Chris Stirling gets winning send-off as Pirates beat Bedford

Cornish Pirates gave outgoing boss Chris Stirling the perfect leaving present as they beat Bedford 21-20 to guarantee a Championship play-off spot.

Rob Cook's early try and penalty helped Pirates to an 8-3 half-time lead before Andrew Suniula crossed to make it 15-3.

Brendan Burke's try brought Bedford back into it but another penalty by Cook, and one for Ceiron Thomas put Pirates out of reach.

Darren Fox's late try for Bedford saw a nervy ending but Pirates held on.

"It's fantastic and well deserved, it's been a long, hard season," Stirling told BBC South West after the win.

"Now we're in the semis we can give the guys some down time and they can re-gather and re-group.

"We were stretched defensively in the first 20 minutes and we defended very well, we stuck at it the whole time and I'm really proud of the way the guys went about their jobs."

Stirling now hands over the reins to forwards coach Ian Davies as he leaves the Pirates to take up a role with the New Zealand RFU.

But he believes the club is capable of going one better than last year, when they lost in the final to Worcester, and winning the Championship.

"The job's not done. It'd be fantastic to win the Championship this year, we're only four games away from winning it, so why not?" he continued.

"We can definitely win it, I'm confident. But there's a lot for rugby to be played and a lot of decisions to be make, but they can definitely win it."