Pirates V Bristol
Oooooooh why do the Pirates keep doing this to us? We settled in on a lovely Sunday afternoon, braced to watch Bristol wreak stylish vengeance for their earlier home defeat, but instead we got a defibrillator-threatening thriller which kept us on the edge of our nerves til the eventual climax in the 87th minute. At that point the ref blew, 2000+ people breathed for the first time in half-an hour, and the Pirates ran out unlikely but worthy winners at 21-15. You’ll notice that that is just a six-point margin, leaving Bristol with a chance of breaking our hearts to the very last second.
What a hard way to do it! There were as many howls of frustration as there were later howls of joy. The dictum of “Do the simple things well” clearly means nothing in Alexandra Road. The game started with two easy penalties in quick succession from which Sinclair managed – not for the first time - to amass 0 points. And the lineout! Bristol sent it straight to their man all afternoon, but the Pirates’ over-fussy swing-your-partners-and-dos-i-dos technique left it nearly to half time before they secured a single throw. It was little better in the second half, eventually robbing all the advantage of any penalty kick to touch as the opposition had to wait only a few seconds and another fumbled overthrow to regain possession.
Possession! As usual the Pirates conceded, or worse, kicked away possession for fun. The result of this was that they had to defend like tigers from first to last, and here criticism gives way to humble respect as Bristol, like many teams facing this young outfit, discovered that the Pirates never give way and never give up. Their tackling game is exceptional, fast, courageous and stirring to watch, scything down attack after attack, and it won us the match. Almost as good is their penetration in attack, always looking dangerous when they finally have the ball in their hands, and profiting particularly from Kieran Goss’s thrilling pace.
Ian Davies sounded musingly contented after the game, even complacent, where his predecessor would have been spitting tacks about the huge error count. Even my old school games-master, faced with line-outs like that, would have contrived a painful lesson for the whole pack involving cold bums, thin shorts and the corner-flag stick. Please, this is a brilliant team, make them practice the simple stuff so they don’t have to put their lives on the line every week to secure another heroic win. But it’s what keeps us coming back. What a game...