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Rugby Union: Pirates plunder victory after scuttling Cov comeback; Coventry 21 Cornish Pirates 28.

Byline: By Paul Ingleston at The Butts Arena

Coventry produced a brave and battling performance but still slipped to a narrow defeat in their last home game of the season. Cov twice fought back against a powerful Pirates side but in the end fell just short, despite claiming a bonus point for the seven points losing margin.

The Pirates - not to be forgotten, a fully professional side - always looked the side most likely to prevail and so it proved.

Pirates gained a measure of control from the off, pushing Cov back on their heels, and scored a seventh-minute try for winger Rhodri McAtee.

A second close-range try for flanker Tim Cowley followed on 24 minutes after he broke free from the back of a five-metre Pirates scrum. Both were converted by Tom Barlow.

In a season of narrow defeats and losses snatched from the jaws of victory, however, Coventry 2006 are nothing if not an obdurate and stubborn outfit.

They dug deep and two flashes of inventive running by home favourite and leading try scorer Kurt Johnson brought Cov back from a rout.

First, Johnson showed strength on 33 minutes to cross, despite the attentions of two Pirates defenders on his back, and then on 38 minutes, he took a pass from fullback Apoua Stewart on the right wing and cut inside at pace to score under the posts.

James Moore converted both to drag Cov back on level terms at 14-all at the break. The tries took Johnson to 81 league tries for Coventry, nine tries for the season in a campaign curtailed by various injuries.

McAtee scored from close range on 47 minutes, Barlow converting, before Cov replacement Dave Tiueti, on as replacement for Moore on 58 minutes, raced down the wing on 65 minutes to leave Jon Higgins the easy head-on conversion.

However, Pirates' ex- Pertemps Bees man Gavin Cattle grabbed a match winning try as he charged down a kick on Cov's ten metre line and raced over, Barlow converting to end the scoring.

As much as Cov huffed and puffed, the Pirates' solid defence held firm to secure a league double.

Crowd-pleaser Johnson had mixed feelings about the defeat.

"We are disappointed about the defeat but we're quite happy about our performance," he said.

"We played our hearts out today and every one of our 22- man squad put in their effort 100 per cent and we're unfortunate not to come away with a win."

Johnson also confirmed he's happy to stay at Coventry for another season.

"I've always been happy here, I am part of the furniture now and I want to keep playing at this level, at this club for as long as I can," he said.

"I want to try to reach 100 league tries, there have only been three others reach that milestone and I want to become the fourth."

COVENTRY: Stewart, K Johnson (Millard, 56), Sanders, Geraghty, Moore (Tiueti, 58), Higgins, Walls (McGrath, 50), Treston (Pulu, 63), Protherough, Bucknall (Brits, 72), Campton, Clapham, Venter, McNamee, T Johnson.

CORNISH PIRATES: McAtee, (Jess, 58), Welding, Roke, Kelly, James, Barlow, Cattle, Parkes (Paver, 40) Makin (Maasi, 65), Seal (Adams, 58), Senekal, Hockings, Bearman, Cowley, Evans.

Referee: T Beddow (RFU).
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 24, 2006
Previous Article:Football: Campbell admits: We didn't perform.
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