Pirates wrap up bonus point win as Moseley let chance slip
A THIRD win in four league outings maintained the Cornish Pirates promising start to the season, but they were pushed all the way by a dogged Moseley side who should really have done better.
Three first half tries from the Pirates gave them a 15-3 lead at the break. Jack Andrew scored his second in two games either side of a fine brace from Tom Riley, but a strong start to the second half from the Midlanders and an early converted try from Scott Armstrong changed the complexion of the contest.
The Pirates then lost flanker Alex Cheesman and No8 Aaron Carpenter to the sin bin within two minutes of each other, and Moseley had the match at their mercy. Or so it seemed.
Playing with a two-man advantage, Moseley's pack piled on the pressure and the Pirates were forced to endure a torrid 12 minutes of ferocious attacks.
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Ollie Thomas cut the home lead to two points with a penalty but errors and indiscipline cost his team dearly. Kieran Hallett replied for the Pirates and Moseley surrendered the numerical playing advantage while still trailing by five points. It was to prove decisive.
Mike Pope's brilliant solo try late in the game and Hallett's second penalty secured the bonus point win and left head coach Ian Davies a happy man.
He said: "It was a comprehensive win in the end, but we had spoken at half-time that Moseley would come back at us and they certainly did that. Going down to 13 (men) wasn't part of the plan but once we got them back on we took control.
"It was disappointing that we allowed Moseley into the game when we did because we had spoken about it and it put us under pressure. But only conceding three points during the sin-binnings was testament to the guys out there. I thought the boys defended well all night."
Even though the Pirates scored three first half tries they were on the back foot for much of the game and while Davies was happy with the defensive effort, he felt his team lacked control at times.
"We needed that control because we always looked dangerous with the ball in hand," he explained. "The kick-off at the start of the second half didn't go well either and we conceded a line-out in our 22. That put pressure on us which was disappointing, and their try allowed them into the game."
Davies admitted that he didn't expect his team to emerge from the double sin-binning period without conceding more points.
He said: "I wasn't confident, to be honest. If Moseley had scored a try it would have given them confidence and we would have been chasing the game. But we stuck at it, only conceded three points, scored three ourselves and that was testament to the guys out there."
Davies described Mike Pope's 71st minute match clinching try as 'fabulous'.
The wing, making his first Championship start, forced a turnover and chased his own kick ahead before gathering the ball, evading two tacklers, and scoring at the posts.
"His footballing skills were brilliant," he said. "He got the time on the ball, picked it up, scanned, sidestepped, swerved and it was a brilliant way for him to mark his debut."
The Pirates boss also had praise for his midfield destroyer, Junior Fatialofa. He said: "He was really chomping at the bit for this one and put in some massive hits. Junior loves playing in front of the home fans and he put in a fabulous offload for Tom Riley's try."