Cornish Pirates head coach Ian Davies was highly critical of his team despite their 10-3 Championship victory over Plymouth Albion on Boxing Day.
Prop Jack Andrew scored the only try in a disappointing derby at Mennaye Field and, while Davies was pleased with the win, he was far from impressed with the display.
Davies said: “That game is an hour and a half of my life that I can’t get back. It looked like both sides were feeling the effects of a good Christmas dinner.
“It was not pretty, but we came out with the win. We spoke about how the form book goes out of the window, but today skill and ability went out of the window a little bit as well.
“It was not entertaining for the crowd, unfortunately, and we’ll just have to put that right the next time we play at home.
“It was a lot of guys’ first time playing in a derby like this, so maybe the pressure was a little bit more than we thought and training was a bit disjointed as well – but no excuses, they are professional players and some of the core skills were poor.
“Ball retention wasn’t great, we kicked aimlessly and so did Plymouth. Sometimes you get games where there is a lot of kicking and teams are counter-attacking, but neither side looked like getting it to their danger men – Tom Bowen for Plymouth or our back three.”
Plymouth Albion head coach James Shanahan was left frustrated and felt his side could have taken more from the game with a little more composure. He said: “It was a typical local derby where neither team wanted to give anything.
“I think first half we played field position really well and stuck to our game-plan. We played some really good rugby, but, fair play, the Pirates’ defence was very good. I think, for me, it is the best in the league.
“I said all week we were going to have to be patient and accurate to get the opportunities to score.
“First half we did that, but second half we defended our line for 20 minutes. We did not have the ball and it was a hard slog. We had the opportunity to get a victory but maybe there was a bit of panic and we did not stick to the game-plan, which made it easy for them to defend against.”
The Pirates felt they should have been awarded a second try when hooker Rob Elloway appeared to have crossed the line in the second half. Davies said: “We scored a try from a maul, Rob Elloway is absolutely spitting feathers. He doesn’t score many but he was adamant he scored and [assistant coach] Harvey Biljon, stood behind the posts, saw it get grounded as well, but the team of three officials didn’t see it.
“Would that have been a better reflection on the game? Probably not. Plymouth deserved a losing bonus point and we deserved very little more than the win.
“There were problems on the scrums for both sides – it was six of one and half-dozen for the other. If you speak to their front row, they felt they were on top and ours thought we were on top.
“We got sucked into making it a scrum contest when we should have moved the ball a little bit more, especially when they were down to 14 men with Lloyd Fairbrother quite rightly into the bin.
“They obviously took a wing off, rather than a forward, and maybe we should have moved the ball on a little bit more.”
With just four points in it until Angus Sinclair’s late penalty, Shanahan felt this was a big chance for Albion to earn a first win in Cornwall since 2006. He said: “A couple of good kicks by Declan Cusack got us into their 22 and I did think there was a chance for us to go on and get the victory. But we did not apply what we had worked on during the week to break their defence down and it made it easy for them.
“It is a tough place to come and even tougher when it is a local derby. I think we deserved more out of the game, but we did not get it, so we have to take it on the chin.
“I think both defences were very good and could not break each other down. The Pirates wanted to keep it very tight and they did that. They squeezed us when we wanted to play a bit more of a looser game. We were able to do that in the first half but second half we weren’t.
“I don’t know many local derbies that are that great on the eye. It is just about trying to win.
“The Pirates did that. The try they scored was off a kick-chase. We had the ball and should have kept it, but they turned us over and they scored under the posts.
“Other than that, they did not really create anything, but we didn’t create a lot either.”