Pirates launch new year with stylish victory
Cornish Pirates 32, Bristol 17
THE New Year began in some style for the Cornish Pirates as they ran in four tries to comfortably beat Bristol at the Mennaye Field and move into the play-off zone in the Championship for the first time this season.
The bonus point victory over an irritable and disjointed West Country outfit allowed the Pirates to climb two places up to fourth and left head coach Ian Davies purring with delight. Davies said: "It's fantastic and a great start to 2013.
"I didn't think we would get five points and deny them a losing bonus point because of the conditions but to do that is absolutely fantastic.
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"We were very good in the first half and had looked at a lot of footage of what Bristol would try and bring. We stayed on script but were a bit disappointed to only be 18-3 up at half-time, and its not often you can say that against Bristol."
He added: "We knew Liam (Middleton) would get them fired up for the second half and they threw everything at us and got back into it. But fair play, our character was absolutely outstanding and we fully deserved the fourth try at the end to get the bonus point." The Pirates began brightly on a fine winter afternoon with the Mennaye pitch holding up well despite huge amounts of recent rainfall, and deservedly took the lead with ten minutes played through a Kieran Hallett penalty.
Three minutes later flanker Phil Burgess, back in the side after injury, fashioned the opening try out of a passage of broken play in midfields before racing past a stunned Bristol defence and Hallett converted to make it 10-0.
The Pirates fly-half then added a drop goal and a try of his own as he weaved his way around several tacklers in a congested Bristol 22 before hurling himself at the line to score, and suddenly the atmosphere at the old ground was super-charged with excitement.
Bristol were second best at the set piece and on rare forays into the home half met a committed Pirates defence. It took them until the final kick of the first half to score when Jarvis landed a routine penalty, but they were a different proposition after the break finally breaking through with a Kyle Traynor try.
Ben Mercer's converted try on the hour restored the Pirates cushion and Bristol then lost Jason Hobson to a yellow card for punching Burgess. Marco Mama scored a second try for the visitors late in the game before centre Tom Riley's first try in Pirates colours deep in added time secured the bonus point.
Ian Davies added: "It was great to have Phil Burgess back today because he is a special player and really has that X-factor. But I thought Kieran Hallett was outstanding today and put in a big performance in a big game."
"David Lyons fully deserved man of the match because his lineout work was outstanding while the carries and tackles were dominant. Bristol have got some big units but Dave met fire with fire and knocked them back over the gain line."
With injuries again ravaging his small squad the Pirates boss also drew added satisfaction from beating one of the league's well-resourced clubs.
He explained: "With the players Bristol have and the money they have spent Bristol should be in the top two in the Championship and they are not. We are aiming for the top four with a small squad and are working really hard to get there. Bristol are a class side but you didn't see that today because we didn't allow them to be that."