IT may have been back to winning ways for the Cornish Pirates as they secured their seventh win at the Mennaye Field this season in the Greene King Championship but there was little else to take from this dour stop-start affair against relegation threatened Nottingham.
Conditions were good for open rugby on a bright afternoon in Penzance but problems at the scrum became a running sore which blighted the game, eventually leading to a flurry of late yellow cards from referee Craig Maxwell-Keys.
Darren Barry, Jack Andrew and Aaron Carpenter were all sent to the sin bin in the final ten minutes along with Nottingham flanker Rupert Cooper as the match officials struggled to stay in control and the game descended into farce.
Pirates Director of Rugby Ian Davies was far from impressed either and said: "To be honest somebody has to be embarrassed about the scrummaging.
"It's either the Pirates embarrassed because of what happened at the scrum or the referee has to be embarrassed because if you are penalising a team that many times in the scrum then why isn't a yellow card produced?
"If you are penalising a team that many times at the scrum why isn't there a penalty try? And if you are penalising a team that many times in the scrum, why?"
He continued: "When we review this game if it is us at fault we will admit that we were royally beaten at the scrum but I think you have to be a real idiot to think that there was only one side transgressing here. To be honest, and I'll get in trouble for saying it, I think the ref was out of his depth at the scrummage today.
"Craig Maxwell-Keys is one of the RFU hotshots and is progressing well, but today he has to look at the game and admit that he has some lessons to learn. He lost control a little bit, both sides threw their arms up at times because they did not know what was going on and you can't have that."
Nottingham, coached by former Pirates lock Martin Haag, went ahead with a 10th minute Matt Jarvis penalty before being hit by a double salvo of Pirates tries midway through the half.
Kyle Moyle picked off an interception on his own try line as Nottingham looked set to score before racing the length of the field to touch down and Kieran Hallett, making his 50th appearance for the Pirates, converted.
Hallett then set up Craig Holland with a fine grubber kick for his 6th try of the season before the first half fizzled out amidst scrum chaos and handling errors.
Jarvis cut the Pirates lead to 12-6 with an early second half penalty but with the Midlanders offering little in attack it was Moyle who struck again on 66 minutes as he raced down the right flank to score in the corner.
The disruption at the scrum finally erupted in the dying minutes as Nottingham drove hard at the Pirates earning a string of penalties.
Twice they were held up over the home line as sin-binnings depleted the Pirates pack, before flanker Will Skuse forced his way home for an unconverted stoppage time try. Ian Davies continued: "Nottingham should have had a penalty try at the end because you cannot give away that many penalties in the red zone, although I will question some of them. The referee produced three yellow cards at the end so why wasn`t it a penalty try? I apologised to Martin Haag at the end because we won a game that we should not have won.
"We won the game though and we should be happy. We didn't see a lot of rugby played by either side and there were contributing factors to that, but it was amazing that we won the game. I told the boys that to finish the game with 12 players and defend the way we did was fantastic."