Cornish Pirates weather storm to win tight game against dogged Moseley side
at Mennaye Field
Cornish Pirates got their Championship season back on track, but the going was certainly tough during a 17-14 victory over Moseley at Mennaye Field yesterday.
On another day, a bonus-point victory might have been a reasonable expectation. But in the swirling winds and with intermittent rain showers engulfing Penzance, this narrow three-point, three-try success represents a job well done.
Two touchdowns from on-loan London Scottish man Ashley Smith and one from fellow wing Matt Evans were just enough to see them clear.
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They were playing against a motivated, relegation-threatened Moseley side, who declared before the game that the injury-hit Cornishmen were more vulnerable than usual on home soil.
Instead, the win for Pirates brings a three-game losing streak to an end ahead of a tough round of fixtures that could determine the success or failure of an entire campaign.
Moseley, with a strong wind behind them in the first half, made the better start. After narrowly failing to score the game's first try, they took three points from a penalty kicked by former Pirates full-back Ollie Thomas.
Pirates soon responded. Smith's break and chip down the right got them into the Moseley 22 and their first try eventually came from Evans on the opposite flank.
Fly-half Aaron Penberthy was unable to convert, kicking into a fierce wind from close to the touchline and Moseley soon retook the lead with another Thomas penalty.
Penberthy, meanwhile, fared little better from the other side with a penalty attempt of his own as a hard-fought half gradually drew to a close.
There was still time for controversy before the break when Pirates lock Gary Johnson was shown a yellow card following a melee just inside the Pirates' half. But, despite the reduced number in their pack, Pirates stood up the pressure well to see out the half just one point behind.
The visitors' lead was extended to four points within five minutes of the restart, however. Thomas judged the wind expertly to kick an early second-half penalty between the posts after the Pirates' debutant hooker Will Tanner was penalised for standing up in a scrum.
Pirates soon asserted themselves on the half. A catch-and-drive for the line was held up but they had more joy in wide areas, scoring through Smith who was unmarked on the right-hand side. Penberthy then added an excellent conversion.
Smith then found himself on the end of another try-scoring move on the hour mark. A Phil Burgess chip and charge put Thomas under pressure inside his own 22. He was then penalised and Gavin Cattle's quick tap penalty and pass found Smith with a simple run-in for his second try.
However, that progress was partially undone after some poor work from the restart and Moseley eventually mauled their way to their first try through prop Ethan Waller.
It did not prove costly in the end, as Pirates gave as good as they got in the latter stages. However, they may need to find something more in challenging league fixtures against Rotherham Titans and Bedford Blues before a season- defining British and Irish Cup clash with Munster.