- 'Jubilation' for Pirates at semi-final triumph
- Two-legged final against London Welsh awaits
Photo: RFU Archive
Cornish Pirates secured their place in the RFU Championship final with a 63-53 aggregate score over the two legs against former Premiership outfit Bristol Rugby.
A triumphant second half at The Mennaye Field in the first leg saw the home-side run in five tries, putting Bristol 21-points behind at ‘half-time’. Despite a determined comeback in the return fixture from Bristol – which the home-side won 29-18 – the Pirates sailed through to the 2011-12 final where they face London Welsh on May 23 and 30.
Speaking after the game, Cornish Pirates captain Gavin Cattle shared his reaction: “Obviously its jubilation, euphoria even!
“There was a big Bristol crowd and it’s always awesome to play against them. They had a big challenge ahead of them – I think they called it ‘Everest’ in the week – and we knew they’d come hard.
“It was a big challenge for both packs to see who’d come out on top and I think our boys just edged it over the two games and that’s what’s given us the win.
“For us, this was a new position for us to be in, having the favourites tag and although we lost the game, I thought we showed character. We knew what position we were in and there was no need to over play.
“Having said that, we did come to play and I just think we’ve learnt from the situation; that’s the positive.”
Photo: RFU Archive
We set out our goals at the beginning – Cattle
As Cattle reflected on his team’s performance, down the M4 London Welsh kicked off their home leg of the semi-finals with a 10-point advantage on Bedford Blues. But did Gavin have a preference on who Pirates would challenge the title against?
"No preference. You can’t have a preference. That top four is capable of beating each other on any given day, so we’ll wait to see the result, start our homework and then go from there."
Having not applied for the audit to determine the club’s eligibility for promotion, Cornish Pirates will remain in the RFU Championship next season but as Cattle insists, his team are determined to go out and win despite circumstances off the pitch.
He added: “You train and you play to win, irrespective of what happens outside of that. We set out our goals at the beginning of the season and try to carry them out.
"It’s been an up and down strange season, with injuries, rotation and the competition as a whole is quite hard to manage with such a small squad, but we’ve come through it pretty good, so hopefully we’ll go one step further this year.”
RFU Championship final 2011-12
Cornish Pirates v London Welsh, The Mennaye Field, Wednesday May 23, KO 19.45.
London Welsh v Cornish Pirates, Kassam Stadium, Wednesday May 30, KO 19.45.
Both games are live on Sky Sports HD.