Newcastle Falcons had to show all their resilience to continue their unbeaten start to the season, grinding out a Greene King Championship victory in Penzance.
A Toby Flood penalty was the only score of a scrappy second half in which neither side got going, the Falcons laying enough of a foundation to see them home in the end.
The visitors were made to work from the outset but led 15-9 at half-time, home centre Javier Rojas Alvarez slotting two early penalties to Toby Flood’s one in a keenly-contested start.
Cornishman Josh Matavesi was forced to spend ten minutes in the sin bin in his home county while John Hardie left to an early injury, but the Falcons crossed for the first try of the game when simple hands along the line enabled Ben Stevenson to dive over in the right corner.
Pirates battled back and earned a one-point lead through Alvarez’s third penalty, but Newcastle maintained their attacking intent as Sean Robinson broke away from a front peel at the line-out only to be hauled down just short.
Arscott’s grubber almost freed Stevenson for a second try, but the Falcons found their way over on 38 minutes when Flood turned down a kickable shot in favour of a close-range line-out in the right corner, off-the-top ball being worked left where Arscott latched on to Flood’s dab-through to score.
Flood’s conversion from wide out on the left put the Falcons 15-9 up at the interval, and that was almost that for the scoring as both sides missed kickable penalties, Newcastle turning down a string of shots at goal in favour of attacking line-outs.
Alvarez’s late missed penalty denied the Pirates a losing bonus point, Newcastle now unbeaten in six games in all competitions this season.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Ben Stevenson, 13 George Wacokecoke, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Toby Flood (captain), 9 Sam Stuart; 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Rodney Ah You, 4 Darren Barry, 5 Sean Robinson, 6 Will Welch, 7 John Hardie, 8 Nemani Nagusa.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Trevor Davison, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Sebastian de Chaves, 20 Gary Graham, 21 Michael Young, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Alex Tait.
Falcons scorers - Tries: Ben Stevenson, Tom Arscott. Conversions: Toby Flood. Penalties: Toby Flood 2.
Cornish Pirates: 15 AJ Cant, 14 Alex O'Meara, 13 Callum Patterson, 12 Javier Rojas Alvarez, 11 Maliq Holden, 10 Will Cargill, 9 Alex Schwarz; 1 Marlen Walker, 2 Tom Channon, 3 Craig Mitchell, 4 Danny Cutmore, 5 Brett Beukeboom (captain), 6 Fa'atiga Lemalu, 7 John Stevens, 8 Tom Duncan.
Replacements: 16 Dan Frost, 17 Jack Andrew, 18 Jay Tyack, 19 Matt Bolwell, 20 Jake Clemson, 21 Rhodri Davies, 22 Robin Wedlake, 23 Rory Parata.
Pirates scorers - Penalties: Javier Rojas Alvarez 3.
Referee: Matthew Turvey
Photo credit: Brian Tempest