Cornish Pirates 27, Swansea 9
THE Cornish Pirates came from behind in their final home match of 2012 to beat a dogged Swansea outfit at the Mennaye Field and remain top of their qualifying group.
The match itself was a slow burner which never really caught fire and the Pirates had to do without a coveted winning bonus point as they only managed to cross the try line twice against their Welsh Premiership opponents.
In truth the result was rarely in doubt, with the All Whites winless in all competitions since mid-October, but just a week after the heroics of beating Nottingham the Pirates were flat and produced an error strewn display which left head coach Ian Davies irritated.
"It wasn't good to be honest and we let ourselves down in too many areas," he said. "We made far too many errors, whether it be handling errors or penalties, to put a dogged Swansea side to the sword, which is all they were."
"They offered very little really but we allowed them to stay in the game when we should really have been out of sight."
He added: "It was just basic errors; knock-ons, balls going to ground, and going into touch. The fact that it was cold is no excuse because these boys are professional rugby players and at the end we spoke of performance levels and of highs and lows.
"At the moment we are on that rollercoaster because we perform one week and the next week we are poor. The concern is that we have Plymouth and Bristol coming up which are two massive games, and we can't afford to have that inconsistency."
The Pirates made several changes to the team which had beaten Nottingham, giving a second club debut to new signing Owen Hambly while welcoming back Kyle Marriott as captain after a lengthy injury lay-off.
Swansea delayed confirming their side until an hour before kick-off due to injury concerns but took the lead at the end of a scruffy opening quarter through a Sam Davies penalty.
Davies and Kieran Hallett traded penalties to make it 6-6 before the Pirates finally took the lead just before half-time as Paul John was sin-binned for the Welsh side and Hallett slotted the kick.
Pirates flanker Joe Buckle was driven over the Swansea line for a converted try in first-half stoppage time and from then on the home side were in control.
A purposeful start to the second half saw Tom Bedford go close to scoring a second try before the game returned to its previously scrappy status. Hallett and Davies were on target with the penalties offered and the Pirates led 22-9 as they introduced the heavy artillery from the bench.
Laurie McGlone claimed a second try with eight minutes to go but the prized winning bonus point eluded them as they failed to kick on in search of late tries.
Davies added: "Most of the changes made to the team for this game were through necessity but some of the people who came in probably didn't do themselves full justice and maybe tried a bit too hard. But that takes nothing away from a poor all-round team performance."
But Davies did admit that one positive on an otherwise uninspiring afternoon was the return to action of Kyle Marriott.
He said: "It was brilliant to see Kyle back out there. He`s a senior player and with Chris Morgan out he becomes integral to what we are doing. He played longer than we wanted because we couldn't get the stranglehold on the game we wanted and find that extra gear."