Newcastle Falcons 50 Cornish Pirates 3
The Cornish Pirates were forced to endure an eight-try romp by league leaders Newcastle Falcons at a freezing Kingston Park on Saturday night but left with their pride intact after their much weakened team battled to the bitter end of an entertaining contest, writes Dick Straughan.
Heavy snow in Newcastle during the morning had left the game in doubt but a Herculean effort by the Falcons groundstaff got the pitch playable and the crowd who braved the bitter cold witnessed the Falcons' best performance of the season.
This was no consolation to the Pirates, who went behind to a converted Will Welch try after only three minutes, but they fought back strongly and the impressive Aaron Penberthy cut the lead with a 45 metre penalty.
The Pirates were dangerous but couldn't find a killer touch and Newcastle responded with three more tries in the half as they proved ruthless in attack. James Hudson, Scott McLeod and Oliver Tomaszczyk all crossed to give the Falcons a 26-3 lead.
Newcastle played the second half on the front foot but still the Pirates ran and tackled forcing the Falcons to work for the remainder of their points.
Former Scotland international scrum-half Rory Lawson scored their fifth touchdown before Welch added his second, but it took until 13 minutes from the end before the home side crossed the Pirates line again.
This time the giant Samoan international Taiasina Tu'ifua set up Jamie Helleur, then with five minutes remaining centre Alex Crockett ran in from 20 metres and Gopperth's fifth conversion sealed the 50-point haul.
Newcastle Falcons: Catterick (Hodgson 60), Higgins, Tait, Helleur (Crockett 69), Shortland, Gopperth, Lawson (Fury 65); Shiels, Thompson (Mayhew 65), Tomaszczyk (Hall 65), McLeod (Goode 73), Hudson, Wilson, Welch (capt) (Tu`ifua 60), Hogg.
Scorers. Tries – Welch (2), Hudson, McLeod, Tomaszczyk, Crockett, Helleur, Lawson; Cons – Gopperth (5).
Cornish Pirates: Davies, Mercer, Pointer (Riley 56), Bedford, Smith, Penberthy, Kessell; Storer (Andrew 73), Semmens (Hambly 63), Joyce (Prescott 63), Johnson (capt), Barry (Lyons 56), Cheesman, Burgess, Tyas (Marriott 63).
Replacement (not used): Elloway.
Scorer. Pen – Penberthy.
Referee: S Lee (RFU).