Cornish Pirates 33 Plymouth Albion 12
A bonus point victory gave a bumper Mennaye Field crowd the perfect Christmas present as the Cornish Pirates claimed up to third place in the Championship table, writes Dick Straughan.
The Pirates had the perfect start with their first try after just 34 seconds as Rob Cook charged down Mark Lee's attempted clearance and raced through to claim a simple score.
Cook converted his try but the Pirates let their lead slip after just six minutes as flanker Herbie Stupple barged through the middle of a ruck just five metres from the home line before stretching to score. Paul Roberts's conversion levelled the score.
Two Cook penalties and a third from Grant Pointer, struck from half-way, extended the lead again to 16-7 as Albion lost Aaron Carpenter to the sin bin on the half hour.
Moments later Cook claimed his second try as he latched onto Gavin Cattle`s perfectly weighted chip ahead. Two minutes into stoppage time Albion hooker Gareth Evans was yellow carded for fighting.
Despite the man advantage the Pirates were unable to build on their 21-7 lead and Albion reduced the arrears themselves after 50 minutes as Rupert Freestone crossed from close range for their second try.
Evans was sent off on the hour after a high tackle on Cattle as any Albion revival fell apart and two late Rhodri McAtee tries finally put the gloss on a hard fought win for the Cornish Pirates.
Cook, Evans, Pointer, Locke (Cooper 52), D.Doherty, Thomas, Cattle (capt) (J.Doherty 76), Andrew (Rimmer 59), Ward, Paver (Brits 72), Smith (Morgan 52), Myerscough (Cowan 69), Marriott, Burgess (Cowan-Dickie 76), Maidment
Tries – Cook (2), McAtee (2)
Cons – Cook (2)
Pens – Cook (2), Pointer
Lee, Johns, Armitage, Fisilau, Lewis (Bailey 54), Roberts, Rowley, Andrew (L.Cowan-Dickie 65), Evans (sin-bin 40-50, sent-off 58), Hopkins (Dugard 80+2), Hotson (Lockley 65), Stephen, Stupple (Freestone 63), Hocking (Freestone 41 -51, Sprangle 62)), Carpenter (sin-bin 30-40)
Replacement (not used) - Cushion
Tries – Stupple, Freestone
Con – Roberts
Yellow Cards – Evans, Carpenter
Sent-off - Evans
Referee – L.Pearce (RFU)
Attendance – 3,214