By Phil Westren at the Alpas Arena


Hartpury 25 Cornish Pirates 30

REPLACEMENT prop Jacob Morris’ late try gave the Cornish Pirates victory in Gloucestershire on Saturday.

The Pirates starting line-up saw Ruaridh Dawson selected at scrum half and prop Lefty Zigiriadis returning. Also, in the injured absence of Morgan Nelson (knee) and Rhys Williams (failed HIA), dual-registered Exeter Chiefs hooker Harry Hocking made first Championship start.

Another ‘Chief’, Iestyn Harris, who arrived at the Mennaye Field on-loan during week, provided cover on the bench.

Hartpury started brightly and in just the second minute, full-back George Barton’s strong run saw him dent the Pirates’ defence and make it to the line. Harry Bazalgette missed the conversion (5-0).

It was not long before the visitors responded, when following Hartpury having been penalised at the breakdown, it was fly-half Bruce Houston who stepped forward, assessed the wind, and successfully nailed the kick (5-3).

Further points would follow for the Pirates when, following solid approach play by Zigiriadis, lock Steele Barker and wing Matt McNab, a resulting penalty award saw Houston this time opt for the corner.

Hocking found his man at an attacking lineout opportunity and then, following a drive to the whitewash, was identified as the scorer of an unconverted try (5-8). 

Hartpury would lose their captain Will Crane to the sin-bin, but a Bazalgette penalty would level matters at 8-8.

Soon after the restart, the Pirates produced some excellent play involving backs and forwards, with their continuity and phase play ending with skipper John Stevens scoring a try at the posts. Houston added the extras (8-15).

But the first half scoring didn’t stop there, as five minutes before half-time, an interception by McNab saw him go clear and score a converted try against his former team (8-22). The try also marked the powerful wing’s 12th of the season in all competitions.

The Pirates got off anything but a sought-after start after the break. The penalty-count suddenly went against them, and after awarded a penalty try Hartpury looked to take advantage. They were also aided in considering that within the space of 11 minutes the Pirates were shown three yellow cards, which nobody would have predicted. In order the trio comprised lock Will Britton, number eight Hugh Bokenham, and prop Matt Johnson. 

This created considerable pressure on the depleted Pirates with full-back Kyle Moyle and centre Joe Elderkin adding important weight when called upon at scrum time.

Into the last quarter the Pirates were still holding on to their 22-15 lead, but that would soon change. From a lineout drive, Hartpury’s replacement hooker Ethan Hunt broke off and scored a converted try at the posts, to again draw level (22-22). A superb penalty strike by Bazalgette, from two metres inside his own half, then put Hartpury ahead (25-22).

Having drawn and lost their last two outings, the Cornish Pirates were desperately keen to avoid defeat, and to their credit they did.

Fresh off the bench, replacement fly-half Tom Pittman firstly landed a penalty (to make it 25-25), and although he narrowly missed an attempted long-range kick at goal, it was an unconverted try scored by replacement prop Jacob Morris, which followed a superb counter from Moyle, that in the very last seconds, proved all important.

CORNISH PIRATES: Kyle Moyle Will Trewin (Arthur Relton, 64) Ioan Evans, Joe Elderkin, Matt McNab, Bruce Houston (Tom Pittman, 52), Ruaridh Dawson (Alex Schwarz, 60); Lefty Zigiriadis (Jacob Morris), Harry Hocking (Iestyn Harris, 58), Matt Johnson (Fin Richardson), Will Britton (Josh Williams, 64) Steele Barker, Alex Everett (Fin Richardson, 56; 6 Alex Everett, 64; 20 Will Gibson, 64), John Stevens (captain) Hugh Bokenham.