Cornish Pirates claw out victory over Ravens in Cup opener
Cornish Pirates 34, Ulster Ravens 17
A dominant final quarter from the Cornish Pirates proved decisive as they earned a deserved bonus point win in their British & Irish Cup Pool 6 opener at a windswept Mennaye Field in Cornwall.
In a lively contest the Pirates took the lead with an eighth minute try from Canada captain Aaron Carpenter as he broke down the blindside from a scrum midway inside the Ulster half.
Ulster came back strongly with fly-half James McKinney directing affairs in midfield while the pack worked a patient driving game. Centre Rickie Andrew had a try chalked off for a foot in touch before two McKinney penalties put the Ravens ahead after 22 minutes.
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Angus Sinclair kicked the Pirates back in front after a breakdown offence and then with the Ravens pressing just before half-time, home captain Gavin Cattle, making his 200th appearance for the club, stole an interception close to his own line. He offloaded to wing Mike Pope who raced 70 metres to score.
More patient play brought a score right on half-time for Peter Nelson and a good spell of sustained pressure brought the lead back into Ulster's hands as McKinney kicked a 49th minute penalty.
Then as the game entered its final 20 minutes the Pirates kicked on again. With their forwards enjoying scrum dominance it was the backs who finished the job as first Kieran Goss danced into the corner to score, then Matt Evans seized on a midfield turnover before racing in under the posts to claim a winning bonus point.
Mike McComish picked up a yellow card for killing the ball in the Ravens' 22 before an injury time penalty from Kieran Hallett sealed a solid win for the Cornish Pirates.
CORNISH PIRATES: Goss, Pope (Holland h/t), Fatialofa (Hallett 77), James, Evans, Sinclair, Cattle (capt); Davies (Cahill 66), Channon, Prescott (Joyce 77), Graulich, Barry (Cheesman 46), Morgan (Atkinson 79), Conlon (Parker 59), Carpenter.
Scorers: Tries – Carpenter, Pope, Goss, Evans; Con – Sinclair; Pens – Sinclair (3), Hallett.
ULSTER RAVENS: McIlwaine, Cochrane (Busby 77), Andrew, Farrell, Nelson (McCloskey 62), McKinney, Heaney (Porter 73); McAllister (Cromie 50), Annett (Murphy 77), Ross, Stevenson, O`Connor (Taggart 73), C.Joyce (Doyle h/t), McComish (sin bin 62-72), McComb.
Scorers: Try – Nelson; Pens – McKinney (3); Yellow Card – McComish.
Referee: T Foley (RFU).
Tonight's other B&I Cup result:
Pool 4: Plymouth Albion 28, Nottingham 9