- The Championship
- Sunday, September 10th 2017
- Mennaye Field
Will Carpenter reports from Mennaye Field
Report: Cornish Pirates 29-31 Bristol Rugby
Sunday, September 10th 2017
David Lemi bagged a hat-trick as Bristol Rugby shrugged off a stuttering start and a nailbiting finish to record a bonus-point victory over Cornish Pirates at Mennaye Field.
Pat Lam’s side had led 28-8 with just over 30 minutes to play, thanks to Lemi’s fine treble - which saw him become the club's all-time leading try scorer in competitive fixtures - and a stunning individual effort from Australian wing Luke Morahan.
But Pirates fought back with three second-half tries courtesy of Marlon Walker, Kyle Moyle and a penalty try – to go with Alex O’Meara’s third-minute score – which set up a tense finale on a wet and windy afternoon in Penzance.
The hosts made an impeccable start to match when Alex Day hacked on a loose ball in the Bristol midfield, allowing Alex O’Meara to race on and wrestle his way over the whitewash.
Bristol hit back on 14 minutes with the first of Lemi’s three, as the Samoan applied the finishing touches to an intricate handling move involving Madigan, Morahan and Pisi.
Morahan then scored the try of the match to give Bristol a 10-5 lead on 20 minutes, collecting his own kick ahead to touch down in the right-hand corner, after Dan Thomas’ storming break from deep.
Pirates fly half Laurence May landed a penalty to reduce the gap to two points, before Lemi’s second – in identical fashion to his first – opened up a nine point lead on the half hour mark.
That soon became a 15-point lead as Madigan fired over a penalty either side of half time to extend the visitors’ lead to 23-8 – and the Irishman had a hand in the next score, as his pinpoint cross-field kick sent Lemi in for a hat-trick eight minutes into the half. It was a try that saw Lemi become Bristol Rugby's all-time leading try scorer in competitive fixtures, with 68 tries in 132 matches.
A penalty try at the scrum handed Pirates a lifeline on 52 minutes, but Madigan’s fourth successful kick of the afternoon made it a 16-point buffer heading into the final quarter.
But Pirates weren’t to be deterred and a quick-fire double from Walker and Moyle ensured a nervy finish in front of a bumper Cornish crowd.
The hosts almost snatched a late victory when O’Meara raced away down the right, only to be scythed down metres short by hat-trick hero Lemi, as Bristol held on for a second successive win.
With just two points in it and four minutes left on the clock, David Lemi’s try-saving tackle on Pirates wing Alex O’Meara ensured Bristol would hold on for a bonus-point win at Mennaye Field.
Man of the match: Steven Luatua
On his second competitive appearance for the club, the All Black showed his class in the Bristol back-row with a hugely impressive display in attack and defence.
A series of barnstorming carries, including one 50-metre charge from his own 22, were central to this eye-catching display.
In the closing stages, Luatua's composure and experience saw Bristol Rugby earn a vital turnover and clear their lines, as the visitors battled to a narrow win.
Photo of the match:
Social media post of the match:
Cornish Pirates: Toby May, Alex O’Meara, Dan Koster, Nicos De Battista (c), Kyle Moyle, Laurence May, Alex Day; Marlen Walker, Tom Cowan-Dickie, Jack Andrew, Josh Caulfield, Toby Freeman, Rupert Cooper, Alex Cheesman, Tom Lawday.
Replacements: Christian Judge, Billy Keast, Dan Lee, Matt Bolwell, Mike Pope, Will Cargill, Pete Laverick.
Bristol Rugby: Jordan Williams; Luke Morahan, Will Hurrell, Tusi Pisi, Tom Varndell; Ian Madigan, Rhodri Williams; Soane Tonga’uiha, Jason Harris-Wright, Tyler Gendall, Sam Jeffries, Joe Latta (c), Steven Luatua, Dan Thomas, Nick Haining.
Replacements: Max Crumpton, Jack Cosgrove, Nicky Thomas, Jordan Crane, Ryan Glynn, Billy Searle, Mat Protheroe.
- Walker, Moyle, O'Meara
- Cargill (2)
- Yellow Cards:
- Lemi (3), Morahan
- Madigan (3)
- Yellow Cards: