THE scoreline suggests a comfortable victory for the Cornishmen, but Leeds will have travelled home from the Mennaye Field wondering how they did not win the game.
They dominated territory and possession for large spells of the contest, but they paid dearly for failing to turn that into points on a wet and miserable afternoon in west Cornwall.
A glorious chance for Leeds went begging as early as the second minute, when outside centre Josh Griffin cut a beautiful line and advanced to the Pirates’ 22, but his attempted pass out of the back of his hand was not grasped by winger Curtis Wilson, who had the try line at his mercy.
Three minutes later, Pirates opened the scoring with the first of two sucker punches to hit Carnegie in the opening 17 minutes.
Leeds were attacking Pirates’ 22 when they were turned over, home scrum-half Tom Kessell broke clear, Ben Maidment kicked ahead, and even though Griffin was first to the ball, he was stripped by Canadian international winger Matt Evans, who ran in for his seventh Championship try of the season.
Leeds fly-half Joe Ford pulled three points back with a penalty four minutes later, but then came another blow for the visitors.
Jack Nowell, the Pirates’ dual-registered full-back from Premiership side Exeter Chiefs, made a dazzling 50-metre break, and after Leeds halted the initial surge for the line, the ball was moved quickly to the left, where former London Irish lock Gary Johnson crashed over, and fly-half Kieran Hallett slotted the con-
version for a 12-3 lead.
More chances were squandered by Leeds, as Nowell bravely stopped a powerful run down the left by flanker Richard Beck, before Ford missed a 40-metre drop goal attempt and a long-range penalty. Hallett, though, was enjoying a better day with his boot, and two penalties in the run-up to half-time gave Pirates an 18-3 interval lead.
It was more of the same from Leeds after the break, with more territorial dominance, but again they made errors each time they ventured close to the Pirates’ line.
Hallett stretched the hosts’ lead to 21-3 with his third penalty of the game, before the Yorkshiremen finally got a reward for all their efforts when No.8 and skipper Jacob Rowan finished off after a series of five-metre catch-and-drive line-outs in the 53rd minute, but Ford missed the touchline conversion.
That was the end of the scoring, but there were a plethora of yellow cards, with Pirates lock David Lyons and Leeds duo James Doherty – against his old club – and Rowan all given 10-minute rests in the closing stages.
Pirates: J Nowell, G Pointer, T Riley, J Fatialofa, M Evans (W Davies 75), K Hallett (A Penberthy 70), T Kessell (G Cattle 67), P Andrew (R Storer 80+1), R Elloway (J Yeandle 63), A Paver (B Prescott 80+1), D Barry, G Johnson (D Lyons 63), B Maidment, P Burgess, L McGlone (capt).
Leeds: S McColl, C Wilson (O Goss 70), J Griffin, F Burdon, D Doherty, J Ford, J Doherty, S Lockwood, J Graham (P Nilsen 66), D Tussac, C Green (M Smith 66), M Myerscough, R Beck, C Walker (R Baldwin 24), J Rowan (capt). Reps not used: B Harris, B Hooper, C Hampson.
Referee: David Rose (RFU).