Pirates brought back to earth by powerful Leeds
Cornish Pirates 20, Leeds Carnegie 27
FIVE days after a memorable win over Bristol, the Cornish Pirates were brought firmly back down to earth by a powerful display from another promotion contender under the Mennaye Field floodlights.
Leeds grabbed their first win on Cornish soil since November 2008 and deserved it as they shrugged off a ten point deficit after only seven minutes and ran in four tries to take a winning bonus point.
The Pirates snatched a losing bonus point through Craig Holland's converted injury time try and then threw everything at the Yorkshire side as they pushed for an unlikely equalising score. But Leeds held on and there were no complaints from the home camp.
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Head coach Ian Davies said: "We went tonight from the top of the roller-coaster downwards and we said all along that this season would be up and down for us.
"We made far too many silly errors which made Leeds look a much better side than they are. But fair play to them, as they took their chances well."
Davies felt that his pack allowed themselves to be "bullied" up front. He said: "Maybe our start to this game was a little bit too good and maybe we started to believe our own press from last week.
"We also knew Leeds would come back at us and they did and if you miss tackles you miss tackles. It doesn't matter if they are big and hard or fast and steppy, if you miss them you will get punished."
Despite spending much of the game defending, as they did against Bristol, Davies was happy with the way in which his team endured the physical challenge.
"It can't have taken that much out of them as they went the length of the field to score a good try in injury time," he said.
"We had nine minutes of possession at the end and a lot of phases so in terms of effort and fitness you can't question it."
He added: "We told the boys at half time to cut out the errors and play some rugby in their half. We hadn't executed several penalties in their 22 which was disappointing as we had worked hard to get there and the yellow card on a penalty reversal was silly as it made life even harder for us.
"We knew Leeds would come out and run at us after the break and they did. A system error let them in for their try down the blindside and that was the game really."
"In the end though, did we do enough to win the game? No. Did Leeds deserve their victory? Probably, yes."
After Gavin Cattle's early converted try and a Kieran Hallett penalty the Pirates led 10-0 early on but that was as good as it got for the Cornish side as they played their first home Championship fixture under lights.
Tries from Fred Burdon and Jonah Holmes helped Leeds to a narrow 15-13 half-time lead but they turned the screw in the second half, dominating territory and possession.
Fly-half Glyn Hughes missed three penalties in perfect conditions for kicking and once Pirates lock Gary Johnson had been sin-binned Leeds scored a third try through Craig Hampson.
Having already lost Cattle with a neck injury the Cornish side then saw Rob Elloway, Alex Cheesman and Max Maidment join the casualty list with ex-Pirates flyer David Doherty adding a fourth Leeds try late on.
Holland's stoppage time try briefly gave the Pirates hope, but their quest to salvage the game ran out of time.