Love hurts as Scots make poor Pirates pay
Cornish Pirates 17, London Scottish 20
FOR the second time this season London Scottish staged a spirited second half rescue operation to pip the Cornish Pirates at the post and complete a Championship double over the play-off contenders.
Back in October, Mark Bright inspired them to overcome a 14-point deficit to grab victory in stoppage time and here the former Redruth hero led London Scottish back from 17-0 down after the Pirates looked set to record their fifth league win in a row.
The defeat was a bitter blow to the Pirates, who were never at their best and faded badly in the face of the Scottish onslaught. They struggled adapting to the vagaries of London-based referee Simon Harding, conceded too many penalties, and looked tired once they had let the Scottish back into the game.
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Assistant coach Harvey Biljon struggled to hide his annoyance after the game. He said: "It's difficult for me to comment accurately on too many aspects of the game right now because I am so disappointed."
"I'm also frustrated about a few things too," he added. "Losing at the Mennaye is always disappointing but also as the game went on there were things happening which were unusual and went against us, and I will have to look at the DVD of the game to find out why."
Only Newcastle Falcons have won at the Mennaye Field this season and the Pirates have founded their play-off push on their formidable home record. Losing a 17- point lead clearly hurt the coach.
"We have to look at ourselves and ask why we didn't keep up the pressure after we had gone that far ahead," he said.
"They (London Scottish) started to get emotionally charged up and when that happened everyone started to play. We began to make poor errors and bad decisions. We had an opportunity to win the game, we didn`t and that will now impact on our league position."
The Pirates remain fifth in the Championship table after this defeat, but the battle with Bristol and Leeds for the final play-off place has now intensified and Biljon's team have to face leaders Newcastle and then Leeds both away in their next two games.
"Nobody expects anything from us (at Kingston Park) as they are all talking about Newcastle so let's see what happens," he added.
The cold and windy weather had vastly improved the Mennaye playing surface after the mudbath against Doncaster seven days earlier, and after withstanding an early Scottish onslaught, the Pirates took the lead through a Kieran Hallett penalty.
Scottish then lost scrum-half Jamie Stevenson to the sin-bin and a largely forwards orientated midfield struggle was finally punctuated when Tom Kessell released Matt Evans on a close range blindside raid to score the opening try. Hallett converted and another of the sizeable ex-Redruth contingent on the field, PJ Gidlow, was then also banished to the sin-bin just before half-time.
The second–half began brightly for the Pirates with Burgess and Hallett instrumental in setting up Evans for his second try of the game and 10th for the season, and with the conversion slotted they looked comfortable, leading 17-0.
But a raft of replacements hurried from the Scottish bench and a penalty from James Love almost straight from the restart lit fires in the bellies of the visitors.
Bright's converted try on the hour was no more than they deserved and with the game now belonging to the Exiles, it was no surprise when James Love squeezed in for their second try ten minutes from time.
Love converted his own score and with the Pirates now mere spectators at their own party, there were no surprises when the Scots secured and then scored the match winning penalty five minutes from time.