Cornish Pirates 27, London Welsh 6
A FEROCIOUS display of power and control from the Cornish Pirates pack coupled with a well organised and determined defence saw them brush aside the challenge of fellow title hopefuls London Welsh at a rain-sodden Mennaye Field on Sunday.
The win extended their unbeaten run to four games and with Bedford also losing at Leeds, the Pirates climbed two places in the Championship table to second ahead of this weekend's trip to Rotherham.
London Welsh were, after a bright start, completely nullified as an attacking threat in all areas of the field and forwards coach Ian Davies was delighted with his team.
"I'm very pleased with that," he said. "The conditions weren't great but I thought we controlled the ball well and the forwards played incredibly well. With a bit more composure we could have got the bonus point try which would have been a true reflection of the game.
"We spoke at the final whistle of the team effort which kept them to no tries because they have got a lot of dangerous runners and two big wingers. They like to play an expansive game but we did our homework and shut them down."
He added: "We knew sort of how they would try and play and we defended really well. Then at the end there was a determination not to give them any scores, which could have been easy when the subs came on. But they also said 'no tries' which was one of the goals for the game."
A penalty from former Plymouth Albion fly-half Alex Davies opened the scoring in favour of the Welsh but was quickly cancelled out by a Rob Cook place-kick and a monster effort from Aaron Penberthy struck from half-way.
Playing in persistent drizzle and on a heavy pitch the Pirates' pack stepped up and took control, battering the Welsh front eight onto the back foot and forcing them to play from deep.
Good power and control brought tries for front-rowers Rudi Brits and Dave Ward, both converted by Cook. And by the time Davies slotted his second penalty on the stroke of half-time to make it 20-6, the game was almost over as a contest.
The Welsh started the second half positively but were undone by turnover ball ten minutes in and quick thinking from Pirates skipper Gavin Cattle as he set Matt Evans up to score in the corner. Cook again converted.
As conditions worsened the Pirates kept up the pressure at the set piece and in the loose, with Laurie McGlone and Ben Maidment putting in real stand-out performances.
As the frustrations grew the Welsh lost skipper Gordon Ross to the sin-bin for a late hit on Cattle and even after using all of their replacement bench in the search for fresh legs and inspiration, still couldn't breach the Pirates rearguard.
Davies said: "The forwards were solid. Ian Nimmo made some really decent lineout calls, Laurie McGlone was immense in the maul and in the scrum Carl Rimmer and Rudi Brits did really well.
"This was a reward for a lot of patience. We had spoken in the week about creating pressure and maintaining composure in their 22. We didn't do it all the time and could have scored a fourth bonus point try if we had kept control of the ball a little bit longer. But we will take this.
"And I have to say that (referee) J P Doyle had a cracking game too. He controlled the breakdown well and didn't let London Welsh go off their feet so it was a contest which made it a good game of rugby. We criticise referees often but in really bad conditions I thought it was quite a good game, and a lot of that is down to J P."