Ulster Ravens 27 Cornish Pirates 23
The Cornish Pirates have been left sweating on landing a home quarter-final in the British & Irish Cup after late drama in their final Pool 6 qualifier against Ulster Ravens in Belfast on Friday night, writes Dick Straughan.
A converted try in stoppage time at the end of the game handed the Irish side a 27-23 win in a tense affair which the Pirates led for most of the game.
The result now means that the Cornish side could be forced onto the road again in the next round if London Scottish beat London Welsh.
The task for the Exiles will be tough as they need to beat the Welsh by 33 clear points and score four tries and the game may yet be postponed closer to Saturday’s scheduled kick-off time due to the state of the pitch in Richmond.
Back in Belfast the Pirates went behind to an early James McKinney but on a chilly evening in Northern Ireland took the lead after 15 minutes when Matt Evans rounded off a move featuring Mike Pope and Alex Dancer to score the opening try. Angus Sinclair converted.
The Australian fly-half added two penalties to extend the lead before a converted try right on half-time got the Ravens back into the game.
Following sustained pressure early in the second half a further Pirates try from back row Joe Atkinson converted by Sinclair made it 20-10 to the Pirates.
Centre Stuart McCloskey replied with a second home try converted by McKinney on the hour mark and with just 8 minutes to play McKinney leveled the scores with a penalty.
Alex Dancer’s place kick put the Pirates back in front two minutes later but after a final flurry from the home team the Pirates were forced to take just a losing bonus point from the game as Ulster scrambled to their third try at the death.
Ulster Ravens: Nelson, Scholes, Andrew, McCloskey, Busby, McKinney, Heaney; McCall, Annett, Macklin, Stevenson (capt), McComb, Joyce, Dow, McComish.
Replacements: Jackson, Warwick, Cromie, Campbell, Atkinson, Shanahan, Adair.
Cornish Pirates: Evans, Goss, Riley, Dancer, Moyle, Sinclair, Pope; Davies, Carpenter (capt), Cahill, Patrick, Graulich, Parker, Atkinson, Duncan.
Replacements: Channon, Andrew, Barry, Bolwell, Kessell, Hendrickson, Bodilly.
Tries – Evans, Atkinson; Cons – Sinclair (2); Pens – Sinclair (2), Dancer.
Referee: L Linton (SRU).