Pirates top pool after convincing away win
After two rounds of the British & Irish Cup the Cornish Pirates sit top of Pool Three and can reflect on a job well done in testing circumstances on Tayside after a 32-6 win at Dundee High.
For the second week running they scored four tries, thus earning bonus points which have been so scarce in their early Championship performances, and withstood a ferocious onslaught from Dundee which did not abate until the final whistle.
Two second-half Jamie Urquhart penalties as the Pirates failed to build on their 18-0 half-time lead briefly gave Dundee and their supporters some real hope of staging a dramatic fightback.
A yellow card for Pirates lock Darren Barry also briefly tempered their superiority at the breakdown, but late tries from Burgess and Pointer sealed the win for the Cornish side as they put in arguably their most complete performance of the season.
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Pirates assistant coach Harvey Biljon was delighted with the result and equally pleased that recent inconsistencies in his side's level of performance finally seem to have been overcome.
"I'm very pleased because we have come away with a result here and also got a bonus point," he said.
"I'm also impressed with the way the boys were in defence and the way they managed certain aspects of the game.
"What stands out for me in particular is that we didn't force it today.
"We stuck to task and built the phases, built the pressure, and took our opportunities when they came."
He added: "The way the boys dealt with the huge onslaught from Dundee at the end also stood out. They had real pride in not wanting to let the opposition over the try-line."
The Pirates travelled north led by No.8 Laurie McGlone for the first time this season and also recalled wing Grant Pointer to the side after his shoulder injury sustained on the opening day of the season.
Tom Kessell and Aaron Penberthy retained the half back pairing between them and in the face of a direct and aggressive Dundee pack, immediately set to work trying to play with tempo.
In perfect conditions for running rugby, Penberthy opened the scoring with a seventh-minute penalty, but Dundee roared back, launching several waves of attack on the Pirates line from a bridgehead deep in the visitors 22.
Strong defence and good discipline repeatedly repelled the Scots and the Pirates struck again with the opening try at the end of the first quarter as Phil Burgess profited from an unstoppable driving maul.
With the strong ball carrying of prop Stuart Longwell now being countered and the threat of pacey backs Duthie, Urquhart, and Canada international Taylor Paris checked, the Pirates began to play more of the game in the Dundee half.
Penberthy missed a penalty won superbly by a Jack Yeandle turnover but the second try deservedly came on the half hour as Burgess stole a Dundee line-out close to their line.
Quick ball to the left wing outflanked the home defence and Jack Nowell raced in to score with Penberthy adding the extras.
The Cornish side immediately pushed on again from the kick-off but were denied a certain try only as referee Stuart Graffikin penalised the pack five metres short of the line for a breakdown offence.
Penberthy made it 18-0 with a penalty in first-half injury time after Brandyn Laursen had illegally killed the ball close to his own line, but the Pirates had to wait until the 67th minute to score again.
Dundee threw everything at the Pirates in a torrid 20 minute spell with Barry making a try-saving tackle on prop Alan Brown moments before being yellow-carded.
Two converted penalties in three minutes for Dundee briefly set nerves jangling in the Pirates camp but finally killed the tie off with a third try after another typically marauding break from McGlone.
Quick ball again from the breakdown was to be the undoing of Dundee and Burgess was on hand amongst the back to take the scoring pass out on the right flank.
Penberthy added the extras and then set up the fourth touchdown of the afternoon just two minutes later as his sublime crossfield chip was claimed by Pointer for an unopposed try. The young fly-half then showed another piece of fine skill landing a difficult touchline conversion.
Both sides rang the changes in the closing minutes with several huge hits in defence denying Dundee as they launched their final brutal offensive of the game.
Frustration finally claimed Dundee centre Robbie Lavery in the fourth minute of added time, who was given a straight red card for punching. It proved to be the final act of an entertaining cup tie.