Cornish Pirates 55 London Scottish 38
CORNISH Pirates and London Scottish served up a 12-try thriller in the sort of game that gives defence coaches nightmares.
The difference in the end was the goalkicking of Pirates fly-half and man of the match Laurence May, who slotted five conversions and five penalties in a personal 25-point haul, including three late on to finally kill off the Exiles’ impressive fightback.
It was a fourth successive league win for the Pirates to lift them into fifth place in the Greene King IPA Championship table, and sets them up nicely for next Saturday’s British and Irish Cup quarter-final at Ealing Trailfinders, but as Pirates coach Gavin Cattle conceded, they will need to defend better at Vallis Way.
“I am really pleased with some aspects of the performance, but to bring them back in with 15 minutes to go, when I thought we were in complete control, was frustrating, and it was all our doing,” said Cattle.
“It is disappointing when you are in a dominant position (46-24 up), and for every three good things we did, we followed it up with a negative action.
“I was a little bit worried at 46-38 because you can see the momentum swing and teams can tighten up at that stage, but the pleasing thing for me was we got our basics right, our kick-off right, controlled our first contact and then we put them under the pump with our defensive sets and got the ball back in a good position.”
Cattle added: “We scored six tries and it could have been more and we are creating at the minute, and the penalty count against us has been in single figures for the last three weeks.
“It was rising in our narrow losses to 11 or 12 a game, and when we are operating at our top level, it is eight or below.
“It will be a massive challenge up at Ealing and they have been one of the dominant teams in the league. They have a pretty ferocious pack, a good set piece and we need to be better next week.”
Scottish took the lead with a try by flanker Chris Walker on his 50th appearance, converted by Jake Sharp.
Hooker Sam Matavesi responded with a try for the Pirates, improved by May, but Alec Coombes struck back straight away with a touchdown for the visitors.
Pirates then took control with two tries in three minutes from skipper Nicolas De Battista and Matavesi again, before the Exiles had the last say of the half with a score from Rob Stevenson to leave the Pirates leading 27-17 at the break.
Tries by John Stevens and Kyle Moyle, one converted, put them virtually out of sight at 39-17, and even though Scottish replied with a touchdown from Danny Kenny, a second for Moyle soon after looked to have put the game to bed at 46-24.
But Scottish had other ideas, and two converted tries in the space of five minutes from Dino Waldren and Ed Milne had alarm bells ringing in the home camp as they got the score back to within eight points of their hosts.
However, May showed great coolness to slot penalties in the 68th, 76th and 79th minutes to see Pirates home.
Cornish Pirates: K Moyle, A O’Meara, D Koster, N De Battista (capt), M Evans (T May 57), L May, A Day; M Walker (J Andrew 51), S Matavesi (D Frost 58), C Judge (A Paver 60), T Freeman, B Beukeboom, D Lee (C Morgan 67), J Stevens (R Cooper 51), T Duncan. Replacement not used: W Cargill.
London Scottish: C Holland, A Coombes (R Stevenson 30), R Neal, B Mosses, C Ingall, J Sharp, A Walker (E Hoadley 76), D Appiah (J Harris 51), D George (I Miller 51), E McQuillin (D Waldren 51), L Jones (E Milne 51), K Baillie (M Marley 76), J Atkinson, C Walker, D Kenny (capt).
Pirates: Tries: Matavesi (2), De Battista, Stevens, Moyle (2); Cons: L May (5); Pens: L May (5).
Scottish: Tries: Walker, Coombes, Stevenson, Kenny, Waldren, Milne; Cons: Sharp (4).
Referee: Sara Cox (RFU).