Pirates weather Penzance storm to overcome high-flying Nottingham
The Cornish Pirates needed a response to their heavy Championship defeat to Bedford Blues last time out and they got it in a brave performance against Nottingham yesterday.
The 11-10 final score in their favour at Mennaye Field tells little of the Pirates' dominance, particularly in the second half when they smartly played for territory and restricted the scoring chances of the Green and Whites.
The visitors were in the lead at half-time through Brent Wilson's try and an additional five points from James Arlidge's boot.
However, a try from the Pirates' flanker Phil Burgess, and two penalties from fly-half Kieran Hallett, was just enough to ensure the home side took four league points on a wet and muddy day in west Cornwall.
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The opening minutes were all spent in the Pirates' half and it was no surprise when Nottingham took the lead through an Arlidge penalty following a crossing infringement. But, after giving away possession through some overly ambitious passing moves, the home side took a more pragmatic approach through the forwards.
A series of pick-and-go moves saw them edge into the Nottingham 22 and a penalty chance for Hallett followed. He levelled the scores from a straightforward position in front of the posts.
It was a well-worked move that brought the Green and Whites' try. They took control following a line-out and a powerful rolling maul ensued.
Referee Ross Campbell initially thought Pirates had done enough to prevent the touchdown but changed his mind after initially giving the 'held up' signal. Flanker Wilson applied the finish with Alridge adding the conversion.
Pirates persevered and put themselves in a promising position at the end of the first half. They were awarded a penalty and opted to take the scrum rather than a kick for goal.
That decision paid off when Burgess forced his way over the try line for an unconverted score just before the half-time whistle blew.
A messy start to the second half saw both sides take penalty shots at goal within six minutes of the restart. But neither Hallett nor Alridge could master the conditions, the latter missing twice from distance.
Both sides found progress hard in the worsening conditions. Pirates gave possession away too cheaply on occasions but Nottingham certainly did not use it to their advantage. The second half penalty count evened up as the game approached the hour mark.
Hallett managed to keep his footing to put his side ahead by a point. And it was Pirates who looked the more dominant side in the latter stages of the game.
Nottingham's defence was severely tested when Pirates stole possession at a scrum deep inside their own 22. The home side got within two metres of the try line to no avail.
The victory moves Pirates up to sixth in the Championship with back-to-back British and Irish Cup games against Swansea to come this weekend and the following week.