THE Cornish Pirates bounced back to winning ways in the Greene King Championship as they notched their first scalp since Boxing Day, with a morale boosting win over relegation-threatened Jersey at the Mennaye Field on Sunday afternoon.
The match was played in atrocious conditions after a lunchtime downpour on an already sodden playing surface, but both teams made light of the mud and standing water to turn on an entertaining display of surprisingly adventurous rugby.
With tough fixtures against promotion hopefuls Bristol and London Welsh next up for the Pirates, a win was paramount, and they shrugged off a frustrating early penalty count against them to eventually triumph with three tries.
Director of Rugby Ian Davies was pleased to see his team turn a corner but felt they should have won by more. He said: "I thought we performed really well to be honest but there was a point when I was a bit worried.
"I had said to the boys that if we won with a four try bonus point I would do a Klinsman through the water, but I got away with that.
"Both sides tried to play out there and the boys had done a lot of analysis on the way Jersey defended. We spoke about keeping the ball in the second half and I felt we kicked it away too much but to be honest I though we thoroughly deserved a four try bonus point in the end."
"To lose a try right at the end which gave Jersey a point was disappointing as I didn't think they deserved anything."
Aaron Penberthy landed a second minute penalty for the visitors on his return to action after a lengthy injury lay-off, slotting a kick from halfway, but then missed a second attempt minutes later as first half point scoring stalled.
The Pirates steadily grew stronger as the half progressed and took the lead in the 38th minute, when Junior Fatialofa went over from close range after a sustained period of pressure on the Jersey line. Kieran Hallett converted off the inside of the left hand upright.
It got even better for the Pirates in first half injury time as Tom Kessell's fine blindside break from a scrum on half-way set up wing Kyle Moyle to slide through the mud for a try in the corner.
Hallett struck the bar with the conversion, but the Pirates led 12-3 at the break and they increased that right after the restart.
Debutant full-back Max Bodilly seized on a loose clearance kick and his mazy run back at the Jersey defence saw him break three tackles before scoring his team's third try. Hallett converted.
Jersey rallied in the final quarter as they stepped up their pursuit of a losing bonus point with skipper Alex Rae claiming their first try from a driving maul on 63 minutes.
The same tactic in added time resulted in a penalty try as Niall O'Connor converted for a precious losing bonus point. Davies said: "They hurt us with their driving maul at the end and we fell foul of the officials too. I thought the referee had a poor game but we weathered that, even though the way he refereed the scrum didn't improve in the second half.
"We played really well in conditions that were not great and we were the team playing the rugby. Max Bodilly on his debut was an absolute superstar, scoring a great try, fielding the ball well when we knew they would kick to him, and is a star in the making."
He added: "The other guys all stood up too and everybody wanted to be part of the action. The boys to a man all performed."