Cornish Pirates (A) 20.4.1321/04/2013
Cornish Pirates 28 Jersey 24
Mennaye Field, Penzance
by Tom Innes
Leading by 11 points at the break and in sight of a major scalp to end the season, Jersey ran out of gas in the second half to finish well beaten.
Cornish Pirates were dominant virtually throughout the second period in wiping out the deficit and scoring 22 unanswered points until Michael Le Bourgeois scored in the final play.
With a marching band, singers and end-of-season awards in the glorious sunshine, the host club were aiming to put on a spectacle and both sides played their part in an eventful first half.
Jersey began the match with a late personnel switch, after Elvis Taione pulled a calf muscle during the warm-up. David Felton was summoned to the starting line-up with travelling reserve Kingsley Lang called up for bench duty.
Pirates made a rapid start and Jersey were almost entirely starved of territory and possession during the first eight minutes. The home side tried to attack with lineout and scrum options after penalty awards, and Jersey were relieved when Kieran Hallett went for goal and the damage was limited to three points.
The restart saw Jersey start to compete fully, and soon afterwards Max Stelling intercepted and appeared to be within sight of the line, albeit 50 metres out. But the centre opted to try and find David Bishop with an unorthodox flip pass, and the ball went to ground. However it was not long before Le Bourgeois had an easy penalty chance to level the scores.
As on many occasions this season, Guy Thompson was a potent attacking weapon for the Islanders, making a series of dynamic runs through the home defence. His first such charge could have lead to a try to the supporting Ed Dawson, but Thompson went on alone and was hauled down inches short following a last-ditch ankle tap.
Pirates were stunned and lost two men to the sin-bin in quick succession. Gary Johnson cynically prevented Jersey recycling the ball from a ruck, while from the resultant penalty Phil Burgess hacked the ball out of the scrum and followed his colleague.
Jersey opted for a second attacking scrum and the Pirates pack buckled, conceding a penalty try after being shunted towards Land's End.
Seeking to maximise the opportunity of a two-man advantage, the visitors conceded a second penalty to Hallett but then scored a second try when Dave McCormack broke clear from a maul thanks to a silky dummy and fed Dawson for the touch-down.
Pirates returned to full strength without further damage and were relieved to be still in sight at the break. Jersey had threatened again through Thompson and some more powerful scrum work, but the scoreboard was unmoved as the players left the field.
The first score of the second half appeared crucial and it was the Cornish side who achieved it. Felton was yellow-carded for bringing down a maul, and when Pirates staged a second attempt, Burgess crossed.
After being put under pressure, there was again an element of relief for Jersey to concede only three points, but the home side continued the one-way traffic, and scored a second try in the left-hand corner through prop Paul Andrew to retake the lead. Both the home side's try-scorers were playing their final games for Pirates, with Burgess signing an England Sevens contract and Andrew bound for Worcester.
Jersey made a series of substitutions, including Championship debuts for Joel Dudley and Myles Landick, but the revised XV had little more success in stopping the one-way traffic. The penalty count was mounting against Jersey, and Hallett took advantage three times, adding nine more points to his side's tally.
Jersey rallied in the dying moments with strong running by Thompson, Voss and Bishop, and Le Bourgeois was able to register his side's first points for 55 minutes of playing time in the last move, clinching a bonus point for his team.
The home side were able to enjoy their end-of-season awards - there seemed to be one for almost everybody - on the back of a winning conclusion to the season. Jersey were left tired and disappointed, but knowing that a hard season's work had already been enough to ensure Championship survival.
/* report reproduced by kind permission of the Jersey Evening Post*/
Jersey, sponsored by Locate Jersey and
Forwards: Sean McCarthy, David Felton (YC 45), Jon Brennan, Rob Anderson, Dave Markham, Fred Silcock, Joe Buckle, Guy Thompson. Half-backs: Dave McCormack, Michael Le Bourgeois. Backs: Ed Dawson, David Bishop, Max Stelling, Mark Foster, Glenn Bryce.
Replacements: Kingsley Lang for Silcock (11 mins), James Voss for Anderson (57), Joel Dudley for McCormack (57), James Gethings for Brennan (61), Myles Landick for McCarthy (68), Donovan Sanders for Stelling (79), James Copsey for Dawson (79)
Cornish Pirates: Paul Andrew, Darren Semmens, Peter Joyce, David Lyons, Gary Johnson (YC 14), James Tyas, Phil Burgess (YC 16), Ben Maidment; Gavin Cattle (capt), Kieran Hallett, Matt Evans, Sam Hill, Tom Riley, Wes Davies, Kyle Moyle. Replacements (all used): Ryan Storer, Will Tanner, Max Maidment, Laurie McGlone, Alex Cheesman, Tom Kessell, Ben Mercer.
Referee: Tom Foley
Men-of-the-match: Kieran Hallett (Pirates); Guy Thompson (Jersey) (Thompson also won the poll among viewers on Twitter)
Tries: Burgess 45, Andrew 54
Penalties: Hallett 8, 22, 51, 60, 66, 72
Tries: penalty try 17, Dawson 25, Le Bourgeois 80
Conversions: Le Bourgeois 17, 25, 80
Penalty: Le Bourgeois 12