Reds jump in as Pirates lineout goes walkabout
JERSEY Reds held out in the face of sustained late pressure to claim a second consecutive Championship win.
Visitors Cornish Pirates overcame travel problems and a ninepoint half-time deficit to battle back into the game, but could not find a winning score at the death.
Reds head coach Harvey Biljon was pleased with the composure of his new squad.
“There was adversity for both teams with Pirates’ flight delay and us losing captain Scott van Breda in the warmup, and then injuries to Dave McKern and Mark Best.
“Our speed in the first half showed where we want to be; it was an armwrestle in the second half, but there was lots to learn and we coped well under pressure.”
The match began at a high tempo, and after a series of forward drives, the Reds spread the ball wide and Tom Pincus went over in the corner. Laurence May hit back with a penalty, but then Pincus struck again with an irresistible intervention into the line.
The Pirates recovered well and used a penalty advantage following a high tackle to score a try through Pete Laverick after centre partner Nicolas de Battista made the breakthrough.
After Pirates prop Jack Andrew saw yellow for slowing down the ball illegally, following a team warning, the home side stretched their lead on the stroke of half-time. Mark Best intercepted and surged forward, his team-mates were quickly up in support and eventually Roy Godfrey barrelled over.
An early penalty by May after the resumption helped the visitors back into the game and thereafter there were chances for both teams.
The Reds had one kickable penalty to stretch their lead but declined this in search of a fourth try, but could not execute the rolling maul.
Otherwise it was the Pirates who were the dominant force in attack in the closing stages, but the Reds' defensive wall held firm.
Pirates co-coach Gavin Cattle was disappointed that a malfunctioning lineout denied his side the ‘launch-plays’ they needed.
“Our lineout collapsed and that’s something major to work on, although the physicality, fitness and commitment of the boys was excellent,” he said.