London Scottish 25, Cornish Pirates 24
A PENALTY with the final kick of an absorbing contest in south-west London expertly converted by London Scottish fly-half Phil Godman gave the Exiles the narrowest of victories over a shell-shocked Pirates side on Saturday.
Godman's dramatic 40-metre effort capped a fine comeback for Scottish but left the Pirates wondering just what they have to do to win a game right now.
Leading 24-10 with just over a quarter of the game to play they seemed in total control but switched off and allowed their opponents back onto the contest.
Assistant coach Harvey Biljon struggled to hide his anger and disappointment at the end. He said: "It was very disappointing and frustrating and it hurts even more when it is taken away on the last play of the game.
"From one minute we were going for a win with a bonus point and then it turned and we lost with just a losing bonus point. Its very tough to take right now."
He added: "In the first half we had a clear blueprint and stuck to the task. In the second half, after we had spoken about sticking to what worked at half-time, we didn't do that.
"We put ourselves under pressure, played in the wrong areas of the field, and I am going to find out why we didn't do what we set out to do."
The result leaves the Pirates winless in their last four outings as the Championship season takes a break for a fortnight of British & Irish Cup action, and Biljon hopes that they can use that to their advantage.
He said: "We have clearly got to re-focus and hopefully we can use the cup to refresh us after the current league campaign," he said.
"We will train hard and we have to put it right when the league starts again."
The Pirates started the game well in perfect autumnal conditions in the capital and went ahead through a converted Ben Maidment try after only six minutes.
The Scots levelled after flanker Chevvy Pennycook had touched down from close range, but with their pack under huge pressure at the scrum conceded a penalty try late in the half.
James Love cut the arrears to just four with a penalty for the home side before Jack Nowell capped a fine Championship debut for his home town club, holding of a host of tacklers to score a third Pirates try right on half-time.
Yet as good as the Pirates had been in the first half, they were equally as poor in the second, losing their intensity and control of the game.
Ex-Pirate Simon Whatling enlivened the Scottish midfield while former Redruth talisman Mark Bright found the freedom he needed to wreak havoc in broken play.
Hallett edged the Pirates further ahead with a 54th minute penalty, but from the restart Bright set up Pennycook for his second try and the Scots scented victory.
Bright went over from two metres out in the second minute of added time and although Godman missed the conversion, he made no mistake when handed the crucial long-range penalty shortly afterwards.
Biljon was left to reflect on a true game of two halves.
He said: "We had the balance right in the first half about when to attack and when not to.
"The forwards worked really hard and we complemented each other but we just didn't do that in the second half.
"We let it slip here. There is no doubt about that. You could see it in their reaction and emotion after the game."
He added: "We need now to stick to task and put ourselves under pressure in training. We have to put in a performance and build momentum from there."