Cornish Pirates 11 Nottingham 10
The Cornish Pirates returned to winning ways in the RFU Championship with a hard fought victory over second-placed Nottingham in the mud at the Mennaye Field, writes Dick Straughan.
Persistent rain, fog and a pudding of a pitch made life hard for both teams and dictated the style of play from the outset as the game quickly became a battle between opposing packs of forwards.
Nottingham took advantage of their early territorial dominance, landing a fourth minute penalty from points machine James Arlidge, but the Pirates regrouped to level the scores quickly as Kieran Hallett slotted a kick against his former club.
Parity was only brief, however, as the East Midlanders won a penalty on half way and from the ensuing lineout deep in Pirates territory drove over for the opening try. Arlidge took his personal points tally for the season to 130 as he landed the conversion for a 10-3 lead.
The Pirates had already established that tight forwards play was their most effective weapon of attack and a ferocious onslaught on the Nottingham line at the end of the first half was rewarded with an unconverted try from hooker Rob Elloway.
Hallett missed an early second half penalty for the Pirates before Arlidge missed two wind assisted efforts for Nottingham. The on 55 minutes Hallett found the target with a 20 metre kick and the Pirates led.
In a fiercely contested final quarter the Cornish Pirates spurned several opportunities to make the game save as they wasted try scoring chances close to the Nottingham line.
But with the game in injury time and Nottingham driving forward in search of a penalty inside the Pirates half the home pack dug deep in defence, drawing a penalty of their own. Skipper Gavin Cattle kicked the ball dead to seal a significant victory.
Cornish Pirates: Davies, Bedford, Riley, Fatialofa (Hill 77), Mercer, Hallett (Kilmartin 80+2), Cattle (capt); Andrew, Elloway, Paver, Lyons, Johnson (Barry 37), Tyas (Buckle 69), Burgess, McGlone.
Replacements (not used): Joyce, Yeandle, Kessell.
Scorers. Try – Elloway; Pens – Hallett (2).
Nottingham: Jackson, Lewington, Streather, Munro (Forsyth 73), Crane, Arlidge, Romans; Parr (Bower 64), Duffey, Holford, Montagu, Rouse, Cooper, Wilson, Shaw (Calladine 64).
Replacements (not used): Malton, Quinn, Barnham, Joe Cobden.
Scorers. Try – Wilson; Con – Arlidge; Pen – Arlidge.
Referee: R Campbell (RFU).