Poor Pirates defy dominant Albion
Plymouth Albion will wonder what they have to do to end their sorry record in Cornwall. The Devon club dominated the Cornish Pirates yesterday but fell to a 19-17 Championship defeat. Their only consolation was a losing bonus point for finishing within seven points of Pirates.
Albion's draw with the Pirates in April 2008 was their last hint of success across the Tamar and this latest defeat came largely from their inability to score from penalties and conversions.
Fly-half Paul Roberts missed five of his six kicks for goal and that, ultimately, proved costly. Albion were superior throughout and Pirates will consider themselves fortunate to continue their winning start to the season.
Pirates' difficulties began after failing to receive the kick-off properly, allowing Albion possession inside their 22.
A penalty was conceded for holding on and Roberts kicked to the corner. A successful line-out then enabled Albion to drive for the line. The advancing pack were brought down by foul means and home prop Paul Andrew found himself sent to the sin bin.
Pirates regrouped well and cleared their lines but gave away another penalty which Roberts kicked at goal from distance. His attempt fell short but still the pressure grew.
The Pirates needed something to lift them and flanker Phil Burgess supplied it. His break bought his side a huge territorial gain and they won a penalty of their own soon after, allowing Kieran Hallett to open the scoring.
Albion wasted two more penalties, with Roberts kicking wide inexplicably, from in front of the posts.
However, they maintained their forward momentum and deservedly went ahead when back-row Herbie Stupple who scored over in the left corner – Roberts then made his only successful kick of the game, arguably the hardest, from close to the touchline.
Hallett reduced the deficit to a point, almost immediately with his second penalty just before half time.
Pirates came out for the second half in determined fashion and scored their first try within three minutes.
Wing Matt Evans did well to pick up Hallett's missed pass out wide on the bounce and powered into the scoreboard corner, despite fierce opposition from the Albion defence for an unconverted try.
Their lead lasted less than five minutes, however. The usually hard-hitting Junior Fatialofa missed his tackle on Bevon Armitage and the centre touched down to restore Albion's one-point lead.
Plymouth continued to dominate and were rewarded with a successful catch and drive, completed by Sam Hocking.
But again, a failure to convert meant Pirates were back in contention for the final five minutes when Evans scored his second try.
Rob Cook, back on loan from Premiership side Gloucester, was unable to put Pirates ahead with the conversion from an acute angle.
The full-back did prove himself the match-winner, however. A Pirates penalty on the edge of the Albion 22 gave him his chance and his kick scraped the inside of the right post to steal victory.