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Chiefs v Pirates Report


Sandy Park

By Mark Digby
August 21 2012

 Pre-Season Friendly. Saturday August 18th 2012






Exeter Chiefs 56-3 Cornish Pirates.

Pre-Season Friendly
Saturday August 18th 2012
Sandy Park Exeter

Mark Digby's Match Report

Seven days earlier, newly promoted to National One, Loughborough Students, came down to The Mennaye for a stern pre-season test. Now it was the Pirates turn to do so, making the trip up the A30 to their old Championship sparring partners, Exeter Chiefs.

In the not so distant past, there was little to choose between the South West rivals, but two years on, the Devon side are now an established Premiership outfit, on the brink of their maiden Heineken Cup campaign, and thus the gulf showed in that the home side came away with a resounding 56-3 victory. 

Exeter started with attacking intent from the kick off, displaying quick movement, hands and thinking, highlighting the difference between a top half Premiership team and one of the Championships’ leading lights.

 The Pirates were forced onto the back foot immediately, but good defence in the opening minutes forced Sireli Naqelevuki to fluff his lines by not noticing Josh Tatupu, and instead Kyle Marriot said ‘thank you very much’ for the pass into his grateful hands.

A sigh of relief was breathed by the small number of travelling Pirates, but it was not long before Tatupu collected the ball on the right wing to give the Chiefs a deserved try, with Ignacio Mieres converting the extra two points.

Sadly any hopes of a quick reply from the Pirates were quickly dashed with Tatupu swiftly gaining his and Exeter’s second score following a break out from Jason Shoemark passing to Naqelevuki, who this time remembered to pass to one of his own.

Mieres also made it two out of two for him with the conversion. Despite the early positive note of the Pirates’ lineout functioning well, the dark clouds of sporting luck were seemingly conspiring when an injured Alan Paver had to leave the field of play. Ben Prescott stepped out to replace Cornwall’s favourite Yorkshireman. By then Will Chudley had clawed his way across the try line, and again Mieres added the extras to make it 21-0. Welcome to the game Ben.

Were the Pirates going to lay down and go back to Cornwall with their tails between their legs. Not a chance. It was always going to be a tough test to compete with the gap in speed and intensity between the sides, but it was not all doom and gloom.

In the times that the Pirates had the ball, the passing looked good and they sought to use the full width of the field with Grant Pointer making a strong break down the right wing, and an attempt at a chip and chase from new boy Kieran Hallett, gave the Chiefs a few things to think about.

The new centre pairing of Alex Cheeseman and Junior Fatialofa gave hope for the new season linking up well, with Cheeseman using pace and good hands, and the former Bristol and Chiefs man Fatialofa bashing bodies to unnerve the home defence.

With the Pirates showing some promise of form to come in the season ahead, pressure from the visitors’ forwards forced the Devonians to concede a penalty at the breakdown, and Hallett delivered three points from the boot for the Pirates to finally strike three on the scoreboard.

Would they write the final scene of the first act? Alas no. In the last attack of the half, Luke Arscott made a superb break from just inside the away half to allow Chudley to go over for his second try. With Mieres converting successfully once more, it was 28-3 to Exeter at the turn of 40 minutes.

The second half saw changes made a plenty. Whilst the, gargantuan in comparison, premiership squad afforded to the Sandy Park residents allowed for almost a completely fresh fifteen to cross the whitewash, the Pirates worked with what they had and made a few, but no less significant changes, with Captain Marvel of Cymru, Olympic torch bearer himself Gavin Cattle, resuming the bridge at scrum-half to attempt to guide the Pirates into calmer waters.

After a breather of no more than an extra four minutes, Tom Kessell was back on the field, but now reporting for duty on the right wing. Whilst the re-shuffled team displayed a little more shape and solidity in midfield, it was still not quite enough to stop the tide of tries as wave after wave of attack brought four more scores.

White, Horstmann and Foster would go over the line for tries five, six and eight, all converted by brief Pirate, Myles Dorrian, but it was Exeter’s seventh score that gave pleasure and promise to both camps alike. Jack Nowell, who learnt his trade as a junior with the Pirates, went on a wonderful mazy run from the half way line, weaving around and alluding many an attempted Cornish tackle on the way to the line to leave a straightforward application of the extras by Dorrian.

Despite the avalanche of tries, the Pirates never dropped their heads and kept going right to the last of Mr Rose’s peeps from the whistle, with both Cheeseman and Kessell being denied by good Chiefs defence right on the line.

It would be all too easy to look at just the result, but pre-season games are ultimately not about the result. Whilst not always the most compelling for supporters to watch, it can also be said that friendly matches are not designed for supporters, but for players to test their fitness and form ahead of the season proper, to gel with new team mates and re-new partnerships with existing ones, and the coaches to view potential moves, combinations and plays, to test new ideas and bring back the old ones that work.

To that end, the game was a good workout for the Pirates. The backs seemed to function well as a unit in attack, the forwards matched and bettered their Premiership counterparts on two or three occasions, the line out was successful, and the passing seemed assured and confident.

It was evident that there are still areas that can be improved such as defence, but with opposition of a more comparable standard to come in the form of Welsh Premiership Newport RFC, there is still time to fine tune before the Pirates opening game of the Championship season in the Channel Islands at new boys Jersey.

 

Chiefs:
L. Arscott (J. Nowell 57), M. Foster, S. Naqelevuki (N. Sestaret h/t),
J. Shoemark (capt, S. Hill h/t), J. Tatupu (J. Arnott 57), I. Mieres (M. Dorrian h/t),
W. Chudley (J. Poluleuligaga 49), K. Horstmann (J. Blanchet 73),
T. Johnson (B. White (h/t), J. Phillips (D. Ewers 54), A. Muldowney (W. Carrick-Smith 69)
D. Welch, C. Mitchell (C. Budgen 57), S. Alcott (J. Yeandle 57). B. Sturgess (C. Rimmer 49),

Pirates:
M. Evans (K. Hallett 49), G. Pointer (T. Kessell 49), A. Cheesman (R. Elloway 79)
J. Fatialofa (T. Riley h/t), T. Bedford, K. Hallett (A. Penberthy h/t), T. Kessell (G. Cattle h/t)
B. Maidment (D.Barry 49), P. Burgess, K. Marriott (capt), G. Johnson (B. Maidment 67),
D. Lyons, A. Paver (B. Prescott 20, P. Andrew 75), R. Elloway (D. Semmens 49)
P. Andrew (R. Storer 49).

Scorers:
Exeter Chiefs -
Tries: Tatupu 2, Chudley 2, White, Horstmann, Nowell, Foster
Cons: Mieres 4, Dorrian 4

Cornish Pirates: Pen: Hallett

Referee: David Rose (RFU)

Attendance: 4,127

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