Stuttering displays by Cornish Pirates give cause for concern
THE Cornish Pirates were left with food for thought after the second part of their weekend rugby festival as South West One new boys St Austell almost stole the show.
Both teams were joined by National One side Cinderford and played each other in three 40-minute games in sunny but breezy conditions.
The Pirates opened up against Cinderford and surprisingly trailed 19-0 due to a poor defensive display before fighting back to lead by two points. A late interception try proved costly though as they slipped to an unexpected defeat.
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St Austell, inspired by Andy Ashwin and Matt Shepherd, pushed the Gloucestershire side all the way in their opening game before testing the Pirates and running in two late tries.
The Pirates used the Saints game to try different position combinations and also started the game with 14 players and ended with 13.
However, head coach Ian Davies admitted that he was disappointed with some aspects of the day.
He said: "Certain aspects were disappointing but the aim here was to give everyone rugby.
"Up to now we have had big squads and guys haven't been playing 80 minutes so we needed to tick that box.
"What was disappointing was that we fell off a few tackles in defence and coughed the ball up in attack a few times.
"Chris Morgan spoke to the team afterwards about setting ourselves Championship standards and told the boys that today we fell short."
Davies continued: "Pre-season results do not matter but the issue against Cinderford was that we came out slowly and gave them a 21-point lead from soft scores.
"We worked hard, came back into it, and then gave up a soft interception so the result was probably just."
And he had plenty of praise for St Austell, who look in good form to start their South West One league campaign this weekend at North Petherton.
"They were fantastic," he said. "Andy Ashwin has got a good footballing brain, Steve Murley has got the structures right, and Matt Shepherd is a class act.
"They play good rugby and I think they will have a successful season."
And in terms of pre-season results in general the Pirates boss explained: "We have been working on certain things in every game and it is all part of a plan.
"We go to Bath University next week and will again work on certain things for our benefit, not theirs.
"It is not necessarily about winning the game. It is about what you get out of the game and not the scoreline."
St Austell director of rugby Steve Murley was delighted with his squad.
He said: "I'm very proud of the boys. Two very good sides in Cinderford and the Pirates played exactly how we wanted an expected them to, and I was pleased with how we performed.
"Our comeback late in each game was excellent and although you are never quite sure where you are with (pre-season) fitness, we are now happy with where we are and will travel to North Petherton at the weekend feeling confident."
He added: "We had opportunities though against Cinderford to score tries and should have taken our chances.
"We will work on that but this was a brilliant occasion playing down here."