Otley made a number of changes to their side with some players having to play out of position. With Ian Shuttleworth not fully fit, scrum-half Dave McCormack started at full-back. In midfield, the athletic No.8 Mike McComish filled the inside centre berth with Rob Whatmuff having picked up a knock in his return to action against Leeds. Max Lewis made his first start in the back-row since returning from his long-term injury.
The match was a heated affair which erupted from the kick off when Otley second row Paul Williams was dangerously taken out in mid-air as he rose to collect the ball. Otley maintained their discipline and concentrated on playing rugby whereas the Pirates were exposed into making a number of embarrasing mistakes which left many in the crowd wondering what their players and coaches do with their time all week.
Otley gained a line-out near the Pirates line after 7 minutes following a crunching tackle by makeshift centre Mike McComish on Cornish winger Rhodri McAtee. The Otley pack rumbled towards the line from the line-out and captain Dan Hyde (the former Churchill Cup England representative being one of the best players on the park) crashed over for the try. Tom Rhodes converted magnificently from out wide to give Otley a 0-7 lead.
Further indiscipline by the hosts saw Otley given a penalty 30 metres out and Rhodes stepped up to extend the lead to 0-10 after 10 minutes which silenced the home crowd.
Pirates were next to score after 15 minutes from a counter-attack which ended up with Rhys Jones taking the final pass to score. Jones converted his own try to make it 7-10 and then landed a penalty to draw his side level at 10-10.
Otley were camped on the Pirates line following the re-start and as the pressure was applied, home scrum-half Nick Griffiths was penalised for killing the ball. Cornish prop forward Daniel Seal then took it upon himself to jump on Otley's scrum-half Andy Brown as he tried to sweep the ball away before striking the Otley player on the head several times. This was one of the most disgraceful acts that will ever be witnessed on a rugby field and the culprit was immediately ordered from the field by the referee after seeking the input of the touch-judge who had witnessed the despicable offence. Griffiths was also sent to the sin bin for his part in the penalty which Rhodes subsequently converted to make it 10-13 to Otley.
As Otley tired towards the end of the first period, they didn't manage to clear the ball from the park and Cornish siezed on the opportunity to score their second try through Aisea Havili in the left hand corner. Jones converted to give his side a slender 17-13 lead at the interval.
Second half match report to follow.
Cornish Pirates: Vakacegu (Moore 62), Havili (Tuohy 68), Devlin, Winn, McAtee, Jones, Griffiths, Cook (Andrew 65), Dawdiuk (Elloway 48), Seal, Gilliver (capt), Senekal, Betty (Heard 29), Motusaga, Morgan
Otley: McCormack; Roberts (Whittaker 36), Dench, McComish, Smith; Rhodes, Brown (Whittaker 21-36); Trethewey (Fullman 55), Kay (Steele 50), Fullman (Wederell 50), Parr, Williams (Craig 50), Lewis, Hyde (capt) (Whiter 72), Baldwin.
Referee: Paul Knowles (RFU)
Cornish Pirates 55
Tries: Jones, Havili, Elloway, Morgan, McAtee, Moore, Tuohy
Cons: Jones (7)
Pens: Jones (2)
Pens: Rhodes (2)
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