YORKSHIRE Carnegie returned to the top of the Greene King IPA Championship table with a hard-earned bonus-point victory at the Mennaye Field.
They bounced back well from their disappointing home defeat to London Scottish last weekend to replace the Exiles at the top of the pile, after the latter’s one-point victory over London Welsh on Saturday.
However, Carnegie head coach Bryan Redpath believes his side are not yet playing to their full potential.
“It was a hard-fought game,” said Redpath. “The wind put a lot of pressure on our decision-making, and some of it wasn’t great.
“At certain times we kicked too much ball away, and that was never the plan. Credit to Pirates, they put in a really good effort, but we dropped one ball over the line so it could have been a more convincing win.”
After a fourth-minute penalty miss by Joel Hodgson, the fly-half set up a try only eight minutes later when he cut the Pirates’ defensive line and provided the pass for tight-head prop Rob O’Donnell to score, with Hodgson adding the extras for a 7-0 lead.
Pirates fly-half Will Cargill replied with a penalty, and almost straight from the restart, the hosts scored a fantastic 80-metre try, with the move started by tight-head prop Adam Jamieson and finished by full-back Toby May, and with Cargill converting, Carnegie suddenly trailed 10-7. Cargill missed a 50-metre penalty attempt, and Carnegie finished the half with a try by centre Andy Forsyth beside the posts after an overlap was created off a catch-and-drive line-out move, and Hodgson’s conversion gave them a 14-10 interval lead.
There was a lengthy stoppage early in the second half when Pirates scrum-half Mike Pope was stretchered off with a head injury, but when play restarted, No.8 Ryan Burrows broke from the base of a scrum on Pirates’ 22 and sent in scrum-half Chris Pilgrim to make it 19-10.
Cargill reduced the deficit with a penalty, but a touchdown in clubhouse corner by centre James Fitzpatrick after another driven line-out secured Carnegie the bonus point, and with replacement fly-half Harry Leonard slotting a sublime touchline conversion, they had some welcome breathing space at 26-13. Carnegie then had to withstand a period of intense pressure, as Pirates kept kicking penalties to the corner, but their defence held firm, though they were perhaps a bit unfortunate not to receive a yellow card for repeated infringement.
Instead, it should have been Carnegie who scored again in the closing stages, but winger Seb Stegmann lost the ball as he crossed the whitewash.
Cornish Pirates: May, Arnott, Riley, James, O’Meara, Cargill (L May 71), Pope (Townsend 45, Holland 64), Walker (Andrew 72), Innard (Elloway 70), Jamieson (Walker 78), McGlone (Garratt 72), Graulich, Simmonds, Stevens (Atkinson 71), Bolwell.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Holmes, Stegmann, Forsyth, Fitzpatrick, Georgiou, Hodgson (Leonard 75), Pilgrim, Beech (Imiolek 49), Walker (Nilsen 75), O’Donnell (Beech 72), Myerscough (Barnard 75), Jones, Williams (Schofield 49), Bainbridge, Burrows. Replacements not used: Dudman, Lucock.
Referee: Tom Foley (RFU).