THERE was little cheer for the Cornish Pirates in the West Midlands as they conceded late points and slipped to defeat against an unspectacular, but dogged Moseley outfit at Billesley Common on Friday night.
With the game locked at 20-20 and seemingly heading for a fourth successive draw between the sides, home flanker Olly Robinson squeezed in at the corner for an unconverted try following the sin-binning of Pirates back row Jake Parker.
Minutes later and with the match deep into injury time, fly-half Will Hooley landed his sixth successful penalty of the evening following a scrum infringement to seal Moseley's victory and deny the Pirates a losing bonus point.
It leaves the Pirates without a win in the Greene King Championship since Boxing Day and of further concern to Director of Rugby Ian Davies will be the injuries sustained by wing Matt Evans and hooker Rob Elloway during the first half on a heavy pitch.
Evans limped off after only 14 minutes with a knee problem, while Elloway was left prone on the turf following a nasty blow to the head. The game was held up for 15 minutes before he was stretchered off, but the Pirates boss offered no excuses for this latest defeat.
"We scored a couple of good tries, scrummaged well and defensively I thought we were solid but we have got to be more than that," he said. "We haven't played well since late November to be honest, but we have to roll our sleeves up. There are some big games coming up. You can't win games just on a scrum."
He added: "Moseley targeted this game and made seven changes after the thumping they took at Leeds, picking a side to face us accordingly. We could have snatched a draw, but didn't do enough to win and in the end, have come away with nothing."
Moseley took the lead after four minutes as hooker Rhys Buckley drove over the line from short distance for the opening try. Angus Sinclair landed a brace of penalties to one from Hooley to keep the Pirates in contention before they snatched the lead in first half injury time.
Mike Pope and Junior Fatialofa led the counter-attack after Hooley had scuffed a drop goal attempt at the other end and Tom Hendrickson supplied the finish, with Sinclair converting.
Hooley pulled it back to 13-11 with another penalty before slotting two more early in the second half and another on the hour to give a seven-point lead, but the Pirates were not finished and won a penalty try on 71 minutes after pinning the home side under their own posts.
Kieran Hallett converted to tie the game before Moseley upped the tempo and pushed on to win in the closing minutes.
Davies reflected on the final period of the match, highlighting game management as the area where it had gone wrong for the Pirates. He said: "You have got some really young guys on the pitch and losing Matt Evans left us without a lot of experience in the back line in the first half.
"Bringing Kieran Hallett and Tom Riley on made a difference, but playing uphill against a Moseley team with their tails up we gave away too many penalties in our 22 and had JP (Jake Parker) yellow carded."
Prop Alan Paver also limped off at the end with a knee problem and Davies knows that his squad need to improve ahead of a tough round of fixtures in the coming weeks and a British & Irish Cup quarter-final against Pontypridd on April 6.
And he also hinted that the annual round of contract negotiations could be having an unsettling affect on some players.
He said: "We are slowly securing some of their futures for next season with the Pirates, but maybe it is playing on some players' minds where they don't know where they will be next year.
"The sooner we get that sorted the better, because as I have said all season, this is a tough league. If you are not playing well you lose. It is as simple as that."
The Cornish Pirates have confirmed that their home British & Irish Cup quarter final with Pontypridd will be played on Sunday April 6 (2pm kick-off).
Tickets for this all pay game are available through the club's ticket office 01736-331961 (open Mon-Fri, 9am-noon) or on-line at www.cornish-pirates.com.
Season tickets holders who wish to book their usual seats in the stands will have until Friday March 14 to do so and are advised to phone the ticket office.
Should the Pirates beat Pontypridd, they will be at home to either Leinster A or Munster A in the semi finals, scheduled to be played on May 2, 3 or 4, with the final on Friday May 23.