THE new year has certainly begun in dramatic style for long-serving Cornish Pirates prop Alan Paver.
A classy performance in his team's 32-17 win against Bristol was followed by a well attended event in Penzance to mark his testimonial year and then topped off with a four-week ban by the club for an "incident" in the Bristol match.
Paver was involved in a confrontation with Bristol prop Jason Hobson during the second half of the match and while he was later yellow-carded for a separate misdemeanour, Paver went unpunished until after the game until Pirates head coach Ian Davies reviewed a video of the game and said: "We felt we needed to take appropriate action."
He will now miss the two crucial British & Irish Cup matches against Dundee and Carmarthen Quins, followed by the Championship trip to leaders Newcastle Falcons.
But speaking immediately after the New Year's Day triumph over Bristol, Paver is happy that the team are now going in the right direction.
He said: "We knew the Bristol game would be tight but we just wanted to get out there and win, and to put ourselves in a position to take the bonus point and then get it was just the icing on the cake."
"Bristol were never going to just roll over and they came at us and it was hard out there. We had to absorb a lot of pressure in that third quarter but we came through."
Just under 3,000 spectators, the Pirates biggest gate of the season so far, packed into the ground and Paver agreed that they made a huge difference.
"The noise of the crowd was really noticeable and it was just like a derby used to be," he said. "It was packed, it was pumping and we could feel that on the pitch and that energy really kept us buoyed all the way through.
"We have got a reputation as a tough physical side and when we play Bristol there is always a lot of pride at stake."
He added: "Hobbo (Jason Hobson) was never going to let us down there so the only way I can put it is that we kept each other warm all game."
Beating Plymouth Albion and Bristol over the holiday period elevated the Pirates to the Championship play-off zone for the first time this season and Paver believes that is richly deserved.
He said: "There is quality in this squad, it has taken time and a few weeks ago where we sat down and accepted that this is not the Pirates team of a year ago.
"We are now starting to build our own reputation and the squad is gelling and to get into the top four was nice. Now we have to sustain it and kick on.
"If we can get that excitement back and make people want to come and watch us then we may well frighten someone in the big matches to come. You never know."
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