Pirates reach Championship final with battling display at Bristol
Bristol 29 Cornish Pirates 18 (Aggregate 53-63)
The Cornish Pirates will contest the RFU Championship Final for the second season in a row after holding off a ferocious Bristol challenge at the Memorial Ground to qualify on aggregate, writes Dick Straughan.
They travelled from Cornwall with a 21 point lead after Monday's first leg and quickly added to it with a second minute Rob Cook penalty.
But the home side went on the offensive from the restart and were renewed as full-back John Goodridge gathered a Ruki Tipuna chip ahead to score, and Tristan Roberts converted the try for a 7-3 lead.
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Cook missed a penalty midway though the half before punishing Bristol as they kicked away possession. The Pirates full-back gathered the loose ball inside his half and raced 60 metres to score a try he converted himself.
A second missed penalty by the Pirates kept the tie poised nicely in their favour until Bristol rallied after the break.
Roberts landed a penalty before Goodridge raced clear from a Pirates turnover for his second try of the game. The Bristol fly-half added the extras to put the home side back ahead on the day.
Then came the try of the game as Pirates flanker Phil Burgess carved a passage through the Bristol defence inside his own half and raced clear outpacing the despairing Josh Ovens for a second Cornish try.
The contest appeared over despite the missed conversion until two late tries in the final ten minutes from Bristol stirred the home crowd back to life.
Centre Fautua Otto scored the first breaking through from fifty metres and wing George Watkins bagged the second as he rounded off a fine move down the left.
Suddenly Bristol only trailed by a converted try but the final word belonged to the Cornish Pirates as Cook banged over a penalty in the second minute of stoppage time to secure a memorable win over the two legs.
The Pirates now meet London Welsh in the two legged final after they edged home against Bedford Blues by just three points on aggregate over the two legs
Goodridge, Watkins, Otto, Eves, Helu, Roberts (James 74), Tipuna (Slater 69); Irish (Lilley 38-h/t, 67), Harris-Wright (Johnston 50), Hobson (Thompson 67), Sambucetti (Glynn 50), Winters, Ovens, Merriman, Grieve (capt) (Vanderglas 67)
Tries – Goodridge (2), Otto, Watkins
Cons – Roberts (2), James
Pens – Roberts
Cook, Pointer, Hill, Suniula, D.Doherty, Thomas, Cattle (capt); Rimmer, Ward, Paver, McGlone, Nimmo, Morgan, Burgess, Marriott
Replacements (not used) – Storer, Elloway, Brits, Smith, Ewers, Kessell, Evans
Tries – Cook, Burgess
Con – Cook
Pens – Cook (2)
Referee – S.Davey (RFU)