The Connacht Eagles suffered an opening day defeat to the Cornish Pirates in round 1 of the British & Irish Cup. The game was all square at 10 – 10 at half time but the Pirates’ pressure after the break saw them secure victory.

It was the Pirates who opened the scoring in just the fifth minute when openside flanker Sam Simmonds crossed for an unconverted try.

Eagles and Galwegians RFC outhalf Mitch Lam notched up the home team’s first points of the afternoon with a successful penalty strike, and the home side then took a lead with try scored and converted by Lam again.

Approaching the half-hour mark the Pirates took play close to Connacht’s line, and with extra bodies adding weight to forward momentum it was No. 8 Dan Lee’s unconverted try that levelled matters.

Applying extra pressure before the break another try looked ‘on’. Turning the screw at scrum time led to a yellow card shown to Connacht prop Saba Meunargia, but deep into first half stoppage time the Pirates were ultimately unable to take advantage for the score to stay at 10-all.

Half time: Connacht Eagles 10 – 10 Cornish Pirates

Under darkening skies, the Eagles held early possession in the second half, but without it leading to benefit on the scoreboard, as a penalty kick from Lam drifted wide.

Following a period of error-strewn play in the wet, when the Pirates threatened again it was now their time to be awarded a kickable penalty. Home hooker Jack Dinneen had to firstly take a path to the sin bin and outhalf Laurence May then stepped purposefully forward to put the Cornish side three points up.

Lam narrowly missed the target with another penalty attempt that came his way, but with the Pirates maintaining dominance at the set-piece May would make no such mistake with his next effort, opening up a six point gap.

Arnott showed his accustomed pace but moving the ball he was unable to find the hands of fellow winger O’Meara. However, staying on the front foot a converted try scored by replacement Jake Parker put the result all but beyond doubt.

Full time: Connacht Eagles 10 – 23 Cornish Pirates

Connacht Eagles:  15 Luke Carty,  14 Jordan Conroy, 13 Rory Parata, 12 Eoin Griffin (capt), 11 Ed O’Keeffe, 10 Mitch Lam, 9 Stephen Kerins ; 1 Jason East, 2 Jack Dinneen, 3 Saba Meunargia, 4 James Cannon, 5 Danny Qualter, 6 Marc Kelly, 7 James Connolly, 8 Stephen McVeigh.
Replacements:   Pat O’Toole, Cronan Gleeson, Sean Masterson, Josh Pim, Conor McKeon, Conor Lowdnes, Joe Murphy.

Yellow cards   Meunargia, Dinneen.

Cornish Pirates:
15 Matt Evans, 14 Jack Arnott (Will Cargill 69), 13 Tom Hendrickson, 12 Alex Dancer (Bar Bartlett 77), 11 Alex O’Meara, 10 Laurence May, 9 Mike Pope (Alex Day 69);
1 Paul Andrew (Jack Andrew 59), 2 Tom Channon (Jack Innard 57), 3 Tyler Gendall, 4 Chris Morgan (capt), 5 Edd Pascoe (Jake Parker 57), 6 Matt Bolwell (John Stevens 77), 7 Sam Simmonds, 8 Dan Lee.


Connacht Eagles – pen: Lam; try: Lam; con: Lam.

Cornish Pirates – tries: Simmonds, Lee, Parker; con: May; pens: May (2).

Referee:   Ben Blain



Gallery: 6 Nations and Celtic Challenge