Ulster Ravens lost their opening fixture in this season’s British & Irish Cup, going down 34-17 to former champions Cornish Pirates at Mennaye Field in Cornwall.
The home side scored two tries in the last 20 minutes to secure a try-scoring bonus point and leave the Ulster Ravens playing catch-up in Pool 6 of the tournament.
The Cornish Pirates took the lead with an eighth minute try from Canada captain Aaron Carpenter.
But the Ravens came back strongly with two James McKinney penalties putting them deservedly ahead after 22 minutes.
Angus Sinclair kicked a penalty to put the Pirates back in front after a breakdown offence and then winger Mike Pope added to the home side’s lead when he raced almost the full length of the pitch to score.
However, the Ravens showed great character to get back into the game when Peter Nelson, playing on the wing, scored a well-worked try just before half-time.
Out-half McKinney then kicked a 49th minute penalty to put Ulster in front at 14-13, but the Cornish outfit had the better of the remainder of the game.
In the final quarter the home side scored a crucial brace of tries, full-back Kieran Goss grounding in the corner.
And then Matt Evans ran in under the posts to score the Pirates’ fourth try meaning that they secured the bonus point.
With Mike McComish sin-binned for killing the ball, Kieran Hallett sealed the win with a penalty in the 77th minute.
The Ravens will be looking to get things back on track when they face a Jersey side containing former Ulster out-half Niall O'Connor at Ravenhill next Friday night (kick-off 7.30pm). Tickets for that game are available here.
Referee: Tom Foley (England)