Jersey 6, Cornish Pirates 20
CORNISH Pirates head coach Ian Davies was reasonably happy after watching his team open their RFU Championship campaign with a hard fought win at St Peter's against newly promoted Jersey.
It was only the second home defeat in three years for the Islanders who have enjoyed a rich vein of success in recent times with four promotions in five seasons, and Davies admitted that he would have taken this result before the game.
But he was left to rue several try-scoring chances which went begging and the lack of a winning bonus point after a hugely physical battle against Ben Harvey's team.
Davies said: "I would probably have taken that result before the game. We had said it would be about Championship experience versus Championship excitement and I think you saw that today.
"I thought Kieran Hallett controlled the game very well and once our control and composure came to the fore I thought we looked very comfortable. Experience certainly won the day."
He added: "I think that when we look at the DVD we will be less happy than we are now because we missed chances to get the bonus point."
Davies acknowledged the physical threat posed by a strong Jersey pack which put the Pirates under heavy pressure especially in the first half but explained that there was a simple plan to deal with that.
He said: "They have got a big front five and Ben Evans at tighthead has got a huge amount of experience.
"But they did tire and we knew that because our game plan was to make them work hard and slowly but surely our backs dominated because they had more space."
He added: "Jersey lost some key players to injury today and when they went off Nicky Griffiths became less of a threat because he tries to do too much himself. But they will get better and I'm glad we had them first up."
And despite a worrying injury concern for the Pirates late in the game after Grant Pointer dislocated a shoulder in a collision during the final play of the game, Davies paid tribute to several of his stand-out performers.
"The whole midfield had a good game and Junior Fatialofa is a class act," he said.
"He flits in and out of the game and when he is in it he is devastating. When he isn't teams are still worried about him.
"Up front Paul Andrew and Rob Elloway had solid games and Darren Barry had a good debut.
"He gave us 60 minutes of graft and I think he's got a big future ahead of him."
After an early exchange of penalties by Jersey's Ross Broadfoot and Kieran Hallett for the Pirates, the visitors withstood a furious barrage of early pressure in which Tom Cooper went closest to scoring for the home team.
Tom Riley dealt with the threat on that occasion and was instrumental in creating space in first half stoppage time for Matt Evans to score the first of his three tries.
Jersey cut the lead to two points at the start of the second half, courtesy of a Mike Le Bourgeois penalty, before the Pirates stormed back to take control of the game after Ben Maidment forced a turnover in the home 22.
Hallett's grubber kick created space for Evans and the Canada international raced in to score unopposed. Hallett duly made it 15-6 as he converted from the touchline.
The Pirates pinned Jersey back in their own 22 for long periods in the second half but took until the 80th minute to finally kill off the contest.
Good work by Ryan Storer forced a turnover at a defensive five-metre scrum for the hosts and from the re-set quick ball to the left flank again found Evans on hand to score.