Cornish Pirates 39, Doncaster Knights 32
THE Pirates maintained their unbeaten start to the new season with Sunday's victory at the Mennaye Field, but they needed a huge slice of luck to avoid a second successive draw as the visitors blew a gilt-edged chance at the end of the game.
Having seen a 25 point half-time lead whittled back to seven during another patchy second half display, the Pirates seemed undone at the death as wing Mike Keating's incisive break set up former Redruth centre PJ Gidlow for a try under the posts.
But having broken two tackles from close range, Gidlow inexplicably knocked on in the act of scoring and from the resulting scrum, Pirates fly-half Ceiron Thomas kicked the ball dead to herald the full-time whistle and finally kill-off a stubborn fight-back from the Yorkshire side.
Pirates forwards coach Ian Davies remained under-whelmed by his team's five first half-tries. He said: "I'm glad Doncaster didn't turn up in the first half because after that they blew us away. That's two weeks on the trot that has happened and we haven't performed and in the end I think Doncaster were unlucky not to get the draw."
He added: "In the second half we lost our discipline, fell foul of the officials which we hadn't done in the first half, they came at us and we couldn't control the ball. Maybe we thought we had won the game and with lots of fifty-fifty passes were trying to get some excitement into the game, but we don't need to do that. We need to win the game and send the opposition away with no points."
A brace of tries from the again impressive Drew Locke, backed up by further first half touchdowns from lock Ian Nimmo, wing David Doherty, and a silky flowing move in first half stoppage time, finished off with a maiden try from Thomas propelled the Pirates to a 36-11 half-time lead.
But despite dominating the scoreboard at that point, the Pirates had never really taken the contest by the throat as Gidlow punched holes at will as he roamed through the home defence.
Two minutes after the restart a rare mistake from Rob Cook allowed Gidlow to pounce for his team's second try and just as they had done a week before at Moseley, the Pirates suddenly looked vulnerable.
They could only add a Cook penalty during the second period with the wind at their backs as the Knights added tries from full-back David McIlwaine and flanker Dave Bradford.
Davies pulled no punches after the match. He said: "In the second half I think we were rubbish and that is something we clearly cannot be if we are to push for the play-offs in the latter part of the season.
"As promotion candidates, we have to be clinical and at half-time we should have been out of sight but we weren't and allowed Doncaster back into the game. That is not a top four side's performance.
"We needed a ruthless edge and we didn't have it. Maybe that will come with maturity, but we have to be clinical."