Pirates get season off to winning start after Evans' hat-trick but Pointer faces spell out
Three tries from Canada international wing Matt Evans helped the Cornish Pirates to throw aside the challenge of newly-promoted Jersey and inflict the first home defeat on the Islanders in almost a year.
It was a solid start for the Pirates against a team who, after achieving four promotions in the past five seasons, came into the game with a real sense that they could begin their Championship life by springing a shock against last year's beaten finalists.
But Pirates head coach Ian Davies has promised that his team will be difficult to beat this season and they did not disappoint with a professional display at St Peter's which left the Welshman largely happy.
"I would probably have taken that result before the game," he said. "We had said it would be about Championship experience versus Championship excitement and I think you saw that today."
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"I thought Kieran Hallett controlled the game very well and once our control and composure came to the fore I thought we looked very comfortable. Experience certainly won the day."
But Davies was left a little frustrated that his team did not close out all their scoring opportunities to claim a winning bonus point.
"I think that when we look at the DVD we will be less happy than we are now because we missed chances to get the bonus point," he added.
Jersey, who named former Pirates Tom Cooper and Nicky Griffiths in their starting line-up, started with predictable endeavour and enthusiasm and were rewarded with an early penalty for Ross Broadfoot after Rob Elloway had infringed at the breakdown.
However, the lead was short-lived and back came the Pirates levelling the scores in the 12th minute as Hallett slotted a simple penalty from close range.
Jersey maintained their physical and direct approach with Griffiths pulling the strings from fly-half and flankers Guy Thompson and Talite Vaioleti proving to be dependable ball carriers.
Yet for all their effort and endeavour the closest they came to a try was when Cooper was clattered by Tom Riley in the Cornish 22, as over-excitement and errors began to hamper their play.
Darren Barry should have given the Pirates the lead after 24 minutes as he dropped the ball on the Jersey line before being able to ground it. Jersey then missed a penalty as Broadfoot was off-target from the half-way line before losing centre David Bishop to injury.
As the first half moved into injury time, the Pirates struck, turning good pressure into a chance for Evans down the left flank which he gratefully accepted from ten metres out.
A lead of 8-3 looked a good advantage to take into the break but sloppy play at the start of the second half allowed Jersey to gain field position and a penalty for offside. Mike Le Bourgeois, on for the injured Broadfoot, made no mistake from 15 metres.
If the Pirates felt under pressure they didn't show it and three minutes later they extended their lead following an excellent turnover forced by Ben Maidment.
Hallett's sublime grubber kick split the home defence and Evans again out-paced the cover to dot down in the corner. Hallett then landed a wonderful touchline conversion to make it 15-6.
Jersey threatened again briefly but after Le Bourgeois had scuffed a second penalty wide of the target, frustrations grew and hooker Steve Boden was sin-binned for fighting.
For much of the final quarter Jersey struggled to escape from their own 22 and the game was finally settled in the last minute of normal time.
Replacement prop Ryan Storer was instrumental in forcing a turnover as he made a complete mess of a defensive Jersey scrum.
From the re-set the Pirates went wide to the left with tempo again and Evans was there to finish.
The only blot on an otherwise successful day for the Cornish Pirates was a collision during the final play of an absorbing game, when full-back Grant Pointer suffered a dislocated shoulder in a midfield collision.
He was taken to hospital in St Helier and could be sidelined for several weeks.
Jersey: Bryce, Cooper, Bishop (Le Bourgeois 38), Sanders, Dawson, Broadfoot (Copsey h/t), Griffiths; Barrington (McCarthy 50), Boden (sin-bin 69-79), Evans, Hannay (capt)(Markham 50), Anderson, Thompson (Nihill 72), Vaioleti, Trower (Felton 72). Replacement (not used): O'Brien
Pens: Broadfoot, Le Bourgeois
Yellow Card: Boden
Cornish Pirates: Pointer, Bedford, Riley, Fatialofa (Cheesman 78), Evans, Hallett (Penberthy 80+1), Cattle (capt) (Kessell 76); Andrew, Elloway, Prescott (Storer 76), Barry (Lyons 61), Johnson, Marriott, Burgess, Maidment. Replacements (not used) – Semmens, Paver
Scorers: Tries: Evans (3), Con: Hallett, Pen: Hallett
Referee: S Lee (RFU)