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Fans rewarded for keeping the faith

By West Briton  |  Posted: November 15, 2012

Pirates lock Gary Johnson is first to the ball against Rotherham.

Pirates lock Gary Johnson is first to the ball against Rotherham.

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AFTER watching this rout of a thoroughly uninspiring Rotherham team I can cheerfully say that I feel totally vindicated in standing by the Pirates and refusing to open fire with all cannons after certain performances this season.

It hasn't been easy at times and the drudgery of 80 minutes of turgid rugby at Moseley the week before this game tested the patience of some almost to the limit.

I couldn't get upset to that extent in the darkness of the Billesley Common car park because when you follow a team in any given sport sometimes results just happen like that, and the reward was waiting for us in the Mennaye sunshine last Sunday.

One good result doesn't make a season so let's not get too far ahead of ourselves here, but with the league taking a break for the exhibition match against the New Zealand Maoris on Saturday, it was vital for the Pirates to end that section of fixtures with a win.

The squad can now take a welcome few days off before preparing for the small matter of a trip to Bedford on the 23rd and what, until this win, could well have turned out to be a nasty defeat. But the Blues, without their large contingent of Saracens ringers, are looking vulnerable all of a sudden, while the Pirates beat Rotherham without an Exeter loanee in sight.

The Pirates camp can now start to believe in themselves after a lot of hard work on the training pitch and soul-searching off it, and after that ridiculous night of dismal officiating at Goldington Road in last season's play-offs, the Pirates certainly owe Bedford one on their own patch.

Alas the respite of a few days off doesn't extend to Gavin Cattle, Alan Paver and Phil Burgess, who will all be away this weekend as part of a Championship XV taking on the Maoris at Doncaster's Castle Park. The sheer distance from Cornwall and a noon kick-off means that few fans from this part of the world will witness the game, but alongside Ian Davies, who is part of the coaching team, the Pirates are well represented and I wish the quartet all the best in what is a great showcase for the league and themselves.

It would be good to think that the RFU might cotton on to the notion of making this a regular event with an annual fixture between the Championship select side and a touring nation. Okay, we won't get Australia or the Boks come calling as they are committed to the riches of playing at the major stadiums. But what about Russia, or Georgia, or Canada, or the USA? I could go on.

These guys are crying out for regular decent opposition to play against between World Cups so that they can develop. The Canadians and to a lesser extent, the Americans are playing more and more club rugby in Europe to further their careers as players, so why not encourage them?

I hope Castle Park is full on Saturday and it turns into a money-spinner as well as a cracking occasion. Maybe next time the RFU could reward the south west by staging the game down here, because there will be no lack of support for it, stadium or otherwise.

– Dick Straughan

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