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By Ian Todd
October 26 2015

Bristol managed a win in Penzance for the first time since 2004.  That year included three wins at the Mennaye but those had to sustain us ever since.  10 - 40 sounds comfortable and, in truth, it was.  Pirates held the lead briefly but scored nothing in the second half.  The visiting pack was dominant and laid the foundation for a comprehensive victory.  Bristol stay top with a bonus point win against a bogey side. 

The morning had seen drizzling rain in Penzance but by kick off the sun was breaking through and a swirling breeze had dried the pitch.  A swirling breeze that made it surprising that both sides kicked so much in the first half.  The kick-off from Pirates was well taken and the first of the kicks in open play from Bristol took play well into the hosts’ half but Jack Tovey was unable to claim possession.  The ball bounced off a Pirate’s (non-wooden) leg and the player who picked it up must have been in front but in fact it was Bristol who were adjudged offside.  The resulting penalty was well struck by Hallett and Pirates were 3 – 0 up.

The remarkably small crowd (even Naughty Boys corner was rather sparse) was then ‘treated’ to one of those kicking contests in which neither side gains any territory until someone finally takes mercy and hoofs it into touch.  In fact it was Pirates who got the better of this particular duel in territorial terms.  However, for the first time in the game Bristol kept the ball in hand and made ground down to the Pirates’ 22 were the hosts were penalised.  Gavin Henson kicked to touch.  The catch-and-drive move went in and Olly Robinson claimed the try.  He’s getting to be a bit like Mark Bright, of London Scottish, in claiming the spoils following good work from the pack.  And for all those who decried Bristol’s defence of the close range rolling maul it was instructive to see how poorly even the well organised Pirates defence coped with the tactic.  Henson converted and Bristol were in front.

Despite seeing the benefit of keeping hold of the ball both teams continued to kick it away and Bristol managed one out on the full.  Pirates then promptly lost the ball to Bristol who, equally promptly, kicked the ball away.  The only good point here was that Pirates then knocked on.  The Pirates scrum looked vulnerable from early on and a penalty at the set-piece once again saw Bristol attempt the close-range rolling maul.  The home supporters breathed a sigh of relief when Bristol knocked-on with the try-line begging.  Bristol still managed to regain possession only to make a real mess of things to allow Pirates to clear into the Bristol half.  Some poor handling and an intercepted pass saw Pirates sail into the Bristol half.  The hosts showed some real attacking verve and pressed close to the Bristol line before Atkinson swept behind the defence to dot down behind the posts for a converted try and put his team back in front at 10 – 7.  A lead that was to last just a short while and, to give things away, were the last points Pirates managed in the game.  Just before half time Pirates gave away another penalty and once more Henson went for touch inside the 22.  This time the Bristol drive was top-notch and the defence disintegrated to allow Robinson to claim another try.  Henson’s conversion made it 10 -14 at half time.

Bristol essentially finished off the contest by quickly moving further ahead at the start of the second period.  A charge down put Pirates under pressure.  Charlie Amesbury made good ground before being tackled close to the touchline.  Luke Arscott and Gaston Cortes battled well to keep the ball in play before the ball was swept across the field and into the hands of Will Cliff who went in for a converted try.  Pirates, to their credit, had not given up and when Robinson knocked on they tried to attack down the right, making it down to the corner, only to see the Bristol defence hold firm and then give away a relieving penalty. 

Bristol pushed forward again and worked their way into the Pirates 22.  The home scrum finally cracked altogether under immense pressure after a series of engagements just metres out.  The referee finally brandished the yellow card and Walker went to the sin-bin.  Some debate took place as to how many men Pirates should have on the pitch having already made front-row replacements (I’ve lost track of what the regulations are for this situation, I think the league differs from the cup and, of course, our replacement numbers aren’t the same as in the Premiership despite being the second-tier of professional rugby).  The Bristol bench were, at the same time, trying to get across the message that taking an uncontested scrum from the penalty was a bad idea.  The sensible option was the lineout.   Very sensible it turned out and Robinson scored again.

Pirates resistance was all but over and it was noticeable that many in the crowd were now chatting away with only half an eye on the game.  Jamal Ford-Robinson, on as a replacement, made a typically robust run to the dismay of his former club.  They managed to regain possession but the clearance kick made little ground and Bristol maintained the pressure.   With the Bristol bench swiftly emptying there was some muttering about making replacements by rote but the Bristol front row had put in a great shift and looked in need of a rest.  The doom-sayers, perhaps recalling Bristol’s record at the Mennaye, were worrying needlessly.  The Bristol pack stayed on top and more good work saw Ellis Genge smash over out left.  The conversion from a bloodied Henson made it 10 – 35.   Bristol were still looking for points and a neat little grubber kick turned the Pirates defence and Ryan Edwards sped through and touched down.  The conversion was off target but Bristol finished at 10 – 40.

A long overdue victory in Penzance that kept Bristol top of the league and the hosts second bottom.  What has happened here?  The crowd was the poorest I’ve seen here, plenty of empty seats and room to move around in an area normally packed.  Even the pasties were worse (although still way better than ours).  With a move near Truro beckoning the spectre of relegation is surely a real possibility.  The big predictor of league position is tries scored and Pirates have managed 14 so far in this campaign.  In contrast Ealing have managed 20, Moseley 21.  Pirates now have the worst points difference.  It is all very well getting a new stadium, not so good if you are in the National Leagues when you do.

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26/10/2015 09:42
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2015:11:23:09:06:22 by SenorJuan.

EverOptimistic (IP Logged)
26/10/2015 09:55
Another great review. Always look forward to reading these. Thank you.

Standardprocedure (IP Logged)
26/10/2015 12:56
Good review, thanks! Nice to see us putting an average team to the sword for a change instead of seemingly making hard work of it

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