Pirates blown off course as Falcons ride the storm
Cornish Pirates 3 Newcastle Falcons 25
A strong forwards-based performance from Newcastle Falcons in terrible conditions at the Mennaye Field ensured that the promotion favourites maintained their unbeaten start to the season, writes Dick Straughan.
The Pirates played the first half into the gale from the south-east defending wave after wave of phase play and penalties which yielded a 4th minute penalty for Falcons full-back Jimmy Gopperth.
The response from the home side was strong with Kieran Hallett missing a penalty and Number 8 Ben Maidment getting the crowd on their feet after a strong drive deep into the Falcons 22. Finally the pressure told and Hallett levelled the scores with a 20 metre penalty midway through the half.
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Gopperth`s second penalty five minutes from the end of the half restored the three point Falcons lead and then in first half stoppage time they claimed the opening try as hooker Rob Vickers was bundled over from short distance. Gopperth converted.
The Pirates turned around in the second half trailing 13-3 but with the elements at their backs, yet it was the Falcons who killed the game off on 54 minutes as giant Samoan flanker Taiasina Tu`ifua rounded off a sustained period of pick and drive play with the second try. Gopperth`s kick made it 20-3.
Gopperth himself had a chance of a third try on the hour only to knock on close to the Pirates line and the Falcons finally killed the contest in the 5th minute of added time as wing Tom Catterick claimed the touchdown in the middle of a driving maul.
Cornish Pirates: Hallett, Bedford, Riley (Vinnicombe 71), Fatialofa (Cheesman 62), Davies (Cattle h/t), Penberthy, Kessell; Storer (Andrew 55), Elloway (Semmens 73), Paver (Joyce 67), Lyons (Barry 67), Johnson, Morgan, Burgess (capt), Maidment.
Scorer: Pen – Hallett.
Newcastle Falcons: Gopperth, Fielden (Tait 69), Crockett (Helleur 74), Tu`ipulotu, Catterick, Hodgson, Lawson (Pasqualin 78); Golding, Vickers (Thompson 64), Tomaszczyk (Hall 65), McLeod (del Fava 50), Hudson, Hogg (capt), Tu`ifua (Wilson 55), R.Mayhew.
Scorers: Tries – Vickers, Tu`ifua, Catterick; Cons – Gopperth (2); Pens – Gopperth (2)
Referee: G. Macdonald (RFU).