For the first time since 2008, Yorkshire Carnegie made a winning start to the season thanks to two tries from prop Ben Harris along with efforts from Ryan Burrows and Chris Jones.
New head coach Gary Mercer did what James Lowes, Diccon Edwards, Stuart Lancaster and Phil Davies were all unable to do in their time in charge of the club by winning his first game in this division and his side laid down some firm foundations for the campaign ahead with a bonus point win.
Mercer had talked about the need for improved defence to add to the flamboyant style that had become their trademark last season and there was plenty of evidence in this display that both will be evident this season. The visitors led 29-6 for the majority of the second half before a couple of breakaway tries from the Pirates took the gloss of the performance for Mercer. Whilst two scores came from line-out drives from close range, the pick of the tries, scored by debutant Chris Jones, came from a sensational move that covered the full length of the pitch and involved nearly all the Carnegie players.
Yorkshire had opened the scoring early on through the boot of fly-half Glyn Hughes which was then cancelled out by his opposite number Kieron Hallett after 20 minutes.
Carnegie crossed for the opening try when Hughes opened up a gap in the Pirates defence. He was rewarded with a penalty which he kicked to the corner and skipper Burrows was driven over at the line-out. Hughes added the conversion to make it 10-3.
Hallett cut the gap with a penalty and should have brought his side to within a point with a close range penalty just before half-time.
But he missed and Leeds broke up field and crossed for a second try when David McIlwaine and Oli Goss had the home side backpeddling before the forwards kept it tight and prop Ben Harris powered his way over. Hughes added the conversion to make it 17-6.
The second half saw Yorkshire press home their dominance in terms of possession and they secured the try bonus point within 12 minutes of the re-start. The third try was the pick of their scores as it covered the full length of the pitch and involved nearly every Carnegie player. The move was started by McIlwaine and Goss on their own line before good support play took the ball upfield. Quick hands then put Jones in space and he brushed off the attempted tackle to go over.
Five minutes later the fourth try was an almost replica of the first try. The position was created by a powerful run from Jon Clarke, as he handed off two would-be tacklers and earned his side a penalty.
Hughes kicked to the corner and Harris was driven over the line for his second try of the game. Hughes kicked his toughest attempt of the game to increase the visitors lead to 29-6. The Pirates never gave in and came up with two late scores but the result was never in doubt.
Cornish Pirates: Evans, Goss, Riley, James (Pope, 61), Moyle, Hallett, Kessell, Andrew (Carpenter, 64), Channon (Ford-Robinson, 64), Jamieson (Gendall, 70), Garratt, Barry (Atkinson, 61), Parker, Cheesman, McGlone (Graulich,56). Sub not used: Cattle.
Yorkshire Carnegie: McIlwaine, Goss, Clarke, Lucock (Vickerman, 56), Doherty, Hughes (Leonard, 63), Pilgrim, Harris (Imiolek, 56), Graham (Nilsen, 56), Tideswell (Hooper, 56), Casson (Ramshaw, 37), Edwards, Jones, Walker (Barnard, 63), Burrows.
Referee: Simon Harding.
OTLEY made a solid start to the National 2 North season, though they required a late penalty to defeat Birmingham and Solihull Bees 25-23 at Portway.
Otley conceded an early penalty but hit back to lead 7-3, second row Jamie Sutton scoring a try and Stephen Depledge converting. That was quickly followed by a try from scrum-half Depledge before the Bees pulled back a penalty.
Otley went further ahead with another forwards try by Jack Scott Paul, only for the Bees to score just before the break to make it 19-11. Birmingham moved within a point after a converted second try but Depledge’s penalty made it 22-18.
The Bees went ahead 23-22 when replacement Liam Dunne found space to score. But a late Depledge penalty – after he had missed another shot at goal – snatched it for Otley.
Harrogate suffered a bonus point home defeat at the hands of Stourbridge also in National 2 North. Two Callum Irvine penalties and a penalty try accounted for their points.
Morley made a comfortable start to the National 3 North season with seven tries in a 44-15 win at Beverley.
A dominant opening saw the visitors run in three tries in 20 minutes through wingers Bradley Marshall and Tom Clough and outside centre Tom Moody. Skipper Mark Chester improved one of the tries to make the score 17-0. Beverley hit back to reduce the half-time arrears to seven.
Two penalties by Chester extended the Maroons’ lead and although the hosts pulled back to 30-15 there was still time for Morley’s new No.7 Luke Watts to get in on the act with two late converted tries.
Sandal lost 30-13 at home to Sale also in National 3 North. Gareth Newman got the try with James Ellar converting and adding two penalties.