My View on the Cornish Pirates: by Dick Straughan
I HAD a bit of sympathy for Moseley director of rugby Kevin Maggs when I spoke to him after Friday night's game. His team had repeatedly shot themselves in both feet during a game they could have won and the former Ireland international was not a happy man.
It took a while to track him down as his own grim-faced backroom team admitted that they didn't know where he was, but I eventually found him standing in the middle of the pitch, presumably cooling off.
Maggs claimed that his team had played "all of the rugby", which I would suggest was slightly over-egging the pudding, but had watched on helplessly as Moseley inexplicably failed to take advantage of a double sin-binning for the Pirates after an early second half try brought them back within a score of the lead.
Twelve minutes of Mennaye madness encompassed the dismissals of Cheesman and Carpenter as heroic defence from the Pirates and supreme profligacy in attack by the Midlanders became the order of the day.
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Moseley suddenly saw the game fall into their hands and then drop clumsily, and just as quickly, out again as they failed to hurt the Pirates, scandalously coughing up possession and conceding penalties when looking nailed on to score again. No wonder Maggs was raging.
Yet as the Pirates turned a game they were expected to win into one in which they had to scrap every inch of the way to secure victory, Maggs's opposite number, Ian Davies, was, by his own admission 'unusually happy' post-match.
I reminded the Welshman of the pre-season experiment he had run of fielding reduced numbers against Cinderford and St Austell to prepare for calamitous carding episodes like this, and the stick he had taken from some supporters for daring to try it.
Admittedly he didn't expect his team to get through their problematical spell against Moseley wearing as few scars as they did, but Davies had every right to feel vindicated. Both he and Harvey Biljon had prepared his squad for an extreme occurrence and it had worked. They had done their job.
Now they need to stop the boys getting the cards in the first place. After five in four games it will hurt them eventually if they keep collecting them at the current rate.
That said, I think it is unfair to be too critical of the Pirates this early in the season. Three wins out of four and bonus point wins in their last two outings have made them good value for money, and coupled with a huge defensive work rate they have also scored some pretty neat tries.
The big squad, which some critics claimed was too big, is now proving its worth as a brutally physical first month of the season fills up the physio's room with damaged bodies. All the youngsters given a chance so far have looked good enough for the Championship and Mike Pope's score in this game was one of the best I have seen from the Pirates in recent seasons.
Now they need to maintain that good form as we head into a fortnight of cup action where, while some of the opposition may be unfamiliar, the competition will be just as intense.