Stephenson's rocket shatters Cornish Pirates in late drama at Leeds
Leeds Carnegie 14, Cornish Pirates 13
A Mike Stephenson try three minutes from the end of normal time shattered the Cornish Pirates as Leeds Carnegie battled back to avenge their early season mauling at the Mennaye Field, writes Dick Straughan.
The match was never a classic but on a chilly afternoon in Yorkshire both sides set about each other on a heavy pitch with real ferocity and fly-half Joe Ford opened the scoring for Leeds with a seventh minute drop goal.
Rob Cook levelled the scores with a penalty as Leeds succumbed to huge pressure on their line a few moments later but the momentum stayed marginally with the home side as they wasted several good attacking opportunities down the left flank.
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Then with 23 minutes played the Pirates won a penalty try as David Doherty was tackled off the ball chasing Tom Kessell's grubber kick with the line at his mercy. Stephenson was sin-binned for Leeds and Cook converted to make it 10-3.
Tom Bell cut the deficit to a point with a brace of penalties before Cook struck right on half-time as a Leeds scrum imploded to make it 13-9 to the Pirates at the break.
Bell missed with another penalty attempt early in the second half but after Drew Locke's flying try saving tackle on him moments later did hit the target again as Morgan was penalised at the breakdown, only for the referee to controversially over-rule his touch judges and disallow the score.
The Pirates clung on to their 13-9 lead until the dying minutes when the pressure finally told and Stephenson squeezed in at the corner.
Leeds Carnegie: Bell, Stephenson, Thornley, Barker (Barrow h/t), Lucock, Ford, Hampson (White 70), MacDonald, Titterell (capt) (Freer 72), Palma-Newport, Hemingway, Hohneck, Burrows, Rowan (Beck 72), Paul (Walker 72).
Replacements (not used): Zeiss, Mustafa, Beck.
Scorers. Try – Stephenson; Pens – Bell (3).
Yellow card: Stephenson.
Cornish Pirates: Cook, McAtee (Pointer 51), Locke, Hill, D.Doherty, Dorrian, Kessell (J.Doherty 78), Storer (Andrew 54), Elloway (Ward 51), Paver (Brits 78), McGlone (Smith 80+2), Nimmo, Marriott, Morgan (capt), Maidment (Burgess 68).
Scorers. Try – penalty; Con – Cook; Pens – Cook (2).
Referee: D Richards (RFU).