Once again, as against Leeds, the Pirates seemed content to play for about 20 minutes of the 80 without the ball in their hands. This was partly due to Moseley’s excellent handling, but also to our persistent kicking out of hand, and some dreadful line-outs. It was so frustrating, as every time they did manage to pick the ball up they looked immensely strong and threatening. There’s a great deal to like about this young team and a lot more to look forward to.
Fortunately Moseley weren’t the nasty surprise Leeds turned out to be. Though fast and determined they had no real answer to the Pirates’ defensive heroics, despite plenty of chances.
The Pirates were again quick off the mark, three lovely and completely different tries, the first a chase to a perfect cross-kick won by Riley in the corner, the second a meaty shove from a lineout, and the third an inspired angled run from the 22 also by Riley which left several defenders floundering. However failure to convert any of them put six points to waste, something which came back to haunt us.
Fast forward to the early part of the second half. 15 – 0 had changed to 15 – 13, and there was worse. To lose one player may be regarded as a misfortune, as Wilde might have said, but to lose two to the sin-bin within five minutes looked very much like carelessness. The Mennaye went quiet as we prepared to kiss this one goodbye.
However after some spirited trench warfare and the return of the two plus some serious reinforcements – Cattle and Hallett in particular – we began to hope again. From a skirmish on the far touchline an unknown boot sent the ball towards the visitors’ line. Pope won the race, picked up brilliantly and showed amazing presence of mind in cutting inside rather than heading for the line, wrong-footed at least three opponents and touched down the bonus-point try near the posts to a delirious response from the crowd. The astonishing Mennaye hush then fell as Hallett stepped up to convert, and again later as he popped home a sweet penalty. The outcome was a comfortable-looking 28 – 13 – never in doubt, of course. Please boys, next time remember some of your supporters are no longer young and can’t stand so much tension...