazing, eager to put in a performance that he would have been proud of.
They took a seventh-minute lead with a try by hooker Ben Hunter, but both Hunter and full-back Paul Jarvis had gone off through injury before 12 minutes was up.
They extended their advantage just before the break when Hunter’s replacement, David Nelson, got over for a score, improved by Simon Humberstone, and with Will Cargill missing a first-half penalty for the Pirates, they trailed 12-0 at the interval.
Pirates got just the sort of start to the second half they wanted, in the 46th minute, when Brett Beukeboom charged down a Tom James kick close to halfway, John Stevens hacked through and winger Alex O’Meara won the race to the touchdown.
However, only eight more minutes had elapsed when great approach work by Doncaster winger Andy Bulumakau set up a try for No.8 Josh Tyrell, and with Humberstone adding the extras, the Yorkshiremen boasted a 19-5 lead.
The Pirates, though, gave themselves hope with a 62nd-minute Tom Duncan try, improved by May, who also kicked a penalty to leave the hosts only 19-15 behind with seven minutes remaining.
However, a losing bonus point looked to be the height of their reward as time ticked away until the thrilling finale to a pretty scrappy game.
Delighted Pirates coach Gavin Cattle said: “It is about time we came out on the right side of one of those games, because we have been on the wrong end of a fair few of those ourselves this season.
“I feel for Clive (Griffiths, Knights’ director of rugby), because they came down here with a pretty good game plan and then pinned us back pretty well territory wise, and it was clear to see what they were doing.
“In the second half, we thought they might change tack a little bit by taking us on down the short side, but I felt we coped with that pretty well.
“I am really proud of the way we stuck in the fight. The attitude was outstanding, as it is most games.
“ I know people get frustrated by results, but when you actually take the result out of it and look at the efforts each individual is putting in, like today in really difficult conditions, I am really proud of what the boys did.”
Cornish Pirates: K Moyle, A O’Meara, D Koster, N De Battista (capt), H Strong, W Cargill (L May ht), A Day, M Walker (B Keast 55), S Matavesi, C Judge, J Caulfield (C Morgan 51), B Beukeboom, T Lawday, J Stevens (D Lee 55), T Duncan. Replacements not used: D Frost, A Paver, M Pope.
Doncaster Knights: P Jarvis (C Foley 9), C Wilson, L Klim, M Clark, A Bulumakau, S Humberstone, T James (M Heaney 74), R List (J Bergmanas 61), B Hunter (D Nelson 12), J Sproston (J Pope 74), M Challinor (A Batt 74), T Hicks, J Ram (A Shaw 63), M Hills (capt), J Tyrell.
Referee: Sara Cox (RFU).
Cornish Pirates: Tries: O’Meara, Duncan, Lawday; Cons: L May (2); Pen: L May.
Doncaster: Tries: Hunter, Nelson, Tyrell; Cons: Humberstone (2).