This page is an archive of memorable matches involving Cornish teams. Some of these match reports also appear elsewhere in the TASC archives -- for example, in the league season summary pages.
We have a saying in Cornwall. "Madder do ’a?" It roughly translates as “don’t worry, be happy”.
So while the trophy might not have come home across the Tamar this time, for the 10,000 Cornish men, women and children who made the journey to Twickenham yesterday it was still a great Cornish day out… even if the result wasn’t exactly what they’d hoped for.
Cornwall team before the match. Photo by Bill Hooper.
It did seem at times as though the entire populations of every town and village from Bude to St Buryan were in the stands. At every turnstile, pasty van and programme booth, there were men shaking hands, women embracing, whoops and cheers from all.
“Didn’t knaw you was coming up, bird,” says one, followed by an indignant: “Wouldn’t miss this, my 'andsome!”
As Redruth rugby legend Bill Bishop said on the eve of the Cornish team’s 1991 victory: “Would the last one leaving Cornwall kindly turn the lights out.” So it was in 1992, 1999 and again in 2013.
The Cornwall fifteen always knew it was going to be a tough task to beat the cream of the Red Rose county, but as Valerie Thomas, wife of Cornwall’s head coach Dave ‘Benji’ Thomas, said moments before kick-off: “I’m sure the boys will do their best. They’re all geared up, all ready to go, and I don’t think you can ask anything more of them.”
Under a perfectly blue London sky, the black and golds strode confidently out on to the hallowed home of English rugby where, earlier in the day, the national team had taken on and beaten the Barbarians.
And as the final strains of Daft Punk’s Number 1 hit Get Lucky drifted across the pitch on the PA system, the two teams facing each other must both have hoped it was to be their theme tune for the Bill Beaumont Cup Final.
No supporters shout louder – or with more music – than Cornwall’s, and the squad arrived to a tumultuous welcome. They may have been smaller in number than those seen at previous Twickenham appearances, but Trelawny’s Army were no less vocal.
The Red Roses took the kick and Cornwall almost immediately streaked ahead in the third minute, with Paul Thirlby snatching a superb penalty. Three-nil. Cornwall had taken the lead for the first and – as it turned out – last time of the match. Ten minutes in and Lancashire equalised with a well placed try. It was all downhill from there, despite the gargantuan efforts of Cornwall’s forwards.
Lancashire slipped a close try in the 27th minute, duly converting the ball with about as tough a slice as you could get, making it 10-3. Maybe the conditions at Twickenham were simply too good. Ben Hilton’s heroes aren’t used to sunshine and temperatures into the 70s. Perhaps a bit more rain and mizzle, a slippery ball and dose of mud would have suited them better.
Paul Thirlby soon came back with a slick penalty try, but 30 seconds later Lancashire’s Dominic Moon was bouncing over the line to make it 15-6. Nick Royle followed his team-mate’s effort with a perfect run to put Lancashire 11 points up at half-time.
Cornwall came back for the second half heading into the sun and looking stronger for it. Trelawny’s Army sensed blood and their singing and chanting grew to a crescendo. It may have been 22-11 but the Cornwall 15 looked every bit the better side. After a penalty try, victory no longer seemed a distant dream. However, despite the attacking might of the forwards, Cornwall lacked precision at key moments, making a series of fumbles and errors which eventually cost them the cup.
At one stage there were only four points between the two sides, but a series of mistakes allowed Lancashire to score yet another try. Then the gap closed again as Thirlby scored with a penalty kick, making it 25-21 and Cornwall really looked like they could do it. After a scrappy effort, Lancashire tipped it back for a drop goal. But undaunted, Cornwall came back again and again, with Lewis Vinnecombe making it 28-26 – and just five minutes to go.
It was a nail-biting finale, with both teams playing some cracking rugby. However, two minutes from the final whistle Lancashire’s Ben Rath finished Cornwall’s hopes with a very cocky try, followed by a conversion, leaving the final score at 35-26.
The last time Trelawny’s Army triumphed at Twickenham was in May 1999, when they trounced Gloucestershire 24-15 to take the title for only the third time in their history. Eight years earlier, in 1991, an 83-year spell in the championship wilderness ended during the legendary final moments against the White Rose of Yorkshire.
The 2013 final didn’t turn out to be their time, but the Cornish players were able to go back across the Tamar with their heads held high, confident that they had given their all and provided their supporters both at Twickenham and at home with a terrific afternoon of rugby.
Veteran Trelawny’s Army commentator Bill Hooper said afterwards: “It was a tremendous effort. The game seemed to fly by, but from a Cornish perspective there were sadly too many errors, especially in the first half when we fell so far behind.
“But all credit to the boys because they made a tremendous comeback in the second half to get back to within a shout of victory. The forwards were very strong and I thought Sam Hocking had a truly fantastic game. And Chris Fuca, Tom Rawlings, Craig Williams, Darren Jacques and Richard Brown really had the measure of the Lancashire front row.
“Cornwall were very tough throughout, but unfortunately just when we scored, we seemed to concede, which was frustrating.
“In the last few minutes we were in striking distance and it almost looked as if it could go Cornwall’s way, but again there was a silly error and Lancashire were under the posts. And their superb finishers – players like Nick Royle and Ben Rath – really hurt us.”
Yesterday’s match gave Lancashire their Cornish hat-trick, having triumphed against Cornwall in the cup final in 1969 and in 1992. However, as Launceston poet Charles Causley wrote in his poem, Cornwall: “One day, friend and stranger, the granite beast will rise.”
CORNWALL: 15. Jake Murphy (Cornish All Blacks), 14. Richard Bright (Cornish All Blacks), 13. Steve Johns (Coventry), 12. Neilson Webber (Cornish All Blacks), 11. Tom Notman (Redruth), 10. Paul Thirlby, (Redruth), 9. Greg Goodfellow (Redruth), 1. Darren Jaques (Redruth), 2. Richard Brown (Redruth), 3. Craig Williams (Redruth), 4. Damian Cook (Redruth), 5. Ben Hilton (Captain; Cornish All Blacks), 6. Chris Fuca (Redruth), 7. Sam Hocking (Plymouth Albion), 8. Ashley Lawton (Camborne)
Replacements: Neal Turner (Redruth), Jon Drew (Redruth), Luke Collins (Redruth), Tom Rawlings (Cornish All Blacks), Matt Shepherd (St. Austell), Steve Perry (un-attached), Lewis Vinnicombe (Redruth)
Cornwall scorers: tries: Webber, penalty try, Vinnicombe; cons: Thirlby; pens: Thirlby (3)
LANCASHIRE: 15 Sean Taylor (Preston Grasshoppers) 14 Nick Royle (Vale of Lune) 13 Chris Briers (Fylde) 12 Jack Ward (Preston Grasshoppers) 11 Ben Rath (Fylde) 10 Chris Johnson (Fylde) 9 Steve Collins (Sedgley Park); 1 Dan Birchall (Fylde) 2 Jon Matthews (Otley) 3 Simon Griffiths (Fylde) 4 Paul Arnold (Fylde) 5 Louis McGowan (Sedgley Park) (Captain) 6 Jon Nugent (Stade Dijon) 7 Steve McGinnis (Fylde) 8 Dominic Moon (Preston Grasshoppers)
Replacements: 16 Pete Altham (Fylde) 17 Gareth Gore (Preston Grasshoppers) 18 Phil Mills (Preston Grasshoppers) 19 Evan Stewart (Fylde) 20 Philip Baines (Preston Grasshoppers) 21 Tom Webb (Fylde) 22 Andrew Riley (Sedgley Park)
Lancs scorers: tries: Royle (2), Moon, Rath; cons: Johnson (3); pens: Johnson (2); drop-goal: Johnson
CORNWALL will contest the final of the Bill Beaumont Cup next Sunday against old rivals Lancashire at Twickenham.
It follows Cornwall’s magnificent win on Saturday against reigning County Champions Hertfordshire by 41-29 at Camborne.
It was a game and occasion that matched the heady days of the late 80′s and early 90′s when Cornwall graced HQ’s hallowed turf.
Not since 1999 have Cornwall played in a County Championship Final and that famous win against Gloucestershire.
Cornwall prop Craig Williams (Redruth) charges forward. Photo by Simon Bryant/Iktisphoto. Mobile: 07990592945.
Cornwall took to the field to the strains of “Trelawny”, and huge cheers from a packed West Bank and around the ground.
However, it didn’t start too brightly, as Cornwall fell behind to an early try scored by Hert’s centre Sam Winter, who made the most of some poor defending by Cornwall. The centre picked his way through the Cornwall line to score near the posts. Full-back Richard Gregg added the conversion.
Cornwall hit back almost immediately as flanker Sam Hocking picked the ball up from a ruck as Hertfordshire hesitated, before galloping in from 35 meters to score in the Park Gate corner. It was his third try in as many matches for Cornwall this season in the Championship. Thirlby couldn’t add the difficult conversion.
Gregg increased the visitor’s lead with a penalty, before Cornwall’s scrum-half Greg Goodfellow sniped from a ruck to run in Cornwall’s second try after 17 minutes under the posts, Thirlby’s conversion putting Cornwall 12-10 ahead.
Despite Herfordshire being reduced to fourteen men when Gregg was sin-binned for a professional foul, Cornwall couldn’t take advantage. Two Thirlby penalty attempts sailed wide as Stefan Liebenberg got the first of his three tries from a quick tap. Jimmy Speirs added the extras.
Cornwall laid siege to the Hertfordshire line as the half came to an end but couldn’t force their way over, so it remained 17-12 to Herts at the break.
The Black & Gold’s got off to a great start at the beginning of the second half with a penalty from Thirlby being just what was required early doors.
Cornwall then launched a great attack in which Chris Fuca, Darren Jacques and Hocking were involved. The ball was moved right with centre Nielson Webber putting winger Richard Bright away to finish in style in the scoreboard corner for 20-17.
Cornwall then came again, a great run from centre Steve Johns was taken on by skipper Ben Hilton and Goodfellow before full back Jake Murphy rounded off the move with the all-important fourth try for Cornwall. Thirlby, having missed with his previous attempt, struck the conversion sweetly for a ten point lead, 27-17.
Back came Herts, as we knew they would, with Liebenberg grabbing his second and Gregg the conversion.
Cornwall piled on the pressure near the Hertfordshire line. With the Cornwall scrum utterly dominant, referee Shane Lewis awarded the home side a penalty-try, which Thirlby converted to stretch Cornwall’s lead to 34-24.
Liebenberg completed his personal tally of tries with another short-range snipe from a penalty. However, Gregg crucially missed the conversion to leave Cornwall still five points to the good.
Despite missing with a drop-goal attempt, Thirlby was on-hand to score Cornwall’s sixth and final try as the forwards – notably Darren Jacques and Richard Brown – drove up to the Hertfordshire line. His conversion sealed a great win and a day at Twickenham next Sunday.
At the final whistle Cornwall’s head coach Dave “Benji” Thomas paid tribute to his team and the magnificent Cornish support. “It was an emotional day, the ground was packed! I haven’t seen a crowd like this at a Cornwall game for many years. They were fantastic and lifted the boys at crucial times to secure the win. All credit to them, but also the boys who played, they really played out of their skins.”
Thomas felt that the early scores at the beginning of the second half were key to the win. “We had our tails up in the second half and getting those early scores was vital. We put them under tremendous pressure, it’s very hard playing out of the West Bank corner and we came away with the ball which made a huge difference.
“It’s Lancashire once again in the final, memories of our narrow defeat to them in 1992. What a day out for all the boys, this is what they aspire to, to play on the Twickenham pitch in front of hopefully a good Cornish crowd.”
Sam Hocking, who scored Cornwall’s opening try, was equally thrilled at the prospect of a Twickenham trip. “Absolutely thrilled to be going to Twickenham next Sunday with Cornwall. I was pleased with my try, the longest one of the year. I was struggling to recover from that run in.”
Hocking also paid tribute to the Cornish support. “The crowd was massive for us today. We defended well for the first half to keep them to just 17-12 and then we were able to get the early scores in the second half to dictate play.”
Hocking had a final plea to the Cornish support. “Please come along next week at Twickenham. Your support will make a huge difference to the team. You were all magnificent today.”
Cornwall: Murphy (Cornish All Blacks), Bright (All Blacks), Johns (Coventry), Webber (All Blacks), McAtee (Plymouth Alb), Thirlby (Redruth), Goodfellow (Redruth), Jacques (Redruth), Brown (Redruth), C Williams (Redruth), Cook (Redruth), Hilton (All Blacks, capt), Fuca (Redruth), Hocking (Plymouth Alb), BJ Chapman (All Blacks)
Replacements: Paterson (All Blacks) for Webber 54, T Rawlings (All Blacks) for Chapman 54, Shepherd (St Austell) for Goodfellow 80+5, Lawton (Camborne) for Cook 80+5, Notman for McAtee 80+5. Not used: Priddey, Drew
Hertfordshire (Old Albanian unless stated): Gregg, Newton (Tring), Winter (Bishop's Stortford), Regan, Speirs, Shanahan, Liebenberg, Remfry (Barnes), Saunders (Saracens), Staff, Hamilton, South (Hertford), McNamee (capt), Fahrenheim, Chambers
Replacements: McDougall for Chambers 36, Chennels (Tring) for McDougall 40+9, Abraham for South 31, Chambers for Saunders 40, Schillaci for Staff ht. Not used: Hughes, Mowbray (Chinnor), Tausaosi (Tring)
Referee: Shane Lewis (RFU)
Yellow cards - Herts: Gregg 35
Cornwall scorers: tries Hocking, Goodfellow, Bright, Murphy, penalty try, Thirlby; cons: Thirlby (4); pen Thirlby
Herts scorers: tries Winter, Liebenberg (3); cons Gregg (2), Speirs; pen Gregg
Cornwall staged a remarkable comeback to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against a spirited Kent side at Medway RFC.
The win sets up Cornwall for a tilt at reaching Twickenham for the first time in a County Championship final in fourteen years. To get there, they must beat reigning champions Hertfordshire next Saturday at Camborne. It promises to be a titanic struggle with the prize a final at rugby HQ on Sunday 26th May against, in all probability, Lancashire, who triumphed today in the Roses match against Yorkshire at Fylde. Herts enjoyed another big win at Hertford against Gloucestershire 56-22 and lead the pool on 10 points to Cornwall's 8 points.
Cornwall captain Ben Hilton on a charge. Photo by John Beach.
All roads will lead to Camborne next Saturday with hopefully a big Cornish crowd bedecked in the black and gold to cheer the boys on to a famous win.
Lancashire, who triumphed in the Roses match against Yorkshire at Fylde 35-25, are likely to await the winners at Twickenham on Sunday 26th May.
Cornwall enjoyed the use of the stiff breeze first half, though they had to wait until the quarter-of-an-hour mark before registering their first points, a try scored by hooker Richard Brown, with fly-half Paul Thirlby adding the extras.
Thirlby then added a couple of penalties as Cornwall established a useful 13-0 lead and looked well set to take command of the match.
However, Kent got back into it when they scored a try through Blackheath winger Richard Lankshear, which was converted by fly-half Rory Teague.
Thirlby kicked a third penalty just prior to half-time to put Cornwall 16-7 up at half-time.
The second half was a different affair, with Kent putting Cornwall under the cosh for long periods.
Cornwall lost prop Craig Williams to injury. However, young teammate from Redruth John Drew stepped off the bench for a Championship debut.
Further disruption came with the loss of Paul Thirlby, as Teague whittled away at Cornwall’s advantage before a Cornish error gifted Lankshear a second try, Teague’s conversion giving the hosts a 17-16 lead.
It looked like Cornwall were going to throw it all away, but they rallied and; from a penalty they mauled towards the Kent line, with No.8 Sam Hocking claiming the all-important try. Full back Jake Murphy converted to put Cornwall ahead once more 23-17.
Ashley Lawton came on and made an important contribution with a try-saving tackle. The Camborne player is sure of a huge reception on his home turf next Saturday.
Kent laid siege to the Cornwall line in the closing moments. Kent were convinced they had scored a try at the death but referee Mr Davis thought otherwise and blew for time, much to the relief of the Cornish support around the field. So, despite having lost Barrie Chapman to the bin, Cornwall saw the game out to set up next Saturday’s mouth-watering tie against Hertfordshire.
Kent 17 pts: tries Lankshear (2); conversions Teague (2); penalty Teague
Cornwall 23 pts: tries Brown, Hocking; conversions Thirlby, Murphy; penalties Thilby (3)
Kent: A Gallagher (Old Colfeians), R Lankshear (Blackheath), T May (Westcombe Park), D Bonner (Blackheath), B Summers (Loughborough University), R Teague (Blackheath), J Hosken (Old Elthamians), J Cleverley (Blackheath), J Bonner (Blackheath), S Goode (Canterbury), T Stradwick (Blackheath, capt), A Vanner (Old Elthamians), H Barton (Westcombe Park), J Lindfield (Blackheath), J Catt (Blackheath)
Replacements: H Fry (Westcombe Park), B McKinnell (Sheppey), J Green (Canterbury), B Johnson (Medway), T Chapman (Blackheath), C Kingsman (Canterbury), J Crust (Blackheath)
Yellow Card: Lindfield (63)
Cornwall: Jake Murphy; Richard Bright (both Cornish All Blacks), Steve Johns (Coventry), Neilson Webber (Cornish All Blacks), Tom Notman; Paul Thirlby; Greg Goodfellow; Darren Jacques, Richard Brown, Craig Williams, Damian Cook (all Redruth), Ben Hilton, Capt, (Cornish All Blacks), Chris Fuca (Redruth), Sam Matavesi (Plymouth Albion), Sam Hocking (unattached)
Replacements: Neal Turner, Jon Drew (both Redruth), Barry Chapman, (both Cornish All Blacks), Ashley Lawton (Camborne), Matt Shepherd (St Austell), Lewis Paterson (Cornish All Blacks), Steve Perry (Barnstaple)
Yellow Card: Chapman (80)
Referee: Tom Davis (RFU)
Munster wing Ronan O'Mahoney shattered the Cornish Pirates at the Mennaye Field as the British & Irish Cup holders snatched a dramatic late win with a try in the fourth minute of injury time.
Pirates captain Gavin Cattle (right) sums up the frustration of his team-mates after the injury-time loss to Munster Academy. Picture from the Western Morning News.
It was cruel on the Pirates, who had defended magnificently for much of the second half in the face of relentless pressure from the Irish side, but it was ultimately a deserved quarter-final victory for Munster who wasted several chances to wrap up the tie well before their last-minute heroics.
The Pirates coped with two separate sin bins in the second half as hooker Rob Elloway and lock Gary Johnson both received yellow cards, and then with the loss of the influential Aaron Penberthy and wing Grant Pointer to injury.
They dug ever deeper in the closing moments as Munster threw everything at them, but the quality of a side containing two full internationals and 14 players with Heineken Cup experience finally told.
Yet in a fiercely competitive game played in a swirling wind and icy temperatures, the Pirates started brightly and their aggression at the scrum in particular had Munster on the back foot in the early exchanges.
Fly-half Penberthy opened the scoring with a 40-metre penalty after 12 minutes and quick thinking by Matt Evans almost brought them the opening try at the end of the first quarter.
The Canada international took a quick tap penalty and raced 20 metres for the corner, only to be forced into touch by Munster full-back Sean Scanlon as he dived for the try-line.
Munster were ahead soon after as flanker Dave O'Callaghan ran a fine line of attack through the midfield channel up to the Pirates 22 before slipping a scoring pass to centre Danny Barnes.
JJ Hanrahan missed the conversion but back came the Pirates and Penberthy stroked home another long range penalty after a deliberate knock-on by South African No.8 CJ Stander.
The Pirates' fly-half then added his third penalty, again from long range, just before the interval and the home side led 9-5. But Munster were a completely different proposition in the second half and problems with the line-out, coupled with the departures of Pointer and Penberthy, helped to turn the tide of the game.
Pirates' hooker Elloway went to the sin-bin after 44 minutes for a ruck offence as the Pirates mounted a rare second half attack and Hanrahan then missed a penalty from inside his own half on the hour. Evans then almost increased the Pirates' lead with their final meaningful offensive -- only to again be thwarted just short of the line by Corey Hircock's huge defensive tackle.
After that the Pirates became prisoners in their own territory and after a superb period of Munster pressure Hanrahan inexplicably spurned a four on one overlap and knocked on as Munster tightened the stranglehold.
Replacement flanker Barry O'Mahoney thought he had scored on 79 minutes as he raced free down the blindside from 15 metres -- only to be called back for a forward pass as his team-mates celebrated.
However, Munster came yet again and with the tense home crowd having fallen into silence, pressure and good phase play sucked the Pirates defence in. When the ball went wide to the left at pace, Ronan O'Mahoney raced in at the corner to finish the job.
The Cornish Pirates booked their place in this season’s quarter-finals of the British and Irish Cup with a six-try win over plucky opponents Dundee High.
It was a performance and result which more than satisfied Cornish Pirates’ Head Coach Ian Davies. He said. “We had two prime objectives today, the first to qualify for the quarter-finals and the second to entertain and to be honest I think we did both. We played some good rugby and fair play to Dundee, who certainly made a game of it and played some good rugby and kept going to the end.
“They were unlucky to lose their scrum-half (Lavery) in the first half and I thought their No.8 (McIver) was outstanding for the whole game and they brought exactly what we thought they would.
“We didn’t set out for the bonus point win: we needed the win to ensure the qualification but to score six tries -- and most of the scores were good, starting off with Sam Hill’s try from Kieran Hallett’s little kick through, having spotted the gap -- and that set the stall out on looking to play a little bit. I don’t think to be honest we had a lot of intensity to what we were doing and I felt we scored when we wanted to, without being disrespectful to Dundee. If we had been playing a Nottingham or a Bristol you would have seen a greater intensity.
“We brought off Kieran Hallett and Tom Riley, who had sustained injuries, which is a concern to us, but I feel despite our unusual backline we acquitted ourselves very well. Tom Duncan made his debut from the bench today and he did very well, which is another plus for us.
For Dundee, High Head Coach Ian Rankin was delighted with his player’s efforts and full of enthusiasm for his side’s first experience in the British and Irish Cup. He said. “It’s been worth every minute, despite the difference between ourselves and the Pirates, who are a full-time squad, as opposed to us with players who have jobs or are students, but we never embarrassed ourselves. We competed for the full eighty. Credit to the Pirates -- three very well executed tries in the first half with the kick through from Hallett. It’s something they have worked on and again showed why they are a very good side.
“Richie McIver at No.8 had a very good game for us. He came to us from a junior club a couple of season’s ago and he is turning into a quality player. He always makes ground -- certainly one of our standout players today.
“I think any cross-border competition challenges players and challenges coaches. For us it has certainly lifted the levels and gives our players another level to aim for, and that has to be good for player development.
On a cold but perfect afternoon for rugby the supporters were soon warmed as centre Sam Hill made the most of fly-half Kieran Hallett’s kick through to gather and score the Pirates’ opening try after just three minutes, Hallett’s conversion giving the home side the perfect start.
Dundee soon showed notice that they had come to play, with their forwards, notably No.8 Richie McIver and hooker Darrel Russell, making some big drives.
Pirates conceded penalties, allowing centre Jack Steele to reduce Dundee’s arrears with successful kicks after 17 and 24 minutes.
Pirates needed a second try to get the game back on track and it soon arrived with another piece of magic from Hallett, who once again chipped the ball through the visitor’s defence to gather and score in the clubhouse corner.
The fly-half was again involved in the lead up to the Pirate’s third try, arguably the try of the game, that saw some fine inter-play between Hallett and full back Wes Davies before Hallett’s pass to Phil Burgess put the No.8 in for a great try. Hallett’s kicked the extras for a 19-6 half-time lead.
Dundee’s cause wasn’t helped with the loss of scrum-half Robbie Lavery five minutes before half-time. Neither was conceding a fourth try soon after the break as Davies made the most of another Hallett grubber to score in the Newlyn Gate Corner.
Steele kicked a third penalty for the visitors, but it was really just damage limitation for the Scots as the second half wore on.
The arrival of Peter Joyce and Paul Andrew to partner hooker Darren Semmens gave the Pirates an all Cornish front row! Whilst Tom Duncan’s debut off the bench on 48 minutes for Hallett didn’t see the talismatic former Red slotting in at 10! The reshuffle did see Burgess move out to the wing as Ben Mercer assumed the pivotal role.
The Cornish Pirates wanted to polish off the game and, following some fine play from the forwards, lock David Lyons powered over in the Newlyn Gate Corner for try no.5.
Dundee rallied for a well-worked try in the clubhouse corner, scored by replacement prop Gav Robertson.
Fittingly it was man-of-the-match Davies who completed his brace with some nifty footwork in the Dundee 22 to dance his way over in the Old Western National Corner to score the Pirates’ sixth and final try.
A win in Wales at Carmarthen Quins next Saturday, by no means a given, will ensure a home quarter-final for the Pirates.
Cornish Pirates 34 pts: tries Hill, Hallett, Burgess Davies (2), Lyons; conversions Hallett (2)
Dundee High 14 pts: try Robertson; penalties Steele (3)
Cornish Pirates: W Davies, B Mercer, T Riley (J Fatialofa 46), S Hill, T Bedford, K Hallett (T Duncan 48), T Kessell; R Storer (P Joyce 51), D Semmens, B Prescott (P Andrew 58), D Lyons (G Cattle 64), G Johnson (capt), B Maidment, A Cheesman, P Burgess (J Tyas 63)
Replacement (not used): Elloway
Dundee High: J Urquhart, A McLean, H Duthie (capt) (C Bowie 48), J Steele, J Johnstone, B Laursen, R Lavery (A Dymock 36); S Longwell, D Russell, A Brown (G Robertson 64), A Redmayne, R Hawkins (A Linton 54), D Levison, I Wilson, R McIver
Replacements (not used): Whittaker, Milne, Gray
Referee: N Perkins (WRU)
Cornish Pirates’ man-of-the-match: Wes Davies
A clinical performance from the Cornish Pirates on Scottish soil ensured that they travelled the 600 miles home sitting top of Pool 3 in the British & Irish Cup after a second bonus point win, writes Dick Straughan at Mayfield.
Dundee, from the Scottish Premiership, pushed the Pirates hard, starting each half in ferocious form, but ran up against a resolute Pirates' defence which made its tackles and halted the threat from the home side.
Aaron Penberthy edged the Pirates into a 7th minute lead with a penalty but it wasn't until the end of the first quarter, when Phil Burgess crossed for an unconverted try, that they began to really assert their authority.
The Cornish side were by now on top at the set piece and at the maul and they eventually turned the territorial advantage into more points when Burgess stole a Dundee lineout and started the move which led to a converted Jack Nowell try.
Penberthy's second penalty made it 18-0 at the break but the Pirates were on the back foot again early in the second period, losing Darren Barry to the sin bin.
Two Jamie Uruhart penalties cut the lead back to twelve before Burgess grabbed his second try with fifteen minutes to go.
Moments later turnover ball stolen by Nowell allowed Penberthy to chip the ball to the right flank and Grant Pointer supplied the finish.
Dundee roared back in a brusing finale but the match ended with a red card for home flanker Robbie Lavery after punching Barry.
Dundee: Urquhart, McLean, Duthie (capt), Lavery (sent off 80+4), Paris (Walker 75), Laursen, A.Dymock (Steele 72); Longwell (Robertson h/t), Russell (Curry 72), Brown (N.Dymock 59), Linton, Hawkins (Brown 59), ***ming, Wilson (Morrison 75), McIver
Red Card Lavery
Dundee scorers: pens Urquhart (2)
Cornish Pirates: Nowell, Pointer (Wigglesworth 71), Cheesman, Bedford (Riley 68), Mercer, Penberthy, Kessell (Coote 74); Andrew (Storer 71), Yeandle (Semmens 77), Prescott (Joyce 60), Lyons, Barry (sin-bin 47-57), Maidment, Burgess, McGlone (capt) (Johnson 74)
Yellow Cards Barry
Pirates' scorers: tries Burgess (2), Nowell, Pointer; cons Penberthy (3); pens Penberthy (2)
Referee S.Graffikin (IRFU)
Aaron Penberthy makes a break. Picture by Phil Mingo/Pinnacle.
The Cornish Pirates will have to hope it is third-time lucky in their bid for the Championship title, after falling to a 66-41 aggregate defeat to London Welsh in their second successive final last night.
The Pirates lost last night's second leg 29-20 as they sought to overcome a 16-point reverse from the first game at Mennaye Field just over a week ago. That was where this tie was really lost, not so much at Oxford's Kassam Stadium, despite the game following a similar pattern.
They will take a little comfort from tries by Matt Evans and Ryan Storer, but plenty more from the performance of young fly-half Aaron Penberthy, particularly in the first half.
His maturity impressed yet again alongside more experienced men such as Rob Cook, Gavin Cattle, Phil Burgess, Ian Nimmo and Alan Paver. These men will all come back to fight another day.
Last night's battle began almost an hour before kick-off. Both sides made significant changes to their previously stated team selections. The big surprises for Pirates were the inclusion of Gloucester-bound centre Drew Locke – who broke his collarbone in January – and Penberthy in place of Ceiron Thomas at ten.
Burgess was due to take a position among the backs, but he reverted to his usual position of flanker, with Dave Ward retaining his place at hooker.
Ben Maidment also made a late recovery from the knock he suffered in the semi-finals against Bristol and took Kyle Marriott's place at No.8.
Welsh were equally deceptive with their pre-match announcements. As Pirates' head coach Ian Davies predicted, Exiles skipper Jon Mills did start in the second row, with Lee Beach preferred in the back row to Martin Purdy.
Penberthy wasted little time making his mark on the occasion, giving Pirates an early lead with a long-distance drop goal in the third minute. Locke also looked lively, creating line-break chances for Maidment and winger Matt Evans before his evening was brought to end by an apparent injury later in the half.
The Exiles' former Plymouth Albion full-back Alex Davies brought the sides level with a penalty, but Cook restored his side's lead soon after.
Pirates showed glimpses of promise but were struggling to make progress in the Welsh 22. The hosts, with that aggregate advantage to hand, were content to chip away at the scoreboard whenever possible.
The consistent kicking of Davies gave them the perfect platform for such a strategy and he, once again, brought parity to the scores with just under 20 minutes gone.
Pirates needed some magic to give them hope and they got it through Cook. The Exiles spilled possession on a rare trip into the Pirates' 22 and Cook led the counter, chipping towards the right corner once he passed into the Welsh half.
Although his own hopes of regaining ball in hand were ended with a crude body check in midfield, Evans picked up possession in space and charged to the line for the opening try of the night, with Cook converting.
There could have been another, with ten minutes of the half remaining. Burgess made a break from just outside the Exiles' 22, but a moment's indecision, when confronted by two remaining red shirts in defence, cost him the chance and the hosts eventually cleared the danger.
However, the Pirates were fortunate to retain their seven-point lead by the half-time interval, after the concession of a late penalty in kickable range for Davies. But he sliced his strike wide of the right post, leaving the visitors with much still to play for in the second half.
Davies did reduce the difference early in the second half and the Pirates' back David Doherty gave the hosts another chance, forcing Evans into a holding-on penalty offence as he tried to rescue his fellow winger's charged-down clearance.
The kick sailed over the right post and it took a lengthy spell for the television match official to confirm its success in bisecting the upright. It was a crucial decision and brought London Welsh's aggregate lead back up to 15 points.
Then, with less than 20 minutes to go, the Pirates found themselves worse off than they had started the game as Davies hit yet another kick through the posts.
That was a demoralising blow for the visitors and it was no surprise when Welsh centre Hudson Tonga'uiha sped through a tired-looking Pirates' defence for a try, converted by Davies.
The Pirates did manage to drive replacement Ryan Storer over with five minutes remaining, but there was still time for Welsh to add another through their own replacement Jack Moates, darting into the right corner for a try converted again by Davies.
London Welsh: Davies, Ajuwa, J Lewis (Jewell 66), Tonga'uiha, Scott; Ross, R Lewis (Moates 74); Lahiff (Moss 72), George (Ma'asi 54), Tideswell (Bateman 66); Mills (capt) (Purdy 76), Corker; Beach (Russell 76), Denbee, Jackson
Welsh scorers: tries Tonga'uiha, Moates; conversions Davies (2); penalties Davies (5)
Cornish Pirates: Cook; Evans (McAtee 67), Pointer, Locke (Cooper 28), D Doherty; Penberthy, Cattle (capt) (Kessell 57); Rimmer (Storer 66), Ward (Elloway 63), Paver; McGlone (Myerscough 57), Nimmo; Ewers, Burgess, Maidment (Marriott 50)
Pirates' scorers: tries Evans, Storer; conversions Cook (2); penalty Cook; drop-goal Penberthy
Referee: D Rose (RFU)
The Cornish Pirates face a massive battle to win the RFU Championship trophy after going down at the Mennaye Field to four tries from a clinical London Welsh outfit, writes Dick Straughan.
The Exiles will start the second leg at the Kassam Stadium next Wednesday 16 points ahead on aggregate and the Pirates will need to massively step up their game to turn around the tie after a poor first half which cost them the match.
It all began so well for the Pirates with a Grant Pointer try after just four minutes converted from in front of the posts by Rob Cook. But two Alex Davies penalties and a yellow card for home fly-half Ceiron Thomas, following a deliberate knock-on, shifted the momentum of the game.
Tries from wings Joe Ajuwa and Nick Scott, followed by a Gordon Ross drop-goal, turned the game on its head at 23-7 and it took a late rally in the half, followed by a penalty try from the Pirates after the Welsh had consistently infringed at a series of 5-metre scrums, to add some respectability to the scoreline.
In the second half the Pirates fixed their creaking lineout but were constantly under pressure at the breakdown and struggled to play with their normal tempo and accuracy.
Cook missed with an early penalty as the game became a midfield scrap but the Welsh were the first to throw off the shackles and ambushed the Pirates with two tries in two minutes on the hour mark.
Centre Hudson Tonga'uiha ran in from 40 metres after an overthrown lineout by Dave Ward and from the restart James Lewis rounded off a move started by Lee Beach.
Tonga'uiha then received a yellow card for tackling Matt Evans in mid-air and, with ten minutes remaining, flanker Phil Burgess scored a third Pirates' try after a period of sustained attacking pressure. Cook converted.
In the closing stages Ajuwa for the Welsh and Burgess both went close to adding further tries, but the Welsh ultimately closed the game out to secure a deserved and potentially trophy-winning victory.
Cornish Pirates: Cook, Pointer, Hill, Suniula (Evans 64), D.Doherty, Thomas (sin-bin 13-23, Kessell 64), Cattle (capt); Rimmer (Storer 60), Ward, Paver (Brits 66), McGlone (Smith 62), Nimmo (Myerscough 68), Ewers (Elloway 68), Burgess, Marriott
Yellow card: Thomas
Pirates' scorers: tries Pointer, penalty try, Burgess; cons Cook (3)
London Welsh: Davies, Scott, J.Lewis (Russell 76), Tonga'uiha (sin-bin 67-77), Ajuwa, Ross, R.Lewis; Lahiff (Moss 78), George (Ma`asi 60), Tideswell (Bateman 75), Mills (capt), Corker (Purdy 75), Beach (Jewell 72), Denbee, Jackson
Replacement (not used): Moates
Welsh scorers: tries Ajuwa, Scott, Tonga'uiha, Lewis; cons Davies (4); pens Davies (2); drop goal Davies
Yellow card: Tonga'uiha.
Referee: G Garner (RFU)
The Cornish Pirates have reached a second consecutive Championship play-off final despite falling to a 29-18 defeat against Bristol at Memorial Stadium yesterday.
The margin of the Pirates' semi-final first-leg victory gave them just enough in reserve, as they saw a 21-point cushion reduced to ten by a spirited Bristol comeback.
Tries from Rob Cook and Phil Burgess proved vital in an eventual 63-53 success and they will now meet London Welsh in the finals later this month, having fallen to Worcester Warriors at the same stage last term.
For the majority of yesterday afternoon, the Pirates' participation in the end-of-season showpiece looked assured, but both sides knew a good start was essential.
Bristol's Jason Hobson certainly knew it and headed straight for opposite tighthead prop Alan Paver, squaring up to his rival before the game had even begun.
The Pirates kicked off and applied pressure, winning back possession and forcing two penalties. The second, awarded for holding on, was kicked through the posts by Cook to give his side the lead in the third minute.
However, the Pirates themselves were penalised after receiving the restart and Bristol used possession in the Pirates' 22 wisely. They worked the ball from right to left before fly-half Tristan Roberts' grubber kick through Pirates' defensive line was picked up by full-back Jon Goodridge for an early converted try.
The Pirates' response was critical, and they showed their intent immediately by going straight back on the attack. Such a policy did leave them open to counter-attacks, and Bristol had plenty of specialists on the break.
They snatched possession on the halfway line and scrum-half Ruki Tipuna spotted men over on the left.
Within a second or two, Fautua Otto broke free near the touchline and it took a fine covering tackle from the Pirates' flanker Phil Burgess to prevent the centre crossing under the posts.
A forward pass eventually brought the move to an end and the Pirates finally had a chance to settle.
Once again, they followed their instincts and went on the attack. The Pirates manoeuvred into position just outside the Bristol 22 and fly-half Ceiron Thomas set himself for a drop goal attempt. However, the pass back to him was a poor one and he did well to retrieve the ball and then grubber-kick into the right corner.
His side regained control from that position and forced another penalty, but Cook was unable to find the target from wide on the right.
Cook's big moment was just about to come, however. A chip over the top in midfield from Roberts, aimed at Otto, instead found the hands of the Pirates' number 15 – and the outcome could hardly have been worse for the home side.
He was still 60 metres out, but, once Cook built some speed, he pierced through the sparse home defence to the right corner with a line of Bristol pursuers in his wake, before adding the conversion for a three-point lead.
Bristol were by then truly desperate and applied huge pressure to get themselves at least in credit for the first half of this second leg. However, the Pirates had the one thing Bristol lacked – composure.
While Bristol snatched at chances, the Pirates defended resolutely. After surviving a long spell on their own try line, it was the Cornish side who had the chance to score more points just before the break with another penalty, but Cook dragged his kick wide of the posts.
An early Roberts penalty hit the left post as Bristol's misery continued into the second half. But he got another chance seconds later and brought the scores level on the day.
Then, as the hour mark approached, Bristol made some real progress when Goodridge scored his second try of the day, converted by Roberts.
The hosts' all-out attack did leave defensive holes, though, and Burgess exploited the situation brilliantly from inside his own half, powering through a gap and escaping the last lunge of Bristol flanker Josh Ovens to score an unconverted try.
The home threat still was not over, however. Another Otto break drew the Pirates' defence and wing George Watkins took advantage of the space provided to score an unconverted try in the left corner.
His opposite wing Will Helu then brought his side back to within seven aggregate points with a minute remaining. However, it was Pirates who had the last word with a second penalty from Cook.
Bristol: Goodridge, Watkins, Otto, Eves, Helu, Roberts (James 74), Tipuna (Slater 69); Irish (Lilley 38-h/t, 67), Harris-Wright (Johnston 50), Hobson (Thompson 67), Sambucetti (Glynn 50), Winters, Ovens, Merriman, Grieve (capt) (Vanderglas 67)
Bristol scorers: tries Goodridge (2), Otto, Watkins; cons Roberts (2), James; pens Roberts
Cornish Pirates: Cook, Pointer, Hill, Suniula, D.Doherty, Thomas, Cattle (capt); Rimmer, Ward, Paver, McGlone, Nimmo, Morgan, Burgess, Marriott
Replacements (not used): Storer, Elloway, Brits, Smith, Ewers, Kessell, Evans
Pirates' scorers: tries Cook, Burgess; con Cook; pens Cook (2)
Referee S.Davey (RFU)
Twenty-six unanswered points in the final twenty minutes left promotion favourites Bristol bewildered and bemused at the final whistle at the Mennaye Field on May Bank Holiday Monday.
With a 12-05 pm kick-off, little did the crowd suspect the “high noon” drama that was about to unfold before them, in a match which early on Bristol looked to have a stranglehold on.
Two early converted tries during the first ten minutes for Bristol, scored by flanker James Merriman and winger William Helu, gave the visitors the perfect start they would have hoped for in the first-leg of this RFU Championship semi-final.
The Cornish Pirates had to dig deep to play their way back into the game after such a disappointing start.
Pirates’ full-back Rob Cook cut the deficit with a penalty on 15 minutes, but that was soon cancelled out as Bristol’s fly-half Matt Jones replied in kind to add to the two conversions he had kicked earlier.
Cook, though, struck twice more before half-time to leave the Pirates trailing at the break 17-9.
The Pirates had shown plenty of promise during the first half, with some big carries from locks Ian Nimmo and Laurie McGlone.
The man who always stands out in the Pirates’ shirt, and who will be sorely missed next season when he moves to Harlequins -- hooker Dave Ward -- had his usual immense game.
It was vital that the Pirates got the first score in the second period. It came following a period of Pirate’s pressure when a pass thrown out by centre Andrew Suniula was taken at pace by Cook, who weaved his way through a pretty ordinary Bristol defence to score the Pirates' first try of the afternoon on 49 minutes.
Cook’s conversion left the Pirates just a point adrift of the visitors: you could sense the home side’s spirits lifted by the score.
Flanker Phil Burgees put in a tremendous run before fly-half Cieron Thomas’s kick to the clubhouse corner put Bristol under huge pressure. Pirates managed to disrupt the lineout and almost got the try -- only for referee J. P. Doyle to penalise the visitors, giving Cook the opportunity to put the Pirates in the lead for the first time during the game, his fourth penalty making it 19-17.
Bristol still had some gas in the tank at this stage and played their way into the Pirates’ twenty-two. Fine play saw them create a try-scoring chance with scrum-half Tipuna Te Ruki providing the scoring pass to winger Helu, who ran in his second try at the Newlyn End. Jones’ conversion gave Bristol a five point lead with 22 minutes to play.
Just five minutes later the Pirates’ forwards created a try for prop Carl Rimmer, who powered over, with Cook’s conversion swinging the game back in the Pirates’ favour at 26-24.
Bristol looked to be dead on their feet as the game ticked into the final 10 minutes. The Pirates’ sensed it and took their chance in some style, scoring three more tries.
A penalty kicked towards the scoreboard corner saw Nimmo soar to claim the lineout ball. The forwards then drove towards the line before the ball was moved inside for winger Dave Doherty to streak in at the corner. Cook was once again on the money with his conversion, taking his points tally past the 1,000 mark in just three seasons at the club.
Then winger Grant Pointer got in on the action. Breaking a tackle, he ran in at the clubhouse corner for the Pirates’ fourth try. Cook kept up his strike rate with another good kick for the extras.
With time almost up the Pirate’s drove another nail into Bristol’s hopes as Rimmer crashed over for his second try of the game. Cook’s final conversion clipped the upright and stayed out.
The final whistle came when replacement scrum-half Tom Kessell kicked a penalty out, to the unreserved cheers of the Mennaye faithful.
Cornish Pirates: R. Cook, G. Pointer (M. Evans 76), S. Hill, A. Suniula, D. Doherty, C. Thomas, G. Cattle (capt, T. Kessell 79), B. Maidment (K. Marriott 44), P. Burgess (D. Ewers 76), C. Morgan, I. Nimmo, L. McGlone, A. Paver (R. Brits 79), D. Ward (R. Elloway 75), C. Rimmer (R. Storer 76)
Bristol Rugby: J. Goodridge, J. Tovey, O. Fautua, L. Eves, W. Helu, M. Jones (M. James 60), R. Tipuna, D. Montagu, J. Merriman, I. Grieve (H. Vanderglas), R. Winters, G. Townson (B. Glynn 5), J. Hobson (W. Thompson 27), J. Harris-Wright, M. Irish (M. Lilley 76)
Replacements (not used): T. Slater, T. Channon.
Cornish Pirates' scorers: tries Rimmer (2), Cook, Doherty, Pointer; cons Cook (4); pens Cook (4)
Bristol Rugby scorers: tries Helu (2), Merriman, cons Jones (3); pen Jones
Referee: J. P. Doyle (RFU)
After the match a delighted Cornish Pirates skipper, scrum-half Gavin Cattle, gave his reaction to his side’s tremendous win. Asked how he felt when his side found themselves 14-0 down early on, he said: “I wasn’t too concerned. As it happened early doors, I knew we could recover. I think half-time was the turning point for us. We said we needed to keep possession more, rather than trying to force the pass. We were perhaps trying to score too early in phase play, so we kept hold of the ball, made them tackle us, and then reaped the rewards as we were making positive gains, especially with the like of Laurie McGlone carrying. The forwards got us on the front foot and it went from there really. Retaining the possession was the key for us.
“We realised that their forwards were blowing a bit towards the end, but I think we had the greater hunger for the game. We had that edge at the breakdown again, giving us some good quality ball to attack with.
“I am really chuffed with the boys' effort today. We kicked well, used the space and played a really sensible game plan.
Cattle has no doubts that despite his side’s cushion it will be a tough game at the Memorial Ground next Sunday. “In the Championship game up there we had a nineteen point half-time lead and lost. We can’t afford to sit on our laurels and I know we won’t. In the group circle after the game we realised we had to calm down a bit as the job is only half done. We have to keep our feet firmly on the ground building up to Sunday.
Darren Jaques on the charge. Photo by Simon Bryant.
Cornwall head coach Dave ‘Benji’ Thomas was pretty pleased with the performance as the Duchy got their season off to a fine start with victory over old rivals Devon at Launceston.
It was the first time Cornwall had lifted the Tamar Cup since 2008, with four good tries, and 16 points from the boot of man-of-the-match Brett Rule, clinching the spoils.
It all bodes well for their County Championship opener against Gloucestershire at Redruth on Saturday week.
“We learnt a lot,” said Thomas. “We have never been better prepared than we are at the present time because of the training sessions we have had.
“We had a strong side out against Devon, and in the first half I thought we played really, really well, but in the second half perhaps we didn’t do all of the things we did in the first half, but there was still a lot of encouraging play from both forwards and backs.”
The Duchy had a far stronger team on paper, with Devon not selecting any Exmouth or Brixham players prior to Saturday’s county cup final, and that extra strength was evident in the fifth minute, when Ben Hilton celebrated his appointment as Cornwall captain by finishing off a catch-and-drive line-out, and Redruth full-back Rule slotted the simple conversion.
Six minutes later, Cornish All Blacks flanker Mike Rawlings broke down the right touchline before feeding clubmate Richard Bright to cross in the corner.
Two Rule penalties in quick succession put Cornwall 18 points up in almost as many minutes, before Newton Abbot fly-half Rob Avery-Wright broke Devon’s duck in the 22nd minute with a penalty.
That was quickly followed by a try from full-back Will Topps, who gathered a loose ball and raced 40 metres to score to make it 18-8.
Rule added a third penalty after Devon’s replacement lock Sam Harris had been sin-binned for hands in a ruck, and the catch-and-drive line-out then did the trick for Cornwall again, with this time All Blacks flanker Tom Rawlings finishing off a powerful maul.
Rule converted superbly from the touchline to give the hosts a 28-8 interval lead.
Devon rang the changes at the break, and they came out for the second half in determined mood, but they were kept out by some stern home defending.
Rule slotted his fourth penalty to take Cornwall over the 30-point mark, but the frequent changes on both sides made it a pretty disjointed second period.
Rule then missed a relatively long-range penalty effort, but Devon continued to infringe, and referee Carl Bennett yellow-carded Plymouth Albion flanker James Harris.
Cornwall made the most of their extra man when replacement winger Tom Notman rounded off a sweeping move in the right-hand corner.
Devon finished brightly though and managed a late consolation try through Avery-Wright, who returned to the pitch after being replaced at half-time to intercept a pass from Jake Murphy, and added the conversion.
Sam Parsons looks to offload. Photo by Simon Bryant.
Ben Hilton in the lineout. Photo by Simon Bryant.
Cornwall (Cornish All Blacks unless stated): Rule (Redruth), Bright, Paterson, Murphy, Struminski, Webb, S Hawkey (Wadebridge Camels), Jacques (Redruth), Salter, C Williams (Redruth), Hilton (capt), J Goldsworthy (Camborne), M Rawlings, T Rawlings, Duncan (Redruth).
Replacements: Fuca (Redruth) for M Rawlings 22 mins, Parsons (Redruth) for Hawkey 47, Joyce (Redruth) for Williams 47, Mann (Penryn) for Duncan 47, T Notman (Redruth) for Bright 54, Hurdwell for Salter 57, Shepherd (St Austell) for Webb 66
Devon: Topps (Barnstaple), Mulberry (UWIC), Lee (Plymouth Albion), Webber (Barnstaple), Busch (Cullompton), Avery-Wright (Newton Abbot), Setter (UWIC), Radford (Newton Abbot), Roberts (Barnstaple), Weekes (Cullompton), Tripcony (Cornish All Blacks), Chapman (Newton Abbot), James (Barnstaple), Mortimer (Newton Abbot), Richardson (Sidmouth)
Replacements: S Harris (Cullompton) for Chapman 32, Manton (Plymouth Alb) for Weekes ht, Channon
Cornish dreams of a domestic league and cup double ended in the Welsh valleys at Pandy Park as Cross Keys defied their underdog tag to beat the Cornish Pirates 20-16 in a bitterly contested British and Irish Cup semi-final.
The team from the Welsh Premiership had billed the game as the biggest in their 127-year history and the Pirates' high performance manager Chris Stirling warned his team exactly what to expect.
Stirling was proven right as the fire-breathing Welsh side took the game to his troops from the off, but his team failed to heed the warning and fell 13 points behind in as many first-half minutes on Saturday.
A strong fightback which saw Cross Keys lose lock Dan Hodge and prop Richard Cornock to the sin bin resulted in Rob Cook levelling the scores for the Pirates early in the second half. But home winger Kristian Baller then scored a fine second converted try and it ultimately proved decisive.
Stirling reflected: "We knew what to expect here but I really believed the actual outcome would be different. I believed that we would overcome all the adversities that were against us and come out with a win.
"The guys battled really hard and fought all the way and I'm proud of them for that. Cross Keys hit the ground running, got into us and upset us. They turned it into a few individual battles which cost us a wee bit.
"But we came back and had control of the game and at times I thought we were totally dominant.
"But there were a couple of lapses and errors let them back into the match. Cross Keys are a good team and their second try was a beauty. On today's performance, they deserve to be in the final."
In a torrid first quarter, the Pirates were ruthlessly punished for their hesitancy by a Welsh pack hunting as an eight-man unit and by the pace of wing Kristian Baller and full-back Gareth David. Scrum-half Rhys Dyer set about giving Gavin Cattle an uncomfortable afternoon from the outset, while the pin-point kicking of Newport Gwent Dragons fly-half Steffan Jones pinned the Cornish side in their own 22.
Jones opened the scoring with a 45-metre penalty after just two minutes and a good start for the home side then became a dream start as Cattle and Ceiron Thomas got in a midfield muddle for the Pirates. Keys centre Leon Andrews stole possession and released Baller to touch down in the corner. Jones converted.
A second penalty from Jones made it 13-0 before the Pirates finally managed to quell the fire and implement their own strong driving game.
The Welsh side had no legal answer to the power of the Pirates' driving maul but the visitors found themselves penalised for a series of baffling transgressions by Scottish referee Cammy Rudkin, as they repeatedly drove the Keys pack backwards.
A Cook penalty was just reward for the pressure and Hodge received a yellow card for cynically pulling down a maul. The one-man advantage proved crucial.
With Cross Keys again driven back on to their own line and an advantage being played to the Pirates, a flurry of hands in the ruck denied Cattle quick ball and Rudkin awarded a penalty try, converted by Cook.
The referee then ignored Pirates' protests as another bulldozing 40-metre drive was dragged to the floor, but did issue a second yellow card to Cornock for a stiff-arm tackle on Matt Evans.
Three minutes into the second half, Cook's second penalty levelled the game at 13-all but the contest turned again on 50 minutes as Baller rounded off a period of pressure in the Pirates' half, hitting the line at speed. He broke the cover tackle and slid in under the posts for a fine try, converted by Jones.
Cook fired the Pirates back within a score of the lead almost immediately with a penalty ,after good work in the loose by Dave Ward, but the game suddenly lost its growing momentum after a nasty injury to Andrews.
The Keys centre was rendered unconscious in a collision with Sam Hill and taken to hospital.
In a ferocious finale played during a prolonged period of injury time, both teams butchered clear chances to seal the contest. Victory remained in Welsh hands as they defended their line to the last man, and Cross Keys will now meet Munster in the final at the end of the month.
Cross Keys:Davis, Baller, Andrews (L.Williams 59), P.Williams, Trowbridge, S.Jones (N.Williams 80+9), Dyer; Cornock (Gould 15-21, sin-bin 39-49), Price, M.Jones, Lampard (Rawlins 68), Hodge (sin-bin 29-39), Peebles (Gould 40+2 – 47, Trayhern 77) Nash (capt), Groves
Replacements (not used) – Sollis, O.Jones
Cross Keys' scorers: tries Baller (2); cons S.Jones (2); pens S.Jones (2)
Yellow Cards Hodge, Cornock
Cornish Pirates: Cook, Evans, Suniula, Hill, D.Doherty (Kessell 80+6), Thomas, Cattle (capt); Storer (Rimmer h/t), Elloway (Ward h/t), Paver, McGlone (Smith 72), Myerscough, Morgan, Burgess, Marriott (Maidment 72)
Replacements (not used) Brits, Cooper
Pirates' scorers: try Penalty; con Cook; pens Cook (3)
Referee C.Rudkin (SRU)
The Cornish Pirates made it three wins in a row as they dispatched Nottingham 33-3 at the Mennaye Field yesterday to progress to the semi-finals of the British and Irish Cup.
With Irish sides Munster and Leinster, along with Welsh Premiership outfit Cross Keys, completing the final four in this season's tournament, the Pirates will face stiff opposition whoever they meet after the draw on January 30.
Yesterday, it took them 20 minutes to get the scoreboard moving but they eventually ran in five tries, including a debut score for their new loan signing from Worcester Warriors, Andy Short, and the Pirates' high performance manager Chris Stirling was happy with the display.
"I think the word comfortable sums it up well," he said. "Nottingham played well in the first ten minutes and asked some questions of us, but defensively we were pretty sound and then, when we finally got our hands on the ball, we got field position and scored points.
"I questioned the guys on some of the work-rate in the first half when we got control but then seemed to slip back to just going through the motions a wee bit. But, in the second half, we came out and upped the intensity."
Nottingham brought a much-changed side to Cornwall to the one which lost a hard-fought Championship game here two weeks ago. But, after starting well and briefly threatening as wing James Stokes broke clear only to be felled by a Rob Cook try-saving tackle, they lost their way in attack and began to suffer at the hands of the Pirates' pack.
The opening try came after 20 minutes following an attack in which Tom Cowan-Dickie had forced his way over the Nottingham line only to be held up by a desperate defence.
From the resulting five-metre scrum Pirates No.8 Ben Maidment controlled the ball superbly at the tail before driving over himself to score. Cook converted and then five minutes later set up the second try of the match, this time for Andy Short.
Cook broke clear midway inside his own half and raced 60 metres down the right flank before being hauled down by Stokes just short of the line. Quick recycling fed Short and he cantered home for a simple score, again converted by the Pirates' full-back.
A penalty late in the half for a breakdown offence slotted by former Plymouth Albion fly-half Kieran Hallett finally opened the Nottingham account as they trailed 14-3, but it would take until the final quarter before the scoreline changed again.
The Pirates lost Short with a twisted ankle early in the second half and then flanker Chris Morgan left the field looking dazed after taking a blow to the head in a midfield collision.
Both sides took the opportunity to ring the changes and it was replacement hooker Dave Ward who increased the Pirates' lead after 64 minutes as he rounded off a sustained period of pressure on the Nottingham line, squeezing in at the Newlyn Gate Corner.
With Aaron Penberthy again influential in midfield for the Pirates, Nottingham's attacking prowess diminished as the game wore on but full-back Andy Savage did spurn a golden try-scoring opportunity as he broke from deep only to inexplicably fall over with only Cook to beat.
The error again proved costly for the visitors as McAtee and Ward led an assault down the right wing and, from the breakdown deep in the Nottingham 22, James Doherty and then Penberthy fed Tom Cooper for his maiden Pirates try in the corner. Cook slotted the extras from a difficult angle.
With time running out, another Nottingham counter-attack saw Phil Eggleshaw sprint from the base of a scrum well inside his own half, only to be halted by Cook just short of the try-line.
Then, five minutes into added time at the end of the game, Cook got the try he richly deserved.
Nottingham centre Joe Munro chipped the ball into space as he attempted to lead a final desperate attack from his own try-line but was beaten to the loose ball by Cook, who returned it with interest, throwing a cheeky dummy to wrong-foot Savage on his way to score under the posts.
Cook banged over the conversion to complete the scoring, leaving Stirling, who now heads back to New Zealand for his daughter's wedding, satisfied.
"I have to say that this Nottingham team never gave up," he said. "Now I just fancy someone at home in the semi-final. I don't care who!"
Cornish Pirates: Cook; McAtee, Short (Cooper 47), Hill, D Doherty (Evans 64); Penberthy, Cattle (capt) (J Doherty 52); Rimmer, Cowan-Dickie (Ward 59), Brits (Fairbrother 67); McGlone (Myerscough 67), Nimmo; Ewers, Morgan (Marriott 59), Maidment
Pirates' scorers: tries Cook, Short, Maidment, Ward, Cooper; conversions Cook (4)
Nottingham: Savage; Jack Cobden (Greenhalgh 56), Streather (Hough 69), Munro, Penn; Hallett, Barnham (capt) (Jones 56); Olive, Taylor (Holloway 47), Shields (Holford 45); Todd (Eggleshaw 56), Morley; Cooper, Calladine (Baird 47), Levi
Nottingham scorers: penalty Hallett
Referee: I Davies (WRU)
The Cornish Pirates cruised into the last eight of the British & Irish Cup with a comfortable win over Cross Keys from the Welsh Premiership at the Mennaye Field.
As a contest, the game was over inside the first half an hour as the Cornish side ran in 20 unopposed points, demonstrating the huge gulf in class between the two teams.
And after a difficult week at the Mennaye Field with a temporary delay to the Stadium for Cornwall project and news that high performance manager Chris Stirling is likely to leave the club on a sabbatical at the end of the season, the Pirates' boss was pleased to see his team win comfortably.
Stirling said: "It's fantastic. We won the trophy two years ago and probably should have made the final last year but for a crazy period at Newport.
"We were totally dominant without being clinical and we discussed that at half-time. Unfortunately, the way the game unfolded with all the stops and starts and negative play by the opposition meant we couldn't get into the flow of things."
He added: "We've got to be better than that, we know that, but we totally dominated in all areas."
The Pirates could have taken the lead inside 60 seconds as good work by Ceiron Thomas and scrum-half James Doherty put Matt Evans away down the left wing. But a fine try-saving tackle from Cross Keys full-back Leon Andrews bundled the Canadian into touch inches short of the line.
Thomas missed with a couple of early penalty efforts for the home side before the Welsh side, already under huge pressure at the set-piece and in the loose, lost the ever-irritable Danny Hodge to the sin-bin after being hopelessly off his feet at the breakdown.
Minutes later, with the Pirates' pack camped on the Welsh line forcing a series of scrums, referee Simon Harding tired of the disruptive play and awarded the Pirates a penalty try. Thomas converted.
The Pirates kept up the offensive and from a penalty and line-out on their right flank switched play to the left with Thomas and Grant Pointer prominent and Evans taking the scoring pass. Thomas added the extras to make it 14-0.
Cross Keys became even more disruptive at the breakdown as the game progressed and the Pirates lost much of their flow relying on two Thomas penalties to keep the scoreboard ticking for a 20-point interval lead.
The Welsh side finally landed a penalty through fly-half Sam Mills at the third time of asking after 56 minutes and full-back Leon Andrews tried his luck with a place-kick from halfway as the home side infringed at the breakdown.
But a poor kick went well wide and other than a brief glimpse of the Pirates line for Hodge after Marcus Johnstone had hacked through, there was no further offensive threat.
Buoyed by the introduction of skipper Gavin Cattle, the Pirates again began to exert some influence on the tempo of the contest and Cross Keys faded in the closing stages.
Thomas landed a third penalty from 30 metres in the 68th minute and Rob Nash became the second Keys player to see yellow after yet another breakdown offence and a petulant reaction to being penalised.
Five minutes from time and with the Cross Keys pack still disrupted by Nash's departure, Evans again hit the line at pace taking a fine scoring pass and scorching his way to score under the posts. Thomas converted again to give the Pirates the perfect start to a week ending in the visit of Plymouth Albion on Christmas Eve.
Cornish Pirates: Thomas, Daniel (McAtee 55), Suniula, Pointer
(Hill 75), Evans, Dorrian, J.Doherty (Cattle 50), Storer (Paver 55), Ward,
Brits (Storer 71), Myerscough (Marriott 55), Smith, Morgan (capt) (Cowan 74),
Replacement (not used): Elloway
Pirates' scorers: tries Evans (2), penalty; conversions Thomas (3); penalties Thomas (3)
Cross Keys: Andrews, Baller (Robinson 62), L Williams, N Williams,
Johnstone, Mills, O Jones (capt), George, Sollis, M.Jones (Gould 53), Hodge
(sin-bin 10-20), Rawlins, Popham, Trayhern, R Williams (Nash h/t, sin-bin
Replacements: Price, Lampard, P Williams, Dyer
Cross Keys' scorers: penalty Mills
Yellow cards: Hodge, Nash
Referee: S Harding (RFU)
Worcester Warriors secured a swift return to the Premiership with a hard-fought victory over Cornish Pirates at a sold-out Sixways last night.
It gave them a 46-32 aggregate Championship final success, and their promotion confirms Leeds Carnegie's relegation from the top flight.
Pirates needed a very early score to put their hosts under pressure, and they got off to a dream start, with full-back Rob Cook slotting a 35-metre penalty with less than two minutes gone, after Worcester had ventured offside.
That lead only lasted four minutes though, with Andy Goode kicking a 40-metre penalty, and a ferocious attacking move by Warriors soon after only failing to provide a try when number eight Kai Horstmann was held up.
It proved only a brief reprieve for the visitors. Warriors shoved them backwards at a five-metre scrum, number nine Jonny Arr fed mercurial Marcel Garvey wide on the right, and the dangerous winger cut a lovely angle back inside to register his 22nd try of the season.
Goode banged over the conversion for a 10-3 lead, and the home fans were already savouring the prospect of Premiership rugby, even at that early stage, with the aggregate advantage now 16 points.
Referee JP Doyle amazingly needed the help of the television match official to adjudicate on whether Goode had kicked a 30-metre drop goal in the 22nd minute echoes of the league match at the Mennaye Field in January, when he controversially awarded a conversion to Goode after consulting video replays, and once again the decision was in the affirmative to make it 13-3.
Pirates almost scored a try in the 26th minute when fly-half Jonny Bentley jinked his way into space and headed for the line, but Garvey got back with a superb tackle only six metres out.
With on-loan Exeter Chiefs centre Drew Locke making indents into the Warriors' defence every time he got the ball, Pirates started to work their way back into the game, and when the hosts strayed offside, Cook put over the simple penalty to cut the gap to only seven points on the night at half-time.
Pirates lost winger Rhodri McAtee at the interval to a shoulder injury, replaced by Tom Luke, but if there was any doubt where the Championship trophy was heading, it was put to rest three minutes after the break.
Jonny Arr gathered Nick Jackson's horribly miscued kick, and after the ball had been worked to the left, Benjamin was put in the clear. He was sufficiently concerned about a forward pass or a foot in touch to turn around and see if the touch judge's flag had gone up, but none was forthcoming, and the winger continued his run to the line for his 26th touchdown of the campaign.
Goode delivered a superb conversion from the touchline, and three minutes later, the champagne corks were popping for Worcester as Benjamin this time turned provider with a pass that sent the former England fly-half storming away down the same flank to make it 25-6.
Full credit to the Pirates, who bounced straight back from that double whammy, and a missed long-range penalty attempt by Goode soon after, courtesy of a try of their own in the 53rd minute, with Locke deservedly finishing off a blindside attack, and Cook adding the conversion.
Another 45-metre penalty kick by Goode drifted just wide as the contest entered its closing stages, but the never-say-die Pirates continued to search for a way through.
One of the moves of the night saw Jackson almost reach the line, which led to Worcester flanker Neil Best getting a yellow card, and when Warriors infringed at a five-metre penalty scrum, Doyle marched under the posts for a penalty try, and Cook drop-kicked the conversion, but time ran out for Pirates.
The final whistle sparked scenes of wild celebration at Sixways. The red-hot pre-season favourites promoted after 31 matches.
Warriors' fly-half Goode was full of praise for the Cornish side after the game. He said: "It got pretty close towards the end. The Cornish Pirates are a good side but our defence is strong and we're back in the Premiership now.
Worcester: Pennell (capt), Garvey (Frost 80+4), Grove, Rasmussen
(Crockett 73), Benjamin, Goode (Carlisle 73), Arr, Black, Fortey (Lutui 34),
Taumoepeau (Douglas 78), Rawlinson (Kitchener 73), Gillies, Best, Abbott,
Replacement (not used): Balding
Yellow card: Best
Worcester scorers: tries: Garvey, Benjamin, Goode; conversions: Goode (2); penalties: Goode; drop-goal: Goode
Cornish Pirates: Cook, Jackson, Hopper, Locke, McAtee (Luke ht), Bentley, Cattle (capt) (Doherty 64), Storer (Andrew 59), Elloway (Ward 59), Rimmer (Paver 64), McGlone (Nimmo 58), Myerscough, Morgan, Burgess (Betty 50), Marriott
Pirates' scorers: tries: Locke, penalty try; conversions: Cook (2); penalties: Cook (2)
Referee: J P Doyle (RFU)
The Cornish Pirates have work to do if they are to become champions of English rugby's second tier after suffering a 21-12 defeat to Worcester Warriors in the Championship final first leg at Mennaye Field last night.
A series of Pirates mistakes in their own 22 allowed the Warriors to build a lead through tries from Miles Benjamin and Andy Goode in the first half. The home side's only response was four penalties from Rob Cook, leaving them a nine-point deficit to overturn in next week's second leg at Worcester.
The Pirates made a positive start with plenty of quick ball inside the Worcester half and only an early knock-on from full-back Cook prevented them from making serious inroads into the visitors' 22.
But the first moment of Cornish carelessness came as early as the seventh minute. Fly-half Jonny Bentley, so often the creative architect for Pirates, attempted a cross-field kick ten metres from his own try-line over to the right wing for Rhodri McAtee to launch a break.
Bentley's normally reliable boot put the ball straight out of play barely outside his own 22 and, once Worcester completed the line-out, it only took a few phases for the Warriors to score their first try with winger Benjamin crashing through McAtee's tackle attempt to go over in the left corner.
Goode missed the conversion but he had another chance to aim for the posts midway through the half when Pirates were caught offside. This time he made no mistake and extended his side's lead to eight unanswered points.
The Pirates were struggling to gain territory in threatening areas as Worcester started to settle but they grabbed some points when they did through a Cook penalty just outside the Worcester 22.
Despite that progress, the hosts once again shot themselves in the metaphorical foot on the half hour. A Goode drop-goal attempt was deflected by a Pirates' hand and the ball fell short to winger Wes Davies, who inexplicably dotted the ball down rather than clearing into touch.
The resulting five-metre scrum was hard work for the home side, and, after three failed attempts to drive for the line, the Warriors worked the ball out to Goode, who broke through to score a converted try under the posts.
There was a flicker of light for the hosts just before the half-time whistle when Cook held his nerve once more to kick his second penalty of the half, but another Pirates' error straight from the restart allowed Goode to cancel it with his own second successful penalty.
Goode could have added another at the start of the second half but he dragged his 30-metre kick from the right touchline just wide of the left post -- only for Cook to do much the same for the Pirates ten minutes later.
Goode did extend the visitors' lead with a successful kick a few minutes later but they were reduced to 14 men when flanker Neil Best was sent to the sin bin moments after Davies was brought to a sudden halt as he charged towards the try-line in the left corner. The Pirates opted to kick for the posts, allowing Cook to reduce the deficit to 12 points on the hour mark.
The Pirates' high performance manager Chris Stirling made a tactical switch with just over 20 minutes remaining. Forwards Ryan Storer and Rob Elloway came on, with winger Davies and Paul Andrew leaving the field. Phil Burgess moved from flanker to the wing.
Worcester boosted their own ranks by bringing on Adam Balding when Best's ten minutes in the bin were up. Pirates responded with a fourth penalty from Cook as well as one missed in stoppage time but there seemed little chance of a potentially decisive home try in the final minutes, leaving them with at least ten points to find at Sixways next week for the title.
Cornish Pirates: Cook; Davies (Elloway 66), Hopper, Luke (Locke
55), McAtee; Bentley, Cattle; Andrew (Storer 66), Ward (Holmes 79), Paver
(Rimmer 73; Nimmo, Myerscough; Morgan, Burgess, McGlone (Marriott
Replacement (not used): Doherty
Pirates' scorers: penalties Cook (4)
Worcester: Pennell (capt); Garvey, Crockett (Grove 60),
Rasmussen, Benjamin; Goode (Carlisle 79), Arr; Black, Fortey (Lutui 55),
Taumoepeau (Douglas 62); Rawlinson (Kitchener 62), Gillies; Best (Balding 73),
Replacement (not used): Frost
Warriors' scorers: tries Benjamin, Goode; conversion Goode;
penalties Goode (3)
Yellow card: Best
Referee: M Fox (RFU)
The Cornish Pirates will play Worcester Warriors in the Championship final after completing an impressive 18-10 comeback win in their semi-final against London Welsh at Mennaye Field yesterday.
The Pirates were rarely at their best, despite being on home turf. But they showed strength of character to pull through against a rugged, well-drilled Welsh side who dominated for more than an hour before the hosts edged clear with tries from skipper Gavin Cattle and winger Rhodri McAtee.
The Pirates will now play a two-leg final on May 11 and 18 against the Warriors, who beat Bedford Blues earlier in the day in the other semi-final. Backs coach Harvey Biljon said: "It's a real mix of emotions. We're really thrilled with the victory.
"The way we started to control the game and handle the pressure in the final 30 minutes was brilliant, but we know there is a lot of work for us to do leading up to the Worcester games. We made a lot of silly errors that we normally wouldn't make."
London Welsh deserve a lot of credit for forcing their hosts into many of those mistakes with a high-tempo pressure game that allowed the Pirates' backs few opportunities with ball in hand.
Fly-half Jonny Bentley, in particular, rarely had time to compose himself throughout a first half played mostly in midfield.
Welsh were first to make meaningful progress territorially and forced the Pirates into conceding a penalty just in front of their own try line. Flanker Sam Betty received a yellow card for killing the ball and Gordan Ross took the chance to get three points on the board.
The Pirates responded despite being a man down, forcing a penalty at the other end just outside the Welsh 22 which full-back Rob Cook fired straight through the posts to level the scores.
But it was still Welsh who looked more likely to score the first try and so it proved after a series of flowing backs moves tested the Pirates' defensive resolve.
In the end it took the brute force of lock Matt Corker to make the final few yards after more astute play opened up a gap to the left of the Pirates' posts. Ross added the extras.
Even when the hosts were back up to 15 with Betty's return, they continually ran straight into a solid Welsh defence.
Their only excursion into the Welsh 22 came just before the half-time break. Centre Matt Hopper looked to have broken through but was halted five metres short of the try line. When the ball was fed back to Bentley, his grubber kick into the corner for McAtee was over-hit.
A glimmer of hope arrived for the Pirates when visiting prop Shawn Pittman was yellow carded for unnecessary kicking just before half-time. But the Pirates were unable to make the extra man count; their only chance by the tenth minute of the second half was a long-range penalty from Cook which failed to find the target.
Indeed, there were just over ten minutes remaining when scrum-half Cattle crossed by the left flag and circled around towards the posts after some positive running from replacement centre Drew Locke. Cook dealt with the pressure kick superbly to bring the scores level with the conversion.
Suddenly, the mood changed around the Mennaye and there was only one team looking likely to snatch it. The Pirates' pressure was building and Welsh were penalised for going in off their feet inside their own half.
Cook made them pay with a brilliantly struck penalty to take a slender lead and the tension was finally lifted when Cattle peeled off the back of a scrum and sped down the right wing to set up McAtee for an easy finish.
The Championship final first leg between the Pirates and the Warriors takes place on Wednesday, May 11 (7.45pm) at Mennaye Field, with the second leg coming a week later at Sixways (also 7.45pm).
Cornish Pirates: Cook; McAtee, Hopper, Luke (Locke 60), Jackson;
Bentley, Cattle (capt); Andrew, Ward (Elloway 58), Paver (Rimmer 55);
Myerscough, Gulliver (Marriott 60); Morgan, Betty (Burgess 51),
Replacements (not used): Doherty, Winn
Pirates' scorers: tries Cattle, McAtee; conversion Cook;
penalties Cook (2)
Yellow card: Betty
London Welsh: Thomas (Shabbo 63); Claassens (Yarde ht), Tonga'uiha, Whatling, Gibson; Ross, Lewis (Stevenson 68); Pittman, Ma'asi (Nelson 78), Ward; Powell (Purdy 51), Corker; Mills (capt), Hills, Russell (Lahiff 53-56) (Beach 54)
Welsh scorers: tries Corker; conversion Ross; penalty Ross
Yellow card: Pittman
Referee: D Rose (RFU)
The Cornish Pirates rattled Bedford Blues with three second-half tries at Goldington Road to snatch what could turn out to be a significant result in the Championship run-in.
Bedford had lost only one Championship fixture on home soil this season prior to the visit of Chris Stirling's side and in going down to the Pirates have surrendered first place in the play-off pool.
With the winner securing home advantage in the semi-finals of the competition next month, this fully committed display from the Pirates could prove to be crucial. Pirates' backs coach Harvey Biljon said: "It was a fantastic effort and result for the boys and I think they really dug deep at the end there.
"Credit to Bedford because like us they are a team which likes to play rugby and they kept playing. I think if you had been a supporter here you would have enjoyed the fixture."
After a cagey start the Pirates took the lead playing down the infamous Bedford slope with a brace of penalties from full-back Rob Cook.
The Blues were dealt a massive blow after 16 minutes when skipper James Pritchard was forced to leave the field following a collision with Pirates' fly-half Jonny Bentley.
Ed Thrower quickly made his mark with the opening try of the game as the Pirates failed to clear their lines deep in their own 22. Myles Dorrian converted for a one-point lead.
Cook restored the Pirates' advantage with a third penalty.
Another moment of slackness at the back proved costly again as, on a rare Blues foray to the Pirates' line, lock Mike Howard barged over to be awarded try number two.
With Dorrian's conversion off target Grant Pointer briefly levelled the scores with a long-range effort. But Dorrian had the last word, slotting the Blues back into a 15-12 interval lead.
The Cornish side scored their first try on 52 minutes. Phil Burgess and Matt Hopper led a counter-attack down the left flank and the chip ahead from Hopper caused problems for the retreating Thrower, who tripped and fell as he fielded the ball before being bundled over his own try line.
From the resulting Pirates' five-metre scrum the ball was worked through the phases and then spun right for Cook to dash home to finish the move. Cook converted for a four-point lead.
Four minutes later it got better for the Pirates as Cook's break after Kyle Marriott's steal in the loose proved the catalyst for Ward to set up Gavin Cattle for a second try.
Bedford edged back into the game with Dorrian's second penalty but, with the Pirates defending tigerishly and pilfering turnover ball almost at will, they became frustrated. The contest was settled after 72 minutes as Cattle fed Ward in the home 22, who broke free to touch down under the posts.
Cook made no mistake with the conversion.
Three second-half tries from the Cornish Pirates earned them a win at Goldington Road which could prove crucial in the race to qualify for the Championship semi-finals, writes Dick Straughan.
Not only did the victory give Chris Stirlings side a massive psychological edge over Bedford Blues for the remainder of the play-offs but also eased them above the Blues in the table after two matches.
After a cagey start from both sides the Pirates took an early lead through two Rob Cook penalties. But sloppy defending handed a try to Blues' replacement full-back Ed Thrower, and Myles Dorrian converted to edge the home side ahead.
Cook slotted his third penalty for the Pirates on 22 minutes but immediately they squandered the advantage again as lock Mike Howard rounded off an incisive move to score in the corner after a consultation with the TV match official.
Dorrian missed with his conversion but after Grant Pointer had landed a long range penalty to level the scores again, the Australian fly-half nudged the Blues into a 15-12 interval lead with a 40 metre effort.
The Pirates withstood huge Bedford pressure early in the second half before two tries in four minutes from Cook and skipper Gavin Cattle turned the game on its head.
Cook converted his own score but had the second effort charged down and, despite trailing 24-15, Bedford clearly felt there was a way back into the game.
Boss Mike Rayer rang the changes in the closing stages but the Pirates made the game safe with a third try on 72 minutes as hooker Dave Ward broke free to score under the posts. Cook converted to seal a notable success on the road for the Cornish side.
Bedford Blues: Pritchard (capt) (Thrower 16), Schmidt, Dodge, Vass, Taylor (Sharp 60), Dorrian, Veenendaal (Chudley 50), Walsh, Richmond (Clark 62), Seal (Boulton 58), Howard (Tomes 70), Rae, Gillanders, Lewitt, Tupai (Goodman 54)
Bedford scorers: tries: Howard, Thrower; cons: Dorrian; pens: Dorrian (2)
Cornish Pirates: Cook, Pointer, Hopper (Locke 79), Winn (Luke 45), Davies, Bentley, Cattle (capt) (Doherty 79), Paver (Andrew h/t), Ward (Elloway 74), Brits (Paver 57), McGlone (Myerscough 57), Gulliver, Morgan, Burgess (Betty 76), Marriott
Pirates' scorers: tries: Cook, Cattle, Ward; cons: Cook (2); pens: Pointer, Cook (3)
Referee: D Gamage
The Pirates made it two wins out of two in the British & Irish Cup with a ruthless demolition of Leinster at the Mennaye Field.
The Irish side travelled to Cornwall with a strong pedigree and two wins of their own in the competition against Newport and Plymouth Albion, but were undone by a dominant first quarter for the Pirates which left the home side 17-5 ahead.
Flanker Tyrone Holmes drove over for the first try after nine minutes after intense pressure on the Leinster line. Fly half Jonny Bentley then scored a second after Drew Locke's 60-metre break and, having converted the score quickly, added a penalty as the Irish side infringed at a ruck.
Leinster centre Noel Read replied with an unconverted try for the visitors before the Pirates stepped it up again and Wes Davies scored in the corner after the visitors surrendered possession deep in their own half.
Further Pirates tries from Rhodri McAtee and Tom Luke late in the half made the game safe at 36-5, before Leinster regrouped and offered a sterner test after the break.
The Pirates extended their lead again on the hour with a penalty try after the Leinster pack struggled to defend a series of five metre scrums and incurred the wrath of referee Luke Pearce.
In stoppage time Leinster bagged a consolation score as wing Michael Keating raced from just short of his own line to score under the Pirates' posts.
Cornish Pirates: Pointer, Davies, Locke, Luke, McAtee (Hopper h/t), Bentley (Hopper 64), Doherty, Paver (Brits 64), Elloway (Ward 64), Currie (Rimmer 58), Myerscough, Gulliver (McGlone 72), Morgan (capt), Holmes (Betty 72), Cowan
Pirates scorers: tries Holmes, Davies, McAtee, Luke, Bentley, penalty; cons Bentley (5); pens Bentley
Leinster: Morris, Hudson, Macken, Reid, Conway (Keating 54), Madigan (McKinley 49), O`Donohoe (Cooney 73), McGrath, Dundon (Sexton 51-65, 72), Maguire (Shaw 58), Galarza (Flanagan h/t), O`Donoghue, Sherriff, Murphy, Keogh (capt) (Marshall 49)
Leinster scorers: tries Reid, Keating; cons McKinley
Referee T Hall (RFU)
The Cornish Pirates got their defence of the British and Irish Cup off to a winning start with a 54-31 win over Scottish Premiership side Currie in a thoroughly entertaining Pool A match at the Mennaye on Saturday afternoon. The game -- originally scheduled to be played at Curries Malleny Park -- was switched to the Mennaye during mid-week when it became clear that the Scottish venue would be unfit to play on due to the heavy snow in Midlothian.
It was a game that will have left both the Pirates high-performance director Chris Stirling and Curries head coach Ally Donaldson frustrated by their respective sides defensive performances. Not many sides come to the Mennaye and score 31 points and in Curries case it was the more remarkable, in that they had to endure a very early start to fly down Saturday morning from snowbound Edinburgh and that they had played no rugby in three weeks - since their Scottish Premiership win over Melrose on November 20th!
The Pirates began the match the stronger. Fly-half Rob Cook spurned an early penalty chance before supplying the scoring pass for winger Wes Davies try after just 6 minutes, the fly-halfs conversion giving the Pirates just the start they looked for.
From the re-start the Pirates were guilty of giving away a penalty to allow Curries New Zealand centre, normally a full-back, Hayden Abercrombie the chance to immediately pull three points back.
Cook and Abercrombie then swapped penalties as both sides fell foul of referee Luke Pearce. The Cornish Pirates upped the tempo to score a second try on 15 minutes with hooker Rob Elloway burrowing over in the clubhouse corner following some good work from Rhodri McAtee and man-of-the-match Mike Myerscough.
Currie continued to look dangerous in the backs, with half-backs Richard Snedden and Matt Scott proving a handful, whilst out wide the back three of Andy Turnbull, Alex Dunbar and Tom Brown showed plenty of renowned Scottish pace.
A third penalty success for Abercrombie saw his side chip away at the Pirates lead before the homeside lit up the dank afternoon with a sublime third try on 25 minutes, which saw a break by Cook finished off by the dynamic blond duo in the Pirates mid-field, with Drew Locke turning provider for Matt Hopper to score again towards the clubhouse corner.
The game continued to ebb and flow as Currie hit back with a fine try of their own following a fine move that saw lock Ryan Wilson get over in the old Western National Corner.
Cook kicked a second penalty to give the Pirates a 23-14 lead at half-time.
The second half was barely a minute old when the Pirates had scored their fourth try. A burst from mid-field by scrum-half James Doherty was followed by a chip forward into the 22. The wicked bounce eluded the Currie cover, allowing McAtee to collect and run in. Cooks indifferent kicking continued as the conversion went wide.
Back came Currie with Brown putting in a fine run to set up Scott for their second try, with Abercrombie adding the conversion for 28-21.
The Pirates looked to the bench to bring on some fresh legs. Amongst the replacements Ben Gulliver back from his loan spell at Leicester Tigers.
The Pirates pulled away again with McAtee scoring his second try of the afternoon, with Locke again turning provider.
Abercrombie landed a fourth penalty to bring his side back to 35-24 to harbour hopes of at least getting some reward for their long trip to Cornwall.
The Pirates had enough to keep their visitors at bay, with a sixth try scored by Jonny Bentley as the game moved towards the final quarter.
A tap-and-go by Currie saw the quicksilver Brown rewarded with a try as the full back cut back to score a fine try near the posts which Abercrombie converted for 40-31. But that was as close as the visitors were to get as the Pirates finished off with two more tries. A cross-field kick from Bentley was gathered by Davies, who put in full back Grant Pointer for the Pirates sixth try in the old Western National Corner, with Bentley adding the conversion. The Kiwi was on target again as he added the extras to his countryman Blair Cowans try following a big drive by the forwards.
The good-sized crowd showed their appreciation to both sides for a real Christmas cracker of a game.
Cornish Pirates 54 pts: tries Davies, Elloway, Hopper, McAtee (2), Bentley, Pointer, Cowan; conversions Cook (2), Bentley (2); penalties Cook (2)
Currie 31 pts: tries Wilson, M Scott, Brown; conversions Abercrombie (2); penalties Abercrombie (4)
Cornish Pirates: G Pointer, W Davies, M Hopper, D Locke (S Winn 59), R McAtee, R Cook (J Bentley 59), J Doherty; P Andrew (C Rimmer 69), R Elloway (T Cowan-Dickie 66 R Elloway 72), J Currie (A Paver 51), I Nimmo (B Gulliver 51), M Myerscough, K Marriott (capt) (C Morgan 61), T Holmes, B Cowen
Currie: T Brown, A Dunbar, H Abercrombie, A MacMahon (A Binikos 39) A Turnbull, M Scott (J Smith 64), R Snedden (A Whitingham 77); J Cox (R Merriles 51), S Simonsen (F Scott 51), A Hamilton, R Wilson, G Temple (A Adam 30-31) (A Best 76), M Cairns (capt), M Entwhistle, R Weston
Referee: Mr Luke Pearce (RFU)
Pirates-man-of-the-match: Mike Myerscough
Rob Cook's dramatic penalty in the fifth minute of second half stoppage time sealed a famous victory for the Cornish Pirates as they ended Worcester's unbeaten run in the Championship.
The victory was no more than Chris Stirling's side deserved as they took the contest right to the Warriors from the outset with some ferocious tackling in defence and brilliant mazey running in attack.
Pirates' skipper Kyle Marriott opened the scoring with a fifth minute try as he broke down the blindside from a ruck to score unopposed under the posts. Rob Cook converted and obliged again after 24 minutes as the Pirates scored again.
This time centre Matt Hopper claimed his own high ball on half-way and out-paced wing Marcel Garvey to score at the posts.
The Warriors fought back early in the second half as England international Andy Goode finally found his kicking range and landed a pair of penalties. But Cook kept the Pirates momentum going with a brace of his own and the visitors led 20-6 going into the final quarter.
A wholesale introduction of replacements from the Warriors' bench seemed to have finally turned the tide in favour of the home side as scrum-half Jonny Arr scored a close range try.
Joey Carlisle landed a penalty with his first kick of the game for the home side and then with a minute of stoppage time played converted a penalty try as a Pirates' scrum folded in front of their own posts.
But the Cornish side regrouped and after a Drew Locke break had created good field position the Warriors infringed in the tackle area to concede a crucial penalty.
To jeers and cat calls from a whole section of the home crowd Cook held his nerve to seal a famous victory for the Pirates.
Worcester Warriors: Arscott (Crockett 65), Garvey, Short (Frost
65), Rasmussen, Benjamin, Goode (sin-bin 56-66, Carlisle 66), Arr, Black,
Lutui, Taumoepeau (Tomaszczyk 65), Kitchener (Rawlinson 65), Gillies, Horstmann
(capt), Best, Balding
Replacements (not used) Shervington, Collins
Worcester scorers: tries Arr, penalty; cons Carlisle; pens Goode
Yellow cards Goode
Cornish Pirates: Cook, Davies, Hopper (Luke 80+5), Winn, McAtee (Locke 75), Bentley, Doherty (sin bin 64-74), Andrew (Rimmer 75), Ward, Brits (Currie 75), McGlone (Cowan 75), Nimmo (Myerscough 51), Morgan, Betty, Marriott (capt)
Pirates scorers: tries Marriott, Hopper; cons Cook (2); pens Cook
Yellow cards Doherty
Referee P.Knowles (RFU)
The Cornish Pirates battled doggedly through gloomy conditions to secure their second consecutive Championship victory, beating London Welsh 22-3 at the Mennaye Field.
The home side were decent value for the winning margin by the end, playing with spirit and determination, even if they did stray beyond referee Rowan Kitt's interpretations of the laws occasionally.
Both sides felt Kitt's wrath yesterday afternoon, amassing five yellow cards between them, as Pirates rushed, hassled and spoiled while Welsh grew more and more frustrated. Indeed, both sides reached double figures in the penalty count by full-time.
The Pirates made more of their opportunities with full-back Rob Cook slotting four penalties between the posts, as well as adding a conversion to Rhodri McAtee's late try in a satisfying day's work for the Pirates.
Pirates' backs coach Harvey Biljon said: "I'm absolutely delighted with the way the boys acquitted themselves today. The performance was outstanding, although we still have a lot of things to work on."
The visitors were on the scoreboard first when fly-half Gordon Ross slotted a straightforward penalty after Pirates were caught coming in at the side. However, a similar infringement at the other end gave Cook his chance to level the score just four minutes later.
More Pirates' misdemeanours led to second row Mike Myerscough receiving a yellow card as they continued to frustrate Welsh. And before the big lock could return to the action, fly-half Jonny Bentley joined him in the sin-bin.
The 13-man Pirates took the lead. A rampaging run from man-of-the-match flanker Phil Burgess forced some desperate tactics from the visitors, who were reduced to 14 men for Gordon Ross's part in preventing a counter-attack try.
Pirates pressed on after kicking the penalty into touch and looked to have crossed the whitewash when Burgess took Dave Ward's short pass under the posts. However, an infringement in the build-up saw the try disallowed. Fortunately, the hosts did have an advantage and Cook slotted a close-range penalty to put them in front.
The Pirates were just as dogged in the early stages of the second half. An offside Welsh back soon gave Cook his third successful penalty, opening up a six-point lead.
Welsh's growing frustration boiled over again and lock Mike Powell stuck out an arm to prevent Pirates' skipper Gavin Cattle taking a quick tap penalty. Replacement full-back Grant Pointer stepped up and extended the Pirates' lead to nine points with a penalty kick from just inside his own half.
A fifth Cook penalty amid a flurry of changes for Welsh kept the scoreboard ticking over for the home side.
The cherry on top came with five minutes left a lung-busting run from midfield by McAtee saw him outpace visiting prop Shawn Pittman to the try-line following a quick turnover inside his own half. Cook then added the conversion.
Cornish Pirates: Cook; Jackson, Hopper, Winn (Luke 72), McAtee; Bentley (Pointer 38), Cattle (capt); Paver (Andrew 40+ 3), Ward (Elloway 79), Brits (Rimmer 80+4); McGlone (Nimmo 79), Myerscough; Morgan (Ward 80), Burgess (Betty 70), Cowan.
Scorers: try McAtee; conversion Cook; penalties Cook (4), Pointer
Yellow card: Myerscough, Bentley, Elloway.
London Welsh: Sampson (Gibson 57); Drauniniu, Tonga'uiha, Whatling, Claassens; Ross (Thomas 69), Runciman (Lewis 60); Holford (Ward 64), Nelson (Ma'asi 64), Pittman; Purdy, Powell; Mills (capt) (Russell 57), Beech (Hills 45), Fisher
Scorer: penalty Ross
Yellow cards: Ross, Powell
Referee: Rowan Kitt (RFU)
It may not have been within the confines of the imposing Twickenham coliseum, but the Cornish Pirates celebrated another famous final victory, this time sinking Irish giants Munster 23-14 at the Recreation Ground yesterday.
Chris Stirling's men lifted the inaugural British & Irish Cup with a highly impressive display on their home turf.
Converted first-half tries from Steve Winn and Rhodri McAtee, coupled with the metronomic boot of New Zealander Johnny Bentley, ensured the Duchy's finest added their second piece of cup silverware in three years.
The celebrations at the final whistle were just as magical as that of Twickenham in 2007 when the Pirates saw off Exeter Chiefs, but maybe this one was just that little bit sweeter because it was done superbly on Cornish soil.
Munster to their credit deserve credit for their part in an entertaining encounter. However, three Declan Cusack penalties and a late try from Danny Barnes were to prove not enough in the end for the visitors.
Having progressed through a testing pool stage, which saw them encounter near neighbours Exeter Chiefs and Plymouth Albion, as well as new threats in the form of Welsh side Newport, Scottish outfit Gael Force and Irish force Leinster, the Pirates always knew the latter stages of this competition would prove equally as testing.
With home advantage against Championship rivals Doncaster Knights in last month's semi-final, Stirling's side duly did their bit by advancing through 43-5 at the Recreation Ground.
That impressive victory set-up yesterday's final spectacle against a Munster side who themselves had overcame some stiff tests in the build-up amongst others Nottingham, Bristol and Irish counterparts Ulster were all accounted for as they arrived in the far west of England.
Not surprisingly, the early stages were tense as the respected pack of forwards pushed and probed to gain the early ascendancy. It was, however, the visitors who started the brighter and twice within the first five minutes they were afforded penalty chances to break the deadlock.
The first came on two minutes when Pirates prop Alan Paver was adjudged to have dropped a scrum, the second came three minutes later when Blair Cowan was adjudged by Welsh referee Leighton Hodges to have not released his man following a tackle.
On both occasions, Munster fly-half Cusack pushed his kick wide of the sticks, much to the relief of the home faithful, who themselves had been whipped into a pre-match frenzy by the colourful musicians from the Falmouth Marine Band.
With the Munster threat stemmed, it was then the turn of the Pirates to have their first shot at the target after visiting captain Peter O'Mahony felled Bentley with a crude high tackle 40 metres out.
A little dazed, the Kiwi back rose to his feet and was narrowly off target with his long-range effort, which drifted just wide of the left post.
The confidence, though, was growing within the Cornish camp and when they tore into their opposition again on 17 minutes, finally the game saw its first points. Good build-up play involving Bentley and Cowan saw them punch big holes into the Munster rearguard from which skipper Gavin Cattle popped the ball into the path of the onrushing Winn, who scampered in under the posts for Bentley to convert.
Immediately, the Irishmen countered as Cusack made it third time lucky when he plundered a penalty on 20 minutes after Rob Elloway was the latest home forward to fall foul of the referee.
Bentley and Cusack exchanged penalties at either end, before the Pirates who were now bossing the exchanges in all areas clicked into another gear to sail further into a distant lead.
Winger Nick Jackson just failed to latch onto a looping pass from Winn, one of five survivors from the National Trophy winning side of 2007, before a five-metre scrum saw Cowan pick up from the base. The No.8 fed Cattle, who in turn fed Wes Davies, who was able to offload superbly in the tackle to the waiting McAtee, who dived over in the right-hand corner.
Bentley administered a stunning touchline conversion, before plundering an equally good penalty on 40 minutes to put the home side firmly in control of things 20-6 at the interval.
Munster emerged from their Camborne bunker looking to get their game plan firmly back on track. Certainly their initial burst looked as though they may yet cause a few worries within the home camp and when Cusack cut the lead with a third penalty, the Irishmen's tails were at last beginning to wag.
The Pirates were in no mood to surrender their advantage and to a man they dug in valiantly to repel the threat of the 'Men in Red'. Jackson, in particular, showed the desire that was burning within the home fires, twice knocking over his opposite number with some bone-crunching hits.
It lifted not only his comrades, but also the supporters who had packed every corner of the Rec. And by the hour mark, the Pirates were again adding to their tally, Bentley floating over another well-judged left-footed effort from 30 metres out to make it 23-9.
Munster continued to throw everything at the Pirates in the closing stages, but again the raids were continually halted by the outstanding home defence. Not for the first time this season, Dave Ward was at the heart of all the good work, continually poaching the ball from the many Munster rucks and mauls.
With Stirling using the final moments to run all his bench, Munster's attacking endeavours were finally rewarded deep into injury time when the visitors worked the ball at speed from right to left to winger Barnes, who dotted down in the left corner.
By then, the Camborne celebrations were already in full flow and as the Marine Band trooped across the field at the final whistle, this was a day to remember for the Pirates and for Cornish rugby.
Cornwall produced an excellent fightback but still slipped to defeat at a sunny but blustery Redruth.
The Duchy began the match still harbouring hopes of reaching the Bill Beaumont Cup final at Twickenham, needing at least a 25-point victory to secure their place.
However, thoughts quickly turned towards avoiding relegation as they fell 21-3 behind after only 23 minutes.
They still trailed 31-13 after 42 minutes, and with Devon suffering a hammering at Hertfordshire, it became nip and tuck between the counties either side of the Tamar as to who would go down.
But Cornwall came storming back with two tries in the final quarter to come within a whisker of snatching what had appeared at one point an unlikely victory, and with Devon eventually losing 53-21, it is Graham Dawes side who will be playing in South Pool 2 of the Bill Beaumont Cup next season.
Fly half Ian Morgan kicked Cornwall into a 3-0 lead after only 80 seconds with a penalty, but it was then all Gloucestershire as they made the most of some shocking Cornwall tackling to run in three tries, with Bristol centre Jack Gadd grabbing two of them and full back Mark Knight the other, with all three converted by fly half Tim Stevenson.
Morgan slotted a second penalty, before the visitors scored again through winger Nev Codlin in the 38th minute to make it 26-6.
A try deep into first-half injury time by No.8 Mark Bright gave Cornwall some hope, and with full back Josh Matavesi converting,the Duchy only trailed 26-13 at the break, but Codlins try early in the second period stretched the advantage to 18 points.
With news filtering through of events in Hertfordshire, Cornwall upped their game, and Bright powered over for his second try of the game, converted by Matavesi, just past the hour mark.
But it was not until the 78th minute that the Duchy troubled the scoreboard again with a touchdown by Camborne centre Pale Nonu, improved by Paul Thirlby, and the hosts were eventually beaten by the clock.
Cornwall will live to fight another day in the top flight of county rugby, despite losing their final group match at the Recreation Ground 31-27.
Their outside chances before the game of reaching Twickenham turned into a desperate battle against relegation once the action started.
The Duchy's first-half showing was absolutely abysmal, and at half-time it was the Black and Golds who were facing the drop as they trailed 26-13, with Devon only losing 29-6 to Hertfordshire at that point.
However, spurred on by the interval news, they looked a different side in the second period and ran Gloucestershire mighty close in the end.
Cornwall's revival secured them a third-place finish in the final table, with Devon suffering the ignominy of relegation due to an inferior points difference.
Gloucestershire, meanwhile, marched into yet another Bill Beaumont Cup final at Twickenham next Sunday with a 100 per cent group record, and now face a repeat of their 2009 showdown with Lancashire.
Cornwall head coach Dave 'Benji' Thomas did not know whether to laugh or cry after witnessing his side's season-ending display.
"We were awful in the first half," he said.
"It was the worst rugby that I have seen a Cornwall team play for years. There were so many missed tackles, we never got the ball, we didn't win any line-outs and it was dreadful.
"Some of the tackles that we missed were awful, and you wouldn't expect an under-13s team to miss tackles like that, and Gloucestershire completely exploited that.
"We had a few strong words at half-time, and in the second half I thought the boys played really well. It was an entirely different story, and if the game had gone on for another five minutes, I think we would have won."
Cornwall began brightly enough, taking an 80-second lead with a penalty by fly-half Ian Morgan playing his final game before his 'second' retirement.
That was followed by an eight-minute stoppage while visiting flanker Jack Preece was carried off the field in a stretcher and wearing a neck brace, and then came the Duchy horror show.
Tackling seemed to be an optional extra for the hosts, and Gloucestershire took full advantage to run in three tries in the space of eight minutes.
A missed tackle by Rob Thirlby presented Bristol centre Jack Gadd with the first; Gadd then ghosted through a brittle defence for the second; and full-back Mark Knight somehow managed to escape home skipper Mark Richards' clutches for the third.
Impressive fly-half Tim Stevenson who appeared to have been given the day off from the set of the Teletubbies so he could play, such was his girth kicked all three conversions, and Gloucestershire led 21-3 after only 23 minutes.
Morgan added a second penalty from in front of the posts, but try number four for Gloucestershire was not long in coming, with Chris Holder's burst into the back line providing the space for winger Nev Codlin to breeze over in the corner.
Redruth No.8 Mark Bright gave Cornwall some hope with a try off the back of a five-metre scrum deep into first-half injury time, and with Fijian international full-back Josh Matavesi converting, the gap was 13 points at the break.
However, Gloucestershire heaped on additional woe as more shocking tackling allowed Codlin to bag his second touchdown to make it 31-13.
Thomas then ran his bench to great effect, with the injection of fresh legs on a boiling hot day transforming Cornwall.
Aided by a yellow card for Holder after he prevented a possible try with a deliberate knock-on, the Duchy came storming back, with hooker Owen Hambly and Matavesi particularly impressive with ball in hand.
Inspirational Bright collected his fifth try in three Championship games, powering over from broken play just past the hour mark, with Matavesi converting.
It took almost another 20 minutes before they could cross the whitewash again, though, with powerful Camborne centre Pale Nonu the scorer, and replacement Paul Thirlby added the extras.
The gap was now down to four points, but it was Gloucestershire who finished the match strongly, only denied a sixth try when they were twice held up over the Cornish line.
Kent will replace Devon in Cornwall's group next season, while Devon face matches against Somerset, Middlesex and Dorset & Wilts in South Pool Two.
Cornwall: J Matavesi (Exeter Chiefs), R Thirlby
(Moseley), R Westren (Cornish All Blacks), P Nonu (Camborne), C Bonds
(Redruth), I Morgan (St Ives), M Richards (Redruth, capt), D Jacques (Redruth),
O Hambly (Redruth), A Morcom (Newquay H), L Collins Cornish Pirates) for Cook
77, D Cook (Redruth), M Rawlings (All Blacks), T Rawlings (All Blacks), M
Replacements: J Lord (All Blacks) for T Rawlings 53, L Webb (All Blacks) for Morgan 29, P Thirlby (Redruth) for Richards 62, T Notman (Camborne) for R Thirlby 50, B Hilton (All Blacks) for Collins 53, B Priddey (Redruth), D Clackworthy (Hayle) for Morcom 53.
Gloucestershire: M Knight (Lydney), C Holder
(Lydney), C Ashiwn (Bristol), J Gadd (Bristol), N Codlin (Cinderford); T
Stevenson (Cinderford), T Richardson (Stourbridge), T Brockett (Dings
Crusaders) for Purbrook 80+2, P Fincken (Newbury, capt), C Meddick (Dings
Crusaders) for Brockett 53, D Hodge (Newbury), R Cadman (Hartpury College) for
Brown 75, D Williams (Gloucester), J Preece (Birmingham & Sol), G Curry
Replacements: D Trigg (Cinderford) for Knight 70, O Stott (Dings Crus) for Fincken 62, S Plummer (Dings Crus) for Richardson 30-ht, B Purbrook (Clifton) for Meddick 35, S Wilkes (Clifton) for Holder 65, E King (Cinderford) for Hodge 35, M Brown (Cinderford) for Preece 4.
Cornwall scores: tries: Bright (2), Nonu; cons: Matavesi (2), P Thirlby; pens: Morgan (2)
Gloucestershire scores: tries: Gadd (2), Knight, Codlin (2); cons: Stevenson (3)
Yellow cards: Glos: Holder 55
Referee: Llyr Apgeraint Roberts (RFU).
Mark Bright scores Cornwall's final try to level the scores at 30-30. The conversion went over and Cornwall ran out winners by 32-30. Photo by Mark Harris.
More pictures here.
Cornwall got a late win at Highfields, thanks to a try from Mark Bright, converted by Ian Morgan, to give them a chance of progressing should they beat Gloucestershire at Redruth next Saturday by more than 25 points.
It was a game that swung towards Cornwall, then Hertfordshire, before finally back to Cornwall as the hosts found themselves down to 13 men in the final moments of the game, giving Bright the chance to score his second try of the game. As ever, it was the hard work of the Cornish forwards that laid the foundations for the win -- to a man they gave everything.
The inclusion of Morgan at fly-half certainly gave Cornwall the solid platform they were looking for in the running of the game, and thanks to the interchanges the veteran fly-half was able to enjoy a breather before coming back to finish the match.
Early penalties were exchanged by both sides, Morgan for Cornwall and Richard Gregg for Hertfordshire.
Cornwall then dominated the game for long periods without getting any reward.
It was the ten minutes leading up to half-time that saw the scores coming in. Cornwall's skipper and scrum-half Mark Richards grabbed Cornwall's first try - as he did last week - and then just four minutes later Redruth's No.8 Mark Bright finished off a fine move from full-back Josh Matavesi, with Morgan adding the extras for a 17-3 lead.
Cornwall found themselves down to 14 men as flanker Tom Rawlings fell foul of referee Mr. Knowles and were made to pay in the run up to half-time as Hertfordshire took advantage, with winger Ian Compton scoring the first of his three tries in the match. Gregg converted the winger's try but failed with the conversion of lock Billy Johnson's try just before half-time, to leave Cornwall 17-15 up at the break.
Hertfordshire came out in determined mood in the second half. Gregg dropped an early goal to give his side the lead for the first time before Crompton - a thorn in Cornwall's side all afternoon - got his second try, with Gregg adding the extras for a useful 25-17 lead.
Cornwall needed a quick score and Morgan kicked a penalty to steady the ship before Rob Thirlby managed to dot down to tie the scores.
With everything to play for Cornwall looked to get the winning score but they were rocked again as Hertfordshire countered once more, Crompton getting his third try with time fast running out.
Cornwall threw everything at Hertfordshire in the final moments. Two quick yellow cards reduced the hosts to thirteen men. Cornwall kept the pressure up and form a scrum Bright broke and stretched over the line to tie the scores, leaving Morgan to kick the conversion and steer Cornwall home.
After the match a delighted Cornwall head coach "Benji" Thomas gave his verdict: "I think I've aged about twenty years in the last five minutes to be down as we were. But the way the boys played this afternoon epitomised real spirit and commitment. We were eight points down but they stuck at it they kept to the game plan. In the end those last few minutes were really nail-biting, but we got the try and conversion."
Asked about the final few moments of the game, Thomas added: "I thought that if we could keep around their five metre line we could have a line out we could get something. The two yellow cards should have come earlier -- all afternoon they were killing the ball at the ruck and we couldn't get our hands on it. It was only at the very end that the referee realised what was going on and yellow carded them. It gave the chance for us to get the score from Mark Bright and then for Ian Morgan to win us the game with the conversion."
Looking ahead to next week: "It's going to be a great occasion, especially down at Redruth. Gloucestershire is always a great game and we owe them one for the game last season".
Hertfordshire 30 pts: tries Crompton (3), Johnson; conversions Gregg (2); penalty Gregg; drop-goal Gregg; Yellow Card H Schmidt, P Gustard
Cornwall 32 pts: tries Richards, Bright (2), R Thirlby; conversions Morgan (3); penalties Morgan (2); Yellow Card T Rawlings
Hertfordshire: Tom Newton (Tring); Handre Schmidt
(Cambridge), Stuart Smart (Hertford), Steve Ellis (Hertford), Ian Crompton
(Stevenage Town); Richard Gregg (Old Albanian), Mark Evans (Old Albanian); Adam
Gelman (Old Albanian), Charlie Hughes (Old Albanian), Rob Schillaci (Hertford),
Billy Johnson (Hertford), Rob Dumbleton (Harpenden), Ian Hardcastle (Hertford),
Paul Gustard (Old Albanian), Dave Archer (Cambridge,Capt).
Replacements (all used): Johan Van Dyke (Old Ashmolean), Jim Remfry (Caldy), Aaron MacDougall (Hemel Hempstead), Alfie Church (Hertford), Will Temperley (Luton), Morgan Thompson (Ealing), Ray Adde (Hemel Hempstead)
Cornwall: J Matavesi (Exeter Chiefs), R Thirlby
(Moseley), R Westren (Launceston), P Nonu (Camborne), C Bonds (Redruth), I
Morgan (St. Ives), M Richards (Redruth, capt); D Jacques (Redruth), O Hambly
(Redruth), P Joyce (Redruth), D Cook (Redruth) B Hilton (Launceston), M
Rawlings (Launceston), T Rawlings (Launceston), M Bright (Redruth)
Replacements (all used): D Clackworthy (Hayle) A Morcom (Newquay Hornets), L Collins (Cornish- Pirates), J Lord (Launceston), L Webb (Launceston), T Notman (Camborne), P Thirlby (Redruth)
Referee: Mr. P Knowles (RFU)
Man-of-the-match: Ian Morgan (Cornwall)
CORNWALL got their Bill Beaumont Cup campaign off to a disappointing start on a bitterly cold Flora Day afternoon as old rivals Devon, carrying a little too much experience, earned well-deserved revenge for last season's defeat at the Brickfields by 31-17.
Cornwall were forced into a late change prior to the kick-off when winger Sean Hawkey (Wadebridge Camels) was obliged to withdraw, still feeling the effects of a hamstring pull from last Thursday's training session. Redruth's Nick Simmons coming in to the starting XV.
It all began brightly for Cornwall as they opened the scoring after only two minutes. Cornwall were awarded a penalty as Devon went off their feet at the breakdown. Fijian international Josh Matavesi kicked towards the clubhouse 22 and from the line out Mark Bright secured the ball to allow the Cornish forwards to make big inroads into the Devon 22, before skipper Mark Richards broke away to score near the posts. Matavesi missed the conversion in the tricky wind. Cornwall were well on top during the opening quarter, Devon's sole scoring opportunity a penalty which full back Gary Kingdom pulled wide.
Richards and Matavesi were certainly pulling the strings at this stage, Matavesi again involved setting up Rob Thirlby, who chipped into space for the on-rushing Adryan Winnan down in the scoreboard corner, forcing Devon to cover into touch.
Bright again secured good lineout ball, allowing the Cornish forwards to set up a powerful drive, which Devon pulled down, leaving referee Mr Hall with no choice but to award a penalty try. Matavesi's conversion gave Cornwall a 12-0 lead after 17 minutes.
Devon changed their formation via the rolling substitutions, with Ed Lewsey reverting to his accustomed scrum-half role and Graham Dawe swapping his TV pundit role from the previous evening on Sky to organise his pack. It was to prove a masterstroke.
Devon began to dominate possession, using the tried and tested maul to good effect. Cornwall just couldn't get their hands on the ball and the penalty count against them began to mount. Devon kicked for position and from the lineout up in the Hubert Hill corner drove for the Cornish line. Despite heroic defence Cornwall gave away a penalty try on 30 minutes, which Kingdom converted to cut Devon's deficit to 12-7.
Five minutes later the same tactic looked about to pay off as Devon's pack muscled it's way into the Cornish 22. From a Devon scrum Cornwall gave away a free-kick, which was quickly taken by No 8 Dave Ewers who powered over the line, Kingdom's second conversion giving the visitors a 14-12 lead at half-time.
Cornwall needed an early score to lift confidence and they got it after 46 minutes, following a strong run down the far touchline by centre Pale Nonu. Simmons ran hard into the Devon 22 before passing to No 8 Mark Bright, who scored in the Park Gate corner. Matavesi's conversion attempt from wide out went horribly askew.
Could Cornwall go on to get the win? Sadly the answer would prove to be no as the game slipped away in the space of a minute as the visitors scored two quick-fire tries. Ed Lewsey spotted a gap and evaded some disappointing attempted Cornish tackles to score near the posts on 59 minutes, a fine individual score from the classy scrum-half. Then a break by Lewsey found flanker Sean Michael Stephen - who had a fine afternoon - who put in a kick which bounced up awkwardly for covering winger Rob Thirlby. The ball appeared to fly out of Thirlby's hands, allowing Stephen to score in the clubhouse corner.
Kingdom failed with both conversions. Unfortunately there was unsporting noise from a small section of the Camborne crowd, which did them nor Cornwall no credit as the full back made his conversion attempts.
Chasing the game, Cornwall couldn't find a way through the Devon defence. Instead it was Devon who had the final say as replacement centre Keni Fisilau sliced through the Cornish cover to score Devon's fifth and final try, which Kingdom converted for a final score of 31-17.
After the game a disappointed Cornwall head coach, "Benji" Thomas, gave his reactions: "It was a well-deserved win by Devon, who played really well and were very well organised up front. We started really well with plenty of intensity, but Devon made some changes, Graham Dawe came on and organised their pack they were very physical up front, I thought. Sean-Michael Stephen was outstanding for them and Ed Lewsey coming back into the scrum-half position certainly changed the focus of the game".
Adrian Bick, part of Cornwall's coaching team, added his verdict on the game: "It was a game of two halves. We had a cracking first thirty minutes, but we then seemed to relax and sit back a little, Devon made some changes, completely changing the game plan, and we struggled to get to grips with their driving game.
"I was surprised that Ed Lewsey didn't start at scrum-half for Devon. They started with Tom Kessell, who I'd seen playing for the Development side earlier in the season, but they really worked their bench well. Perhaps we will pick up on that for the other games."
Cornwall are now left with no room for error as they prepare for next Saturday's game at Hertford against Hertfordshire. Bick continued: "It's now a massive, massive game for us we have got to win and then hopefully be in a position to take on Gloucestershire at Redruth. I am very confident that the boys will pick themselves up. There were a lot of boys in the Devon side who have played Championship rugby this season and you could see that experience coming through, especially when they began to close the game down in the final quarter."
Bick also had a word of admiration for his old county team mate from the '91 final, Graham Dawe: "You've got to admire him still playing at 50 to come on and still hold his own in a county championship game is impressive. He's poacher turned gamekeeper now, fair play to him, a lot of respect."
Last season's County skipper Ryan Westren was equally frustrated with the result. "We started really well, scoring those early tries and then let them back in the ten minutes before half-time and they got their heads up and pushed on from there."
Westren also felt that the tactical switch Devon made with his old team mate from Launceston, Ed Lewsey, paid dividends. "Ed's a good player at 9 or 12, but he controls things a bit better from 9 and he put them in the places on the field they wanted to be. Maybe they did use the substitutions a little better than we did. They seemed fresher during the game than our boys were and we were then left with too much to do at the end."
Westren was also very disappointed with his lack of opportunities during the game: "I think I got the ball about three times in the whole game. Again, as soon as Ed (Lewsey) went to 9 our ball dried up and it became a very frustrating afternoon."
Westren and the rest of the squad are keen to make amends at Hertford next week. "We said in the huddle after the game that we are going to get our pride back next week. It's not over yet, Devon could slip up in either of their two remaining games, so it's still all to play for."
Cornwall 17 pts: tries Richards, penalty, Bright; conversion Matavesi
Devon 31 pts: tries penalty, Ewers, Lewsey, Stephen, Fisilau; conversions Kingdom (3)
Cornwall: A Winnan (Redruth), R Thirlby
(Moseley), R Westren (Launceston), P Nonu (Camborne), N Simmons (Redruth), J
Matavesi (Exeter Chiefs), M Richards (Redruth, capt); D Jacques (Redruth), O
Hambly (Redruth), P Joyce (Redruth), B Hilton (Launceston), B Jenkins
(Launceston), S Hocking (Launceston), T Rawlings (Launceston), M Bright
Replacements (all used): J Salter (Launceston), A Morcom (Newquay Hornets), D Cook (Redruth), M Rawlings (Launceston), L Webb (Launceston), C Bonds (Redruth), J Murphy (Launceston)
Devon: G Kingdom (Plymouth Albion), T Bedford
(Exeter Chiefs), S Johns (Plymouth Albion), E Lewsey (Plymouth Albion), R
Bright (Cornish Pirates), O Wickett (Bideford), T Kessell (Plymouth Albion); B
Moon (Exeter Chiefs), R Freestone (Plymouth Albion), S Kingsland (Exeter
Chiefs), D MacDonnell (Plymouth Albion), T Skelding (Plymouth Albion, Capt), D
Collier (Plymouth Albion), S-M Stephen (Plymouth Albion), D Ewers (Exeter
Replacements (all used): D Porte (Plymouth Albion), G Dawe (Plymouth Albion), T Freeman (Exeter Chiefs), J Fleming (Exeter Chiefs), J Tripcony (Plymouth Albion), K Fisilau (Plymouth Albion), D Force (Teignmouth)
Referee: Mr T Hall (RFU)
Man-of-the-match: S-M Stephen (Devon)
A dominant second half display from the Cornish Pirates at the Recreation Ground on Sunday booked their place in the inaugural British & Irish Cup against Munster on May 16, writes Dick Straughan.
The Pirates will also have home advantage in the final against the Irish provincial side, but had to work hard in a scrappy first half to get any headway against a typically physical Knights' outfit.
Jonny Bentley's fourth minute penalty was finally added to after half an hour as Wes Davies capitalised on a woeful mis-kick by Doncaster full-back Anthony Carter to score the opening try.
Suddenly playing with their tails up, the Pirates added a second try moments later as Bentley popped up on the right wing to score.
Bevon Armitage claimed a try back for the visitors from the restart as the Pirates failed to clear their lines, but the Cornish side proved too strong after the break.
Dave Ward's powerful breakout from deep and Mark Ireland`s crashing run provided the platform for flanker Chris Morgan to score try number three after 45 minutes. Bentley converted and added the extras on the hour as fine opportunism from skipper Gavin Cattle carved a hole in the Doncaster defence from a close range ruck and he cantered home to score.
Nick Jackson raced through a beleaguered Doncaster defence for a fifth try as the clock ticked around to 80 minutes and then deep into stoppage time Laurie McGlone completed the rout with his first try of the season.
Cornish Pirates: Davies (Jackson 49), McAtee, Ireland, Winn, Luke, Bentley, Cattle (capt) (Doherty 67), Paver (Andrew 67), Ward, Brits (Rimmer 60), McGlone, Myerscough (Evans 71), Morgan, Betty (Elloway 49), Cowan (Labuschagne 67)
Pirates' scores: tries Davies, Bentley, Cattle, Jackson, McGlone, Morgan; cons Bentley (5); pens Bentley
Doncaster Knights: Carter (McColl 63), Flockhart, Briers, Armitage (Tonga`uiha 58), Wright, Brooks, Hallam (D`Arcy 71), Toke, Boden (Doughty 71), Tau (McMillan 71), Kenworthy (capt), Townson, Cochrane (Grainger h/t), Kettle (Griffiths 71), Boyde T
Doncaster scores: try Armitage
Referee L. Roberts (RFU)
Having seen his side stoke the fires with recent victories over Plymouth Albion and Nottingham, Cornish Pirates' coach Chris Stirling now knows his side are building up a head of steam at just the right time.
The New Zealander has spoken for several weeks of the growing confidence that is emanating from inside the Pirates' camp and yesterday those thoughts were further enhanced as Stirling's side sank visiting Exeter Chiefs 37-14 in the British & Irish Cup.
That victory at the third attempt this season -- not only helped the Cornish club to reclaim a modicum of local bragging rights, but it now sets up a mouth-watering showdown against Newport at the same venue this coming Sunday.
The Welshmen, who momentarily went top of Pool A following their 10-6 victory over previously unbeaten Leinster on Friday night, will arrive in deepest West Cornwall knowing their fate as well as that of their hosts will ultimately be decided on who emerges victorious in what should be a fascinating head-to-head.
Certainly Stirling's charges will enter the final pool contest brimming with confidence. Recent displays have offered a great insight into what the public can expect from the Pirates come the start of next month's Championship play-offs.
That said, this latest victory must also be put into some context when you look at the Exeter personnel on duty yesterday to that which had won comfortably at the Recreation Ground just two weeks earlier.
Of the Chiefs starting line-up which won the Championship fixture 30-15 at the start of February, not one of those 15 players were given the nod from the outset yesterday. The difference in the two sides, it has to be said, was clearly noticeable. But with Exeter's Cup hopes having already been extinguished following previous defeats to both Newport and Leinster, head coach Rob Baxter used this latest clash as the ideal opportunity to run the rule over a number of his other squad members.
For an hour, the move seemed to pay dividends as the Chiefs who included Academy youngsters Dave Ewers and Addison Lockley in their ranks offered a more than creditable challenge to their Duchy hosts.
The last quarter, though, belonged to the Pirates and it was in that period that the home side were at last able to exert their authority.
Second-half tries from Paul Devlin, Gavin Cattle, Mark Ireland and Dave Ward ensured the Cornishmen claimed the five-point haul they needed to take them to the summit of the five-team pool. Earlier, it was team-mate Rob Cook who set the Pirates on their path to victory. Just two minutes had been played when the full-back slotted over a penalty from close range to open the scoring.
However, the Chiefs with a strong breeze at their backs were soon into their stride and on eight minutes they had the chance to restore parity when referee Chris Sharp penalised the home side for not rolling away at the tackle. It certainly was a testing first kick for Exeter's Danny Gray. The fly-half connected well with his 45-metre effort, but sadly it cannoned back off the left post and into the arms of a waiting Pirate.
It was a momentary let-off for the home side and three minutes later Gray atoned for that miss when he stroked over a much easier effort, given after recalled Pirate Tyrone Holmes had been singled out as the guilty culprit for a high tackle on Exeter's number ten.
Midway through the half another Gray penalty bounced back off the uprights, before he was at last able to double his tally on 25 minutes.
It was a justified lead for the visitors, but the Pirates replied valiantly just before the interval and they were denied an opening try for Holmes. Referee Sharp chalked off the South African's effort as he felt he had inadvertently blocked the Exeter defenders.
Instead, the Yorkshireman went back for an earlier infringement against the Chiefs and up stepped Cook to level the game up at six apiece.
Gray had a chance in first half stoppage time to restore his side's slender advantage, but again his effort was wide of the mark, as was his conversion attempt for Sean Marsden's touchdown early in the second half.
Paul McKenzie and Tom Bedford were involved in the initial build-up from which Richard Bolt fed Gray, whose clever grubber kick in behind the home defence fell invitingly into the path of Marsden, who simply dotted down.
As was the case in the first half, the spirited Pirates rallied and when Cook cut the deficit with a third penalty, it was the home side who slowly began to flex their muscles.
Devlin was the first over the whitewash on 53 minutes when he latched onto a superb inside pass from the industrious Jonny Bentley. Then, three minutes later, skipper Cattle added a second when he sniped through a gap in a line-out, chipped over the onrushing Marsden, before winning the race to the line. Cook converted both to make it 23-11.
At the other end Gray briefly countered with a third penalty of his own, but as the game entered the final quarter it was the home side who were to pull clear of their Westcountry rivals.
Solid approach work from the Pirates' pack helped punch them deep into Exeter's 22 and when the ball was shipped out wide, there was the waiting Ireland, who powered his way over by the posts for Cook to convert one more.
With the bonus point now in sight, the home side continued to lay siege on the Exeter line. Huffing and puffing their way to within inches of the line, it was left to hooker Ward to simply pick up and burrow over from close range.
That was effectively that, with Cook converting to make it 37-14.
To their credit, though, the Chiefs fought on until the death and their efforts were almost rewarded with a second score. Unfortunately, replacement Jamie Fleming was unable to hold onto the ball with the try-line beckoning.
Next up for them is trip down the A38 to face Albion, while the Pirates have a date with destiny against the men from the Principality.
It may have taken five years, but the Cornish Pirates finally laid to rest their Brickfields hoodoo with a hard-fought victory over Plymouth Albion in this latest British & Irish Cup encounter.
Not since Boxing Day in 2005 had the Duchy professionals triumphed on Plymouth soil. On Saturday, the statistic changed as the Cornishmen ended their long-standing heartache by claiming the spoils 13-9 in a gripping derby tussle.
Scott Franklin's converted try midway through the second half was to prove the significant difference in an intense battle which simmered from first to last. The Canadian international flopped over the whitewash from a line-out drill that had all the hallmarks of Albion's most potent weapon in their arsenal.
Even then, Graham Dawe's side were unwilling to surrender their proud home record without a creditable fight. In a dramatic conclusion to the game, Albion threw everything at their local rivals who legally or not thwarted their advances with a dogged defiance.
As the Pirates crew-mates punched the air in delight at a notable success, Albion were right to question post match how when a penalty count stands 16-6 against the visitors, it took referee Darren Gammage until deep into stoppage time to finally banish someone to the cooler.
As always, though, you can question the varying decisions of match officials until the cows come home. The facts this morning are that the Pirates won and Albion lost, albeit narrowly.
For the home side, this newly drawn-up cup competition will now be moved to the back burner and their key focus over the coming days and weeks will instead be switched to ensuring they seal their place in the inaugural Championship play-offs. Albion have just two fixtures (against Birmingham-Solihull and Doncaster Knights) to ensure they net themselves a top-eight spot.
The first of those crunch tests will be this Saturday in the Midlands and the importance of that very fixture was displayed in the team selection made by Dawe. Albion showed a number of changes from the side that drew with London Welsh the week previous.
Meanwhile, the Pirates with their play-off place already assured reverted to an almost full-strength line-up, one which included for the first time this season, Tom Luke. The talented centre has been sidelined since last season, having had shoulder reconstruction, but his return to duty was not only significant, but also timely.
Luke, however, could do nothing to prevent Albion from taking a second- minute lead, home skipper Kieran Hallett plundering a sublime drop-goal following a series of early raids into Pirates' territory.
The visitors up against a stiff breeze and the Brickfields slope responded well to the early setback and having threatened through fly-half Jonny Bentley, who came within inches of claiming the game's first try, they drew level on ten minutes when full-back Rob Cook penalised home flanker Sean-Michael Stephen for holding on in the tackle.
With parity restored on the scoreboard, both sides did their best to try and wrestle the initiative from their counterparts. Whereas Albion continually looked to peg the Pirates back with a series of territorial kicks in behind, the Cornishmen countered with varying tactics, many of which were based around trying to relieve the danger.
Too often, though, the Pirates were guilty of making elementary mistakes, several of which handed Albion the opportunity to pile on the pressure once more. And as the home surge gathered momentum, so too did the penalty count against Chris Stirling's side.
Hallett failed with the first pot at goal on 19 minutes, but he atoned with two successful efforts in the final ten minutes of the half to put his side in charge at 9-3.
Even then Albion could have been further ahead. Winger Liam Gibson was thwarted by a great last-ditch tackle from Bentley as he closed in on the line earlier in the half, then in a similar scenario to the week previous against London Welsh the home side were guilty of blowing a glorious line-out move just before the interval.
It was a let-off for the visitors who, it was later confirmed, were introduced for the first time in his reign to the 'hairdryer treatment' from Stirling. The Kiwi coach was less than impressed with what he saw in the opening 40 and pulled no punches as he tore into his troops.
Whatever was said, it seemed to have the desired effect. The Pirates were quickly out of the traps on the resumption, launching wave upon wave of attacks on the Albion line. The home side, though, were not in generous mood and, having withstood a heavy battering, turned defence into attack.
Excellent work got them back down field, where the Pirates gifted them another opportunity to extend their buffer. Sadly, Hallett's lengthy punt fell short of its target and the visitors countered once more as Cook reduced the arrears with a second penalty on 58 minutes.
With the bit between their teeth, the Pirates went in search of further reward and their quest was given a helping hand just past the hour mark when Albion lock Tyler Hotson was sin-binned for an off-the-ball punch.
With the Canadian restricted to a watching brief from the sidelines, Pirates' winger Rhodri McAtee thought he was over the home line only to have the ball tipped from his grasp by Albion's Mark Lee just inches from the line.
It was a momentary let-off for the home side as the Pirates rallied again with a driving line-out that simply bulldozed the home cover into the ground. Franklin was the end beneficiary, with Cook obliging with the additional two points.
Although the Pirates attempted to close the game out in the closing stages, Albion refused to lie down. Dawe's men huffed and puffed in every way possible during a nerve-jangling finale, but they were unable to find the breakthrough.
If the Cornish Pirates took the most difficult route possible to gain Twickenham glory in 2007, this year they are hoping to map out a less treacherous route to success.
Whereas two years ago they were forced to overcome some colossal hurdles on their way to the winning post at English rugby's HQ, this time round the Pirates have pinned their hopes on a much easier ride.
Pitted against the newly created Gael Force first up, Chris Stirling's side easily blew aside the challenge of their Scottish visitors to kick off their British & Irish Cup campaign with a comfortable 29-8 success at Camborne.
It was for all extent and purposes an ideal opening test for the Cornish club, who cantered past their rivals with relative ease thanks to tries from Luke Collins, Nick Jackson, Gavin Cattle and Dave Ward, plus a further nine points from Rob Cook's right boot.
Next up, however, the Pirates know they can expect a much stiffer challenge than that to which they faced from the assorted Scots at the Recreation Ground yesterday. On Friday, Stirling's side will head across the Irish Sea for an encounter with European champions Leinster, who themselves kicked off their Cup campaign on a winning note, defeating Plymouth Albion 16-13 at the Brickfields.
"They [Leinster] will be a more solid unit," warned Stirling in the aftermath of yesterday's win. "I am sure Leinster will have had more games under their belt, but we will go over there, do what we do, and, hopefully, it will be good enough."
Certainly the Pirates had enough in their arsenal yesterday to overcome a Gael Force line-up which was made up directly of players from Glasgow Warriors, Edinburgh and the Scottish National Academy.
It was a neatly assembled collection of talent and, on an individual basis, they were more than useful. The problem for the visitors, however, was that pooling such a mix together in such a short space of time has meant any real cohesion has yet to be really developed.
That said, it was the visitors who broke the deadlock after just two minutes when fly-half David Blair fired over a penalty after the home side had been penalised for not rolling away at the tackle. Sadly, it would be the only time the visitors led the game.
Parity was restored in the 11th minute when Cook replicated Blair's earlier effort and the full-back was then on hand to land a difficult touchline conversion after Collins was on hand to apply the finishing touches to a slick handling move from the hosts.
Further attacking pressure from the Pirates then brought more reward on 29 minutes when, following an initial charge up the middle from Ward, the ball was recycled to the left where the waiting Jonny Bentley and Cook combined neatly to send winger Jackson over.
Another stunning conversion from Cook this time wide out on the left put the Pirates in control at 17-3.
As the minutes ticked by, further opportunities came and went for the home side, whilst at the other end Blair saw a second penalty effort sail wide of the posts in first-half stoppage time.
On the resumption, Blair was again unable to capitalise after skipper Cattle had been penalised for holding on by Welsh referee Leighton Hodges.
But having survived that let-off, the Pirates trundled back up field where, following a sustained spell of pressure in which the home scrum tormented their visiting counterparts into submission, it was Cattle who was able to pick up from the base and snipe his way under the posts for Cook to once more add the extras.
To their credit, Gael Force countered with a well-worked score for winger Chris Kinloch, but that was to prove their only real bright spot of the second period.
A flurry of replacements for both sides meant the half somewhat disintegrated into pieces. However, with ten minutes remaining, Ward capped a fine individual display when he charged his way over for a fourth try.
For Stirling, the victory was just what he demanded following the disappointment of defeat to Exeter Chiefs the week previous.
"The guys trained really hard all week with a big focus on our set-piece," he said. "I think that showed today, although I did challenge the guys at half-time to put them away because we were starting to get dominance, but we took our foot off their throat for the last 15 minutes of the first half."
Stirling admitted work on the training ground had paid dividends with the four tries scored and he believes at last with numbers returning to the ranks, he is beginning to see what his side are truly capable of.
"I hate using the word too much, but it's all about momentum," he added. "We have started to get something special going in the last couple of weeks and the guys are really buying into an incredibly demanding work ethic in training during the week. We have numbers on deck now, we are having good contact hit out sessions and the intensity and aggression levels at training are right up there and we are starting to see it on the field.
"The last two weeks we've started to turn the corner with consistency in our training and that will start to come out on the field," he added.
"There were aspects of the game with Exeter that I was really disappointed with and I voiced those to the players, but there are other aspects which are starting to come together. I think we saw bits of it again today. We were quite composed and for probably 80 minutes of the game we were pretty much in control."
Richard Carroll takes on three Gloucestershire defenders. Photo by John Beach.
Jaike Carter scored a hat-trick of tries as Gloucestershire reached their first Twickenham final since 2004 with a deserved victory over Cornwall at Cinderford.
The Forest of Dean venue was bathed in glorious sunshine as the two previously unbeaten sides served up a hugely entertaining Bill Beaumont Cup encounter in this group decider.
But with Carter filling his boots in front of his home club fans, and classy fly-half Mark Woodrow and his half-back partner and skipper Paul Knight pulling the strings, Gloucestershire were triumphant to set up a final against Lancashire at English rugby headquarters next Saturday, with a 12 noon kick-off.
Woodrow, in fact, was a very important figure in the outcome, not just because of his fine all-round game but also his classy boot.
The Birmingham-Solihull number ten banged over six out of six kicks from all parts of the field, whereas Cornwall's Adryan Winnan, who is not a regular goalkicker, managed only two from five attempts, although he did his very best with the efforts he was presented with.
It was a very tight and tense opening, with most of the play in the opening 25 minutes confined to the area between the two 22-metre lines.
Cornwall showed their intentions from the off when they opted to kick an early 25-metre penalty to the corner, rather than go for the posts, only to be penalised at the subsequent ruck after new Cornish Pirates' signing Luke Collins won the line-out.
Winnan then missed a 30-metre penalty effort in the 19th minute after Gloucestershire flanker Dean Jenkins had been punished for coming in at the side of a ruck.
The hosts lost lock Royce Cadman to the sin-bin a minute later when Devon referee Luke Pearce lost patience with their repeated offending at the breakdown area, but it was Gloucestershire who opened the scoring soon after as Woodrow slotted a penalty given for Cornish hands in a ruck.
However, with Cadman itching to come back onto the field, Cornwall collected the first try, and it was worth waiting for. The visitors spun the ball out from a scrum close to the halfway line and found Dirksen in space, and the St Ives flyer roared towards the try line.
He was stopped just short by a superb covering tackle, but he managed to recycle possession for Wadebridge Camels' winger Sean Hawkey to pick up and dive over for his fourth try in two matches for the county. Winnan added a good conversion for a 7-3 lead.
But the advantage was very shortlived, with lovely hands by Gloucestershire creating an overlap for Carter to grab the first of his tries in the corner, with Woodrow contributing the extras for a 10-7 scoreline in favour of the hosts.
A superb piece of play by new Redruth signing Winnan put Cornwall back in front as the game reached the 40th minute, as he chased his own kick ahead, tapped the bouncing ball to Collins, and then watched the big man gallop in from 25 metres to score beneath the posts, giving Winnan a simple kick for a 14-10 lead.
Just as before, though, Cornwall went to sleep straight after scoring and more good hands sent Carter over after he had handed off Cornwall scrum-half Mark Richards, and Woodrow's conversion gave Gloucestershire a 17-14 interval lead.
Six minutes after the break, a lovely miss pass by Woodrow provided Hartpury College centre Jonny May with the space to shrug off a tackle and cross the line, and with Woodrow once again making it a seven-pointer, the hosts suddenly had a ten-point gap.
Back came Cornwall, with Exeter Chiefs' England Academy star Dirksen producing a sublime piece of skill three minutes later, chipping the ball over the defence down the right flank and winning the chase to the touchdown.
Winnan missed the tough touchline conversion, and a long-range penalty 11 minutes later, but in between those efforts Woodrow put over a 40-metre kick of his own to give Gloucestershire a 27-19 advantage.
Mark 'Pasty' Cornwell's men then all but wrapped up victory in the 66th minute as good work by centre Dewi Scourfield and Woodrow sent Carter in to complete his treble, and with Woodrow converting, Gloucestershire were on their way to Twickenham.
GLOUCESTERSHIRE 34 PTS: tries Carter (3), May; conversions Woodrow (4); penalties Woodrow (2)
CORNWALL 19 PTS: tries Hawkey, Collins, Dirksen; conversions Winnan (2)
(Cinderford unless stated): J Copsey; C Holder (Lydney), J May (Hartpury College), D Scourfield, J Carter, M Woodrow (Birmingham & Solihull), P Knight (capt.) (J Williams, Lydney, 80), P Price (Lydney), P Finkin (Newbury), R Davies (Birmingham & Solihull), W Waldron (Hartpury College) (D Bufton, Dings Crusaders, 63), R Cadman (Hartpury College), M Gilbert (Hartpury College), D Jenkins (Lydney) (C McNeil 68), M Panoho (Dings Crusaders).
Replacements not used: T Stevenson, C Hall, P Kennedy, S Edwards (Dings Crusaders).
(Redruth unless stated): A Winnan, H Dirksen (St Ives), R Westren (Cornish All Blacks, capt.), P Thirlby (R Thirlby, Moseley 61), S Hawkey (Wadebridge Camels, UWIC) (D Semmens, Cornish All Blacks, 73), L Webb (Cornish All Blacks) (B Rule 68), M Richards, D Jacques (D Clackworthy, Hayle, 75), O Hambly, S Heard (P Joyce 59), L Collins (Cornish Pirates), R Carroll (D Cook 63), S Hocking (Cornish All Blacks), T Rawlings (Cornish All Blacks) (C Fuca 68), M Bright.
Referee: Luke Pearce (RFU).
Yellow cards: Glos: Cadman 20.
Winger Hanno Dirksen in full flight. Photo by John Beach.
Three blistering tries from winger Sean Hawkey helped set Cornwall on their way to a second win in this season's County Championship at Redruth on Saturday. Whilst the score line may well look emphatic, this was a hard-earned win against a Somerset side that showed several changes to the team so badly mauled by Gloucestershire the previous weekend at Taunton. It was a win too that will have satisfied skipper Ryan Westren and replacement prop Danny Clackworthy: both were in the Cornwall side humiliated by Somerset two years ago in a County Shield match at Bridgewater by 60-14.
As last Saturday, Cornwall's success was based on two key elements -- a powerful forwards' display and a granite-like defence. Somerset enjoyed a fair share of possession and territory during the match but time and again they just couldn't pierce the Cornish defence, whilst Cornwall countered with devastating effect.
With Malcolm Roberts unavailable Adryan Winnan was drafted in at fullback. Cornwall were also obliged to make a late change: as Sam Heard was unavailable Redruth's Peter Joyce stepped up from the bench, whilst St. Ives' Ben Taylor came on to the bench.
After the balmy weather the previous week at the Brickfields, strong winds and heavy showers greeted the players at Redruth to make for tricky playing conditions. Somerset got the game under way playing up the slope and were soon pressing in the Cornwall 22. The Cornish defence was being tested at this early stage, but turnover ball saw the homeside counter. Prop Darren Jacques led a counter that saw the ball passed at pace through the hands of Winnan, Owen Hambly and then Hawkey, who, although slowed up by the Somerset cover, managed to recover and cross in the Piggy Lane corner to open the scoring after only 3 minutes -- sending the home crowd rapturous. Winnan's conversion attempt from wide out failed in the blustery wind.
It was just the start that Cornwall wanted and it got better just seven minutes later. Young Hano Dirksen carved his way through mid-field with flanker Sam Hocking in support to pass to the onrushing Hambly, who also crossed in the same corner. Winnan added the extras for a 12-0 lead.
Richard Carroll, once again heavily involved in the action, almost scored a third Cornish try after 25 minutes as the ball was lost in the tackle over the line following more fine interplay between forwards and backs.
In the run up to half-time it was mostly Somerset who dominated, laying siege to the Cornish line, denied by the meanest of defences.
Somerset's fly-half Luke Cozens, previously on loan to the Reds a couple of seasons back, almost scored up in the scoreboard corner. Referee Mr. Davies had been playing advantage to the visitors and elected to come back for the original offence, which saw Cornish lock Luke Collins sin binned for a professional foul. Somerset elected not to go for the points on offer from a simple penalty from in front of the posts, instead opting for a scrum. It looked like a good move as the Somerset forwards powered towards the line -- only to see prop Chris Rowland lose the ball over the line, allowing Cornwall to clear.
Moments later Cornwall rubbed salt into their visitors as they conjured up a third first half try, as from a scrum Cornwall broke away via Hambly and scrum-half Mark Richards before the ball found Westren and Paul Thirlby, the centres setting up Hawkey for his second of the afternoon, again in the Piggy Lane corner, to give Cornwall a useful half-time lead of 17-0.
With the wind behind them in the second half Cornwall looked to pin their opponents back in their own 22, with fly-half Lewis Webb kicking well. Dirksen and Webb were both almost in for a try as Cornwall pressed once more. Eventually the pressure told as Webb spotted a gap in the Somerset defence, darting through under the posts and allowing Winnan a simple conversion.
Cornwall again had to defend as Somerset looked to score and regain some pride.
Both sides brought on fresh legs as the game moved into the final quarter. An attacking scrum close to the Somerset line saw No. 8 Mark Bright pop up a pass to Richards, who fed replacement fly-half Brett Rule whose long pass found the uprushing Dirksen -- who took the ball at pace to calmly cut through the re-jigged Somerset backline to score in the Strawberry Lane corner. Winnan kicked another fine conversion.
Winnan then put in a fine covering tackle on Somerset winger Paul Spargue as he broke towards Hell Fire corner, forcing the winger into touch.
Fittingly Cornwall had the last word, with star performer Hawkey notching up his hat-trick of tries in time added on. Some fine inter-passing from props Jacques and Clackworthy ended with the Hayle man sending out a long pass to his winger. The pace of Hawkey took him clear to score Cornwall's sixth try of the afternoon, whilst Winnan's fourth conversion made it 38-0 at the final whistle.
Cornwall will travel to Cinderford in great heart, knowing that another Twickenham appearance is just a tantalising 80 minutes away. They will know more about what will be needed following Gloucestershire's match against Devon, which is due to be played on Sunday afternoon at Gloucester's Kingsholm ground.
After the match a very satisfied Cornwall head coach Dave Thomas gave his reactions. "I thought again following on from last week our defence was very, very good. We stopped them getting across the gain-line. This is something that all the coaches have been emphasising.
"Somerset really had a go at us in the first half going around the fringes, but I thought our boys kept them out very well.
"Our backs looked very strong again today. We scored two or three tries from attacks from our own half, with slick handling and pacy running. Also Adryan Winnan joining the line from full-back at pace made a huge difference. We said that attack comes from defence. We had one turnover on our own 22 and we scored in the corner at the other end of the field, and I thought that epitomised the way we wanted to play it: stop it at the gain line, try to win the ball and then move it wide."
Thomas was also pleased that Cornwall cut the penalty count from last week, though there is still some work to do to cut it further. "That was a big plus, having conceded so many against Devon."
Benji praised his pair of young wingers, Hawkey and Dirksen: "They were outstanding, very pacy and strong. They've come from nowhere really. Three or four months ago we wouldn't really have entertained them. Suddenly they are in the county side running in tries, which is brilliant."
Looking ahead to next week's game against Gloucestershire at Cinderford: "Well, it's like going into the lions' den. It is going to be difficult up there, they have always been strong over the years. We are going to work on the good things that we've done over the past couple of games. We'll hope for a fine day and put it all together again. There is a tremendous spirit and pride in the players wanting to play for Cornwall again. The players are now telling us they want to play, and with the crowd that we had today totally behind the county side that epitomises county rugby in Cornwall."
More pictures of the game are here.
CORNWALL 38 PTS: tries Hawkey (3), Hambly, Webb,
Dirksen; conversions Winnan (4)
Yellow Card - Collins 35
SOMERSET 0 PTS
15. Adryan Winnan (unattatched), 14. Willem Dirksen
(St. Ives), 13. Ryan Westren (Cornish All Blacks, Captain), 12. Paul Thirlby
(Redruth), 11. Sean Hawkey (UWIC & Wadebridge Camels), 10. Lewis Webb
(Cornish All Blacks), 9. Mark Richards (Redruth), 1. Darren Jacques (Redruth),
2. Owen Hambly (Redruth), 3. Peter Joyce (Redruth), 4. Luke Collins (Cornish
Pirates), 5. Richard Carroll (Redruth), 6. Sam Hocking (Cornish All Blacks), 7.
Tom Rawlings (Cornish All Blacks), 8. Mark Bright
Replacements: D Pascoe (Penryn & Royal Navy) for Richards 66, B Rule (Redruth) for Webb 66, B Taylor (St. Ives) for Hambly 77, D Cook (Redruth) for Carroll 56, C Fuca (Redruth) for Rawlings 56, D Clackworthy (Hayle) for Joyce 66, S Hobson (Bath Rugby) for Collins 58.
S Depledge (Leeds Carnegie), B Rudkin (Taunton), L
Messer, T Elisara (both Bridgwater & Albion), P Sprague (Weston-s-Mare), L
Cozens (Bath Rugby), M Rhodes (Taunton, Capt.), C Rowland (Clifton), C McGrath
(Bridgwater & Albion), C Meddick (Dings Crusaders), I Ashcroft-Leigh
(Newbury Blues), S Pape (Cornish All Blacks), B Purcell (Bridgwater &
Albion), J Miller (Coventry), G Sparkes (SL Benfica)
Replacements: N Trevena (Tor) for Rudkin 69, G Cooper (unattatched) for McGrath h/t, J Rudkin (Bridgewater & Albion) for Miller 69, W Stiling (Bridgwater & Albion) for Rowland h/t, W McMillan (Nailsea & Blackwell) for Ashcroft-Leigh 54, S Hunt (Bridgwater & Albion) for Purcell 56, C Creighton for Rhodes 69, C Rowland (Clifton) for Meddick 67
Referee: Mr. P Davies (RFU)
Sam Heard and Mark Bright stop Devon's Gareth Evans. Photo by John Beach.
Cornwall got their County Championship campaign for 2009 off to the best possible start, with a first Championship win over old rivals Devon since the victory at Beacon Park in 2002. It was a Cornish performance full of pride, passion, commitment and skill from each and every member of the squad who took the field in this pulsating encounter. Devon, who have appeared in the last five County Championship finals, winning three of them, were beaten far more comprehensively than the score line suggests.
As ever, Cornwall were cheered on by a large and vociferous following of their supporters who had crossed the Tamar to cheer on their team, as well as exiles who had ventured down, all united in the common cause.
There were a few raised eyebrows when the Cornwall side was announced in the press on Friday morning. Those doubts were quickly dispelled as Cornwall took charge of the match from the kick-off to steadily build a famous victory. Cornwall were never behind during the match.
It was once again the Cornwall pack -- led superbly by second row Richard Carroll -- that laid the foundations for this famous win. The backs looked sharp throughout, ably marshalled by the half-back pairing of Mark Richards and Lewis Webb, one of the players making his debut for Cornwall, whilst in mid-field the tackling of centres Paul Thirlby and skipper Ryan Westren, supported by a rampaging back row -- notably Tom Rawlings -- halted numerous Devon threats in their tracks. Allied to this, full back Malcolm Roberts kicked well from hand all afternoon, pinning Devon back deep into their 22 and forcing them to play from deep.
Cornwall kicked off playing towards the scoreboard end and soon began to impose their game on Devon. An early penalty was kicked to the corner by Roberts. Cornwall looked to set up a drive from the lineout, and Carroll was held up over the line as Cornwall earned a five metre scrum. Cornwall drove again and this time Luke Collins forced himself over the Devon line with barely five minutes on the clock. Roberts' conversion gave Cornwall a perfect start for a 7-0 lead.
From the restart, gathered by Sam Hocking, Richards launched a long kick down field which found touch in the Devon 22, maintaining pressure on their hosts. Further fine play from the Cornish backs -- notably Webb, Hanno Dirksen and Sean Hawkey -- caused panic in the Devon 22. With a penalty on offer, Webb dropped a neat goal to extend Cornwall's lead to 10-0 after 14 minutes. The Devon supporters went very quite.
Devon slowly came more into the game, winning a penalty on 16 minutes just to the right of the posts. However, fly-half Ross Laidlaw pushed his kick wide. Another Devon attacked was snuffed out by the Cornish defence only for Cornwall to infringe in front of the posts after 21 minutes. This time Laidlaw made no mistake in reducing the arrears.
This proved to be Devon's best period of the match, as three minutes later from a penalty kicked to the corner by Laidlaw Jamie Tripcony secured good line out ball, allowing the Devon pack to drive for the line with flanker Richard Jenkins scoring a fine try. Laidlaw added the conversion to tie the scores after 27 minutes.
Another fine kick down field by Roberts resulted in a Devon lineout in their own 22. With Luke Collins pinching the line out, Devon gave away another penalty, allowing Roberts to regain the lead for Cornwall just after the half-hour mark.
Devon suffered a further blow when their influential No.8 Kyle Marriott was injured after 35 minutes and forced to leave the field.
With half-time approaching Cornwall looked for another score. The forwards -- notably Carroll, Darren Jacques, who gave another accomplished all-round performance in the tight and loose, plus the ever-willing Rawlings -- put Cornwall on the front foot. A Devon line out near their own line was deemed crooked. From the resulting scrum a big drive from Redruth's Mark Bright, another making his debut for Cornwall, made ground before passing to Richards, who dived over for Cornwall's second try. Although Roberts couldn't add the extras Cornwall turned around with a useful and merited 18-10 lead.
Laidlaw kicked a penalty for Devon early in the second half. However, Cornwall were soon calling the tune once more. A lovely run from Roberts saw him almost ghost through the Devon defence. Cornwall quickly re-cycled the ball, with Webb powering on and getting over the line but held up. From the scrum Collins made a big drive for the line before Rawlings snaffled the ball and drove over to score Cornwall's third try after 47 minutes. Roberts kicked the conversion to stretch Cornwall's lead to 25-13.
Cornwall then endured a slack period as they seemed to fall foul of referee Mr. Tutty, giving away a string of penalties, which head coach "Benji" Thomas will be keen to eradicate before their next match. It allowed Devon to pull a score back as centre Pat Sykes was able to sneak in for Devon's second try after 60 minutes.
With time fast running out Cornwall secured the game with two quick scores. First Roberts kicked a second penalty following a late tackle by Devon, then Dirksen capped a fine debut with an individual score. Collecting a Devon kick ahead, he danced his way through the Devon defence to score near the posts. Although Roberts missed the conversion Cornwall were out of sight.
Devon grabbed a late consolation score as Jenkins claimed his second try of the afternoon following a chip ahead by Laidlaw, who added the conversion.
At the final whistle it was Cornwall's day and deservedly so. They will now look to build on this result when they tackle Somerset next Saturday at Redruth, hopefully in front of a large Cornish crowd. They certainly deserve one after this fine performance.
More pictures of the game are here.
Devon 25 pts: tries Jenkins (2), Sykes; conversions Laidlaw (2); penalties Laidlaw (2)
Cornwall 33 pts: tries Collins, Richards, Rawlings, Dirksen; conversions Roberts (2); penalties Roberts (2); drop-goal Webb
Devon: 15. Gary Kingdom (Exeter), 14. Mark Lee (Plymouth Albion),
13. Pat Sykes (Canterbury), 12. Ross Allan (Plymouth Albion, Capt.),11. Jason
Luff (Exeter),10. Ross Laidlaw (Plymouth Albion), 9. Matt Newman (Plymouth
Albion), 1. Danny Porte (Plymouth Albion), 2. Gareth Evans (Plymouth Albion),
3. Ryan Hopkins (Plymouth Albion), 4. Jamie Tripcony (Plymouth Albion), 5.
Nathan Hannay (Sidmouth), 6. Richard Jenkins (Dings Crusaders), 7. Rory
Watts-Jones (Plymouth Albion), 8. Kyle Marriott (Plymouth
Replacements used: J Yeandle (UWIC & Plymouth Albion) for Marriot 35. N. Riley (Brixham) for Hannay 80, M Dibble (Cornish All Blacks) for Lee 74, L Paterson (Cornish All Blacks) for Newman 80, S Johns (Plymouth Albion) for Sykes 74.
Not used: D Manns (Crediton), A Thomas (Brixham)
Cornwall: 15. Malcom Roberts (Cornish All Blacks & Army), 14.
Willem Dirksen (St. Ives), 13. Ryan Westren (Cornish All Blacks, Capt.), 12.
Paul Thirlby (Redruth), 11. Sean Hawkey (UWIC & Wadebridge Camels), 10.
Lewis Webb (Cornish All Blacks), 9. Mark Richards (Redruth), 1. Darren Jacques
(Redruth), 2. Owen Hambly (Redruth), 3. Sam Heard (unattached), 4. Luke Collins
(Cornish Pirates), 5. Richard Carroll (unattached), 6. Sam Hocking (Cornish All
Blacks), 7. Tom Rawlings (Cornish All Blacks), 8. Mark Bright
Replacements used: D Pascoe (Penryn & Royal Navy) for Richards 80, P Joyce (Redruth) for Heard 59, C Fuca (Redruth) for Rawlings 59, D Cook (Redruth) for Carroll 78, S Hobson (Bath) for Collins 80.
Not used: D Clackworthy (Hayle), B Rule (Redruth).
Referee: Mr. M Tutty (RFU)
Devon held off a determined Cornish fightback to win back the Tamar Cup 13-11 at a sunny Okehampton yesterday.
Devon dominated large parts of the first half after choosing to play uphill, and they had Cornwall going backwards in the scrums. The only mystery was they only managed one try before the break. That was partly due to some excellent Duchy defence, while they also gave away too many penalties deep in the visitors' 22.
Devon drew first blood in the tenth minute. They won a close-range line-out and, after a couple of drives, they tried the blind-side and captain and Plymouth Albion hooker Jack Yeandle got over in the corner. Mounts Bay full-back Dan Hawkes missed the touchline conversion.
Cornwall struck back almost immediately, with a 35-metre penalty from Camborne full-back David Mankee.
Hawkes slotted a simple penalty in the 40th minute to restore the gap to five points, only for Mankee to bang over a 25-metre effort soon after to leave his side trailing only 8-6 at the break.
Devon piled into Cornwall at the start of the second half, and were rewarded with a second try. The ball was spun wide, after several forward drives, to Cullompton loose-head prop Rob Hammett who is believed to be attracting interest from Plymouth Albion who popped a pass up for Hawkes to run in at the corner.
The latter's conversion from wide out missed, but Devon led 13-6 and looked in the driving seat. However, Cornwall sparked into life and they started to cause their opponents all sorts of problems.
Barnstaple's Neil Giddy produced two superb try-saving tackles in the space of five minutes to deny Karl Martin and Chris Morris respectively, while Mankee hit the upright with a fairly simple penalty attempt.
Cornwall wasted two more penalty opportunities when they opted to kick to the corner, only to lose possession at the subsequent line-outs, and it looked as if they were unbelievably going to fail to score in the second half, when they finally made another close-range line-out count, with replacement prop Dan Job forcing his way over in the 78th minute. Mankee missed the difficult touchline conversion to leave Cornwall 13-11 adrift, and was also off target with an injury-time drop goal attempt as Devon hung on to capture the Tamar Cup.
Devon scorers: tries Yeandle, Hawkes; penalty Hawke
Cornwall scorers: try Job; penalties Mankee (2)
Devon: D Hawkes (Mounts Bay), M Lee (Plymouth Albion), K Browne
(Devonport S), L Patterson (Cornish All Blacks), M Galliford (Barnstaple), N
Giddy (Barnstaple), C Moore (Plymouth Alb), R Hammett (Cullompton), J Yeandle
(Plymouth Alb, capt), P Dowrick (Newton Abbot), A Thomas (Brixham), J Tripcony
(Plymouth Alb), S Harris (Cullompton), J Childs (Plymouth Alb), N Hannay
Replacements: J Beardsmore (Paignton) for Giddy 75, D Lawson (Ivybridge) for Galliford 80+5, N Riley (Brixham) for Thomas 69, M Vandenbrouck (Paignton) for Hammett 80-83, B Crichton (Devonport S) for Harris 8-11, for Childs 80+5.
Not used: L Carey (Okehampton), N Martin (Okehampton).
Cornwall: D Mankee (Camborne), C Morris (Cornish All Blacks), S
Peters (Redruth), S Kenward (Redruth), R Vassell (Newquay Hornets), B Rule
(Redruth), K Martin (St Ives), N Endean (Camborne), B Taylor (St Ives), D
Clackworthy (Hayle), B Sidgwick (St Ives), B Hilton (Mounts Bay, capt), B
Collings (Cornish All Blacks), D Seymour (Mounts Bay), M Angwin (Wadebridge
Replacements: J Hawken (Cornish All Blacks) for Peters 70, S Harrison (Redruth) for Taylor 70, J Wilce (Wadebridge C) for Sidgwick 57, M Goldsworthy (Camborne) for B Collings 70, G Pooley (All Blacks) for Angwin 70, A Collings (All Blacks) for Vassell 70, D Job (Redruth) for Endean 46.
Liskeard-Looe coach Chris Hocking was a very proud man after his side reached Twickenham for the first time in their history with a 26-19 EDF Junior Vase semi-final victory over Lowestoft and Yarmouth at Lux Park on Saturday.
It took a try deep into injury time by centre Andy Sheer to secure success and spark celebrations that went on long into the night.
Delighted former Plymouth Albion favourite Hocking, speaking yesterday, said: "It is a really good feeling to be taking a team to Twickenham. For a lot of us it hasn't really sunk in yet, but it is good for Cornish rugby and good for our club.
"It was a very special day absolutely tremendous. The supporters loved it and I think there was more than just me with a hangover this morning!
"In the last 20 minutes of the game our greater fitness told. Their fitness started going and, with that, their discipline went."
Liskeard-Looe took the lead with a ninth-minute try from winger Ryan Morris, converted by Baz Hocking, but Lowestoft struck back with two Russ Chapman penalties and a touchdown from skipper Scott Nelson to make it 11-7 to the visitors.
That advantage had grown to 19-7 at the break, with another Chapman penalty followed by a try from flanker Chris Howe, but then came the stirring home fightback.
A penalty try, converted by Hocking, followed by a touchdown from No.8 Ali Hill after a pick-and-drive, levelled the scores and set up a tense finale, made even worse for supporters by almost 15 minutes of stoppage time being played.
However, Sheer accepted the gift when the visitors kicked away possession in their own 22, and Hocking converted, to send Liskeard-Looe into a Twickenham final on Saturday, May 9 against Brighton, who beat Hullensians 20-3 in their last-four clash.
Cornwall suffered their second successive defeat in this season's Under-20 County Championship by going down 28-10 to defending champions Gloucestershire at Lydney on Sunday, writes Nigel Walrond .
Cornwall were without their Truro College and Redruth players, who were involved in weekend cup action, and had to make 12 changes to the squad that lost 26-10 to Devon in their opening game.
That included a late switch, with Launceston winger Chris Morris struck down by sickness in the changing rooms just before the game, with Mount's Bay's Nick Hitchens stepping up to the side.
The scoreline remained blank until a long way into the first half, before Gloucestershire spun the ball wide off the back of a maul and put their winger in for a try when a tackle was missed.
They added to that with a second touchdown when they barged their way over from a ruck, and a third try soon followed, with a conversion and two penalties giving them a comfortable lead.
Cornwall struck back before the interval when Launceston lock Glen Pooley picked up from the base of a ruck to go over, and his clubmate, fly half Josh Coles converted and added a penalty to make it 23-10 at the break.
Cornwall put plenty of pressure on their hosts in the second half, but Gloucestershire managed a fourth try to complete the scoring.
Gloucestershire: Hawley (Cinderford), Surman (Cheltenham),
Winchle (Loughborough), Morris (Stourbridge), Winterbottom (Cinderford), Cook
(Loughborough), Roy-Smith (Nuneaton), Porter (Lydney - Captain), Stagg (Cleve),
Davis (Cleve), Casson (Cleve), Robson (Cheltenham North), Foden (Stourbridge),
Brown (Cinderford), Tovey (Clifton). Reps (used): Newport (Cleve), King (Chosen
Hill), Tapsell (Cheltenham), Hall (Cleve), Haile (Cinderford).
Reps (not used): Fisher (Hartpury), Preece (Old Centralians)
Cornwall (Launceston unless stated): Kneebone, Hitchens (Mount's
Bay), Bryant (Cheltenham North, capt), Hawken, Nicholas (St Ives), Coles,
Shepherd (St Austell), Patterson (Penryn), Taylor (St Ives), Knight, Pooley,
Matthews (Hayle), Duke, Randlesome (Penryn), Benton (St Ives).
Reps (all used): Luck (Wadebridge Camels), Goldsworthy (Camborne), Milliner (Camborne), A Collings, Booth (Penryn), McPherson (Newquay H), Howorth (St Austell). Travelling replacement: Newnham (St Austell).
A stunning second half score by Redruth lock Luke Collins wasn't enough to prevent England Counties losing to France Fédérale by 27-19 on Sunday evening, who thus reclaimed the Jean-Claude Baqué Cup played for between the two sides.
After the largely one-sided senior international played earlier on, this contest was refreshing with the result in doubt until the final moments between two evenly matched sides.
As against Irish Clubs, both Redruth players were selected: Collins, along with loose-head prop Darren Jacques (RFU please note spelling of player's name!), were in the starting line-up, as was Josh Lord of the Cornish All Blacks.
Despite going a man down early on as Dijon centre Julien Rivier was yellow-carded for a professional foul, it was the French who took the lead with a penalty from their winger Bertrand Artero from Carcassonne, as England Counties went off their feet.
The French lead was short lived as the Counties side hit back with the first of their three tries as Stourbridge's Adam Billig finished off a fine move down the eastern touchline with some fine inter-passing with his co-centre Mark Bedworth, who added the conversion.
The battle up front was intense with Jacques, Collins and Lord all heavily involved. However, the French continued to pose a threat out wide. Artero kicked a second penalty after 17 minutes, before the French flyer winger Renaud Delmas from Périgueux skated around the cover before wrong-footing Rob Cook to score a fine try after 28 minutes under the posts -- allowing the trusty boot of Artero a simple conversion, leaving the French 13-7 up at half-time.
The Counties side continued to give away penalties, Artero hitting the upright with a 40 metre effort shortly after half-time. Counties then began to put some phases together. A fine burst by Barking's James Kellard made ground into the French 22, with Collins up in support able to take the scoring pass to score in the NE corner of the ground, to the great delight of the Cornish supporters in the West Stand. Bedworth couldn't add the extras but the Counties were right back in it at 13-12 down.
Over eagerness perhaps, but Counties continued to ignore the danger of Artero's boot as Blackheath's Sam Smith ended up in the bin for hands in the ruck, allowing the Frenchman to kick his third penalty after 57 minutes.
England brought on fresh legs as they looked to pull back the deficit. It worked as Wharfedale's Rob Baldwin scored England's third try under the posts after a fine break by Tynedale's Jack Harrison. Bedworth's conversion put England into the lead at 19-16.
However, it was the French who would finish the stronger. Artero levelled the scores with another penalty after 66 minutes to set up a grandstand finish. With three minutes remaining replacement fly-half Benoit Albert (Mazamet) dropped a 35 metre goal to put France back in the lead -- to the delight of their supporters and the Breton band over to support their player, lock Martin Michel (Vannes).
As England chased the game, a turnover in their own 22 allowed scrum-half Guillaume Dulay (Valence d'Agen) to gather and run in unopposed for the match winning try.
Danny Hodgson, England Manager, said afterwards: "I told the team they should be very proud. There is more to England Counties than just out-scoring our opponents. We're representing the whole of County rugby and to be able to do it at Twickenham today was fantastic".
"They should be very proud of themselves, they've certainly made me very proud. They really fed off the atmosphere today and scored three great tries. We play with an adventurous spirit and enjoy our rugby".
"Yes, we made mistakes and the line-out wasn't great but that's what happens at this level. It was a great occasion and really we acquitted ourselves very well".
England Counties 19 pts: Tries Billig, Collins, Baldwin; conversions Bedworth (2)
France Fédérale 27 pts: Tries Delmas, Dulay; conversion Artero; penalties Artero (4); drop-goal Albert
England Counties XV: 15 R. Cook (Nuneaton & Warwickshire),14. J. Harrison (Tynedale & Northumberland), 13 A. Billig (Stourbridge & North Midlands), 12 M. Bedworth (Wharfedale & Yorkshire), 11 S. Smith (Blackheath & Middlesex), 10 C. Johnson (Huddersfield & Yorkshire), 9 J. Doherty (Wharfedale & Lancashire); 1 D. Jacques (Redruth & Cornwall), 2 L. Wordley, capt (Blackheath & Staffordshire), 3 R. Harden (Tynedale & Northumberland), 4 L. Collins (Redruth & Cornwall), 5. T. Bason (Blackheath & Kent), 6. J. Lord (Cornish All Blacks & Cornwall) 7 J. Kellard (Barking & Essex), 8 J. Smithson (Blaydon & Northumberland), Replacements: 16 Ben Gerry (Stourbridge & North Midlands), for Wordley 58 min 17 Simon Legg (Blackheath & Kent), for Jacques 58 mins 18 James Rule (Hull Ionians & Yorkshire), for Collins 58 mins 19 Rob Baldwin (Wharfedale & Yorkshire), for Smithson 54 mins 20 Paul Knight (Cinderford & Gloucestershire), for Doherty 48 mins 21 Gavin Beasley (Tynedale & Northumberland), for Johnson 60 mins 22 Mark Billings (Southend & Essex) for Billig 50 mins
FRANCE FEDERALE: 15. G. Pszonak (Montluçon & Auvergne) 14. B. Artero (Carcassonne & Languedoc), 13. C. Laborde (Dijon & Bourgogne), 12. C. Rivier (Dijon & Bourgogne), 11. R. Delmas (Périgueux & Périgord Agenais), 10. J. Lesgourgues (Tyrosse & Cotes Basque Landes), 9. G. Dulay (Valence d'Agen & Périgord Agenais); 1. C. Marchand (Marmande-Casteljaloux & Périgord Agenais), 2. F. Da Ros (Graulhet & Midi Pyrénées)), 3. N. Mateos (Marmande-Casteljaloux & Périgord Agenais), 4. S. Pinet (Orléans & Centre), 5. M. Michel (Vannes & Bretagne), 6. S. Peguillan (Lavaur & Midi Pyrénées), 7. R. Del Fabbro (Dijon & Bourgogne), 8. B. Rolland (capt Argelès-sur-Mer & Roussillon) Replacements : 16. J-P. Jacouton (Chalon-sur-Saône & Bourgogne) for Marchand 56 min 17. O. Pujo (Lannemezan & Armagnac Bigorre), for Da Ros 62 min 18. Y. Ouadec (Orléans & Centre), for Michel 60 min 19. S. Durand (Aix-en-Provence & Provence), for Rolland 63 min 20. P. Dubert (Tyrosse & Cote Basque Landes), not used 21. B. Albert (Mazamet & Midi Pyrénées), for Rivier 42 min 22. J. Jeuvray (Dijon & Bourgogne) for Lesgourgues 58 min
This was a good all-round performance by the Cornish Pirates against a useful Italian Top 10 side who are still very much in their pre-season. The home side will be delighted with the six tries scored, a confidence boost prior to next Sunday's opening National League 1 encounter with the Newbury Blues. This Pirates' side has plenty of potential and a licence to thrill once they cut loose. The crowd of over 2,000 will be back for more of this entertainment.
Doug Snaft, making his debut at fly-half, opened the scoring with an early penalty goal for the Pirates, before their opening try arrived, scored by new No 8, Frenchman Bertrand Bedes, who finally powered over from a pickup at the third attempt. Strains of the Marseillaise rang out over the Camborne tannoy! Snaft's conversion saw the Pirates 10-0 to the good.
The Italian side soon cut the deficit with a well-struck penalty from their full-back Tim Manawatu on 23 minutes. The Pirates, for whom scrum-half Nick Griffiths shone throughout the first half, capitalised on a period of pressure down in the Park gate corner, with impressive flanker Chris Morgan scoring their second try. Snaft was unable to add the extras.
The Pirates' forwards and backs combined well as they time and again threatened the visitors. Only determined defence by the Italians stopped the home team adding to the score before half-time. Manawatu was only narrowly wide with a prodigious drop-goal attempt from 60 meters!
Both sides made a number of changes at half-time. It was no real surprise that Capitolina scored first through their skipper, prop-forward Fernando Guatieri, Manawatu adding the conversion to leave the Pirates 15-10 up. Almost from the re-start the Pirates hit back with a third try scored by Marika Vakacegu, one of the half-time replacements, with Ollie Thomas also on taking on the kicking duties missing the conversion.
A powerful attack towards the club house corner saw the ball moved inside with Heino Senekal brought down just short of the line, only for Addy Winnan to be on hand to finish off the move to cap a fine performance by the new skipper. Thomas was successful with the conversion, putting the Pirates 27-10 up.
With the game becoming more open, spaces appeared. Capitolina scored a second try through lock Gaston Llanos, Manawatu kicking the conversion to bring the Roman side to just a ten-point deficit. However, the Cornishmen were not to be pegged back as they pulled away on the scoreboard. Thomas kicked a penalty to put the Pirates 13 points up before a final burst saw two further tries scored by Steve Winn and Darren Dawiduik, both converted by Jimmy Moore to make it 44-17 at the final whistle.
Plenty of positives for the Cornish Pirates, with real optimism going into the first league clash next Sunday. The new players look to have settled in well and have quickly built up an understanding with last season's players. Sam Heard looks much fitter than he did for most of last season and looks to have regained the hunger of two seasons ago. It all augurs well. Winnan is relishing his new role as skipper; his performance at full-back was very commanding.
It was refreshing to see some European opposition for a change at the Rec, a taste of matches to come in the future one hopes!
Cornish Pirates: A. Winnan (capt), A. Havili (J. Moore 55), M. Ireland, T. Luke (S. Winn h/t), R. McAtee (M. Vakacegu h/t), D. Snaft (O. Thomas h/t), N. Griffiths (E. Fairhurst h/t); A. Paver (P. Cook 55), R. Elloway (D. Dawiduik 52), S. Heard (D. Seal h/t), H. Senekal, B. Gulliver (M. Burak h/t), B. Cumming (I. Motusaga h/t), C. Morgan (S. Betty 63), B. Bedes (M. Evans 46)
Pirates' scores: Tries (6): Bedes, Morgan, Winnan, Vakacegu, Winn, Dawiduik; Cons (4): Snaft, Thomas, Moore (2); Penalties (2): Snaft, Thomas
Cornwall coaching co-ordinator Dave 'Benji' Thomas admitted his side had been made to pay for their mistakes as they went down 25-11 to Northumberland in yesterday's County Shield final at Twickenham.
Cornwall conceded two tries in each half, but Thomas felt three of the scores were self-inflicted. Poor tackling and a woeful clearance kick provided Northumberland with their first two tries, while a crossfield kick caught Cornwall napping for the fourth and final touchdown, provided by winger Peter Cole.
"We gave away 17 points without any question at all," said Thomas, who suffered his third defeat in four Twickenham finals with Cornwall. "We were in it, except for those mistakes, but at the next level up, you can't afford to make mistakes like that. You've got to be absolutely watertight.
"We are disappointed for all the spectators who came to support us. What a turn-out of Cornish people it was, and they gave the team their complete backing, but we didn't play to our potential by any means."
Thomas was impressed with the way Northumberland played, but revealed he had been frustrated with some of the decisions made by ref Richard Phillips.
"Northumberland were a very well-organised side. They won the breakdowns and we lost a lot of ball in contact, and that was the deciding factor.
"We've been bossing the breakdowns in the other games we've played this season, but we didn't do that today. Perhaps I was not as happy as I might have been (with the refereeing of the breakdowns), and the decisions went against us, but you have got to play with what you get. We didn't have the ball to make the platform to get people moving."
Despite the disappointment, Cornwall can look back on a successful campaign, where they have won promotion back to the top flight, and their goal next season is to play in the main County Championship final, which enjoys a later kick-off than the 10am start they had to endure yesterday.
"At the end, the players said that they had given five weeks of their close season up to play for Cornwall, and they'd like to do it again, so I said 'okay, let's come back for a 12 o'clock kick-off next year'. That's the target," said Thomas.
London is calling for the first time in years for Cornish rugby, for the famous Black and Golds will be back at Twickenham after they booked their place in the final of this season's County Shield following a comfortable 43-0 success over Eastern Counties on Saturday.
Not since 2001 -- when they tackled Yorkshire in the Tetley Bitter Challenge -- have the Duchy graced the home of English rugby. That, as the title makes out, was merely a friendly encounter after the County Championship had been called off that season because of the foot and mouth crisis.
Since then, Cornwall have endured lean times within the county structure, including surrendering their spot within the main Championship group. Instead it has been near neighbours Devon who have emerged as the leading lights and Twickenham regulars.
It has certainly been a tough pill to swallow for many members of Trelawny's Army, but on Saturday their loyalty was rewarded when their heroes not only sealed their final date against Northumberland on June 1, but also their place back in the Bill Beaumont Cup.
For returning coach Dave 'Benji' Thomas -- the man who steered Cornwall to glory over Yorkshire at Twickenham in 1991 -- Saturday's success was just the first part of what he hopes will be a memorable second spell in charge.
Knowing nothing less than victory would be good enough following their defeat at Hertfordshire the week previous, Cornwall wasted little time in getting stuck into their Eastern counterparts, who had arrived in the Far West with an unblemished record.
Indeed, it took just three minutes for the home side to bag the first of their six tries. With Richard Carroll brought into the fray for the first time in the campaign, the experienced Mounts Bay lock quickly set the tone for the day's proceedings.
He -- along with his fellow forwards -- tore into the visitors in a lively opening blast, one which created the opening for the home back line (made up predominantly from the Cornish All Blacks) to deliver their first score.
Quick ball from Mark Richards at the base of a ruck saw it shipped along the line through Messrs Scrivener, Perry and Westren to the onrushing Matt Jess, who needed no reminding on how to cross the whitewash.
Fly-half Mark Scrivener bagged the conversion, before adding the extras to a try from No.8 Sam Hocking on nine minutes, then a penalty midway through the half after full-back Paul Thirlby had been upended by a high tackle.
It was certainly a dream start for Cornwall, who continued to boss all facets of the game, particularly the breakdown. It was therefore no surprise when they extended their advantage to 24-0 when more good donkey work from the home pack enabled Richards to feed Steve Perry, whose looping pass in midfield found the onrushing Jess, who in turn offloaded to Thirlby just yards from the line.
Three minutes later and the Redruth full-back was claiming his second of the game, this time finishing off more good approach work involving Westren and Scrivener, the latter of whom converted once more to make it 31-0.
It was one-way traffic and -- with half time fast approaching -- Cornwall claimed their fifth try of the game. Having won a penalty, Scrivener kicked for the corner. The resulting line-out was taken by Carroll and, when the shove was applied, it was lock Ben Hilton who emerged from the bottom of the pile clutching the ball.
At 36-0 down, the stunned Eastern Counties side could well have packed up there and then. Indeed, things got even worse when they fell further behind just five minutes into the second half.
A loose kick out of defence had Cornwall's Lewis Vinnicombe tracking back deep inside his own half, but when the Redruth speedster turned on the after burners, no one could stop him as he scorched his way to the line. Scrivener landed the conversion with his last telling action of the day.
With the game effectively done and dusted at that point, the second half somewhat deteriorated as a spectacle. Replacements aplenty littered proceedings, while some resolute home defence ensured the visitors were to return home empty handed.
Not that Thomas was complaining too much at the final whistle. "I'm delighted," he said. "The boys played fantastically well, especially in the first half. It was textbook stuff and you couldn't have asked for any more.
"They were really fired up for it. They were disappointed after last week and disappointed for all the supporters who went up to Hertfordshire to support them. They were determined to put things right."
Cornwall certainly did that with some style, but Thomas knows there is still much work to be done in the coming days.
"I am very lucky to have been to Twickenham three times, unfortunately losing twice and winning once," added Thomas. "But we are in a professional era and I have had to re-learn coming back in to try and set things up in Cornwall.
"What is better than getting back into Division One of county rugby, where we rightfully belong? I bet there are people up at Twickenham tonight rubbing their hands thinking 'Cornwall are back'."
Cornwall: 15. Paul Thirlby (Redruth), 14. Matt Jess (Cornish All
Blacks), 13. Ryan Westren (Cornish All Blacks), 12. Steve Perry (Cornish All
Blacks), 11. Lewis Vinnicombe (Redruth), 10. Mark Scrivenor (Cornish All
Blacks), 9. Mark Richards (Redruth), 1. Darren Jacques (Redruth), 2. James
Salter (Mounts Bay), 3. Danny Clackworthy (Mounts Bay), 4. Ben Hilton (Mounts
Bay), 5. Richard Carroll (Mounts Bay), 6. Josh Lord (Captain, Cornish All
Blacks), 7. Adam Nicholls (Mounts Bay), 8. Sam Hocking (Cornish All Blacks)
Replacements: 16. Ricky Pellow (Mounts Bay), 17. Jamie Semmens (Mounts Bay), 18. Darren Semmens (Mounts Bay), 19.Paul Andrew (Mounts Bay), 20. John Griffiths (Mounts Bay), 21. Chris Fuca (Redruth)
Cornwall have taken their passionate and loyal fans on a real rollercoaster ride in recent seasons, delighting and frustrating them in almost equal measure.
Performances like the one against Devon two seasons ago, last year against Surrey, and nine days ago when thrashing Oxfordshire have put smiles on the faces of Trelawny's Army.
However, the 2006 display against Hertfordshire, the humiliating defeat at Somerset last year, and now this latest shocker, again to Hertfordshire, have left them pulling their hair out in despair.
When a whole squad of National League players lines up against one containing only four plying their trade at that level, the result should be a foregone conclusion. Yet, once again, as they did at Highfields two seasons ago, Cornwall showed a baffling propensity to press the self-destruct button.
Some of the rugby they produced on Saturday was sublime: Mark Richards' beautiful reverse pass to send Mark Scrivener in for the first try after only 95 seconds; a dazzling second try for winger Matt Jess as he jinked and weaved his way past a whole host of defenders to reach the line; and Ryan Westren's stand-out performance in the centre were just some of the moments to relish.
However, some of their rugby beggared belief. Overthrown line-outs five metres from their own line; setting off on suicidal runs from deep inside their own 22 when a simple clearance kick to touch would have sufficed. At times, it was brainless.
Hertfordshire deserve plenty of praise for once again raising their game and capitalising on Cornwall's blunders to secure a victory by an almost identical score to two years ago, when it finished 31-27, but for Dave "Benji" Thomas, who guided the Duchy to County Championship glory in 1991, it was a reality check after the previous weekend's dream start.
"We made three very, very silly mistakes during the first half near our own line and they scored three tries, and you cannot afford to give those points away at this level, and we need to look at tightening up in those areas," he said.
"We knew it wouldn't be a stroll in the park, after what happened to Cornwall here two years ago, and we were determined to play an all-out attacking game like last week, but give Hertfordshire full credit. They did their homework on us and stopped us early on and kept us playing in areas we didn't want to play in, and we didn't get as much ball as last week."
Despite the defeat, Cornwall's hopes of finishing top of the group, winning promotion and going to Twickenham are still, pretty much, in their own hands.
Victory over an unbeaten Eastern Counties at Camborne on Saturday should see them achieve their goal, by virtue of a far superior points difference, provided that Hertfordshire do not run up a cricket score at home to Oxfordshire.
Cornwall could not have got off to a better start on a very hot and humid day in Hertford, with Scrivener converting his second-minute try for a 7-0 lead, but then matters started to become a struggle as the hosts caused problems in the scrums and line-outs.
Hertfordshire responded in the 12th minute when flanker Ian Hardcastle broke off the back of a 25-metre line-out, bursting through a couple of tackles before sending scrum-half Ryan De La Harpe over for a try. Fly-half Richard Gregg squandered the conversion, but that proved to be his only miss of the afternoon.
Cornwall moved 12-7 ahead when a clever miss-pass by Westren sent All Blacks flyer Jess tearing around the last defender to touch down in the corner, but they were then hit by a two-try blast from home skipper and Henley Hawks No.8 Dave Archer.
He firstly capitalised on an overthrow at a close-range line-out to dive over, and then dotted down off the back of a five-metre scrum.
Gregg converted both to make it 19-12 at the interval, and then added a 40-metre penalty soon after the break as Cornwall failed to capitalise on their extra man after De La Harpe had been sin-binned in first-half injury time for throwing a punch.
The All Blacks' monopoly on Cornwall's points-scoring continued in the 51st minute when Richards spotted Westren's beautifully-timed run, and he fed his Polson team-mate Jess for his brilliant solo effort, with Scrivener adding a fine conversion.
Gregg gave Hertfordshire some breathing space with two more penalties to make it 28-19, but when Westren went over under the posts after a neat pass by replacement fly-half Marek Churcher in the 76th minute, and full-back Paul Thirlby converted to make it 28-26, Cornwall's hopes were rekindled.
Gregg, though, slotted another penalty, and his side then produced some desperate defence during eight long minutes of injury time to hang on for another amazing victory over far more illustrious opponents.
Trelawny's Army ran a coach to the match. Here are some pictures taken, on the coach and at the match, by Phil Trevarton.
He was the man who famously guided Cornwall to County Championship glory at Twickenham in 1991. Now, some 17 years later, Dave 'Benji' Thomas has taken on a new assignment with the Black & Golds, one he hopes will bring similar reward.
Having been coaxed back into the coaching frame earlier this year, Thomas' latest brief is similar to that of days gone by, namely to get the Cornish rugby folk heading back to the nation's capital later this month.
Unlike last time, however, the experienced coach has also been entrusted with trying to lead Cornwall back to the top table of county rugby following a couple of seasons languishing in the duldrums.
On Saturday, the new era began in fine style as Cornwall ran riot in their opening County Shield fixture of the season, dispatching visiting Oxfordshire 66-8 at Redruth's Recreation Ground.
As Thomas remarked afterwards "it was the dream start" and he was not wrong. Unlike recent campaigns, Cornwall were back firing on all cylinders with a performance which was packed full of pride and passion.
In the end the Cornishmen -- made up solely of representatives from Mounts Bay, Redruth and the Cornish All Blacks -- ran in 11 tries. It could, however, have easily been more, such was the dominance they held throughout the whole game.
The first of those scores came after just three minutes, Redruth centre Simon Peters intercepting a pass deep inside his own half before racing to the line for Mark Scrivener to add the necessary extras.
The visitors briefly countered with a penalty from fly-half James Cathcart, but that was just one of two scoring openings they would get all afternoon as Cornwall wasted little time in re-establishing their grip on proceedings.
With the home pack -- led superbly by skipper Josh Lord -- ruling the roost, Cornwall were given the perfect platform from which to launch numerous attacking options. Indeed, with ten minutes on the clock, Ben Hilton's line-out take on the left helped to set up a series of drives involving Darren Jacques amd John Griffiths, before the ball was fed out to the back division where winger Lewis Vinnicombe -- darting in off the right flank -- cut a lovely line to slice open up the Oxfordshire rearguard for a second time.
Scrivener extended Cornwall's lead to 15-3 moments later with a penalty, before Redruth pair Mark Richards and Vinnicombe scored two tries in four minutes, the latter converted by Scrivener, to leave Oxfordshire with a mountain to climb.
To their credit, the visitors dug deep for a period and, just before the break, their efforts were rewarded when they caught the home side napping in defence. Winger Nick Sevier crossing for what was to prove their only remaining points of the game.
However, there was still time for Cornwall to add a fifth try in first-half injury time when Lord and Scrivener combined to good effect to create the opening for Redruth flanker Chris Fuca to ghost in under the posts. Scrivener's successful conversion brought proceedings to a close with the home side firmly in control at 34-8.
Any thoughts that Cornwall would be happy to shut up shop for the second period were extinguished within six minutes of the restart when Vinnicombe picked up a lovely line once again to race over for his hat-trick score.
Mounts Bay winger Jamie Semmens could have heaped further misery on the visitors shortly after, but the full-back was unable to hold on to Ryan Westren's inviting pass just metres from the line.
In the grand scheme of things, it did not really matter. However, Cornwall were far from finished and when their pack proved too hot to handle just past the hour mark, referee Nigel Higginson finally lost patience with Oxfordshire's numerous attempts to kill a driving maul and awarded the home side a penalty try which, somehow, Semmens was unable to convert.
With the game safely in the bag, Cornwall used the final quarter of the game to showcase their skills. Lord -- who together with Cornish All Blacks club-mate Sam Hocking were the stand-out performers for the Duchy -- weaved his way over for try number eight, quickly followed by Semmens, who applied the finish to a slick handling move which had been worked from one side of the field to the other.
Both scores went unconverted, as did Marek Churcher's touchdown four minutes from time. On this occasion, the lack of a recognised goalkicker, following the replacement of Scrivener due to cramp, was not too much of a concern. It will, however, need to be addressed for later in the competition.
Semmens did finally get one between the sticks when he converted Jason Bolt's injury-time score. Started by a great turnover by Adam Nicholls just inside his own 22, Cornwall worked the ball down field through at least eight different pairs of hands to Bolt who, in an unaccustomed role of left winger, made the most of the space out wide to charge over.
For Thomas, it was the ideal outcome on his return to the county scene. "Who would have believed it would have been 60-odd points?" he remarked at the final whistle.
"It was a dream start and one that we aimed for. It was one that the players aspired to. They have worked really hard this week in training and in their organisation.
"I impressed on them this week all about the pride and passion in playing for Cornwall and that showed out on the field as all 22 of them gave 110 per cent and I thought our performance at times was out of the top drawer."
With Hertfordshire next up at Hertford this Saturday, Thomas knows tougher tests lie in store for his young side. However, this opening-day victory -- he believes -- has set the tone nicely for a successful push for Twickenham. "This is the first block of stone if you like," he added. "We have two more games and next week we know will be much harder. We will, though, go away with a bit of a spring in our step and know we can build off this.
"It was a solid foundation for us and, one of the pleasing things for me was, the backs and forwards integrated very well. We saw some lovely tries by the backs, then we saw Jason Bolt -- the replacement loosehead -- running 30, 40 yards down the left touchline to score a try, so I think that really epitomised the way we tried to play today."
Another year and it's yet another promotion for unstoppable Mounts Bay.
The Cornishmen celebrated their seventh rise in eight seasons this weekend after a 28-16 victory over second-placed Cinderford at the Mennaye Field, and will now begin planning for a new season in National Division Two.
As the players celebrated afterwards with champagne on the pitch, delighted forwards coach Adrian Bick admitted the magnitude of his side's achievement had yet to truly hit home. But he looked forward to more exciting new challenges during the 2008-09 season.
He said: "This is what it's all about, isn't it -- penultimate game of the season against the runners-up going for promotion -- this is what you train for all those long, hard nights. You can just see it on the guys' faces out there, they are blown away by it.
"I think the step up to Division Two is an even bigger one than from South West One to Division Three, but the guys on the field have done it, and they've put everything in place with the win today.
"But we can't take anything away from Cinderford, who are a great team, and I can see them going up as well from the play-offs."
Indeed, the champions were made to work harder for their crown than the final score suggests.
Cinderford put Bay under immense pressure in the opening minutes, a situation which was compounded by the home side's malfunctioning line-out gifting the visitors possession and the initiative deep in Bay territory.
Although they stood firm, it took Mounts Bay a full ten minutes to break into the opposition half, but when they did they forced a penalty for offside 27 metres from goal. However, Lee Jarvis's kick drifted wide to the right.
Both sides traded blows for another ten minutes before Bay's line-out woes finally cost them. Second-rower Ben Hilton stretched to reach Jamie Salter's throw-in but could only help the ball into Cinderford hands, allowing scrum-half Tom Dickens the chance to run over the line on the left.
Although winger Danny Trigg missed the conversion attempt, he added a penalty from just inside the Bay half in the 26th minute to extend his side's lead. Jarvis, however, responded with an identical kick in the opposite direction five minutes later after a Bay penalty was moved ten metres forward inside the Cinderford half for dissent.
Bay seized momentum, and in the 34th minute scrum-half Ricky Pellow chased his own grubber kick down the right and put the receiver into touch to set up a catch-and-drive chance, but the throw-in failed to meet its target and Cinderford cleared the danger.
They didn't kick it far enough, however, as Bay came surging back, and after receiving the ball in space on the left, Jon Marlin burst down the touchline to squeeze over the line by the flag to level the scores -- Jarvis' conversion kick narrowly going wide.
However, the former Welsh international showed the class and the poise that Bay will surely miss next season after he departs for Cardiff when he put his side into the lead right on the half-time whistle with a sensational 35-yard drop goal from left flank after six minutes of injury time.
It was a canny move by the experienced fly-half which turned the mood firmly in his side's favour. Jarvis explained: "It was eight all and we were putting on a lot of pressure and not getting anything from it. I knew it was the last play of the game, and if we'd moved it we might have got turned over, so I decided to have a go and luckily it came off."
However, within three minutes of the restart, Trigg brought Cinderford level with a penalty on the Bay 22, awarded for failing to roll away. But Bay came straight back down the left with full-back Tim Mosey feeding Marlin by the touchline before the winger unselfishly offloaded to Adam Nicholls, who crashed over for the try. Jarvis then scored the tricky conversion to give Bay a seven-point lead.
And when Nicholls smashed through the Cinderford line again eight minutes later -- with Jarvis converting -- the home side felt some comfort.
This feeling increased when Jarvis punished the visitors with another measured penalty kick just after the hour mark.
Replacement Mike Wallis pulled back an unconverted try for Cinderford, but with just a minute of normal time remaining, it was only a consolation. Another Jarvis drop goal attempt, this time from well inside his own half, just fell short in the fifth minute of injury time in what would have been a memorable farewell to the Mennaye Field for the talismanic fly-half in his final home game for the club.
New Cornwall coaching co-ordinator Dave "Benji" Thomas was full of praise for his young side as they regained the Tamar Cup from Devon with a 10-7 success at Polson Bridge yesterday.
Thomas, who famously led the Black & Golds to County Championship glory in 1991, has returned to the county set-up to help spearhead the Duchy's bid to get back into the Championship proper.
Assuming control once more, Thomas watched on as Cornwall battled back from 7-0 to claim their slender victory over the Green & Whites, who themselves are the reigning County Kings.
With youth very much to the fore in both line-ups, it was Devon who started the match the brighter. Led by Plymouth Albion No.8 Chris Lowrie, they had the first opportunity of the game when a series of rucks just inside the Cornwall half brought about a penalty.
Sadly fly-half Dan Hawkes was unable to punish Cornwall's early indiscretion as his fifth-minute penalty floated wide of the uprights.
Devon, however, did not have to wait long to register their first points. Flanker Brett Luxton punched his way into the heart of the Cornwall defence and when the ball was recycled wide to the left, Sidmouth centre Harry Chesterton superbly offloaded the ball to Newton Abbot winger Nick Holt to cross in the left corner.
This time Hawkes had no trouble finding his range, plundering a superb touchline conversion between the sticks to make it 7-0.
Although both sides showed plenty of endeavour for much of the first period, a combination of sloppy handling and some over fussy officiating, meant the game never really took off.
Cornwall, though, were slowly finding their feet and with their pack dominating in the set-piece, particularly the scrums, they hauled themselves back into contention right on the stroke of half-time.
A spell of sustained pressure saw the home side camped deep inside the Devon 22 and from a well-worked maul, Launceston No.8 Sam Hocking somehow burrowed his way through the mass of bodies to score a try, which was converted by Camborne full-back David Mankee.
Replacements aplenty littered the early part of the second half and although Mankee saw a 57th-minute penalty not find its target, he made no mistake six minutes later when Devon were penalised for straying offside in front of their own posts.
With Cornwall holding the narrow lead, Devon looked for an immediate response. And, they almost got it when Launceston centre Jake Murphy saw his intended clearance charged down by Plymouth Albion's Steve Johns.
The latter latched onto the loose ball and was seemingly heading for the line until a last-gasp tackle from Wadebridge Camels scrum-half Shaun Hawkey somehow held him up on the line. Devon officials and Johns himself later felt he had touched the ball down before the intervention of Hawkey.
Whatever Devon may have felt then, or after the match, it did not matter as it was Cornwall who finished the match the stronger. Twice in the closing minutes the hosts went close to extending their lead, but they were thwarted by some dogged defence from Devon.
"It was a very pleasing start," said a delighted Thomas at the final whistle. "Coming in today, I think the biggest thing from me was the passion showed by the boys today. They played with a lot of heart, a lot of passion and a lot of commitment. It was apparent from the kick-off until the final whistle. You cannot coach that, but you can ask for that from players and that's what they did.
"Also I felt our defence for a side who only met up earlier in the week was awesome. It was very strong, especially around the fringes, and that is a real solid base for us to work from."
Now Thomas will switch his attentions to the County Shield programme which starts in earnest on May 3 at home to Oxfordshire.
He added: "I said to the players on Wednesday that I had a blank sheet of paper and that it was up to them to write their names on the paper for the first game. Certainly some of them have done that in my eyes.
"Obviously we'll look to see what other players will be available later in the season and then we'll look to gel those in with the players on show today. Hopefully then we will have a successful season."
Meanwhile, Devon team manager Roy Henderson had few complaints about the final outcome and bemoaned a "disappointing" display from his side.
"There were one or two pleasing aspects to the game," he said. "I thought Harry Chesterton did well in the centre. He set up the first try and made a few good hits, but overall we're a little disappointed in our all-round display.
"I know we could perhaps claim a disputed try in the second half, but overall I though Cornwall deserved it on the day."
Cornwall: D. Mankee (L. Webb 75), J. Parma (E. Carne 75), J. Murphy, J. Semmens, O. Faulkner, M. Churcher (capt), S. Hawkey; C. Hale (N. Endean 80), T. Hurdwell (M. Ballard 75), R. Tresidder, T. Parker, R. Humphries, C. Fuca (S. Wood h/t, J. Hoskings 55), T. Rawlings (S. Wood 64), S. Hocking (M. Rawlings 53)
Heavy rain overnight, throughout the morning and during the match turned this EDF Energy National Trophy 4th round tie into a veritable mud-bath at Redruth on Sunday afternoon, with credit to the ground staff for getting the game on as the pitch lasted well for the 80 minutes.
In these conditions it was impossible to play any constructive rugby. In the end it was the weight and power of the Welsh pack which proved decisive during the second half, as the exiles played down the slope into Hell Fire corner.
Playing up the slope with the wind at their backs the Welsh established territorial advantage in the Reds' half, yet it was the home side who had the first serious attack when winger Tim McBride hacked the ball downfield, threatening the line, only for the cover to get back before referee Mr Spreadbury gave a knock-on. Soon after Gareth Griffiths launched a cross-kick which only just eluded winger Sam Parsons up in the Piggy Lane corner.
Welsh fly-half Matthew Jones used the wind to good effect, launching prodigious kicks into the Redruth 22. Eventually the visitors obtained a first penalty attempt, which Jones missed on 9 minutes.
Redruth had their fair share of possession, though all too often there was an infringement to halt their progress. A big forward drive near the exiles posts on 28 minutes saw the Reds earn a penalty, which Griffiths kicked to open the score. Jones kicked the first of his penalties a few minutes later to tie the scores.
The Reds were soon back down in the Welsh half. There was a massive punch up between the sides down near the grandstand near the Welsh 22 which lasted for a few minutes and which saw PJ Gidlow for the Reds and prop Kristan Gay for the Welsh sent to the bin. The upshot was a penalty to the Reds, which Griffiths kicked for a 6-3 lead. Once again the lead proved to be short lived as the Reds were guilty of coming in at the side, allowing Jones to tie the scores just before half-time.
The consensus at half-time was that Redruth needed an early score to have a chance. As the half commenced it was clear that the Welsh had upped the pace and they were soon boring down on the Redruth line. A try looked certain until Reds' skipper Craig Bonds intercepted a pass in his 22. He ran out of defence, kicking ahead. It appeared to all in the grandstand that the Welsh player held on to the ball on the ground. "Not so," said Mr Spreadbury, indicating play on with a broad grin on his face as the crowd let him know otherwise. Meantime, and of great concern, Reds' fly-half Gareth Griffiths had to be helped from the field to be replaced by Grant Thirlby.
Redruth had a good period of pressure near the Welsh line. However, they gave away a penalty and the chance was gone.
The heavens opened with a monsoon falling on the Rec. Slowly the heavier Welsh pack began to exert pressure up front and it was no surprise when loose-head prop Charlie Beech crashed over near the posts on 60 minutes to give the National League 1 side the lead. The treacherous conditions saw Jones slip on his backside during his conversion attempt from the 22, the ball hardly rising from the ground.
Redruth were guilty of some indifferent kicking, allowing the Welsh to run back at them with purpose. As the visitors pressed once more in the Piggy Lane corner they earned a penalty, which Jones kicked after 70 minutes to extend their lead. Redruth sensed that the tie was slipping away, and this was confirmed as full back Paul Sampson scored the Welsh second try following a speculative hack downfield into the Piggy Lane corner.
Beaten but certainly not downbeat, Reds' head coach Nigel Hambly, although disappointed at losing, was immensely proud of his players' performance on the day. They fronted up and gave 100% effort, which was all he could ask for. The whole squad had been outstanding, showing great spirit, which he hoped they would carry forward into next Saturday's important league match at home to Cambridge.
Redruth 6 pts: Penalties Griffiths (2)
Yellow Card PJ Gidlow
London Welsh 19 pts: Tries Beech, Sampson; Penalties Jones (3)
Yellow Card Gay
Redruth: C. Bonds (capt), T. McBride (N. Simmons 72), R. Meredith (S. Peters 53), PJ Gidlow, S. Parsons, G. Griffiths (G. Thirlby 43), M. Richards; D. Jacques (N. Douch 70), G. Cooper, P. Joyce (C. Williams 70), D. Cook (N. Corin 70), L. Collins. N. Pascoe, C. Fuca (S. Wood 53), M. Bright.
London Welsh: P. Sampson, G. Evans, J. Storey (T. Marks 42), R.
Jewell, P. Mackay, M. Jones, R. Evans (A. Chiltern 40); C. Beech, A. Kwasnicki
(S. Vuli 49), K. Gay, K. Burke, H. Quigley (M. Corker 76), P. Cox, S. Etheredge
(P. Jones 36), J. Mills (capt, B. Thomas 76)
Replacement not used G. Nicholls
Referee Mr. A. J. Spreadbury (RFU)
Northampton Saints deservedly took the spoils at Camborne this afternoon, knocking out the EDF Energy National Trophy holders 15-3 in the driving Cornish rain and Camborne mud. Despite the appalling weather a fine crowd of over 4,500 turned up to cheer their favourites on. Although disappointed with the final result they will be full of praise for the effort and commitment of the Pirates' players.
All the scoring came during the first half when the Saints played with the elements at their backs. From the kick-off Northampton, playing towards the scoreboard end, gained territorial advantage in the Pirates' half. The Pirates were forced to spend long periods defending during the opening quarter as the Saints looked to take advantage of the elements. Play was often scrappy with both sides making errors due to the slippery conditions. Saints had an early opportunity with a penalty kicked by former All Black Carlos Spencer into the clubhouse corner, though they lost the lineout.
The pressure eventually told when the Saints earned a penalty on 7 minutes, which was kicked from 40 meters by full back Stephen Myler.
From the re-start the Pirates gained territory to launch an attack on the blindside. Winger Rhodri McAtee was stopped dead in his tracks by his opposite number Chris Ashton, the ball was cleared downfield, enabling the Saints to setup a powerful maul from a Pirates' lineout, which drove the Pirates back a good 10-15 meters before Saints No 8 Mark Hopley broke strongly to charge towards the line. Diving early, he was able to slide over the line for his side's opening try on 14 minutes. Myler was unable to add the extras.
The Saints continued to dictate matters with Spencer kicking his forwards into position.
The Pirates continued to live on scraps of possession. On 21 minutes the Pirates kicked a penalty to the Park gate corner through Steenson. Heino Senekal won the lineout to set up the driving maul, taking the Pirates into the Saints' 22. Unfortunately, the ball was knocked on and the opportunity lost.
The ball was soon back downfield with the Saints attacking. Another storming drive by the Saints' pack saw the ball moved out to inside centre James Downey, via Ashton's superb ball handling, who scored under the posts, allowing Myler a simple conversion for a 15-0 lead after 26 minutes.
Chances for the home side continued to be few and far between, so it was no surprise that Steenson opted for a kick at goal after 31 minutes as the Saints were penalised for playing the man off the ball. The successful penalty cut the deficit and raised the spirits of both the crowd and the Pirates' players. Leading up to half-time the Pirates took the game to Northampton.
The home side were unfortunate to lose skipper Tim Cowley just before half-time.
Trailing 3-15 at the break and with the elements behind them during the second half the crowd felt that the Pirates were still in with a chance.
Both sides changed their strip during the break, with the Pirates playing in their third choice hooped shirts for the second half. The Pirates needed an early score in the second half. It almost came through McAtee as he looked to be waltzing his way through towards the clubhouse corner until he was caught by the Saints' cover.
Steenson had a long-range penalty attempt on 50 minutes from inside his own half but his attempt was wide and short.
The rain increased and the pitch cut up even more, making any constructive rugby almost impossible. Both sides got bogged down into a forward slog, which suited the Saints as it ran the clock down. The Pirates found that their kicks into the Northampton 22 were often carried dead by the wind, forcing them back.
Myler had a penalty attempt from the Pirates 22 blown back by the strong wind.
Steenson used the garryowen to try to create an opportunity for his side in the Saints' 22, Ashton spilling one to give the Pirates an opportunity. Despite exerting more pressure, the Pirates turned the ball over, allowing Saints' skipper Bruce Reihana to power up to the 22 to relieve the pressure.
The Pirates had a series of penalties down in the clubhouse corner. They pressed and pressed and, despite repeated infringements by the Saints, referee Mr. Doyle kept his cards in his pocket until far too late. The Pirates eventually drove over the line but Mr. Doyle couldn't see if the ball had been grounded. With it the Pirates' chance was gone and with it their hold on the National Trophy for this season.
Young lock Scott Hobson earned the Pirates' man-of-the-match award to cap a fine week for him personally, having been called up to the England Under 20s squad for this season's 6 Nations and the forthcoming U.20s World Cup.
Cornish Pirates 3 pts: Penalty Steenson
Northampton Saints 15 pts: Tries Hopley, Downey; penalty,
Yellow Card Stewart
Cornish Pirates: Winnan, McAtee, Lilo, Winn, Tuhoy, Steenson, Fairhurst; Cook, Elloway (Dawiduik 65), Seal, Senekal, Hobson, Cracknell (Betty 63-76), Motusaga, Cowley (capt, Evans 38)
Northampton Saints: Myler, Ashton (Diggin 79), Clarke, Downey, Reihana (capt), Spencer, Howard (Robinson 67); Smith (Tonga'uiha 59), Hartley (Gray 79), Murray (Stewart 31), Rae (Hoy 79), Lord, Tupai, Lewitt, Hopley (Easter 67)
Referee: Mr. J.P. Doyle (RFU)
Ironic or not, Camborne Youth Band clearly knew what was on the agenda as they blasted out the theme from Rocky ahead of yesterday's latest bout between the Cornish Pirates and Exeter Chiefs.
Just like the Hollywood classic, the head-to-head between two of Westcountry rugby's leading contenders once again lived up to all the pre-match hype.
In a ferocious encounter at the Recreation Ground, neither side were willing to give an inch in their quest for a crucial points victory. In the end, however, it was the visiting Chiefs who were delivered a knockout slap in the face by one of their main rivals, the Pirates emerging victorious 30-23.
Having already come unstuck by one of the division's other prize fighters, Northampton Saints, the Pirates knew they can ill afford a second decking so early in the season.
Not surprisingly, Jim McKay's side - which showed three changes from that which won at Newbury the previous week - came out like a 'Raging Bull'. Just 35 seconds had been played when a crucial turnover on former Pirate Dan Parkes resulted in the game's opening score.
A bruising hit on Parkes saw debutant Ed Fairhurst skilfully slip the loose ball between his legs to home winger Ali Koko, who in turn thrust for the line. Although the Samoan powerhouse was felled just short of the whitewash, compatriot Iva Motusaga was hot on his heels and he gratefully accepted the pass to dive over, fly-half Gareth Steenson obliging with the resultant conversion.
If that opening hit on Parkes set the tone for the match, then Pirates' skipper Tim Cowley upped the ante just moments later with a thunderous sacking of Exeter centre Junior Fatialofa in midfield.
The collision was immense and was the first of several brutal and hard-hitting exchanges between the opposing camps. Even this morning, some observers could well be reviewing the shuddering flashbacks.
The action continued apace and Exeter were able to reduce the arrears on eight minutes through fly-half Danny Gray when home prop Alan Paver was penalised for handling on the floor.
However, no sooner had the Chiefs brought themselves back within range, they shot themselves in the foot with a string of unnecessary errors.
First, sloppy play from the pack gifted Steenson a 12th-minute penalty, before Junior Fatialofa then decided to seek his own spot of retribution on Cowley. Sadly for the Chief, his ugly 'clothes-line' on the home captain not only enabled Steenson to add a second kick, but also earnt him a ten-minute spell in the cooler from referee Mark Wilson.
With the man advantage, the Pirates looked to press on and they stretched their buffer to 13 points when the trusty right boot of Steenson once more administered another telling blow on 23 minutes.
The battle up front, however, remained red-hot and when Pirates' lock Bruce Cumming was later than a Camborne train that don't stop on a Wednesday, he too was dispatched to the sidelines for ten minutes following his high tackle on Chad Slade.
Like the Pirates, the Chiefs made the most of the yellow card as they worked a clever move up the blind-side and winger Josh Drauniniu did the rest as he brushed aside the attentions of both Brian Tuohy and Paul Devlin to cross in the left-hand corner.
Gray fired over the difficult touchline conversion to make it 16-10 and once more it was game on between the neighbouring rivals.
With the play not only pulsating, but end-to-end, the Pirates blew a golden opportunity of a second try just before the interval when a series of drives created the space for Steenson to drive for the line. Unfortunately, the former Rotherham back was tagged just short and his subsequent knock-on briefly relieved the pressure on the Chiefs, who were lucky Junior Fatialofa did not see yellow for a second time following a crude late hit on Chris Cracknell.
Although Fatialofa's indiscretion went unpunished, the Pirates were able to add a fourth Steenson penalty in first half stoppage time, referee Wilson stinging the visitors for handling on the floor once more.
The kicking duel continued after the break as Gray landed a superb 45-metre effort on 48 minutes to make it 19-13. But once more the indiscipline of a Fatialofa, this time older brother Mark, resulted in him being sin-binned for an off-the-ball incident on Cowley. As before, Steenson again plundered the resultant penalty to stretch the home side's lead to nine points.
Again, though, another moment of madness, this time from Motusaga, saw him carded for coming in from the side. Unlike the Pirates, the visitors instead opted for the corner with their penalty - and it was a decision which was to bring rich rewards.
A well-worked line-out to the back found No.8 Richard Baxter, who created the platform from which the Exeter eight grouped together to send Slade over for their second try of the afternoon.
Whereas Gray could not convert, Steenson - on the other hand - was in sublime form as he landed his sixth penalty, via the upright, just past the hour mark after replacement prop John Andress had been penalised at a scrum.
Suddenly the Chiefs needed a way back into the game. It duly arrived in the shape of Fijian flyer Drauniniu. A loose kick from Pirate Ollie Thomas was gathered by Jason Luff, who combined with Junior Fatialofa to release the Exeter speedster. Even then, Draunininu had plenty to do against the covering defence of the Pirates.
However, having slid past the flaying arms of Joe Beardshaw, Draunininu was temporarily felled by an excellent tap-tackle from Dan Seal, before rising to his feet and sliding over the line for a try, which Gray was again unable to convert.
Up by two, the Pirates knew they needed to play territory and keep their counterparts on the back foot. With Steenson and Thomas delivering a series of long-range punts into the enemy zone, the Chiefs were unable to clear their lines sufficiently.
Sensing the opportunity, the Pirates crucially turned over an Exeter scrum, the ball squirted out to James Moore who, having given Clive Stuart-Smith a head start, chipped over the top before winning the race to the line. Steenson failed with the touchline kick, but for the Cornishmen it didn't matter.
"Today was very important for us," said Pirates' coach McKay at the final whistle. "I have said it for five weeks and I'm not going to change my tune, we needed a performance and we needed a breakthrough and we got that today.
"We showed that we can raise the bar and step things up. It was a high intensity game and full credit to Exeter for the part they played. They pushed us all the way, as we knew they would, but our guys dug deep and they managed to do enough in the end."
As Harlequins and Leeds Tykes have shown in recent years, it's not just home comforts which guarantee you a swift return to the Guinness Premiership, it's on the road where the hard work is really done.
Having started with a regulation opening day win over visiting London Welsh, Northampton did not have to wait long for their first acid test of life on the road in the ever-improving world of National League One.
Not only did the fixture compilers ensure the star-studded Saints had to face their longest trek of the season in their first away-day adventure, but it would be against a Cornish Pirates side who have lost just once in the league at their Camborne base.
Waiting for them in the rugby-loving Duchy yesterday were not only a pumped up Pirates outfit, but also a vociferous home faithful who dared to dream that their heroes could inflict an early season blow on the former top-flight club.
For an hour that dream was almost reality as the Cornishmen produced a display of true grit and determination - and one which will have made the hearty band of visiting Saints supporters sit up and take note.
In the end, however, elementary errors from the Pirates at crucial times, coupled with some exquisite moments of class from the visitors, ensured it was the Saints who headed back up the A30 with a vital 35-26 win under their belts.
It was certainly tough on Jim McKay's Pirates, who were denied a bonus point of their own when visiting fly-half Barry Everitt struck a decisive injury time penalty to rub salt into the already exposed home wounds.
The sense of disappointment within the home camp at the final whistle was clear to see, particularly as the Pirates had given so much in a pulsating encounter.
Skipper Tim Cowley summed up his side's frustration at the final whistle. He said: "It was pretty much there for us today and we're very disappointed not to have got anything from the game. They are a top team, but we really pushed them hard today and that's the most frustrating thing. I don't think they really won it, we lost it."
With the Pirates having established a superb 19-10 lead at the interval, Northampton upped the ante after the break and stung their hosts with a powerful second half display.
"At half-time we specifically talked about not letting them in early, but that's exactly what we did," added Cowley. "We got excited, it seems, they broke our line and after that we were playing catch-up."
In a rousing first half display, the Pirates took just five minutes to make their mark when fly-half Gareth Steenson netted the first of his 16-point haul.
The Saints - who included former All Blacks Bruce Reihana and Carlos Spencer in their line-up - responded immediately and hit back with the opening try of the game on ten minutes when hooker Dave Ward barged his way under the posts for Everitt to convert.
Everitt extended the visitors' lead moments later with a penalty, only for McKay's men to come roaring back with a succession of scoring chances.
Two more Steenson penalties cut the deficit to just a point, before the Rec exploded into life when the home side claimed their opening try of the game on 36 minutes.
Great turnover work by the home pack saw Richard Bolt feed Adryan Winnan on the blindside flank. With ball in hand, Winnan advanced before chipping the ball over the Saints defence. As Winnan hunted down his punt, he was impeded at least three times by winger Paul Diggin, before the ball fell invitingly for hooker Rob Elloway to dot down in the left-hand corner.
Steenson fired over the conversion and another penalty in first half injury time to leave the Pirates firmly in control at the turn.
On their re-emergence, however, it was the Saints who quickly stole a march on their rivals as a converted Everitt try on 42 minutes brought the score to 19-17.
What followed shortly afterwards was to prove pivotal. Strong forward pressure put the Pirates back into the Northampton 22 and following six minutes of pressure on the visiting line, the Pirates still had not added to their tally.
Kicks at goal were declined as the home side instead pushed for a second try. The move, however, backfired as Northampton turned the Cornish club over and swept down field to allow Diggin to add a third try.
Everitt converted that score via the upright, before on-loan winger Tim Visser finished off a pass from Spencer to claim a fourth score on 67 minutes.
As home hopes faded, Everitt administered another telling blow to make it 32-19, before the Pirates re-ignited their fire with a second converted try two minutes from time from James Moore.
With at least a bonus of some sort seemingly in the bag, the Pirates could feel some sort of reward for their hard graft. Sadly, the Saints had other ideas and in one final foray forward, Everitt punished some over exuberant defending with his last-gasp penalty.
CORNWALL produced some sizzling running rugby to record their first championship victory in two years and kill off any fears of relegation from the County Shield. The Black and Golds were completely unrecognisable from the side thrashed 60-14 by Somerset only a fortnight ago and destroyed their opponents in the first half in the sunshine at Camborne. They eventually ran out winners by eight tries to three, with Mounts Bay fly-half Lee Jarvis helping himself to an incredible 30-point haul.
Cornwall survived an early onslaught from their visitors, who needed to win to avoid the drop themselves, and only some fine defence kept them out.
But after Jarvis and Surrey winger Les Todd had exchanged penalties inside the first 10 minutes, it was pretty much one-way traffic up to the interval, with the hosts racking up five tries with a devastating period of play. The first came from turnover ball in midfield in the 13th minute, with Cornish All Blacks' loose-head prop Jason Bolt looking more like a back as he brilliantly linked with Polson team-mate and full-back Ryan Westren to score in the corner. The immaculate Jarvis converted, and then added a penalty to make it 13-3, after Surrey centre Jan Van Ryan had been yellow-carded for a professional foul. His absence was to prove very costly for Surrey as Cornwall grabbed three more touchdowns while he was off the field.
Mounts Bay centre Pale Nonu's superb grubber kick to the corner was dotted down by Jarvis; Marc Sweeney made the most of a kind bounce from Jarvis's deft chip over the defence to put in Mounts Bay winger Ollie Faulkner unopposed; and then a great move involving scrum-half Brett Wakfer, No.8 Louis Stevens and Westren provided a try in the scoreboard corner for St Ives flanker Ian Boase.
The onslaught did not stop there either, with a quick tap penalty by Jarvis under the Surrey posts giving the impressive Nonu the chance to put over Camborne winger Rob Ley. Jarvis converted three of them to leave him with a 19-point first-half haul as Cornwall led 39-3 at the break.
Surrey, with a good sprinkling of players in their ranks from National Division Two champions Esher - though admittedly mostly second-team - were no doubt given a stern lecture at the interval as they started the second half as they had the first. But this time their efforts were rewarded with a try by captain and Esher loose-head prop Duncan Cormack, with referee Nick Williams comically getting down on his hands and knees to obtain the best view to give the score. Todd missed the conversion.
However, their comeback was shortlived, as more intense Cornwall pressure resulted in a deserved try for Nonu, after Sweeney had been tackled just short of the line, and Jarvis added the extras for a 46-8 advantage.
Despite the huge deficit, Surrey refused to lie down, and managed another touchdown through their forwards, this time from Esher flanker Mike Blakemore, which Todd converted.
The tries continued to flow in the dying moments of the game, with Jarvis collecting his second after an interception on Surrey's 22, which he improved himself, while Surrey full-back Dave Charles ran through some poor tackling at the other end, and Todd converted.
The final score came in injury time, and it fittingly went to Cornwall skipper Ben Hilton, with Jarvis yet again adding the extras to reach the 60-point mark.
Cornwall: R Westren (Cornish All Blacks), R Ley (Camborne), M
Sweeney (Cornish All Blacks), P Nonu (Mounts Bay), O Faulkner (Mounts Bay), L
Jarvis (Mounts Bay), B Wakfer (Camborne), J Bolt (Cornish All Blacks), D
Semmens (Mounts Bay), T Stevens (St Ives), J Wilce (Wadebridge), B Hilton
(Mounts Bay, capt), I Boase (St Ives), T Rawlings (Pertemps Bees), L Stevens
Replacements: B Keary (Mounts Bay) rep for Wakfer 57, I Morgan (Penryn) rep for Faulkner 73, A Flide (Mounts Bay) rep for Bolt 57, B Jenkin (Plymouth Alb) rep for Wilce 69, M Woolcock (Camborne) rep for Boase 69, T Outram (Mounts Bay) rep for L Stevens 73, T Hurdwell (Cornish All Blacks/St Ives) rep for Semmens 73.
Surrey: D Charles (Esher), L Todd, S MacKinney, J Van Ryan (Old
Walcotians), C Street (Rosslyn Park), B Kitchen (London Irish), B White (O
Wimbledonians), D Cormack (Esher, capt), S Goldsmith (Esher), T Cox (Purley), E
Manu (Esher), M Butterworth (Esher), M Blakemore (Esher), J Barnett, O Hankey
Replacements: S Kearns (Rosslyn Park) rep for Goldsmith 80+2, T McKellier (Barnes) rep for Cormack 54, T Whitehead (Weybridge Vandals) rep for Cox 58, A McGuickian (Rosslyn Park) for Manu 66, M Grant (Old Whitgiftians) rep for Barnett 58, H McHardy.
Referee: Nick Williams (RFU).
Cornwall: tries, Bolt, Jarvis (2), Faulkner, Boase, Ley, Nonu, Hilton; cons, Jarvis (7); pens, Jarvis (2).
Surrey: try, Cormack, Blakemore, Charles; con, Todd (2); pen, Todd.
Yellow cards: Surrey - Van Ryan 24.
CORNWALL coach Joff Rowe was delighted with the remarkable turnaround his players have shown, with their 60-22 thrashing of Surrey yesterday coming only two weeks after a humiliating 60-14 defeat at Somerset.
Surrey have been relegated from the County Shield after suffering heavy defeats in each of their three games, but that should take nothing away from a Cornwall display that, at times, was a delight to watch.
"We had an opportunity to put a side together for three weeks", said Rowe. "We have learnt an awful lot from our style of play and the changes in the law, and also the tempo of the game, and today, for 60 minutes, we have played a standard of rugby that Trelawny's Army and the supporters in general will have appreciated.
"For that, I commend the lads, who have stuck at it and worked hard."
Some of the rugby in the first half at Camborne was dazzling, with both backs and forwards linking well as Surrey were put to the sword.
"It is something we set out to try and do", admitted Rowe. "Everyone says I like rugby where you stick the ball up your jumper, but we have exploited areas where they have failed to defend, and when we have seen opportunities we have taken them, and with Lee Jarvis on form with his boot, it has been a tremendous effort."
Jarvis had a superb all-round game, scoring two tries and slotting seven conversions and two penalties in a magnificent 30-point haul, as he mastered the strong Camborne wind to perfection.
"I am not a regular at Camborne, but the wind today was very difficult, but for his performance today and his commitment over the last three weeks I'd like to thank Lee, but also every one of the 25 players we have involved", said Rowe.
Mounts Bay inside centre Pale Nonu, who was drafted in by Cornwall for the last two games, also produced another inspired performance.
"He has a great working partnership with Lee, and he is a very committed lad. He plays for the shirt, whether it be for Mounts Bay or Cornwall, and for that I am really, really happy, and that he has been able to come in and make an impact", added Rowe.
Cornish county rugby had a bit of a smile back on its face last night after an excellent comeback at Chinnor earned them a precious draw. After last weekend's 60-14 thrashing at Somerset, it looked like a case of 'here we go again' as the Duchy trailed 22-0 after only 27 minutes. But, aided by a very strong wind at their backs in the second half, the Duchy came storming back to level the scores and avoid defeat for the first time in two seasons of championship matches.
Trelawny's Army once more turned out in excellent numbers at a very wet Chinnor - a ground where there is no cover - to support the county team in its hour of need. And they will need to be in full voice again next Saturday, when Cornwall face a County Shield relegation decider at Camborne against Surrey, who suffered their second successive thrashing with a 53-14 reverse at home to Somerset on Saturday.
Cornwall coach Joff Rowe made five changes to his starting line-up, but the odds were still heavily stacked against his side, which contained only two National League players compared to 11 representing Oxfordshire. The Duchy once again made a good start, as was the case the previous week, but found themselves trailing after only five minutes, when the ball squirmed out of the side of a scrum on Oxfordshire's 10-metre line and home scrum-half Anthony Cope broke blind and fed winger Eric Brown, who scorched 50 metres down the left flank to score in the corner. Fly-half James Cathcart missed the touchline conversion.
Oxfordshire then made full use of the gale at their backs to score two more tries, but both came from dreadful Cornwall mistakes. First, Oxfordshire full-back Ben Hewitt delivered a huge 70-metre touch-finding kick that took play up to Cornwall's five-metre line, but the visiting forwards failed to learn the lesson from the Somerset game. Mount's Bay hooker Darren Semmens threw the ball over the heads of his own jumpers to Oxfordshire prop Rowan Fuller, and when he was stopped just short of the line, the ball was moved left for Brown to score his second try, and Cathcart kicked a superb conversion before adding a penalty.
Then, with Cornwall deep in Oxfordshire territory, Cathcart banged another clearance kick almost the length of the field, but Brixham full-back Jake Lawrence's wayward return effort fell into the grateful arms of Jaike Carter, and his pass sent in Hewitt, with Cathcart converting for a 22-0 lead.
The Cornwall players showed plenty of passion and pride in the shirt and camped on the Oxfordshire line in the run-up to the interval, and they were given hope when the ball was moved swiftly right from a scrum on the Oxfordshire 22, and fly-half Lee Jarvis put Camborne winger Rob Ley over in the corner.
Only fine home defence prevented Cornwall scoring again before the break, but the visitors came out all guns blazing in the second half. More concerted pressure and good work by the outstanding duo of Mount's Bay centre Pale Nonu and St Ives number eight Louis Stevens saw Bay winger Olly Faulkner go over in the corner, with Jarvis converting.
Then, soon after Oxfordshire hooker Henry Mace had been sin-binned for deliberately killing the ball, a turnover in midfield provided the chance for Nonu to put Cornish All Blacks' centre Ryan Westren in behind the posts for his second try in two games, with Jarvis adding the simple conversion.
A 66th-minute penalty by the former Welsh international made it 22-22, and he then went close with a couple of long-range drop goal attempts as Cornwall sought the score to grab what had seemed an unlikely victory. But their cause was not helped by the strong wind dropping in the final 15 minutes, and they had to do some frantic defending of their own in the dying moments, with only a superb last-ditch tackle by Nonu denying Brown a hat-trick try in the corner.
Oxfordshire: B Hewitt (Chinnor), J Carter (Chinnor), A Henley
(Oxford Harlequins), J Hewitt (Chinnor), E Brown (Chinnor), J Cathcart
(Reading), A Cope (Oxford Harl), Fuller (Henley), H Mace (Clifton), J Iosefo
(Chinnor), Root (Clifton), Burrows (Chinnor, capt), J De Bruin (Chinnor), Young
(Oxford Harl), G Hayter (Newbury).
Replacements: Chadbone (Oxford Harl) for De Bruin 50-57 & for Iosefo 74, Eckert (Oxford Harl) for J Hewitt 72, P Soper (Oxford Harl) for De Bruin 74, Duder (Chinnor) for Cope 72, H Jackman (Chinnor) for Root 58, R Williams (Chinnor) for Henley 72, D Lynch-Smith (Chinnor) for Brown 79.
Cornwall: J Lawrence (Brixham), R Ley (Camborne), R Westren
(Cornish All Blacks), P Nonu (Mount's Bay), O Faulkner (Mount's Bay), L Jarvis
(Mount's Bay), B Wakfer (Camborne), A Flide (Mount's Bay), D Semmens (Mount's
Bay), T Stevens (St Ives), B Hilton (Mount's Bay, capt), J Wilce (Wadebridge),
I Boase (St Ives), T Rawlings (Pertemps Bees), L Stevens (St Ives).
Replacements: S Peters (Redruth) for Lawrence 60, B Keary (Mount's Bay) for Wakfer 75. Not used: D Clackworthy (Mount's Bay), B Jenkin (Plymouth Albion), T Outram (Mount's Bay), T Hurdwell (St. Ives), M Woolcock (Camborne).
Oxfordshire scorers: Tries, Brown (2), B Hewitt; cons, Cathcart (2); pen, Cathcart.
Cornwall scorers: Tries, Ley, Faulkner, Westren; cons; Jarvis (2); pen, Jarvis.
Yellow cards: Oxfordshire: Mace 47, Jackman 66.
Referee: R Parker-Sedgemoor (RFU).
Cornwall coach Joff Rowe was pleased with his players after they produced an excellent fightback from 22-0 down to draw 22-22 against Oxfordshire at Chinnor yesterday. The point leaves Cornwall facing a County Shield relegation decider against bottom-of-the-table Surrey at Camborne on Saturday, but Rowe is looking forward to it.
"Today is the first time in two years Cornwall haven't lost and I take great pride in being part of that unit," said Rowe. "We could have done with the win today, which would have put us in a comfortable position, but let's bring the Surrey game on. We will take the same approach, I am sure it will be the same group of people, and we have got to show something more on our own turf. We have learned from last week and this week, and next week we have got to be more the finished article in order to maintain our status in this competition."
The Duchy produced a much improved display from their 60-14 thrashing at Somerset last weekend, and could have come away with a win against an Oxfordshire side fresh from a hefty home win over Surrey.
"We started well in difficult conditions and against a very competent side, and our continuity and ball retention was great, but again we made mistakes and they capitalised on those and scored some good tries," said Rowe. "But I thought, when we scored the try just before half-time, we showed strength and power in our game not only to go up the middle, but to go wide.
"Then we came out in the second half and scored, and then maintained possession, and at the very end we had opportunities to win."
He added: "The players have come out today, and for me personally, the performance is a huge victory in itself, but we are disappointed at the result.
"I don't think we were much better than them, but our commitment was excellent and we showed great fight, and that is something we have instilled into the players in the last eight to nine weeks."
There were plenty of fine performances all over the pitch for Cornwall, but Mount's Bay centre Pale Nonu and the back row of Ian Boase, Tom Rawlings and Louis Stevens were particularly impressive.
Rowe said: "Hats off to Nonu, who came in to assist us when we were short of a player, while the back row was outstanding. The amount of work, effort and commitment they put in was a major contribution to our result today."
Cornwall captain Ben Hilton was pleased with the result, but disappointed it was not a victory. "It was a better performance. It was a big step up for us, but the work is not done yet,'"he said. "We gave a good account of ourselves in the second half and I am glad the supporters stuck by us."
If Cornwall fans thought it was bad enough getting relegated from the top flight of county rugby last season, then matters got a whole lot worse on Saturday. Joff Rowe and his team were hoping to win promotion from the County Shield at the first attempt and restore the Duchy to where their supporters believe they rightfully belong. Instead, all Trelawny's Army got for their journey to Bridgwater was humiliation as Cornwall crashed to possibly their biggest ever defeat. On the basis of this performance, the Duchy seem more likely to suffer the ignominy of another relegation, than claim the promotion Somerset seem a good bet to land.
Many Cornwall supporters were very unhappy with what they saw at Bath Road, but while the margin of victory was unexpected, defeat was perhaps not, when you look at the two sides that took to the field. Somerset were able to call on nine National League players, and had a further three on the bench, while Cornwall had only four in their whole squad of 22. There were only three players from the county's top three clubs - Cornish All Blacks (two players), Redruth (one), and Pirates (nil) - for whatever reason, and while Saturday was bitterly disappointing, one has to feel for Rowe, who can only work with what is available to him.
No matter how much the fans would love to bring back the good old days of Cornish county rugby, that seems a very long way off unless there is a dramatic change in the relationship between the clubs and the county. After going through a pretty traumatic afternoon, Rowe said: "We weren't good enough. They outgunned us in open play, in rucks and mauls and, in terms of physicality, we weren't up to their level.
"I take full responsibility. Somerset were sharper, they were quicker in the back three, and they looked hungry. We have got no-one else to blame apart from ourselves.
"We need to have a bit of a wake-up call, but we will stick together and come back next week." He added: "I would love to be able to look at other opportunities within the county to see if I can bolster the side, but I don't think that is an option for me.
"What Cornwall, the senior management and everyone else needs to realise is that Cornish rugby is great at the top, but it isn't so great at the next level, and we are competing at the top when we are playing in the Shield."
Despite Cornwall's obvious shortcomings, Somerset were excellent after they survived an initial 10-minute onslaught from the visitors, which crucially failed to produce any points. After that, the hosts took control, with their back row of former Pirates' loan signing Chris Morgan, Weston's Mike Denbee and Newbury's Matt Styles outstanding, as was Clifton full-back Rob Voil, and it was pretty much one-way traffic.
Morgan scored the first try from a catch-and-drive penalty move, and three more followed before the interval. Two stemmed from line-out throws by Cornwall hooker Darren Semmens deep inside Somerset territory that cleared his own jumpers, leading to moves which were both finished off by Voil, while another came from Duchy centre Ryan Westren's under-hit chip over the defence falling gleefully into the hands of winger James Wheeler, who raced 50 metres to score.
Impressive fly-half Sam Osbourne, who finished with a 20-point haul, converted three to add to his early penalty, but Cornwall got their first points on the board in first-half injury time when a great surge to the line by scrum-half Brett Wakfer created the space for Westren to cross beside the posts and Jarvis - who had earlier missed two penalties - converted for a 29-7 interval deficit.
Any hopes of a Cornish comeback were killed off four minutes into the second half when Styles crossed for Somerset, with Osbourne converting, but Cornwall did keep the hosts out for the next 15 minutes, and even managed a try of their own when Rob Ley sent Jarvis in under the posts, with the conversion making it 36-14.
However, the less said about the final quarter, from a Cornwall point of view, the better, as tired legs and some lame tackling saw Somerset run in three tries in nine minutes through centre James Waterman and winger Paul Sprague (2), with Osbourne converting all of them and adding a penalty. Next up for Cornwall? A trip to Chinnor on Saturday to face Oxfordshire, who walloped Surrey 43-14 in their opening game.
SOMERSET 60 PTS: Scorers: Tries: Morgan, Voil (2), Wheeler, Styles, Waterman, Sprague (2); Cons: Osbourne (7); Pens: Osbourne (2).
CORNWALL 14 PTS: Scorers: Tries: Westren, Jarvis; Cons: Jarvis 2.
Somerset: R Voil (Clifton), P Sprague (Weston-s-M), J Waterman
(Minehead Babas), D Litt (Hornets), J Wheeler (Walcot), S Osbourne (Hornets), M
Ranson (Bridgwater & A), A Raines (Clifton), G Cooper (Newbury), C Meddick
(Dings), D Hodge (Bridgwater & A), O Hodge (Exeter), C Morgan (Newbury), M
Denbee (Weston-s-M), M Styles (Newbury, capt).
Replacements: S Brown (Redruth) for Ranson 69 mins, C Derrick (Cinderford) for Raines 29, G Sparks (Weston-s-M) for Styles 64 ; S Pape (Cornish All Blacks) for D Hodge 62, A Russell (Weston-s-M) for O Hodge 62, J Saunders (Walcot) for Litt ht, J Gatford (Taunton) for Cooper 72.
Cornwall: I Morgan (Penryn), R Ley (Camborne), M Sweeney, R
Westren (both Cornish All Blacks), O Faulkner, L Jarvis (both Mount's Bay), B
Wakfer (Camborne), T Stevens (St Ives), D Semmens, D Clackworthy (both Mount's
Bay), A Harris (Newbury), B Hilton (Mount's Bay, capt), L Stevens, I Boase
(both St Ives), T Outram (Mount's Bay).
Replacements: A Flide (Mount's Bay) for Clackworthy 56, T Hurdwell (St Ives) for Semmens 64, J Wilce (Wadebridge) for Harris 62, G Corin (St Ives) for Hilton 64, M Woolcock (Camborne) for Outram 72, B Keary (Mount's Bay) for Wakfer 62, S Peters (Redruth) for Faulkner 56.
Referee: Nigel Higginson (RFU).
CORNWALL coach Joff Rowe hailed the county's training weekend in northern France as a "brilliant success" in the build-up to this season's County Shield campaign.
A squad of 25 players flew to Quimper in Brittany last Friday and spent three days building up a good team spirit and preparing for the opening match of the Shield against Somerset at Bridgwater on Saturday week. They also managed to fit in a match against Quimper (Fédérale 3), which Cornwall won 18-5, with Mount's Bay hooker Darren Semmens scoring two tries and Penryn fly half Ian Morgan kicking a conversion and two penalties. Rowe said: "We had a lot of time together as a squad, and we won the game,which turned out to be quite a competitive one, which was really good for us.
"I was able to watch all the players play and make some decisions on selection for the Shield. "The Under-20s, like Darren Semmens, Bryn Jenkin and Karl Martin, have come through and certainly put themselves up to be recognised and are very, very near to competing for a place in the County Shield side."
Rowe and his players got a bit of a shock in the match as, at certain levels of French rugby, they have slightly different rules regarding the scrum.
"We believe Quimper were about South West One level, and at that level the scrum is allowed to hit and hold, but once you have won the ball you are not allowed to push, and that was a little bit difficult," he explained.
"You are also not allowed to hand off for health and safety reasons, and there were a couple of things, particularly with the language barrier we had, that didn't allow us to get into the game.
"I wanted to ensure all players would play, so even though I picked a strong starting line-up, I brought on eight replacements and we got better as our confidence grew and with time together, and we ran in two tries and kicked two penalties."
Rowe will now spend the next few days finalising his plans for the opening Shield match, finding out which National League players will be available to him, and getting his head around the new laws - including being able to collapse a maul - that will be trialled in this season's county campaign.
He is not hopeful of having any Redruth players in his squad, but the Cornish All Blacks have offered four or five players, having already secured promotion to National Division One, and he is also optimistic of including one or two fringe players from the Cornish Pirates.
Rowe said: "At the moment I am still not in a position to be able to say what my starting line-up will be against Somerset, but we will not be phoning around on the Saturday morning of the game trying to get a side, as was the case last year. "We have 25 people from the tour who could quite comfortably represent Cornwall, and if that is the best side we have, then I have had them together for six weeks and would be comfortable putting them into a Championship."
Meanwhile, Camborne full back Joe Parma has ruled himself out of the Shield campaign with a hamstring strain.
Quimper 5 pts: Try- Kersall
Cornwall 18 pts: Tries- Semmens (2), Pens (2), Con - Morgan
Cornwall: J. Parma (Camborne), O. Faulkner (Mount's Bay), R. Ley
(Camborne), G Thirlby (St Ives), N Corin (St Ives), I. Morgan (Penryn), B.
Keary (Mount's Bay); T Stevens (St Ives), D Semmens, D. Clackworthy (both
Mount's Bay), B. Jenkin (Plymouth Alb), B. Hilton (Mount's Bay, capt), L
Stevens (St Ives), I. Boase (St.Ives), T. Outram (Mount's Bay).
Replacements (all used): T. Hurdwell (St Ives/Launceston), J. Wilce (Wadebridge Camels), S, Turnbull (St Ives), K. Martin (St Ives), J. Lawrence (Brixham), B.Collings (Launceston), G Corin (St Ives), M. Woolcock (Camborne).
It was a great day for the Cornish at Twickenham yesterday! The Falmouth Marine Band were much in evidence before each of the Cornish games, marching round the concourse and making a hell of a din! There was also a Cornish pipe band, who were much more musical and a great favourite with the crowd: there were impromptu jigs and reels going on under the West stand before the Mounts Bay game.
The actual rugby didn't start too well, as Pirates looked out-of-sorts in the first half -- they lost several of their own lineouts and made too many mistakes. We even wondered whether the occasion had got to them. You couldn't fault their defence, though, nor Exeter's come to that. In a half dominated by the defences Exeter played what attacking rugby there was and Pirates were perhaps lucky to be level at 3 - 3 at the break.
In the second half it was much better, although at first Exeter looked the better side and Pirates suddenly found themselves 6 - 16 down: at this stage you wouldn't have bet on a Pirates' win. However, the Pirates have shown themselves to be indomintable in this competition this season, so we should have known better. After the hard-fought away wins at Leeds Tykes and Doncaster Knights, not to mention the titanic struggle with local arch-rivals Plymouth Albion, the Pirates refused to give up on the prize at the last hurdle.
Eventually the Pirates' forwards started to get on top and the black-and-reds clawed their way back and finished the stronger. Cattle had his usual effective game, Di Bernardo's kicking was (almost) immaculate, and the try scorer was -- of course -- Villi Ma'asi.
The Mounts Bay - Dunstablians game was in some ways the best of the day -- high-scoring (46 - 36!) with both sides not afraid to play running rugby. (The pitch was in shadow by the 5 p.m. kick-off time, which probably helped!)
Dunstablians scored a soft try under the posts immediately from the kick off -- 7 - 0 after 30 seconds! (Mount's Bay let in another soft one later in the game and the Dunstablians created some more.) There was something of a physical contrast between the two sides, especially in the forwards: the Dunstablians were huge but somewhat fat. (I learned from one of their fans that some of them are employed as bouncers!) The Bay forwards were also big but looked much more athletic, and the whole team looked to be in superb condition.
Despite the early setback, the Bay seemed to exude confidence: I guess when you've been promoted six times in six years you just get accustomed to winning! By the end the Bay were well in control.
See match reports below.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Not for the first time this season Alberto Di Bernardo took centre stage for the Cornish Pirates.
Handed the perfect stage from which to display his undoubted worth, the Argentinian ace helped inspire the Duchy's finest to a memorable 19-16 victory over Westcountry rivals Exeter Chiefs in yesterday's EDF Energy National Trophy final at a sun-baked Twickenham.
Just as he had done in previous Trophy encounters against Leeds Tykes and Plymouth Albion, Di Bernardo left it late before delivering the perfect knockout blow to the Chiefs. The Rosario-born back, who will be heading for the Guinness Premiership with Leeds next season, plundered 14 points to ensure the Trophy was heading back to the Duchy for the first time ever.
For the Chiefs it was yet more heartache at the home of English rugby. Having come unstuck against both Rotherham and Orrell in previous finals, hopes were high that finally Pete Drewett's side could make it third time lucky. At 16-6 up in the second half, it appeared the in-form Devon club had finally broken their Twickenham hoodoo. The Pirates, however, had other ideas and in a storming conclusion they reaped their rewards as the Chiefs slowly began to wilt in the blistering heat.
Ahead of kick-off, the Pirates had been boosted by the return to action of key quintet Heino Senekal, Tim Cowley, Duncan Bell, Duncan Roke and Rhodri McAtee, all of whom had missed much of the build-up to the final itself. Their return certainly gave Jim McKay's side a much stronger feel to it, whilst the Chiefs recalled Tony Walker, Gary Willis and Junior Fatialofa to their line-up which beat Newbury in the league the week previous.
With both sides at full-strength and each club having claimed a win apiece against each other in National One, the stage was set for this winner takes all showdown. However, it was the Pirates - spurred on by a hearty contingent of followers from the Duchy, including the legendary Falmouth Marine Band - who came out flying from the kick-off. Just three minutes were on the clock when referee Dale Newitt penalised Exeter flanker Walker for going offside. The Kiwi's indiscretion offered Di Bernardo his first sight at goal, some 35 metres out, and the Pirates star did not disappoint as he guided his right-foot effort between the posts for an early lead.
Immediately, though, the Chiefs responded and having won a succession of penalties close to the Pirates' line, referee Newitt allowed sufficient advantage to Exeter, from which fly-half Tony Yapp was able to fire over a drop-goal and restore parity with just 10 minutes on the clock.
With little to choose between either side, the slug fest between the two Westcountry rivals continued apace. The battle up front was certainly intense - as was the heat from above - whilst behind defences ruled the roost with neither team willing to give an inch to their opposite number. On 18 minutes Di Bernardo almost regained the lead for the Pirates when quick turnover ball following a Yapp clearance offered him a chance for one of his famous drop-goals. Sadly, on this occasion, the magician's radar was off course and his effort sailed wide of the right post.
It was a similar story just past the half-hour mark when he saw a tough penalty chance from wide on the left flank fly past the sticks and into the arms of a waiting Chief.
At the other end, Exeter threatened on occasions, with the Fatialofa brothers - Mark and Junior - posing a real handful in the midfield, while only poor hands from winger Jason Luff prevented him from latching onto a slick handling move which seemed destined for the corner.
Although it was not the best half of rugby either side had produced this season, the two teams departed for their half-time pit-stop knowing they were now just 40 minutes from a famous victory. However, in a storming start to the second period, the Chiefs were clearly intent on getting the job done as quickly as possible. Yapp stroked over a penalty just a minute into the half, before adding the extras to Gary Kingdom's try on 48 minutes. The full-back, a previous winner at Twickenhem with Devon in the County Championship, rounded off a slick move from the Chiefs, which had begun when skipper Richard Baxter snapped up a loose Pirates' line-out on the right. Using the turnover ball, Kevin Barrett, Yapp and the Fatialofas all combined to create the space for Kingdom to run in from 15 metres. Yapp's obliged with the extras to stretch Exeter's advantage to 13-3.
A quick response was needed from the Pirates and it duly arrived when Di Bernardo shot over his second penalty of the afternoon on 52 minutes. But no sooner had the Duchy's finest brought themselves back into contention, they surrendered a penalty of their own when Senekal was penalised for handling on the floor.
At 16-6 up, the Chiefs were seemingly in control of their destiny. However, as the Pirates have shown throughout their successful run to the final, they are a team that refuses to lie down, even when the odds seemed stacked against them. Roared on by those in the stands, the Pirates never-say-die attitude was ignited and slowly McKay's men began to find their rhythm. The warning signs were already there for the Chiefs before Tongan international Vili Ma'asi powered his way over for the Cornish club just past the hour. Di Bernardo slotted the conversion, plus a penalty, as the Chiefs began to wobble.
Now with the ascendancy, the Pirates went for the jugular. Fresh muscle was introduced from the sidelines to help their cause and, with four minutes of normal time remaining, the pressure finally told on the Chiefs. Having tried with two attempts of a pushover try, the Pirates declined a third opportunity and instead opted for a punt at the posts. Up stepped Di Bernardo who, from wide out on the left, banged over the most important kick of his life to put the Cornishmen back in front at 19-16. Even then he was not finished as a second drop-goal chance narrowly missed its mark from 40 metres out. However, the former Italy A international had once again weaved his magic with deadly effect.
Although the Chiefs looked for a way back into the game, keeping the ball alive for a magnitude of phases, the Red and Black defence was in miserly mood and it was left to that man, Di Bernardo, to run the ball out of play and crown a memorable day for the West Cornwall outfit.
Whilst the Pirates celebrated their triumph, the Chiefs were left to reflect on a case of 'what if'. For them there will be little time to wallow in the misery of this Twickenham torment. Today they head for Liverpool and tomorrow's league clash with relegated Waterloo at Blundellsands.
Cornish Pirates 19pts: Try - Ma'asi; Conversion - Di Bernardo; Penalties - Di Bernardo (4)
Exeter Chiefs 16pts: Try - Kingdom; Conversion - Yapp; Penalties - Yapp (3)
Cornish Pirates: A Winnan; R McAtee (L Vinnicombe 50), D Roke (S
Winn 80), D Bell, J Hylton; A Di Bernardo; G Cattle (capt); A Paver, V Ma'asi
(N Makin 76), S Heard (D Seal 50); H Senekal (J Inglis 72), J Beardshaw; S
McKeen, I Motusaga, T Cowley (C Cracknell 72).
Replacement (not used): J Moore.
Exeter Chiefs: G Kingdom; J Luff, M Fatialofa, J Fatialofa, A
Murdoch; T Yapp, K Barrett; R Liddington, S Blythe, J Horn-Smith; I Brown, J
Hanks (C Slade 72); T Walker, G Willis (A Miller 68), R Baxter (capt).
Replacements (not used): S Jenkins, S Bennett, I Wilson, A Staniforth, W Kelly.
Referee: D Newitt (RFU).
Fijian winger Mika Mua scored four tries as Mounts Bay wrapped up a memorable league and cup double with a ten-point victory over Dunstablians in a cracking EDF Intermediate Cup final. The win completed a dream day for Cornwall, following the Cornish Pirates' earlier victory over Exeter Chiefs in the EDF National Trophy showdown earlier in the day.
Mua might not have started, if Jamie Semmens had not broken his leg in last weekend's Skinners' Brewery Cornwall Cup final defeat by Redruth, but he grabbed his chance with both hands in a hugely entertaining game that contained 12 tries.
Bay scored seven of them, pulling clear of the Midlanders with an excellent second-half display, but they had to withstand a late onslaught from their opponents and the 2000 Cup winners, who grabbed two touchdowns in the final four minutes.
Bay made the worst possible start when Dunstablians scored their opening try after less than 60 seconds, with hooker Stefaan Myburgh intercepting a pass in midfield and putting winger David Bradshaw in under the posts for fly-half Jon White to convert.
However, Bay's riposte was swift, with Mua crossing for the first of his scores after a slick left-to-right handling move, and Welsh fly-half Lee Jarvis added the extras to draw the sides level.
Dunstablians edged ahead again in the 21st minute, when a big gap opened up in the Bay defence, and captain and director of rugby Laurence White galloped through to score under the woodwork, with his elder brother, Jon, again converting, to make it 14-7.
Jarvis was successful with one out of two penalty attempts in the space of four minutes, and then came the try that was to give Bay a lead they would never surrender, with Mua scoring in the right-hand corner after great work by New Zealand-born centre Shane Laloata, who galloped through three tackles before being stopped just short of the try line. That made it 15-14, and Bay received another great boost on the stroke of half-time, when captain and scrum-half Ricky Pellow darted over off the back of a five-metre scrum to make the interval score 20-14 to the Cornishmen.
After Jon White's 47th-minute penalty had cut the gap to three points, Bay swept Dunstablians away with a stunning display of running rugby and great support play to score four tries in the space of 20 minutes, with a token Dunstablians effort sandwiched in between.
The first came from Laloata in the 50th minute, after he broke through two weak tackles to score beside the posts, and Jarvis slotted the simple conversion. That was soon followed by Mua's hat-trick try, which was probably the best of the lot, after he took a pass from opposite winger Olly Faulkner to finish off a fine flowing move.
Dunstablians briefly threatened again on the hour mark, when winger Kevin Boland hacked on down the line, and full-back Steve Armstrong won the race for the touchdown, with Jon White booting over a fine conversion to pull the score back to 32-24. However, that was only a temporary blip for Bay, with Mua grabbing his fourth try after several phases of play, while centre Palepoi Nonu capitalised on a handling error by the opposition to pick up the loose ball and run in from 40 metres out.
Jarvis kicked both conversions for a personal 11-point haul, but Dunstablians were determined to leave a considerable mark on the final, managing two late scores through centres Richard Butler and Gerhard Swart, with Jon White converting one, to bring an air of respectability to the scoreline. However, it was Mounts Bay's trophy and a fitting conclusion to a fantastic day for Cornish rugby.
Mount's Bay 46pts: Tries- Mua (4), Pellow, Laloata, Nonu, Conversions - Jarvis (4), Penalty-Jarvis
Dunstablians 36 pts: Tries - Bradshaw, L. White, Armstrong, Butler Swart, Conversions J. White (4), Penalty - J. White
Mount's Bay: S. Larkins, M. Mua, S. Laloata (J. Morrison 40-46), P. Nonu, O. Faulkner (J. Morrison 67), L. Jarvis, R. Pellow (capt) (B. Keary 71); A. Flide (C. Hale 75), D. Semmens (J. Salter 71), D. Clackworthy (R. Hosking 70), R. Humphries (J. Griffiths 75), B. Hilton, E. Reid, S. Dyer, T. Outram (A. Nicholls 62).
Dunstablians: S. Armstrong (C. Boland 24-29), D. Bradshaw, G.
Swart, R. Butler, K. Boland, J. White, S. Hall; J. Ellershaw (J. Duckworth 75),
S. Myburgh (B. Murphy 75), J. Alger (S. Brobyskov 58), T. King, B. Odell (S
Richbell 75), M. Kearns, L. White (capt), C. Nissan (E. Landsburg 58)
Replacement not used: S. Jenkinson-Warren
Referee Mr. S. Lander (RFU) .
On the day the old maestro had too much for the new kid on the block as Redruth, playing in their nineteenth final, re-gained the Cornwall Knock-Out Cup with an impressive win over Mount's Bay, who were playing in their very first Senior County Cup Final.
It was Redruth's tenth success in this competition. Bay will be hoping for better things next Sunday when they play Dunstablians in the EDF-Energy Intermediate Cup Final at Twickenham. The whole of Cornwall will wish them well.
The final as a contest was already over by the end of the first quarter as Redruth blew away the Bay in the opening twenty minutes, notching up four tries to lead 26-0. Mount's Bay were overwhelmed by a combination of pace and power as the National League 2 side imposed their style of play on the game to stifle any threat the Bay might have posed. The opening try came after only four minutes, following a move involving forwards and backs that allowed lock Damien Cook to canter in under the posts, Hook's conversion making it 7-0. Four minutes later and the Reds' advantage was doubled as skipper Craig Bonds finished off another powerful break, Hook adding the extras. Try number three soon followed, turnover ball allowing powerful Reds' No 8 Mark Bright to make big inroads into Bay's 22 before off loading to PJ Gidlow, who gave the scoring pass to back row forward Nathan Pascoe, Hook's conversion making it 21-0 after only 14 mins. Five minutes later, from a scrum near Bay's 22, scrum-half Mark Richards fed Hook, who exploited a yawning gap in the Bay's defence to score a simple try. The fly-half was unable to convert his own score.
Bay faced a mountain to come back, not helped when they lost their pacey winger Jamie Semmens after 24 minutes. Bay finally got some territory, earning a penalty which fly-half Lee Jarvis kicked towards the scoreboard corner. From the lineout the ball was eventually spun wide towards the clubhouse corner with full back Steve Larkins almost getting to the line with his inside pass knocked on. Bay were soon back on the attack in that corner and after a series of penalties Bay's pack finally pushed their way to the line for skipper John Griffiths to score a fine try which Jarvis converted on 29 minutes.
Redruth came back to enjoy territorial advantage and looked to extend their lead before half-time, a period of Reds' pressure relieved only by a powerful break out of defence by the impressive Bay centre Pale Nonu which took play back up to the halfway line. Redruth did eventually extend their lead with a penalty kick by Hook from 30 meters out in front of the posts. Bay had a further period of pressure down towards the scoreboard corner before the half-time whistle went, with it 29-7 to Redruth.
Redruth went further ahead on 52 minutes in somewhat controversial circumstances as lock Luke Collins appeared to play the ball from an offside position, which the referee Mr. Bath appeared not to notice. Collins played the ball to Bright on half-way and the New Zealander jinked and stepped through the Bay's defence, leaving full back Larkins clutching at thin air, to score an outstanding try, Hooks conversion stretching the score to 36-7.
Despite the mounting scoreline Bay gave their all, with notable efforts from flanker Everard Reid, scrum-half Blaine Kearey, both locks, skipper Griffiths and Ben Hilton, and the powerful centres Nonu and Shane Laloata.
Both sides brought on replacements as the half wore on, with, notably, Richard Carroll making a return from his long-term injury, coming on for Damien Cook. Redruth scored a sixth try down towards the scoreboard corner when centre Paul Thirlby managed to get in amongst the forwards to claim a try. Hook's fifth conversion proved to be the final score. Bay had their moments towards the end with notably Larkins' interception taking play into the Reds' 22. However, Mua was unable to hold the pass, which would probably have seen him score. Not that it would have made any difference, Redruth's name was already on the Cup and Mark Bright was named Skinners Brewery Man of the Match.
Mount's Bay 7 pts: Try Griffiths, Con Jarvis
Redruth 43 pts: Tries, Cook, Bonds, Pascoe, Hook. Bright, Thirlby, Cons (5) Pen Hook
Mount's Bay: S. Larkins, J. Semmens (M. Mua 24), S. Laloata, P.
Nonu, O. Faulkner (J. Morrison 56), L. Jarvis, B. Kearey; A. Filde, D. Semmens,
D. Clackworthy (C. Hale 69), J. Griffiths (capt). B. Hilton, E. Reid, S. Dyer,
T. Outram (A. Nicholls 59).
Replacements not used- J. Salter, R. Humphries
Redruth: C. Bonds (capt, S. Peters 69), J. Caruana, P. Thirlby, PJ Gidlow, T. McBride, M. Hook, M. Richards (S. Brown 69); D. Jacques, B. Priddey (S. Harrison 57), A. Morcom (P. Joyce 46), D. Cook (R. Carroll 74), L. Collins, N. Pascoe, J. Mann (C. Fuca 74), M. Bright.
Referee - Mr. M. Bath (Somerset R.R.S.)
Cornwall 1 side Liskeard & Looe won the Clubs' Cup Final that preceded the Mount's Bay v Redruth clash with a hard-fought win over Cornwall 2 side Roseland at Camborne. It was the East Cornwall's club third success in the competition, following their wins in 1980 and 2004.
Marcus Hill kicked the first points for Liskeard & Looe with a penalty on 16 minutes. The Cornwall 1 side began to exert greater pressure and were rewarded with a try scored by winger Ian Hicks, who scored in the scoreboard corner of the ground. The score was to remain unchanged till half-time at 8-0.
Hicks extended his side's lead with a second penalty soon after half-time. Roseland, sensing the game was slipping away, stepped up a gear and were rewarded with a penalty kicked by fly-half Will Thomas to reduce the deficit.
However, it was the Lions who scored a second try to extend their lead when scrum-half Lewis Elliot scored, with Hill adding the extras to stretch away to 18-3. Roseland put in a brave effort, with lock Damien Couch held up over the line. Liskeard & Looe had the final say when replacement Oxham went over for their third try to seal the win.
Roseland: J. Bullen, S. Glanville, S. Eamer, R. Pinney, G. Edwards, W. Thomas, T. Day; M. Martin, W. Taffender, D. Martin, W. Palmer, D. Couch, R. Cotterill, C. Brown, N. Chapman. Replacements (all used) P. Green, A. Day, R. Thomas, I. Pellow, R. Withers, M. Ludlow.
Liskeard & Looe: J. Noel-Johnson, I. Hicks, M. Hill, L. Hannah, S. Grant, A. Sheer, L. Elliott; M. Manders, T. Nicholas, D. Curgenven, D. Chambers, Y. Hutchings, J. Collins, A. Mears, C. Sobey. Replacements (all used) R. Bettison, A. Hill, P. Mutton, P. Murton, K. Badham, G. Oxham, P. Cares.
Referee - Mr. C. Hailey ( C.R.R.S.)
New Cornwall coach Joff Rowe refused to be too downbeat despite seeing his side slip to a 26-3 defeat to Devon in yesterday's Tamar Cup clash at Ivybridge.
Rowe has been handed the task of trying to get the Duchy back into the County Championship at the first attempt following their relegation at the end of last season. Yesterday, he was given his first real taste of the action as his youthful Black & Golds' side attempted to wrest back the Tamar Cup. Devon, though, were in no mood to relinquish their grip on the trophy and ran out comfortable winners, scoring tries through Dave Kimberley, Dan Stead, Shane Kingsland and Jimmy Beardsmore. Plymouth Albion's Dan Hawkes bagged two conversions, while club-mate Arran Cruickshanks added the extras to Beardsmore's late score.
In reply, Cornwall's solitary points came courtesy of a second- half penalty from Ian Morgan.
Although undone, Rowe insisted afterwards that there were positives to take from his side's showing.
"I'm really quite pleased in what we have achieved today," he said. "What we have shown today is that we have a lot of youth and a lot of talent in Cornwall, which we can work and develop over the next couple of years.
"At times today we have shown a little bit of inexperience and naivety, but we gave it our all. Before the game all I asked for, and so did Julian [Wilce] the captain, was that we show some commitment and some pride for the jersey and the occasion - and I think we got that.
"Whether we were better than Devon on the day, we proved by the result that we weren't. That said, there is certainly something to work on and we will look to move on."
Devon: J Fabian (M Wathes 56); D Ritchie, B Armitage, R Allen (W Gingell 63), N Holt; D Hawkes (A Cruickshanks 68), M Newman (G Hooper 63); I Langbridge (J Tithias 63), D Stead, S Kingsland; B Chapman, E King; J Fleming (N Riley 63), G Wellington (K Marriott 56), D Kimberley (P Mortimere 63)
Cornwall: I Morgan; A Wellers, G Thirlby, R Ley, L Trescothick (D Mankee 78); G Lovell, S Turnbull K Martin 51); T Stevens, M Davey (N Clark 53), T Hurdwell (N Endean 78); G Corin, J Wilce (B Jenkins 53); N Corin (D Roberts 53), B Collings, M Woolcock.
It's probably only now that victorious Cornish Pirates supporters are finally coming back down Camborne Hill. Having danced their way up it Saturday evening following their side's 17-9 EDF Energy National Trophy semi-final victory over Plymouth Albion, the Pirates faithful have already started plotting their course for new and unchartered waters. The destination for the soon-to-be-assembled flotilla from the Duchy will be Twickenham, the home of English rugby, where Westcountry rivals Exeter Chiefs now lie in wait.
The Pirates sealed their first-ever visit to the world famous coliseum following a hard-fought Tamarside derby which hung in the balance right until the dying moments. In the end, however, it was the killer right boot of fly-half Alberto Di Bernardo which finally put Albion to the sword. The Argentinian ace struck two majestic drop-goals - one of which was from inside his own half - to finally end the stubborn resistance of an Albion side, who themselves were left to rue a series of missed opportunities.
South African centre Regardt Van Eyk topped the charge sheet for the visitors at the final whistle. He crucially failed with three second-half penalties, while team-mates James Owen and Ed Barnes were also found guilty of spurning further attacking opportunities.
Unlike back in December when they were able to swallow up all that the Pirates could throw at them before stinging them with some deadly counter-attacking, this time around Albion were unable to deliver a similar knockout blow. Clearly lessons had been learnt by the Pirates since that setback which, to date, remains their one downfall on home soil this season. Whereas previously the Cornishmen struggled to break down the formidable Albion defensive wall, on Saturday they varied their options with an attacking plan that involved some serious thrust upfront, combined with a sharp attacking edge behind.
The change of tactic was clearly evident in a bright opening from the home side, who were forced into a late change after No.8 Tim Cowley was ruled out with a back injury. Matt Evans stepped in to fill the void at the back of the scrum, while Chris Cracknell was promoted to the bench.
Albion too had to re-jig their line-up, an overnight bout of sickness meant hooker Richard Oxley was unable to feature, so James Owen was promoted to start and 47-year-old Graham Dawe took his place amongst the replacements.
Despite the changes, the game started with a real bang - quite literally in the case of home centre Duncan Roke - who felt the full force of a high tackle from Albion's Keni Fisilau. The Tongan's head-high hit earnt him a reprimand from referee Martin Fox, who on six minutes punished Albion prop Scott Zimmerman for dropping a scrum. Up stepped Pirates' fly-half James Moore to break the deadlock with the first of his two successful penalties.
Roke's painful introduction to the game was to get no better, as the experienced back was forced off with just 11 minutes on the clock after he picked up another heavy blow to his shoulder. With Roke sidelined, Welshman Steve Winn was sent on to partner Duncan Bell in the home midfield. But it was the latter who strayed offside on 18 minutes, gifting Van Eyk the chance to restore parity.
Bell, however, quickly atoned for his earlier error. His excellent pursuit of Moore's hanging restart enabled the Pirates to regather the ball; he linked with Winn who, despite being halted just short of the line, was able to offload to the Pirates' pack, from which hooker Vili Ma'asi burrowed his way over. Moore added the conversion to put the Pirates 8-3 ahead.
Albion's response, just like it had been earlier, was rapid and soon brought them more reward, Van Eyk firing over a second penalty on 22 minutes after the home side had been penalised for pulling down a maul.
As the half progressed it was the Pirates who offered the greater threat in attack. But, just as they found back in December, getting through Albion's rearguard is no easy feat. Chances came and went for the home side, whilst Fisilau could again consider himself very fortunate not to be dispatched to the sidelines for a second ugly tackle, this time on Rhodri McAtee as he looked to cut in from the left flank.
Either side of the break Moore had the chance to extend the Pirates' grip on proceedings. First he saw a penalty in stoppage time sail wide of the posts, then a drop-goal attempt fail to find its mark.
The let-off seemed to ignite Albion, who for a 15-minute period after that lay siege on the home line. Penalties aplenty flowed for the visitors, but sadly Van Eyk was unable to capitalise fully. Three successive penalties, the latter of which also brought about a yellow card for Bell, all failed to find their mark, before he finally fired his side in front for the first time on 61 minutes.
Albion's advantage, however, was to prove shortlived as the Pirates - now boosted by the arrival of Di Bernardo following an injury to replacement Rhodri Wells - regained the initiative with a 40-metre penalty from Moore.
Whereas Di Bernardo wasted little time in settling into his role at No.10, the decision-making of Albion counterpart Barnes was either predictable or, in some cases, non-existent. By the time he was eventually benched two minutes from time, Di Bernardo had already edged the Pirates ever closer to the final with the first of his two drop-goals. His second effort, however, was simply outstanding. With both sides pressing hard for possession, Moore whipped the ball back to the Argentine star who, a few metres inside his own half, plundered a sumptuous kick which would have graced any ground in the world.
For Pirates supporters his last-gasp heroics were as good as anything Jonny Wilkinson served up for England during their World Cup winning campaign. The question is now: "Can he deliver in the final itself?"
Cornish Pirates 17pts: Try - Ma'asi; Penalties - Moore (2); Drop-Goals - Di Bernardo (2).
Plymouth Albion 9pts: Penalties - Van Eyk (3).
Cornish Pirates: A Winnan; R McAtee, D Roke (S Winn 12), D Bell,
J Hylton; J Moore, G Cattle (capt, R Wells 45), A Di Bernardo 68); A Paver, V
Maasi (N Makin 73), S Heard (D Seal 73); H Senekal, J Beardshaw; S McKeen, I
Motusaga, M Evans.
Replacements (not used): C Cracknell, J Inglis.
Yellow Card: Bell
Plymouth Albion: N Saumi; W Neethling (T Arscott 78), R Van Eyk,
K Fisilau, N Sestaret; E Barnes (A Cruickshanks 78), E Lewsey; T Mathias, J
Owen, S Zimmerman; B Gulliver, T Hayes; F Genoud, D Thomas (capt), C Lowrie.
Replacements (not used): M Newman, G Evans, G Dawe, B Stroud, M Lewis.
Referee: M Fox (RFU).
Mount's Bay did their bit towards setting up a Cornish day out at Twickenham by beating the Wirralsiders, Caldy, to work their passage to the EDF Intermediate Cup final.
It's a while since Trelawny's Army has marched up to London - you have to go back to the glory days of the late 80s and early 90s when Cornwall dominated the old County Championship - but a sizeable detachment will be heading there on April 15 for an exciting double header.
Mounts Bay will play Bedfordshire side Old Dunstablians in their final on the same day that the Cornish Pirates face Exeter in the EDF National Trophy on the same ground.
"Will the last person to leave Penzance turn out the lights," said Mount's Bay team boss Bernard Durrant, who has been with the Bay since the early days when they were formed as a sister club to the old Penzance-Newlyn RFC.
"A lot of people from Cornwall will want to see us and the Pirates playing at Twickenham on the same day as that will be a special occasion for Cornish rugby folk."
Durrant and his backroom boys did their homework on North One champions Caldy, poring over match recordings and working on tactics and strategies to beat them, and the preparation work certainly paid off. Truro coach Phil Angove, who has been working with Mount's Bay's forwards all season, and Pirates' prop Alan Paver analysed the Caldy strengths and weaknesses up front and issued instructions on how to make the best of them.
"I can't praise them enough for the work they did, as winning the battle up front was always going to be crucial," said Durrant. "We looked at Caldy's scrum, and how to stop it, and we also looked at some of the moves that they like to use.
"We knew they liked to drive in around Loa Tupou, the big No.8, and set up the maul. Whenever we saw him we cut him down by the ankles to stop it.
"A turning point in the match was a scrum around the 25-minute mark when Caldy were awarded a scrum five metres out and clearly fancied pushing us over for a try.
"We had worked on that sort of situation and didn't just drive them back: we destroyed them. You could see their forwards thinking then, what are we up against here?
"I don't like to single anyone out particularly, the forwards and Pale Nonu and Shane Laloata in the centres all had immense games. Everyone was immense - from one through to 15 they all played above and beyond themselves.
"Caldy are a good side and we needed to put in our best performance of the season to beat them. We'll all look forward to the day out at Twickenham, but there's another final before then, against Redruth in the Cornwall Cup on Easter Saturday, and we will be concentrating on that for now."
It was penalties only for the first 22 minutes, with Mount's Bay going 6-0 up thanks to a brace from Lee Jarvis.
The first try was a solo effort by Laloata, who motored over under the posts to leave Jarvis a routine conversion.
Caldy flanker Gareth Bansor pulled a try back for the visitors, which Simon Mason converted.
Jarvis stroked over a third penalty to put the bay 16-7 up at the break.
Mason got Caldy back within six points by dropping a goal soon after the interval, but any hopes of a comeback were soon shattered. Ollie Faulkener crossed in the corner on 50 minutes, then Jarvis went over on the hour to take the game away from Caldy once and for all.
The last word went to Everard Reid, who collected his own hack ahead and strode in under the posts for Jarvis to convert.
Mount's Bay 33pts: Tries - Laloata, Faulkner, Jarvis, Reid; Conversions - Jarvis (2); Penalties - Jarvis (3).
Caldy 10pts: Try - Bansor; Conversion - Mason; Drop-Goal - Mason.
Mounts Bay: S Larkins; O Faulkner, S Laloata, P Nonu, J Semmens
(M Mua 79); L Jarvis, R Pellow (B Kearey 79); A Flide, D Semmens, D
Clackworthy; R Humphries, B Hilton; E Reid,S Dyer (A Nicholls 72 mins), T
Replacements (not used): C Hale, J Salter, R Hoskins, J Morrison.
Caldy: C Young (B Fedigan 70); C Ross (B Wylie 60 mins), S Woof,
M Coast, L Devaney; S Mason, M Bennett (J Parker 60); D Salisbury (A Wise 70),
P Feely, M Holt; R Bradshaw, P White; S Dickinson, G Bansor, L Tupou (J Close
Replacements (not used): K Porschie, D Mercer.
Referee: S Harland (RFU).
Pirates prop Alan Paver hailed Friday night's dramatic 18-17 EDF Energy National Trophy victory over Leeds Tykes as "massive" and just reward for a commendable effort from the visiting Cornishmen. With the game eight minutes into stoppage time, Paver - aided by all 14 of his fellow team-mates - rumbled over for his decisive touchdown, one which fly-half Alberto Di Bernardo still had to convert to seal a memorable success at Headingley. Under extreme pressure both on and off the pitch, the Argentinian ace duly obliged, stepping up with the final kick of the game to ensure it is the Pirates who will be in the hat for today's quarter-final draw.
For the visitors it was sweet revenge, particularly as they had been denied a deserved league victory at the same venue back in October, Tykes centre Jonny Hepworth claiming a last-gasp try on that occasion. A similar story appeared on the cards for Jim McKay's side again on Friday evening. This time it was Leeds winger Tom Biggs, who snuck his way over for a converted score with just a minute of normal time remaining. The Pirates, though, were not going to be denied and, in a heroic last throw of the dice, their sterling efforts in wintry conditions were finally rewarded when Paver somehow snuck his way over the line for his first score of the season.
Not surprisingly, Paver was delighted with his all-important score, as well as the end result. He said:
"To beat Leeds on home soil, in conditions like this, is just fantastic. It's a massive result for us and one which I felt we thoroughly deserved."
With the sides deadlocked at three apiece at the break, Di Bernardo traded penalties with opposite number Richard Vasey, it was the Pirates who were first to show in the second half. Di Bernardo fired them in front with a second penalty on the hour, only for the Yorkshire club to hit back with a somewhat dubious try from prop Mike MacDonald that Vasey converted.
The visitors, however, were in no mood to surrender and they hit back almost immediately with a try of their own, Tongan hooker Vili Ma'asi burrowing his way over from a line-out move on the left. As the heavy snow continued to fall, both sides looked to deliver a final blow to their rivals in the closing stages. Indeed, it appeared the Tykes had succeeded in their mission when Biggs finished off a terrific free-flowing backs move, which Leigh Hinton was able to convert to make it 17-11.
With the Twickenham dream appearing to fade, the Pirates roused themselves for one final fling. A series of driving mauls put them to within touching distance of the line, but on each occasion Leeds repelled their advances with some legal and illegal work in the tight.
However, as Paver admitted afterwards, the Pirates were not going to go home empty handed. "There was no way we weren't going over that line," said Paver. "Everyone dug deep and in the end we got the score which we deserved. It wasn't pretty, but we had worked very hard in the week on our drive game and that was the rewards for the work we put in."
Now Paver is hoping today's draw will prove favourable to the Duchy club as they bid to reach the home of English rugby for the first time in their history. "We're just happy to be in the draw," added Paver. "We'll let tonight soak in for a little bit, but we really want to try and get the Cornish Pirates and the Cornish people to Twickenham. Tonight has shown the desire we have to do that, so hopefully we can keep going and realise that dream."
Meanwhile, Tykes coach Stuart Lancaster said: "I'm obviously disappointed to have lost the game. The game was heavily influenced by the weather, but I was delighted by the attitude and effort by the lads, which I thought was outstanding. "No one has anything to be ashamed of, they rolled their sleeves up and worked hard for each other, but it wasn't to be our day."
Cornish Pirates' outstanding second-half recovery in National One's match of the day took them to the top of the League and their ninth win in 11 games gained revenge for their heavy defeat at Clifton Lane last season. On this occasion, the Pirates were far too strong after the interval, and their ability to fight back from being 18-0 down against the overnight leaders says much about the character and the quality of the squad. With a powerful gale behind their backs, Rotherham's Earth Titans 18-0 lead at the break appeared to have given them a measure of control, particularly with home advantage.
The Pirates, who had conceded tries on 19 and 40 minutes to centre Bernard Hennessey and fly-half Gareth Steenson, did not seem too concerned, and as their forwards had won a decent amount of ball and had launched several attacks, hints of a probable turnaround were clearly evident.
In the first half the home side's tackling and defence had been sharp and effective, but as the second unfolded, the Titans struggled to cope with the ferocity of the Pirates' pack, which ensured that the Yorkshiremen visited their opponents' 22 only twice.
Skipper and scrum-half, Gavin Cattle, launched the fightback with the second half only 30 seconds old. The Titans lost control of the ball from the restart and in a flash, Cattle pounced to steal it and score. With fly-half Alberto Di Bernardo adding the first of his three conversions, the recovery was well under way, and just four minutes later, the Yorkshire club's lead was slashed further following a penalty from the division's leading point-scorer. The Pirates now trailed by just 18-10 with the wind now in their favour and, vitally, with more than 30 minutes remaining. The forwards dominated possession and repeatedly controlled the ball in the Titans' half, so it came as no surprise that a second try was executed.
What was a shock was the ease with which Welsh centre Steve Winn smashed through to grab his first score for the club on 55 minutes. The simple conversion by Di Bernardo cut the gap to only 18-17. The momentum was now firmly in the Pirates' direction as the hosts began to look like a beaten side.
The match-winning try, scored by winger Lewis Vinnicombe in the 69th minute, followed a successful scrum close to the posts. The attack switched to the right and the quick transfer of the ball put the former Redruth flyer over in the corner. The Pirates led for the first time at 22-18 and once Di Bernardo's accurate touchline conversion went over, the Pirates moved further in front to 24-18, and with no sign of the home side making constructive use of their limited possession, the league leaders were toppled.
"We took the gamble to stay away after the Nottingham win and it worked out well for us," explained coach Jim McKay. "We changed a few things technically at half-time, but I put the win down to hard work. I was pleased with the collective spirit we showed. The forwards bounced back and I'm happy for the boys who've had a good two weeks." Meanwhile, Pirates' skipper Cattle said the Titans' 18-0 lead had not been enough in favourable conditions: "We were pretty confident we could pull it back. The pack weren't 100 per cent in the first half but the boys responded. It's good to be top but it's a long season and any one of four clubs can go top if one loses. We've got London Welsh next and that's the next focus."
Earth Titans 18: Tries - Hennessey, Steenson. Conversion - Steenson; Penalties - Steenson 2.
Cornish Pirates 24: Tries - Cattle, Winn, Vinnicombe; Conversions - Di Bernardo 3; Penalty - Di Bernardo.
Earth Titans: M Whitehead; B Tuohy, B Burke, B Hennessey, T
Allen; G Steenson (E Classens 72), J Bedford (J Blackwood 79), S Walsh, N Hanna
(N Conroy 67), A Hopcroft; H Head (L McGowan 56), E Lund (S Jacobsz 65); H
Fourie, N Cochrane (capt, M McComish 43), J Bornman.
Replacement (not used): S Croall
Yellow Card: Burke
Cornish Pirates: A Winnan (D Roke 59); R McAtee, H Barratt, S
Winn, L Vinnicombe (J Hylton 75); A Di Bernardo, G Cattle (capt); A Paver, V
Ma'asi, S Heard (D Seal 70); J Inglis, J Beardshaw; S McKeen, I Motusaga (C
Cracknell 66), M Evans (D Seal 20-28).
Replacements (not used): J Moore, S Hobson, N Makin
Yellow Card: Paver
Referee: D Newitt (RFU).
CORNWALL coach Chris Brown wants his side to "move forward" after they slipped to defeat at home to Gloucestershire in their opening County Championship game of the season.
This opening weekend setback means the Black & Golds have it all to do over the next fortnight, starting with this Saturday's trip to Hertfordshire, who were hammered 59-7 by reigning county champions Devon.
The Duchy now know they must repeat a similar feat to that of their Tamarside rivals, whilst at the same time hope Devon can record victory over Gloucestershire at Lydney.
Should both scenarios happen, then it will set-up a mouth-watering derby showdown at Redruth on May 20, a game which Cornwall would have to win - with the final group table then likely to be dependant on points difference.
Certainly Brown and fellow coaches Nigel Hambly and Jim McKay will have plenty to work on ahead of their trip to the Home Counties this weekend. A disappointed Brown said afterwards: "It was disappointing. I felt we looked like a team who had only come together this week in the first half. "Certainly in the break-down area we needed to be a bit more effective than we were and our ball presentation perhaps wasn't what it should be. "
"The pleasing thing was we made a lot of line breaks and got behind them an awful lot, but we didn't seem to be able to put them to the sword and capitalise. "I thought there were some very encouraging performances in the backs, while Josh Lord went very well up front, as did Villi Ma'asi."
However, Brown refused to completely rule out Cornwall's hopes of reaching the final. He added: "It is a three-game campaign and Gloucestershire against Devon is going to be some battle. If Devon do take Gloucester then we have got Devon at home and who knows what is going to happen. If results go our way then we could still be in the mix. Our challenge is to move forward from this and play a lot better at Hertfordshire. We can only take it week by week."
Although Gloucestershire - who have won the competition on 17 previous occasions - showed they will be more than a match for Devon, who themselves are chasing a unique hat-trick of titles.
In truth, Cornwall could have few complaints after Saturday's defeat. Unlike previous years where the Duchy's finest have torn into their opponents from the outset, this time round it took until the final quarter for the home side to at least show their true colours. By then, however, Cornwall - supplemented this year by a healthy contingent of Cornish Pirates - were well adrift of their opponents, who stunned the home side on 12 minutes with a converted try from winger Tom Jarvis. Home fly-half Lee Jarvis cut the arrears with a penalty shortly after, before both sides were reduced to 14 men, Josh Lord (Cornwall) and Regan Turoa (Gloucestershire) sin-binned for professional fouls.
Turoa's indiscretion was punished with a second Lee Jarvis penalty, but the Pirate - making his county debut - was unable to add a third on 28 minutes.
Gloucestershire made the most of the let-off, stinging their hosts with a second try on 31 minutes. A surging run down the right from Chris Holder saw him halted by a great tackle by Ricky Pellow, but the visitors recycled the ball quickly to the left where No.8 Tom Brown was on hand to score, Mark Woodrow again adding the extras. Cornwall were clearly in need of a lift and it duly arrived in first-half injury time when backs Rhodri McAtee and Matt Jess combined well to set-up Lee Jarvis for a try, which he also converted.
Having got to within a point, Cornwall then endeavoured to hit the self-destruct button either side of the interval. A Woodrow penalty made it 17-13 at the turn, before the Nottingham fly-half was on hand to convert Brown's second try a minute after the restart.
Still it did not get any better for the home side, Woodrow's left boot firing Gloucestershire further in front on 47 minutes after Pellow had been penalised for holding on in the tackle.
Again Cornwall were in need of a pick-me-up. Enter, centre stage, Andy Birkett.
No sooner had the colourful Launceston back - the sole survivor of the Duchy's last championship winning side of 1999 - jogged his way to the full-back slot, then he was collecting a pass and diving his way over the line to score his side's second try. An inspired replacement - "Super Sub" had arrived.
Birkett's intervention suddenly lifted home hopes, only for them to be shot down within minutes courtesy of visiting full-back Dave Knight, who gleefully accepted a pass from ex-Pirate Duncan Murray to touchdown in the right-hand corner. Cornwall - to their credit - refused to lie down, launching a series of attacks at their counterparts in the dying stages. Had they played the earlier 70 minutes like they did the final ten, then the masses could well have been celebrating rather than commiserating today.
Some superb defensive work from Gloucestershire, who included Exeter Chiefs lock Mark Gabey in their line-up, helped keep the Duchy at bay until the final minute when Birkett released club-mate Marc Sweeney to cross in the corner. It was, however, a little late by then.
Cornwall scores (23): Tries - L Jarvis, Birkett, Sweeney; Conversion - L Jarvis; Penalties - L Jarvis 2
Cornwall: R McAtee (Cornish Pirates); L Vinnicombe (Cornish Pirates), M Sweeney (Launceston), PJ Gidlow (Redruth), M Jess (Cornish Pirates); L Jarvis (Cornish Pirates),R Pellow (Mounts Bay); D Seal (Cornish Pirates), V Ma'asi (Cornish Pirates), S Heard (Cornish Pirates); R Carroll (capt, Redruth), D Cook (Redruth); J Lord (Launceston), S Betty (Cornish Pirates), N Pascoe (Redruth). Replacements (used): M Richards (Redruth) for Pellow 60), A Birkett (Launceston) for McAtee 60, J Wilce (Launceston) for Carroll 16, A Morcom (Redruth) for Heard 67, S Perry (Launceston) for 64 Replacements (not used): S Harrison (Redruth), G Corin (St Ives) Yellow Card: Lord
Gloucestershire scores (32): Tries - T Jarvis, Brown 2, D Knight; Conversions - Woodrow 3; Penalties - Woodrow 2
Gloucestershire: D Knight (Pertemps Bees); A McRae (Lydney), C Holder (Moseley),D Murray (Doncaster), T Jarvis (Lydney); M Woodrow (Nottingham), P Knight (Pertemps Bees); N Baylis (Moseley), P Finkin (Dings Crusaders), M Long (Pertemps Bees); M Gabey (Exeter Chiefs), P Kiely (Lydney); R Turoa (Lydney), S Williams (Stourbridge), T Brown (Worcester Warriors). Replacements (used): S Edwards (Dings Crusaders) for McRae 59, R Teague (Henley Hawks) for Woodrow 79, T Richardson (Nottingham) for T Jarvis 80, C Hall (Henley Hawks) for Finkin 67, R Davis (Moseley) for Baylis 79, D Bufton (Dings Crusaders) for Turoa 79, D Jenkins (Lydney) for Williams 73) Yellow Cards: Turoa, Williams, Holder.
Referee: R Kitt (RFU)
CORNISH Pirates' coach Jim McKay was happy to end a successful season with a win but, ever the perfectionist, still wanted more from his team despite a convincing 36-13 victory over London Welsh at the Mennaye Field.
"Result-wise it was good. It wasn't the greatest performance, but both teams looked to play attacking rugby. We saw some good tries and it was played in pretty good spirit as well," he said. "We're happy with the five points again. We've finished the season on an equal number of wins with Bedford. "It was a fitting end to the season, a nice day down here, nice to be down at the Mennaye and there were some patches of good play."
The Pirates made an impressive start, just as they did at Coventry the week before, by scoring a try within the first two minutes of the game. Joe Bearman celebrated his farewell appearance for the Cornish side by running in over the line after breaking through the Welsh defence. Tom Barlow, playing at number ten for the second consecutive week, stepped up to add the extras.
Welsh, however, made a determined effort to get back into the game and were rewarded when Jonny Marsters scored a try with the Welsh pack's assistance on six minutes. Matt Cannon failed to make the conversion and the impetus was with the Pirates once more when Barlow's well-measured pass found Duncan Roke, who committed several Welsh players with a mazy run before playing the ball wide to Rhodri McAtee, who accelerated down the left wing to score the try.
Welsh responded again and cut the Pirates' lead to just two points when John Swords completed a fine team move after he received the ball from Gareth Swales on the left wing. Cannon, however, was unable to make the conversion that would have brought the teams level.
The Cornishmen regrouped and spent the majority of the remaining minutes before the interval in the Welsh half. Their persistence won them another try in the 33rd minute when Dan Parkes finished a forward drive. Barlow sent his conversion through the posts, only for the points cushion to be reduced by Cannon in stoppage time as he made his only successful kick of the day to score a penalty just in front of the posts.
A less eventful second half saw the Cornish Pirates score two converted tries and a penalty without reply as they showed the more workmanlike aspects of their game to dominate Welsh.
A drive-try from Matt Evans on 47 minutes was converted by Barlow, who himself scored with a penalty 12 minutes later. Lee Jarvis, who injured a groin muscle in the warm-up against Coventry the previous week, replaced Barlow with 19 minutes remaining, and it was his intelligent play that led to the Pirates' final try. Jarvis ran at the Welsh defence and just at the crucial moment passed wide to Kevin James, who displayed impressive athleticism to run the ball from the half-way line to just under the posts without being caught, flamboyantly making the touchdown to the delight of the home supporters.
McKay was pleased that his side managed to break free of Welsh in the second half and that he managed use all of his replacements. He said: "They're a very good side, they kept coming back at us and I was very pleased that we could use the 22 players today, so it's a whole group thing. "We were determined to send the boys who are leaving on their way with a good memory. It caps off a pretty successful season."
McKay's men finished the season in the club's highest-ever league position, but the Australian believes they could have gone higher than third place if they had maintained consistency over the whole season. "We're pleased, but I'm ever the extreme perfectionist. Shall we say, there's a couple of games we let slip," he added. "Having said that, I think Harlequins were the dominant side in the division, but with a bit more consistency on a couple of games we maybe could have finished second. "I think we have moved on and improved on and off the field, we're moving in the right direction."
Cornish Pirates scores (36): tries McAtee, K James, Parkes, Bearman, Evans; conversions Barlow 3, Jarvis; penalty Barlow.
London Welsh scores (13): tries Swords, Marsters; penalty Cannon.
Cornish Pirates: R McAtee, R Welding (M Jess 66), D Roke (J Beardshaw 80), W Kelly (M Jess 15-25), K James; T Barlow (L Jarvis 61), G Cattle (capt, N Chivers 61); D Parkes (A Paver 40, Parkes 73-80), V Ma'asi (O Hambly 61), D Seal (N Adams 50), H Senekal, S Hockings, J Bearman, S Betty, M Evans.
London Welsh: G Swales; J Swords, M Cannon, D Hayward (A Hopkins 63, L Cousins 67), T Holgate; M Meenan, A Chilten (capt, R Shaw 67); S Millard (S Croall 21), A Tauialo (R Griffith 63), J Marsters; H Quigley (M Barker 63), J Brownrigg; R Woods (C Waring 63), S Etheredge, P Cox.
Referee: N Williams (RFU).
There was a slightly festive feeling about Polson Bridge on this last day of the season. The sun was shining, there was a good crowd and a feeling that this might be an exciting game; neither side had anything to play for except pride, but that is a powerful motivator; as both sides were determined to put on an entertaining display. They did; eight tries and some really cracking rugby was a fitting end to the long and glorious career for clubs and country of stalwart Dave Sims as he hangs up his boots and a fitting farewell to faithful servant Andy Birkett, who is travelling the world (with his boots) for the next twelve months; writes Tony Randel.
The Cornish All Blacks looked really fired right from the kick-off. Wayne Sprangle hared off down the centre into the Barking 22 before he was stopped by a wall of 'Cardinal and Grey'. Stuart Alred and Nigel Simpson made near breaks and it was not until the restart after an Alred penalty on 15 minutes that Barking got into the Launceston half. Then they struck, a quick ball tapped back from the line out to scrum half Andrew Eaton gave him the chance to skip round the back of the line to score between the posts; the deadly boot of ex-Italy international Corrado Pilat added the extras. 7-3 to Barking after 17 minutes was right against the run of play but rugby rarely goes according to the script!
The Launceston pack were at their formidable best, winning nearly all the set pieces and setting up some unstoppable rolling mauls. It was therefore not surprising that a catch and drive of fully 15m was rewarded with a Wayne Sprangle try, duly converted by Stuart Alred in the 24th minute to nudge the home side into the lead. They should have had another a couple of minutes later when Nigel Simpson sent Marc Sweeney away, as Steve Perry moved to his outside he tripped-up the runner in spectacular fashion! They still remain friends!
A classic display of running rugby brought the Cornish All Black's second try on the half hour when Richard John gathered from a scrum to send a long pass to Marc Sweeney. He quickly off-loaded to Andy Birkett, who made the try before he passed to Wayne Sprangle moving at speed on the wing. Stuart Alred landed the difficult touch-line conversion.
Five minutes later Barking closed the gap; fast and powerful winger Mounga Kafatolu gathered a loose ball on his own 10m line and raced away; he was too fast for the Launceston defence and touched down between the posts for Pilat to slot the conversion.
Another Launceston catch and drive just into first half stoppage time saw Wayne Reed come up with the ball; the Alred conversion opened up the gap again to ten points. But again Barking hit back! This time it was scrum half Eaton who picked up a loose ball and passed to Pilat to streak away; he converted his own try. It had certainly been a fast and furious first half with Lasunceston having 70% or so of both territory and possession but Barking making the most of every possible opportunity.
The visitors took the lead almost from the restart when winger Felise Ah-Ling got a turn-over ball on his own 10m line and raced away. Like his opposite winger Kafatolu he was just too fast for any Launceston player to get near. Pilat added the extras. The Cornish All Blacks saw the constant danger posed by the Barking back three and kept the ball tight in the forwards. This frustrated Barking, who gave away a series of penalties to allow the Cornish All Blacks to work their way up to the Barking try line. The two Launceston Barbarians then combined to put the home team ahead once more. Nick Burnett made a break from one line out but as he was stopped just short of the line he offloaded to Wayne Reed on his shoulder for Reeder to score - props don't often get two in a game! Alred added the extras.
The pattern of this game was that Barking would hit right back. They tried but to no avail. When their hooker, Wilhelm Nel, was sin-binned for yapping at the referee Alred fired the penalty to open up the gap to six points. Barking could do nothing but hold on in the last ten minutes but they went home with two well deserved bonus points after playing a great part in a very entertaining afternoon's rugby.
So ends another season and what a season. Highest ever position in the league; Champions of Cornwall - again; two Barbarians and one England Counties cap - not bad for 'an ancient market town of 7000 souls'. Well done All You Blacks; God speed and many thanks to Dave Sims and Andy Birkett.
Launceston scores: tries, Sprangle(2), Reed(2); cons, Alred (4); pens, Alred (2).
Barking scores: tries, Eaton, Kafatolu, Pilat, Ah-Ling; cons, Pilat(4).
Launceston: Andy Birkett, Nigel Simpson, Marc Sweeney (Marc Dibble 55), Steve Perry, Andy Matchett, Stuart Alred, Richard John, Jason Bolt, Dave Risdon (capt), Wayne Reed, John Griffiths (Barry Chapman 50), Dave Sims, Josh Lord (Steve Dyer 48, Ian Langbridge 78), Wayne Sprangle, Nick Burnett.
Barking: Corrado Pilat, Mounga Kafatolu, Peter Mahoney, Anthony Skurr, Felise Ah-Ling (Mike Couser 64), Dave Gilmour, Andrew Eaton (capt), Leonard Liebenberg, Wilhelm Nel, Edward Ambrose (Metan Brosh 38), Macer Twydall (D Toweel 78), Ben Heydenrych, Rob Batho, Steve Hadley (Robert Connell 51), Sevanaia Rokobaro.
Referee: Mr Steve Harland (RFU).
A TRY seven minutes into injury time from Kevin James ensured the Cornish Pirates bid adieu to their Kenwyn base in dramatic style with victory over local rivals Plymouth Albion.
With the Pirates set to play their final National League One game of the season against London Welsh back at the Mennaye Field on April 29, the future remains unclear as to whether they will grace the Truro venue next season.
However, if this was to prove the conclusion to their short, but somewhat sweet stay 'Up on the Hill', then the Pirates served up the perfect parting gift to their army of supporters - the numbers of which have swelled steadily during the season following their short sojourn up the A30.
Trailing 28-22 four minutes into injury time, it seemed the points were heading East with Graham Dawe's powerful Albion Armada, who overcame a formidable opening half-hour from the Pirates to claw themselves to within inches of a famous victory. With honours even between the two sides this season - Albion triumphed 36-20 in the Powergen Trophy back in November, before the Pirates gained their revenge with a 26-23 victory in the league in December - things were always going to be tight between the cross-Tamar rivals.
In Round Three, however, it was the Pirates who flew out of the blocks. In a rousing opening, Heino Senekal, Duncan Roke and skipper Gavin Cattle all went close, before South African No.8 Matt Evans broke the deadlock on 11 minutes when, aided by his fellow forwards, he was powered over the line from a line-out, Lee Jarvis converting. Minutes later and they were adding to their tally, flanker Joe Bearman intercepting a telegraphed pass from Albion fly-half Ed Barnes to race in from 60 metres to score. Jarvis missed with the conversion, but he atoned on 28 minutes when he fired over a penalty to put the hosts 15-0 up.
Albion were clearly reeling and in need of a pick-me-up of some sorts. So, in troubled times, they resorted to the good old tried-and-trusted, prop Martin Rice burrowing over from a catch-and-drive move, which Barnes converted. Barnes could have reduced the arrears yet further, but he failed with penalty kicks either side of the break. However, when Pirates prop Alan Paver was sin-binned for not rolling away at the tackle area, Albion used the man advantage to great effect. Using quick ball over a ruck just inside the Pirates' half, Barnes latched onto a pass from Nigel Cane, before dropping his shoulder and brushing off the attentions of at least four home tacklers to score and convert.
However, better was to follow for the Devonians, who claimed converted try number three on the hour mark, Alfie Tooala, Keni Fisilau, Luke Arscott and Ed Lewsey combining to set-up Regardt Van Eyk to touchdown. Renewed impetus - in the shape of Vili Ma'asi and Nick Adams - was sent on in a bid to add some fresh muscle up front for the home side - and the move clearly paid off as Ma'asi was the initial instigator of Rhodri McAtee's try six minutes from time.
With Cattle having been dragged to the bottom of a ruck, Ma'asi took control at the base lobbing a pass right to Matt Jess, who in turn fed Wade Kelly, he linked with Richard Welding, whose electric burst through the middle created the opening for the 'Welsh Whippet' to glide his way in from 15 metres out, Jarvis obliging with the tough conversion to make it 22-21. The drama, however, was far from over and when full-back Arscott picked his way through the home defence with 84 minutes on the clock, Barnes converting, Albion sensed this could well be their day.
The Pirates, though, had other ideas and using their pack to edge ever closer to the visitors' line with a series of pick-and-go moves, it was James who emerged from a mass of bodies with the match-ball in hand. Jarvis converted with the final kick of the game to seal a memorable win.
Cornish Pirates Scores (29): Tries - Evans, Bearman, McAtee, K James; Conversions - Jarvis 3; Penalty - Jarvis
Plymouth Albion Scores(28): Tries - Rice, Barnes, Van Eyk, L Arscott; Conversions - Barnes 4
Pirates: R McAtee; R Welding, D Roke (M Jess 40), W Kelly, K James; L Jarvis, G Cattle (capt), A Paver (D Parkes 61), N Makin (V Ma'asi 67), D Seal (N Adams 67); H Senekal, J Beardshaw (S Hockings 70), T Cowley (Parkes 52-61), M Evans.
Replacements (not used): N Chivers, T Barlow. Yellow Card: Paver.
Albion: L Arscott; E Lewsey, R Van Eyk, K Fisilau, N Sestaret; E Barnes, N Cane; M Rice, S Friswell, R Hopkins; N Rouse (M Lewis 33-40), B Luxton; M Schusterman, D Thomas (capt, C Lowrie 80), A Tooala.
Replacements (not used): N Saumi, J Fabian, M Albina, A Livesey, G Dawe. Referee: T Wigglesworth (RFU)
Harlequins rolled into Cornwall to face the teeth of a Cornish gale both on and off the pitch. The Cornish weather threw it's best sou'wester for many a long month at the Londoners in an attempt to provide a level playing field at Kenwyn for the Cornish side. But to no avail as the Harlequins gave a masterful display, especially during the second half , on how to play the conditions to win comfortably and earn a try-scoring bonus point as the icing on the cake.
It was tremendous to see Kenwyn full (6,000) and the crowd where in fine voice. The Falmouth Marine Band did their best to stoke up the pre-match atmosphere with their parade around the ground. Without doubt there was exciting anticipation to this eagerly awaited match, with the prospect of seeing the likes of World Cup winner Will Greenwood (many in the ground will have memories of his dad, Dick, captaining Lancashire to that 11-9 win at Redruth in the County Championship final in 1969), All Black legend Andrew Mehrtens, and Springbok Andre Vos, as well as the rich abundance of talent that coach Dean Richards has at his disposal.
The game began promisingly with the Cornish Pirates dominating the early exchanges. Fly-half Lee Jarvis had an early penalty chance but saw his effort pushed wide by the tricky wind. Soon after there was further pressure on the Quins line but the ball ran over the dead ball line. Then, in their first meaningful attack of the afternoon, Quins scored an excellent try. Following a line out, the ball was moved at pace along the line, with fullback Tom Williams exploiting a large hole to run powerfully into the 22. Credit to Pirates' fullback Duncan Roke for making the tackle. However, Quins' winger Ugo Moyne was on hand to take the pass from Williams and romp over near the posts in the Kenwyn Hill corner after 8 minutes. Adrain Jarvis kicked the conversion.
The Pirates missed an opportunity to get right back when Quins were penalised for pulling down. But following the kick to the corner the lineout was lost! Instead Adrian Jarvis increased the visitors' lead with a penalty from 30 meters after 19 minutes. Still the Pirates continued to create chances. A crossfield kick from Lee Jarvis almost found Kevin James but Ugo Moyne put in some great defensive work to deny the Pirates' winger. But the breakthrough for the Pirates was not long in coming, as skipper and scrum-half Gavin Cattle dived over the line following a powerful burst from Namibian lock Heino Senekal.
The home crowd went mad. Despite missing the conversion, Lee Jarvis made amends with a penalty kick shortly after to bring the Pirates back to within 2 points. That was as close as the Pirates were to get on the day. A great break by Simon Keogh saw Williams on hand to finish off the move and score under the posts. Adrian Jarvis made no mistake with the conversion. Lee Jarvis missed with a penalty attempt for the Pirates before half-time, so it remained 17-8 to the visitors.
The second half proved to be a difficult one for the Pirates as Harlequins made use of the conditions and kept the Pirates pinned in their 22 for long periods. To their credit the Pirates defended manfully. With the tricky wind making it nigh impossible to clear their lines with the boot, they attempted to play their way out of defence. The pressure the Quins exerted forced errors. From one such Cattle was caught near his 22 and Simon Keogh was able to run in a third try on 51 minutes which Adrian Jarvis again converted to make it 24-8 to the Quins.
Both sides brought on fresh legs with a big cheer being reserved for Rhodri McAtee after his exploits at the Commonwealth Games 7s for Wales. Indeed, with almost his first touch his spark of genius caused alarm bells in the erstwhile organised Quins' defence. Half backs Steve So'oialo, Adrian Jarvis and, when he came on, Andrew Mehrtens, dictated affairs throughout the second period. The bonus point try arrived courtesy of Will Greenwood lurking out on the wing, as he dived over in the Short-lanes-end corner of the ground to wrap up the 5 point win.
Thanks for the visit Quins, good luck on your return to the Guinness Premiership. We hope to entertain you again one day soon. It was great to see so many of your fans down in Truro and I am sure that the commercial and economic results of your weekend trip will "open the eyes" of the possibilities that having a top flight rugby team in the Duchy can afford!
Cornish Pirates: Duncan Roke; Richard Welding,. Wez Davies
(Rhodri McAtee 67), Wade Kelly, Kevin James; Lee Jarvis, Gavin Cattle (capt);
Alan Paver, Nick Makin (Vili Ma'asi 67), Dan Parkes (Dan Seal 67); Heino
Senekal, Joe Beardshaw (S. Hockings 80); Joe Bearman, Sam Betty, Tim Cowley (M.
Replacements not used: Neil Chivers, Matt Jess.
NEC Harlequins: Tom Williams, Simon Keogh,Will Greenwood (Mel
Deane 77),Gavin Duffy,Ugo Monye, Adrian Jarvis (Andrew Mehrtens 61), Steve
So'oialo; Ceri Jones, Jimmy Richards, Lorne Ward, Jim Evans, Simon Miall (Pablo
Bouza), Tom Guest, Andre Vos (Capt.Luke Sherriff 77), Nick Easter
Replacements not used: Tani Fuga,Ricky Nebbett, Mike Brown .
Referee: Mr.Roy Maybank (RFU) .
This was a match that the Pirates could easily have lost. In the fourth minute of injury time at the end of the game, with the score 17 - 20, Pirates had the put-in to a defensive scrum five meters from their line. Scrum-half Gavin Cattle flipped the ball back to fly-half Lee Jarvis, who had just come on in place of Tom Barlow. Jarvis fumbled and knocked on, giving the Welsh the put-in to another five yard scrum. Throughout the second half, the Welsh pack seemed to get stronger and stronger, so it was only some desperate defending that kept them out. Eventually, the ball moved across the Welsh backs and Pirates conceded a penalty in a very kickable position. Welsh fly-half Mark Meenan, who had kicked pretty well all afternoon, stepped up to even the scores at 20 - 20 -- and pulled his kick left of the posts! Seconds later, Cattle deliberately ran the ball out of play and the referee signalled the end of the match. The Pirates had scraped the win.
As we were told by several Welsh supporters before the match, the London club's lowly position in the league belies their true abilities. With several players back from injury, and following consecutive wins against Coventry and Rotherham, the Welsh were confident of making a match of it -- and so it proved.
Pirates kicked off facing a low sun. The ball was gathered by a Welsh player, but his kick for touch was charged down and the ball sent spinning towards the Welsh try line! Fortunately for the Welsh, Pirates lost the race to the line. Recovering from this early scare, the Welsh raced into a 6 point lead with two penalties from Meenan.
Pirates countered with the first try of the game. Kevin James made a break in midfield which eventually led to a score in the far corner. Barlow converted to make the score 6 - 7 and put the Pirates' noses in front. Two minutes later, Barlow kicked the first of his two penalties to extend the lead to 6 - 10.
At this stage, the packs looked evenly matched. Both were keen to try rolling mauls. The Welsh rolling maul looked the more effective. The Pirates' was frequently halted by Welsh bodies going to ground.
On fifteen minutes, the Welsh strayed off side and Barlow put the penalty into the corner. Pirates' pack couldn't shunt the Welsh back over the line. Pirates recycled the ball through many phases but couldn't penetrate the Welsh defence and eventually lost the ball through a knock on.
Two minutes later, it was the Welsh turn to fire a penalty into the corner and try a catch-and-drive, but the Pirates' defence kept them out.
A dynamic Pirates' breakout was foiled at the end by a dropped pass. Shortly afterwards, a slick Pirates' handling move seemed to create an overlap for Matt Jess but the winger put his foot in touch close to the line.
Pirates put another penalty into the corner but their subsequent rolling maul couldn't make progress against the strong Welsh pack. Pirates recycled the ball through many phases and eventually Kevin James went over. Barlow converted to extend the Pirates' lead to 6 - 17.
Pirates were awarded a scrum just inside their own half, but the referee changed his decision to a penalty to the Welsh for talking back. He then moved the penalty 10 yards forward when the Pirates failed to retreat quickly enough. This bit of indiscipline by the Pirates gifted the Welsh a very kickable penalty, which Meenan promptly converted to make the scores 9 - 17.
Just before half-time, the Welsh scored the best try of the game. Meenan kicked a cross-field ball which dropped just ahead of his sprinting winger. The winger gathered the ball without breaking his stride and raced over in the corner. Mennan was unable to convert, so the score at half-time was 14 - 17.
Early in the second half Pirates exerted some good pressure and a break was held up just short of the corner. However, on 14 minutes Meenan kicked a penalty to even the scores.
Pirates tried for another push-over try but were held up and forced to move the ball wide, where they were forced into touch.
The Welsh were awarded a penalty, for holding on, just outside the Pirates' 22, but Meenan fired wide of the posts. The Pirates then put together some good phases of play, switching the ball right and left, until they were eventually pulled up for crossing.
By this time the Welsh pack were looking the stronger. They seemed able to wheel the Pirates' scrum at will, and their rolling mauls were becoming difficult to stop. Some of their big forwards, such as lock Jim Brownrigg, were making good yardage when carrying the ball. A particularly strong passage of Welsh play was only halted by crossing.
With half an hour of the second half gone, and the scores still tied at 17 - 17, Pirates' hooker Viliami Ma'asi was replaced by Nick Makin. The Pirates started to put together some good back moves, but the Welsh defence was strong. Then, on 35 minutes, Pirates were awarded a penalty for an offence at a scrum. Barlow made no mistake and edged the Cornish side ahead again by 17 - 20.
In the first minute of injury time, Lee Jarvis came on for Tom Barlow and the nerve-wracking incidents described above occurred. In the end, the match was decided by the efficiency of the two sides' kickers: Meenan kicked 4 penalties, but missed 2 penalties and 1 conversion. Barlow kicked 2 penalties and 2 conversions, and missed none.
This was very much a trip down memory lane for this reporter to the very field on which he played in the sky blue and white-hooped shirts of the former Truro Cathedral School. To me and countless other "Old Truronians" it was always known as the Top Field and I make no apology to referring to it as such.
On a sunny day, the Cornish Pirates turned in a Five Star performance to "christen" their new temporary home. Winger Richard Welding became the first hero of the new ground in scoring five of his sides' seven tries, in what was a comprehensive win in front of a good crowd, including Messrs Baron and Thomas from the RFU. It must have encouraged club president Dicky Evans to see instant success both on and off the field.
It was the Pirates who kicked off towards Shortlanes end and immediately took the game to their opponents. Fly half Tom Barlow soon had a chance of points but his kick from 40 meters went wide of the posts. Rotherham then gave notice that they hadn't come just to make up the numbers when they launched a series of powerful drives near the Pirates' line in the Kenwyn Hill corner of the ground. Pressure eventually told and Titans No 8 Chris Hala'uifa had the honour of scoring the first try on the Top Field in National League rugby on 13 mins. Fly half Mike Whitehead was unable to convert the score.
The Pirates were stung by this setback and set about scoring themselves. Matt Jess had the first of several promising runs. However, he was up against a formidable opponent in Rotherham's Dave Strettle and the tussle between these two England Counties XV wingers was a match in itself.
The Pirates continued pressing and a hurried clearance near the Titan's line was run back with interest by Welding, who scored his first try on 18 mins in the north-east corner of the ground. Barlow kicked a fine conversion to edge the Pirates ahead at 7-5.
The Pirates were beginning to get on top and penalties were going their way. Barlow kicked to the NE corner and, following a big drive from the lineout, the ball came back infield at pace for Welding to sniff a gap and score his second try of the game on 25 minutes. Barlow couldn't add the extras this time.
Rotherham immediately had a chance of points when, following a knock-on from the restart, the Pirates were penalised at the resulting scrum, with Whitehead kicking three points from the 22. Undeterred, the Pirates were soon back in Rotherham territory. Wez Davies and Welding combined well during a promising attack, and Barlow put a snap drop attempt wide of the posts. Jess had another good run, but got no change out of Strettle. The pressure was again mounting on the Titans and it was the ever-industrious scrum-half Gavin Cattle who charged down an attempted clearance in the visitors' 22. This led to a hasty clearance kick, which found Welding out on his wing. The winger had no hesitation in again running the ball back, dancing his way around the despairing tackles to score his third try on 35 mins. Barlow kicked the conversion to make the score 19 - 8, which is how it stayed to half time.
Pirates were now playing towards the City end and soon they, or should I say Richard Welding, had ensured the bonus point, as the winger scorched in for his fourth try on 44 minutes in the top corner. Barlow converted the score and, with the Pirates at 26 - 8, the crowd were in fine voice.
Cattle was kicking for the corners to pin the Titans back in their 22. Pirates were looking irresistible with the ball in hand and it was no surprise to see Wez Davies score his sides' fifth try in the Kenwyn Hill corner. A sixth try soon followed, and this time Matt Jess was able to escape the attention of Strettle as he followed up a kick to pounce again in the Kenwyn Hill corner.
At 36-8 the Pirates had not yet finished, and it was fitting that Man of the Match Richard Welding should claim a fifth try in the top corner, following a fine break by Wez Davies. Barlow added the extras. Rotherham, to their credit, did not let their heads drop and they were rewarded with a try at the end when centre Tom Allen crossed deep in injury time.
But the day belonged appropriately to the Cornish Pirates. Thank you for a "Grand Day Out", and here's to many more on the Top Field at Kenwyn.
Cornish Pirates: 15. W. Davies, 14. R. Welding, 13. D. Roke (18. K. James 56), 12. S. James, 11. M. Jess, 10. T. Barlow. 9. G. Cattle; 1. A. Paver, 2. P. Ince (21. N. Makin 56, 19. V. Ma'asi 75), 3. N. Adams (22. D. Seal 56), 4. W. James, 5. J. Beardshaw, 6. J. Bearman (capt), 7. S. Betty, 8. T. Cowley (20. M. Evans 72).
Reps not used: 16. M. Churcher, 17. L. Jarvis
Earth Titans: 15.E. Claasens, 14. D. Srettle, 13. T. Allen, 12 L. Blackett (capt 17. L. Strauss 69), 11. A. Carter, 10. M. Whitehead, 9. J. Bedford (16. M. Jonker 76); 1. J. Carey (18. J. Golding 59), 2. N. Hannah (21. N Conroy 53), 3. J. Rawson (20. A. Hopcroft 40) , 4. L. McGowan, 5. G. McComb (22. N. Pike 62), 6. S. Donald, 7. N. Cochrane, 8. C. Hala'uifa (19. H. Fourie 72).
Ref; Mr. T. Beddow (RFU)
For the second week in a row, the Cornish Pirates faced an away match against a side newly-promoted to Division 1. Having disposed of Doncaster 40 - 20 last week, this time the Pirates faced a tougher proposition in a confident and well-drilled Newbury side.
With regular scrum-halves Gavin Cattle and Rhodri McAtee both injured, Marek Churcher, on-loan from Redruth, was preferred to Mounts Bay's Ryan Westren.
The Pirates started well enough. A good passing move after just 4 minutes should have led to a try in the corner, but the final pass went astray. On nine minutes, after some weak defensive work from the Pirates and somewhat against the run of play, Newbury broke away and scored in the corner. Fly-half Blair Feeney, who kicked impressively all afternoon, landed the difficult conversion.
Newbury continued to press and after 12 minutes Pirates found themselves 14 - 0 down, having conceded another converted try. Again it was the Pirates' defence that let them down. Newbury number 6 Isoa Damu Damu, who was a handful all afternoon, broke three tackles to set up the try.
Scrum-half Churcher, in his first game for the Pirates, didn't look comfortable; more than once he was caught in possession, and the ball from the scrum was slow and not always accurate.
Six minutes later, Pirates got their first points on the board with a penalty from Lee Jarvis. This was almost immediately cancelled out, however, by a penalty from Feeney, making the score 17 - 3 to Newbury.
At last Pirates began to show what they are capable of, and the second and third quarters were their best period of the match. First, a slick handling move let in Richard Welding. This was followed, three minutes later, by a try from centre Shaun James. Jarvis converted both tries to even the scores at 17 apiece.
Jarvis and Feeney then exchanged penalties to make the score 20 - 20 at the break, and set up the prospect of a fascinating second half.
Soon after the restart Jarvis missed a penalty attempt. With his next penalty he opted to kick for the corner. However, the lineout was messy and the scoring chance evaporated with a Pirate knock-on. Sam Betty came on to replace Ivo Motusaga in the back row.
On fifty minutes, a good passing move led to Matt Jess being forced into touch just short of the try-line. There then followed a spell of strong Pirates' pressure on the Newbury line. The Cornish side were awarded several penalties as Newbury tried desperately to keep them out. Eventually, a Pirates' knock-on relieved the pressure.
The first score of the second half was a penalty by Jarvis. Soon afterwards, Jarvis was replaced by Tom Barlow and Ryan Westren came on in place of Marek Churcher. Barlow soon made his mark with a penalty that increased Pirates' lead to six points.
By now, the Pirates' pack were in dominant mood. They set up some good rolling mauls and forced the Newbury eight back at the scrums. However, Newbury were not finished yet. Needing only a converted try to win, they set up some good handling moves that stretched the Pirates' defence. Eventually, their pressure told and they crossed the Pirates' line, out wide, in the sixth minute of injury time. Feeney, who had kicked immaculately all day, had only to land the conversion for Newbury to take the match. It was a difficult kick and, luckily for the Pirates, he missed it by a shade. A further few minutes of injury time followed, during most of which the Pirates sensibly held on to the ball with a series of rolling mauls.
What are we to make of this curate's egg of a Pirates' performance? The positive parts were the lineout, which worked well all afternoon, the powerful scrummaging and mauling, some slick inter-passing by the backs, and Jarvis and Barlow's kicking. Less good was some of the tackling, and there were too many handling errors. All in all, six-and-a-half out of ten. But you feel that this side will improve.
Cornwall duly achieved the win by the required points margin, but Devons 25 10 win at Lydney rendered it academic as far as reaching the final was concerned. It is they who will contest next Sundays final against Lancashire at Twickenham.
Cornwall were forced to bring in Chris Trace for the injured Nathan Pedley and chose to start with Ricky Pellow at scrum half instead of Mark Richards. Warwickshire were forced to travel somewhat depleted for this fixture, as their skipper Glen Southwell and fellow Nuneaton players Stuart Gibson, Alex Williams, and Stuart Pearson were all unavailable.
Cornwall totally dominated the game from start to finish and it was fitting that Matt Jess should open the try feast after only 9 minutes. Jess also scored Cornwalls final try right at the end and in between had what appeared a perfectly good score chalked off by touch judge Steve Harland for a forward pass! Scrum half Ricky Pellow was at the centre of all the action as he orchestrated Cornish attacks almost at will. Chris Trace with two tries, Pellow, skipper Craig Bonds and the impressive Sam Hocking all scored tries before the break for Cornwall, with Chris Murphy scoring the solitary Warwickshire try. Cornwall turned around with a commanding half-time lead of 32-7.
Ian Morgan managed one conversion in difficult kicking conditions before leaving the field injured before half time to be replaced by Plymouth Albions Marek Churcher. Newbury and England Counties Malcolm Roberts assumed the kicking duties.
It was pretty much as you were for the second half as Cornwall continued to rattle up the points with further tries coming from flanker Julian Hosking, Churcher, Roberts, prop Darren Jacques' replacement lock Lee Soper, and finally Jess. Roberts kicked three conversions. Richard Carroll as always was in the thick of the action.
Cornwall brought on all their replacements before the end. Warwickshire managed to score a second try through Nick Thatcher, with their skipper Shaun Brady (Bedford Blues) putting in a strong performance, but at the end they were a well beaten side and knew that they were relegated to the Shield next season.
Scores: Cornwall: Tries (12) Jess (2), Trace (2), Pellow,
Bonds, Hocking, Hosking, Churcher, Roberts, Jacques, Soper . Cons Morgan,
Warwickshire: Tries Murphy, Thatcher. Con Watts.
Cornwall: A Birkett (Launceston), C Trace (Blackheath), C Bonds (Redruth, capt), M Roberts (Newbury), M Jess (Penzance), I Morgan (Camborne), R Pellow (Penzance), D Jacques (Redruth), D Risdon (Launceston), M Rice (Plymouth Albion), J Wilce (Launceston), R Carroll (Redruth), S Hocking (Liskeard-Looe), J Hosking (Redruth), M Heyns (Launceston). Replacements: M Churcher (Plymouth Albion), M Richards (Redruth), S Heard (Redruth), B Priddey (Redruth), L Soper (Launceston), D Cook (Redruth), J Mann (Penryn).
Devon are favourites to advance to the County Final at Twickenham on Sunday May 29th following their win over near neighbours and perennial rivals Cornwall.
Devon, who were able to call on players from National 1 clubs Plymouth Albion and Exeter Chiefs, had too much experience for a plucky Cornwall side. Cornwalls cause was not helped by their indiscipline, which saw them reduced to 14 or 13 men for long periods of the second half. This limited the side to hanging on rather than attacking Devon, which, to their credit, they achieved with some success.
In poor weather conditions, Cornwall began brightly with fly half Ian Morgan kicking penalties after 4 and 22 minutes to give Cornwall a 6-0 lead. Devon soon replied when Tongan centre Keni Fisilau went over in the right hand corner on 25 minutes to score Devons first try. Ed Barnes was unable to convert.
Morgan kicked a third penalty to stretch Cornwalls lead to 9-5 after 28 minutes. Devon where now beginning to exert pressure up front and it was no surprise when Devon scored a second try from a rolling maul which saw winger Luke Arscott driven over after 32 minutes. Barnes was once again unsuccessful with the conversion.
Morgan kicked a fourth penalty to regain the lead for Cornwall, but it was to prove short-lived as referee Mr. Kitt finally tired of the constant infringing and sent Cornish prop Sam Heard to the sin bin just before half time. Barnes finally kicked a goal to leave the hosts 13-12 up at the break.
Barnes kicked a second penalty just after half time to make the score 16-12, Cornwall were then reduced to 13 men as second row Richard Carroll was shown the yellow card. Devon tried to use their numerical advantage to grind Cornwall into the ground, but somehow Cornwall managed to hang on and deny Devon a score. Both sides used their bench to bring on fresh legs, but in Cornwalls case no sooner were Ryan Peacey and Ben Hilton on they both earned yellow cards and promptly trooped off again!
Devon effectively killed the game with a third try scored by centre Pat Sykes, which Barnes again failed to convert. Ricky Pellow and Rhodri MacAtee tried to inject life into Cornwall with a final flourish but with no reward.
Cornwall must hope that Gloucestershire can do them a favour and beat Devon, whilst they look to run in a hatful of tries against Warwickshire at Redruth to have any hope of reaching Twickenham to play the winners of next Saturdays Roses match between Lancashire and Yorkshire in the County Final.
Cornwall got this seasons County Championship campaign off to a winning start. Overcoming an indifferent opening period, they managed to put in a good first quarter after the break to impose themselves on the game. Cambornes fly half Ian Morgan scored 13 of his side's 18 points with a try, two penalties, and a conversion. Liskeard & Looes back row player Sam Hocking capped a fine County Championship debut with Cornwalls other try of the afternoon.
It proved to be a disappointing day all round for Gloucestershire as their U.20s lost their semi-final at Harrogate against Yorkshire, 20-11.
Cornwall played with the elements first half. However, it was Gloucestershire who had a first chance of points, but fly half Craig Jones missed with his attempted penalty kick after 8 minutes. Ian Morgan took his chance after 12 minutes to put Cornwall into a 3 point lead. The lead was short lived as Cornwall conceded a sloppy try, allowing flanker Stean Williams to waltz through the Cornish defence following a burst through from scrum half Nathan Graham. Jones was again unsuccessful with his kick.
Play was to remain scrappy as both sides tried to bring rhythm to their game. Following a kick to the corner and a catch-and-drive, Cornish centre Paul Thirlby was held up over the line. That was the nearest Cornwall would get to a try during the first half.
After the half hour mark Cornwall suffered a blow when winger Lewis Vinnecombe went off injured, to be replaced by Blackheaths Chris Trace. Towards half time Cornwall almost conceded a try near their own line. However, Gloucestershire infringed and Cornwall cleared their lines. Trace had a good run near the end of the half. The luckless Jones again fluffed a penalty kick on the Cornish 22 to leave the Black & Golds trailing 5-3 at the break.
For the second half Gloucestershire brought young Rory Teague on at fly half, with Jones moving to full back in place of Phil Watters. No doubt the Cornish coaches had words with the Cornish side about their poor ball retention in contact during the first half, which saw them concede too many turnovers.
Cornwall regained the lead with a second Morgan penalty on 48 mins, a fine long-range kick into the wind. Cornwall had the bit between their teeth and tore back at Gloucestershire with Mike Heyns, Ricky Pellow, and Richard Carroll all involved. Cornwall, perhaps sensing the moment had come, piled on the pressure and were rewarded with another penalty, Morgans kick rebounded off the post, but a poor clearance saw the ball come to flanker Sam Hocking, who sold his opponent a perfect dummy to run in down the right flank. Morgans conversion made it 13-5 after 53 mins.
Teague immediately cut the deficit with a penalty for Gloucestershire.
Cornwall scored what proved to be the winning try after 61 mins, following a tremendous break by full back Andy Birkett, who sent Trace away down the right flank. Morgan took the scoring pass to score in the corner. Morgans attempted conversion again hit the woodwork.
Gloucestershire had a final say when Rory Teague split the Cornish defence to score and convert his own try on 73 mins. Cornwall hung on to their slender lead despite nearly 8 minutes of time added on.
So its all set up for a likely group decider next Saturday at the Plymouth Brickfields following Devons 25-6 win over Warwickshire in Barnstaple. However, as I am sure coaches Nigel Hambly and Chris Brown would agree, there is still much work to do before then.
Gloucestershire: 15. Phil Watters (Stourbridge), 14. Sylven Edwards (Dings Crusaders), 13. Will Sare (Stow-on-the-Wold), 12. Dean Noeahu (Spartans), 11. Andrew McRae (Lydney), 10. Craig Jones (Stourbridge), 9. Nathan Graham (Stow), 1. Paul Price (Lydney, capt), 2. Ben Lewis (Lydney), 3. Matt Long (Pertemps Bees), 4. Jimmy Roberts (Lydney), 5. Paul Keiley (Lydney), 6. Vince Murrell (Dings), 7. Stean Williams (Coventry), 8. Brett Scrivens (Lydney). Reps, 16. Rory Teague (Hartpury, Gloucester), 17. Chrios Holder (Moseley), 18. Leon Liggett (Coney Hill), 19. Paul Fincken (Dings), 20. Mark Irish (Hartpury, Bristol), 21. Jimmy Matthews (Stourbridge), 22. Dean Jenkins (Lydney).
Cornwall: 15. Andy Birkett (Launceston), 14.
Lewis Vinnecombe (Redruth), 13. Craig Bonds (Redruth, capt), 12. Paul Thirlby
(Redruth), 11. Nathan Pedley (Redruth), 10. Ian Morgan (Camborne), 9. Ricky
Pellow (Penzance & Newlyn); 1. Martin Rice (Plymouth Albion), 2. Mark
Harper (Redruth), 3. Sam Heard (Redruth), 4. Julian Wilce (Launceston), 5.
Richard Carroll (Redruth), 6. Sam Hocking (Liskeard & Looe), 7. Julian
Hosking (Redruth), 8. Mike Heyns (Launceston).
Reps: 16. Darren Jacques (Redruth), 17. Ben Priddey (Redruth), 18.Andy Skinner (St. Ives), 19. Ben Hilton (Mounts Bay), 20. James Mann (Penryn), 21. Mark Richards (Redruth), 22. Chris Trace (Blackheath).
Referee Mr. G. Copsey (RFU)
The roar from the 4,000 plus crowd which greeted referee Nick Williams final whistle could I am sure be heard above the din of the traction engines in the heart of Camborne on Trevithick Day!
Redruth were worthy winners of this winner-takes-all match and I am sure will do well next season in National League 2. Macclesfield played their part in this fine game and showed their class with true Northern grit and tenacity.
It was a murky old day at the Recreation Ground as Bede Brown, playing possibly his last game for the Reds, kicked off up the slope, cheered on in the crowd by his old mate James Lancaster. How fitting that he should be present on this day. From the off Richard Carroll sounded the charge with a quick tap penalty, tearing at the heart of the Macclesfield defence. Fisticuffs were soon happening as the packs greeted each other in time-honoured fashion! A first penalty to the Reds, which Bede Brown kicked to open the score.
Redruth continued to take the game to the visitors with powerful runs from the forwards, notably props Darren Jacques and Sam Heard. The northerners defence was solid as they repelled the repeated attacks of Redruth, who were urged on by their superb support. In the end, their defence was finally breached on 18 minutes as a powerful forward drive splintered the Macclesfield defence to send Richard Carroll over for a try. The noise which greeted the score was deafening! Brown was unable to convert.
Macclesfield were further rocked, first with the sin-binning of flanker Richard Jones and then with an injury to their England Counties' flanker Dave Muckalt, sustained tackling the pugnacious Reds' winger Nathen Pedley. By now, the myth of Southern Softies was fast disappearing! To their credit, Macclesfield denied the Reds while the latter had a man advantage, though Pedley appeared to have a good try disallowed for a forward pass. Then scrum half Mark Richards appeared to have scored, but referee Mr Williams bizarrely called for a television replay, or was it divine intervention, and gave a scrum.
As half-time approached Macclesfield capitalised on some loose play and launched a blistering counter-attack into the Piggy Lane corner. Winger Steve Campbell was stopped in the nick of time with a try-saving tackle by Lewis Vinnecombe. Macclesfield earned a penalty from this attack which fly-half Mike Newell kicked to leave the score at 8-3 at the break. Would it be enough? All that possession and territorial advantage and just a five-point cushion.
Macclesfield chose to stay on the pitch at halftime. Whatever was said worked wonders as within two minutes Redruths advantage had been wiped out by two penalties from Mike Newell. If there was any doubt in anyones mind it was quickly dispelled as another quick Reds' attack saw centre Paul Thirlby chip over the defence and win the race for the touchdown in the Piggy Lane Corner. There was a moment's hesitation before Mr Williams gave the try. The crowd went mad! Browns conversion missed.
Julian Hosking had to leave the field to be replaced by Nathan Pascoe, who made his presence felt with some telling bursts in mid-field.
Redruth were now in the ascendancy, Number 8 Dan Goodwin made another powerful break in midfield. Craig Bonds was a constant danger coming into the line late. Penalties were coming Redruths way as they sought to set up an attacking platform in the famous corner. On 57 minutes the Reds were awarded a penalty in front of the posts. With the crowd baying for a simple three points, skipper John Navin, sensing that the moment was nigh, opted for a kick to the corner. From the catch-and-drive the irresistible Red surge carried hooker Mark Harper over for the crucial try. Brown struck a majestic conversion to make it 20 - 9. The decibels from the crowd reached fever pitch! Macclesfield, for the first time, were more than a score behind. They launched a blistering counter-attack of their own which saw their winger Ben Wheale lose the ball reaching for the line.
Redruth, sensing another score was needed to put the game beyond the reach of their opponents, carried on attacking. Another fine run from Brown and Jacques saw the Reds earn a penalty, which Brown kicked to make it 23-9. As the match entered the final 10 minutes the Reds put the icing on the cake with tries from Craig Bonds and Nathan Pedley. The roof on the old stand at Redruth was set for lift off as the crowd roared its appreciation of its favourites. The replacements were now all on to share in the crowning glory. However, Macclesfield had the final say with a concerted final effort which brought a try for flanker Richard Jones, which Newell, was unable to covert.
The referees final whistle signalled Redruths promotion to National League 2.
Redruth:Tries (5) Carroll, Thirlby, Harper, Bonds, Pascoe; pens (2), con Brown.
Macclesfield: Try Jones; pens (3) Newell.
A clear crisp afternoon saw the Pirates take on London Welsh at the Old Deer Park in Richmond. There were enough supporters to make the Pirates feel that it was a home away from home - certainly they outnumbered the local support.
The first half was fairly even. Pirates were beginning to show their superiority but after 20 minutes the score was still 0-0. The Welsh had a penalty but the kicker pushed it wide. A second penalty attempt put the Welsh 3-0 into the lead. Then Matt Jess, who looked dangerous every time he received the ball, picked his way through the Welsh defence to open the Pirates' scoring on the far right of the field. Lee Jarvis's conversion attempt into a low sun missed its target.
At this point the Welsh were getting the better of the rucks and mauls and seemed to be able to manipulate the Pirates pack at will. In particular, the Pirates had no answer to the Welsh rolling maul. Eventually the pressure told and Welsh scored an unconverted try. At half-time it was 8-5 to the Welsh.
During the first half it had sometimes been difficult to tell the teams apart: the Welsh were in red-and-black and the Pirates in black-and-red! A change of strip for the second half seemed to do the trick for the Pirates, for within two minutes scum-half Rhodri McAtee picked up the ball just inside the Welsh half and jinked his way through the defence to score a beautiful try at just the moment that it was needed - a fine individual effort easily converted by Lee Jarvis. Things were looking up and we hoped that this was going to be the turning point and lead to a flood of tries, but instead we got only a penalty a dropped-goal from Lee Jarvis. That coolly-taken dropped-goal, however, took the Pirates' lead to 18-8, and meant that the Welsh would have to score at least twice to win the match.
For about 20 minutes the Pirates' defence was severely tested, but it showed that it was able to cope with everything that the Welsh threw at it. Nail biting times. Then the Welsh got a try from a slightly fortuitous charge down. The conversion cut the Pirates' lead to just three points. Suddenly, with the score at 15-18, the Welsh were right back in the match.
The Pirates shored up their pack, which by this time was looking even more vulnerable to the Welsh rolling maul, by bringing on new signing Hattingh and the giant Will James. The Pirates' scrum suddenly looked more solid. New trialist Arasa also came on.
The clock showed that the 40 minutes were up and we all hoped that the referee would blow his whistle and we would get away with the win. All afternoon we had been treated to some fine handling by the Pirates' backs, but the best was to still come. Matt Jess (who else?) ran in a try down the right and conveniently placed the ball in the centre to make the conversion a formality. And then a move that swept across the entire width of the field and ended with a man over to add the icing to the cake. Lee Jarvis converted from the touch line, the clock showed 50 minutes, but we didn't care. We had got the bonus point and, with Bedford and Otley both losing, jumped two places up the league table.
It had been a close game which held the attention to the end. Pirates were the better side and deserved the win, but even in injury time the game could have gone either way. Plus points for the Pirates were their solid defence and the superb handling of the backs. The pack held their own in the first half and, after the two substitutions, looked to have the edge in the second. Man of the match was Matt Jess.
This game was never going to be pretty. Indeed, pretty rugby and Exeter are not words you would commonly associate. Needless to say, this dour encounter at the Mennaye Field was notable for the complete absence of tries but, much more importantly, it resulted in the Pirates' first-ever league victory over their Devonian rivals.
Dour rugby it may have been but you can't blame the tactics of the visitors for everything. The south-westerly gale and sheets of rain that swept often horizontally across the pitch dictated that it would be a day for the forwards. Exeter's pack are formidable opponents under any conditions but the Pirates wanted this one badly and the sheer passion and determination of Kevin Moseley's men soon warmed up the large crowd with a gutsy display from the off.
With the strong wind at their backs, the Pirates were straight on the offensive, probing, testing, and disrupting. Exeter had arrived at the Mennaye on the back of a comprehensive victory over a highly-rated Bedford side, but in truth they never got going against the Pirates. They simply were not allowed to. Even when Dave Whitehead was sin-binned during the early exchanges the Pirates dug deep and held firm. Yet for all the Pirates' efforts it took 25 minutes to trouble the scoreboard operator when Exeter were penalised on halfway and Lee Jarvis brilliantly slotted the kick. The visitors fought back briefly with the Pirates struggling at the restart but Jarvis was again on hand minutes later to double the lead. Having slowed the game down to a crawl, Exeter tried to exert their driving maul on the home defence but time and again the Pirates held firm. Only a late infringement in the half allowed Tony Yapp to open Exeter's account with three points that few of the home faithful felt they deserved.
The great concern was that Exeter had weathered the Pirates' storm and would now use the unrelenting elements to greater effect after the break. Many in the crowd expected a different kind of game from them - the Pirates weren't prepared to surrender the initiative though. Time and again Exeter were disrupted at the scrum, the Pirates guarded their own line out ball with steely determination and, with aggression the hallmark of their defence, the Pirates forced turnover ball with increasing regularity.
Ian Bremner rang the changes in a bid to step up the tempo. So did Kevin Moseley. Will James had been held back for the last quarter, Ryan Peacey made his long-awaited home debut, and Exeter were fast running out of ideas until the Pirates threw them a lifeline. Two penalties in quick succession kept Yapp in business and suddenly it was all square at 9-9 with less than ten minutes to go.
Some things, however, are meant to be. Urged on by the baying crowd, the Pirates attacked with renewed ferocity. Something had to give, and it was Exeter's nerve that cracked. Mark Fatialofa, enjoying a fruitless return to the Mennaye, strayed offside in front of his own posts and Jarvis gratefully pocketed the penalty. Suddenly Exeter started running the ball in desperation as the clock ran down, only to find a wall of red blocking their every twist and turn. Jarvis capped a birthday to remember with a fifth successful penalty and, deep into injury time, the Pirates had the visitors by the throat pinned inside their own half. There was just time for Fatialofa to earn a yellow card for a stupidly late tackle on Wes Davies before the referee called an end to proceedings and the ground erupted.
Gavin Cattle earned the man of the match award for another polished performance at scrum half but in truth this was a huge team performance. The Pirates have finally claimed their first major scalp in the league since being promoted and in doing so have shown that they are capable of winning ugly. The result will be remembered longer than the game itself but what is certain is that this season Division One really is there for the taking.
This first round match in the Powergen Intermediate Cup lived up to its billing as the top club match in Cornwall, not one for the faint hearted or those of a nervous disposition. Camborne snatched hope and then victory deep, deep into time added on during normal time and again in extra-time to earn a spot in Round 2, pushed to the very limit by their Western Counties West opponents. Paul Gadsdon's last second try won the game. Had the result gone the other way there could have been no complaints, as Mounts Bay gave everything only to see victory snatched from them at the death.
Camborne kicked off towards the scoreboard end and were soon pressurising the visitors' defence. Ian Morgan had an early shot at the posts for Camborne, which stayed left. Bay countered and earned a penalty, which James Tresize, deputising for the unavailable Seb Berti, kicked to put the visitors 3-0 up after 7 mins. The lead was short-lived as Camborne countered. Following a drive near to the posts, the ball was sent out wide where No8 Ali Durant was able to score the opening try, which Morgan converted on 11 mins.
The see-saw nature of the match continued as Mounts Bay hit back. Bay earned a penalty which, due to backchat by Camborne, earned them an extra 10 meters, enabling Tresize to kick for the corner. From the lineout the ball was thrown out wide and after a couple of phases the ball found No 8 Tom Outram who went over in the Park Gate corner on 14 mins. Tresize was unable to covert, 8-7 to Bay. The battle in the back rows was absorbing, Cambornes Roberts, Penrose and Durant against Bays Jago, Olfos and Outram. All six consistently caught the eye, as did Cambornes second row Steve Instance. The lead changed hands again as Morgan kicked a penalty for Camborne on 16 mins. Back came Bay once more. After some good work from Victor Olonga and Martin Worthington, Camborne infringed again to give Tresize another pot at goal which he converted. Morgan missed with a penalty on 26 mins before succeeding 4 mins later with another attempt to regain the lead for Camborne.
Mounts Bay drove up field from the re-start and earned another penalty, which once again was made easier as referee Mr Jackson marched Camborne back another 10 for backchat! Again, Tresize was successful with his kick. Further Camborne pressure brought about another penalty just before half time which Morgan kicked to make the score 16-14 to the Cherry and Whites.
Sadly, for Camborne they were to lose their influential skipper just after the re-start. Tresize missed with an attempt at goal as play became scrappy. There was an exciting back-row break by Chilean Player of the Year Edmondo Olfos linking with Tom Outram for the Bay, which took play deep into Camborne territory. As the game entered the final quarter it was Bay who looked the more dangerous. Hard to believe that there had been no addition to the scores after 35 minutes of the second half. Following a scrum in Mounts Bays half, Mark Roderick shaped up to pass the ball, however the referee was in his line of sight, so he kicked downfield to great effect as Gadsdon was forced to clear the ball to touch in his 22 from the fast approaching Olonga. Bay took the lineout and set up new prop Francisco Desformes who charged for the line. He was held up by the Camborne defence, the ball was spun out to centre Simon Enoch who crossed near the posts for the try. Tresizes conversion put the Penwith club 21-16 up with time fast running out. However, Mounts Bay looked to be dead on their feet.
Camborne threw everything into attack and laid siege to the Bay line. Only strength-sapping last ditch defence kept Camborne at bay. Players were going down all over the field. All appeared lost for Camborne, as almost 10 minutes of time added on had been played. In a last desperate attack, Tom Hinds and Todd Blythe combined to release winger Kelvin Smitham, who outran the tired Bay defence to tie the scores and give Blythe the chance to win the match with the conversion, which failed. 21 all extra-time!
Both sets of players were by now extremely tired, having put so much into the previous 80+10. Tresize kicked Bay into the lead once more during the first period of extra time. Soon after he went down suffering from cramp. Bay attempted to hang on to their advantage, pinning Camborne back in their own 22. It looked like they would succeed, until Gadsdon's final effort sank Bay and put Camborne into orbit.
Camborne: 15. T. Blythe, 14. K. Smitham, 13. P. Gadsdon, 12. T. Hinds, 11. J. Richards, 10. I Morgan (Capt), 9. B. Wakfer; 1. R. Worden, 2. A. Smith, 3. A. Coombes, 4. T. Wetherelt, 5. S. Instance, 6. D. Roberts, 7. K. Penrose, 8. A. Durant. Reps ; 16. A. Bartle, 17. J. Mason, 18. J. Moyle, 19. S. Oates.
Mounts Bay: 15. M. Worthington, 14. A. Redgrave, 13. V. Olonga, 12. S. Enoch, 11. B. Eddy, 10. J. Tresize, 9. M. Roderick (Capt); 1. A. Perkin, 2. P. Bush, 3. F. Deformes, 4. R. Humphries, 5. R. Spear, 6. J. Jago, 7. E. Olfos, 8. T. Outram. Reps; 16. C. Osborne, 17. S. Hood, 18. J. Slater, 19. R, Sharp.
After a stuttering display against the Cornish All Blacks there were few in the crowd who would have predicted this emphatic scoreline. The Pirates may have dealt some hefty beatings to opponents during their rise from league obscurity, but last season saw the boot very much on the other foot as they struggled for survival. This all made this result even more satisfying.
Kevin Moseley rang the changes, giving last week's replacements a chance to stake a claim in the team to face Bristol, with only Rob Thirlby a notable absentee. The Pirates took the game to their opponents from the start and were soon ahead after slick handling allowed Matt Jess to break down the left wing before slipping the ball inside for Steve Evans to score under the Newlyn posts. Evans, whose future role in the team has been the subject of some speculation during the summer, will have done himself no harm with such a solid display at centre.
Cross Keys rallied but with Rhod McAtee and Lee Jarvis combining well behind the pack they were forced to feed upon scraps of possession. McAtee has already staked a tremendous claim for the Number 9 shirt with his direct, aggressive style of play. Ricky Pellow, who so often last season stood firm behind retreating forwards, will do well to keep his place as McAtee has demonstrated a far greater attacking threat and all round awareness in his brief Pirate career to date. Jarvis, on the other hand, although still less than consistent with his place kicking, showed ample ability kicking from hand as the Pirates dominated the territorial exchanges. Indeed, he would have scored a try himself by chasing up a cheeky kick over the top of the Welsh defence had he not knocked-on with the line beckoning.
Ashley Morcom's early yellow card failed to disrupt the Pirates' rhythm and, with Matt Evans and Iva Motusaga working particularly hard in the loose, the game was won well before the big guns of James, Morgan, and Cowley were brought into the fray.
As Cross Keys tired, gaps appeared and relentless waves of Pirates' pressure punished them with further scores. Wes Davies looked calm and assured at full-back, exploiting space and linking confidently with offensive moves, whilst the late introduction of Kevin James on the wing gave the visitors yet another runaway train to contend with.
Kevin Moseley will not be happy with the lack of concentration and absence of tackling that led to a deserved consolation try for Cross Keys, but this game has given him a huge selection headache ahead of the Bristol game - one he can be very happy about.
Before Saturdays match, Devon coach and former Cornish favourite Graham Dawe was quoted as saying Our only ambition at the moment is to reach half-time at Redruth and still be in touch. We will take it from there. True to his word, Dawe and Devon did just that, aided by a Cornish team that did not make the most of its chances during a titanic first half playing towards Hell-Fire corner, which ended scoreless.
Devon made several changes to their published team before the kick-off. However, it did not weaken their team as was soon evident. Cornwall ran out to a tremendous cheer from the crowd of some 5,000, fired up by the Falmouth Marine Band, a testament of the continuing drawing power of the men in Black & Gold, despite the attractions of Helston Flora Day and other summer activities.
Cornwall kicked off playing towards Hell-Fire Corner, with a stiff breeze at their backs. Cornwall kept Devon pinned back for long periods in their own territory as they sought an early breakthrough. Devons forwards had other ideas, notably their back row of Hansen, Lowrie and Thomas, which snuffed out the slightest threat at source. It was helter-skelter rugby from Cornwall as they tried to prise an opening. Tempers were short. Newburys full back Malcolm Roberts had a first chance at the posts on 10 minutes but was well short and wide. The Cornish front row were having an uncomfortable time as the Devon 8 exerted the pressure. There was a major bust up amongst the players after 15 minutes which resulted in Devons Ken Fisilau receiving a yellow card from referee Mr. Beddow. Could Cornwall take advantage with superior numbers on the field? If anything, the Devonian defence became even meaner. Cornish scrum half Mark Richards relied on the box kick, sensing his forwards under pressure and himself being well marked by Devons back row.
When Cornwall did get the ball wide to young Matt Jess, alarm bells rang in the visitors' defence. Roberts spurned a second penalty opportunity, before Jess stormed towards the Piggy Lane corner, only to be hauled down short of the line. Another Cornish attack foundered in Hell Fire Corner when for a moment a try looked on. Devon had survived Fisilaus yellow card without conceding, in a tight game like this a tremendous psychological boost. Indeed the Albion player was soon carrying the attack to Cornwall as a good passage of play saw the Devon backs and forwards linking ominously.
Cornwall, roared on by the partisan crowd, kicked a penalty into Hell Fire Corner. Lock Julian Wilce took the catch, but Devon countered the Cornish drive well. The ball was thrown wide, again Jess was mighty close, before the ball came back the other way. A try looked on with flanker John Navin free in space, but he never got the ball. Devon countered through scrum-half Ed Lewsey, who took play into the Cornwall half. Devon won a penalty. However, the prolific Bedford Blues points scorer Ed Barnes missed a seemingly straightforward kick. The half came to an end with no score. Dawe and his team had achieved their first objective.
Devon kicked off the second half playing towards Hell-Fire Corner. The game retained its intensity as Cornwalls skipper Richard Carroll put in a crunching tackle on Dawe. Sadly, during the second half Carroll was injured and was replaced by Neil Corin. It was Cornwall who opened the scoring as Devon were penalised for hands in the ruck. Roberts kicking a fine penalty goal into the wind to the cheers of the crowd. It was to be short-lived optimism. A few minutes later Steve Evans was yellow-carded, reducing Cornwall to 14 men.
The Devon pack, playing with the slope, were putting the Cornish front row under tremendous pressure. In the end centre Pat Sykes forced his way over for Devons opening try, which Ed Barnes converted to put Devon 7-3 up. Cornwall made changes in the front row, which improved their scrum. However, Devon edged further ahead with a Barnes penalty. Cornwall managed to reduce the score as full time approached, with Seb Berti assuming the kicking duties and kicking a penalty.
With the game moving into injury time and Cornwall chasing a score, it was Devon who made the score safe with a second try for Sykes, which Barnes converted. With the game lost, Cornwall allowed Devon the final say with the impressive Devon U.20 player Luke Arscott going over for Devons third and final try.
So, Devon advance to the semi-final and a trip to Doncaster to face Yorkshire. Cornwall can have no complaints on this performance. Good luck to Graham Dawe and his squad for the rest of the tournament. This was a fine advert for County rugby played at a standard befitting such a fixture, in front of a fine crowd, exactly what the RFU and its sponsors are looking for. As for Cornwall, they must put behind them the bitter disappointment and re-group for a seeding match, next Saturday at Redruth against Middlesex. Then they must start to plan now how to compete at this improved standard next season!
Cornwall: penalties: Roberts, Berti
Devon:tries: Sykes (2), Arscott; cons: (2), pen Barnes
Yellow Cards: Fisilau (Devon) 15 mins; Evans (Cornwall) 51 mins.
Cornwall team: M. Roberts (Newbury), J. Hawken (Penzance
& Newlyn), C. Bonds (Redruth), S. Evans (Penzance & Newlyn), M.
Jess (Penzance & Newlyn), S. Berti (Camborne), M. Richards (Redruth),
A. Morcom (Penzance & Newlyn), D. Risdon (Launceston), S. Heard
(Redruth), L. Soper (Penzance & Newlyn), J. Wilce (Launceston), R.
Carroll (Penzance & Newlyn, captain), J. Navin (Redruth), A. Durant
Replacements (all used): N. Adams (Penzance & Newlyn), D. Seal (Penzance & Newlyn), P. Bush (Penzance & Newlyn), A Rescorla (Launceston), D. Pascoe (Penryn), T. Lark (Penryn), N. Corin (Redruth).
Devon team: G Kingdom (Exeter Chiefs); M Worthington
(Penzance-Newlyn), P. Sykes, K. Fisilau, L. Arscott (all Plymouth Albion); E
Barnes (Bedford Blues), E. Lewsey (Exeter Chiefs); A Ozdemir (Exeter Chiefs), G
Dawe (Plymouth Albion), W Reed (Barnstaple); R Hunt (Bristol), S Gibbons
(Exeter Chiefs); C. Hansen (Exeter Chiefs), C Lowrie (Plymouth Albion, capt),
D. Thomas (Plymouth Albion).
Replacements: J Houston, T. Mathias (both Plymouth Albion), A. Miller (Exeter Chiefs), J. Hart, M. Dempsey (both Brixham), S. Roberts (Plymouth Albion).
Referee: Mr T. Beddow (Gloucs R.R.S.)
Cornwall advanced to the second round of this seasons Tetley Bitter County Championship with an encouraging win over a plucky Hertfordshire side which did not roll over, and fought hard to the end.
With the magnificent-sounding Nankersey Male Voice Choir singing in the grandstand before the match, Richard Carroll led his side out to the strains of Trelawny. Hertfordshire kicked off towards the scoreboard end, the ball going immediately out on the full for a scrum back to Cornwall. Soon Carroll was leading by example with one of his trademark charges at the opposition, much to joy of the Cornish crowd. Before long Cornwall had points on the board with local favourite Ian Morgan kicking a penalty goal. Cornwall were soon back in the Herts 22. Launceston speedster Ashley Rescorla was just denied a try from a rush on to a loose ball in goal. From the scrum five, Cornwall put the home defence under enormous pressure, which resulted in a penalty to Cornwall in front of the posts, which Morgan converted.
Then Cornwall seemed to let up, allowing Hertfordshire into the game. Neil Barella was looking lively on the wing for the visitors, asking questions of the Cornish defence, which resulted in penalties being conceded. Barella kicked two penalties to level the scores. Cornwall needed to up the pace and set their talented three-quarter line moving. Redruths Craig Bonds scored the first Cornish try following some lovely running, to be followed shortly after with a super finish from the Pirate youngster Matt Jess, who confirmed his club form this season with an excellent match for Cornwall today and was for this observer the man of the match. Morgan was unable to convert either try.
Again Cornwall seemed to let Herts back in the match. Resolute defence kept the Cornish try line intact. However, they incurred the wrath of Mr Dix on a number of occasions, allowing Barella to kick a further couple of penalties to make the score 16-12 to Cornwall. Morgan kicked a third penalty goal to put Cornwall 19-12 ahead at half time.
More singing from the excellent Nankersey male voice choir at half time, together with some high jinks from a touring side in the form of a gorilla, a cow and bird amused the crowd. Members of Trelawnys Army Supporters Club paraded around the ground with a banner in support of the retention of the Cornwall team Hands off our team RFU, to rapturous applause from the 2000 plus crowd. Memo to HQ!
Cornwall, after a few words of wisdom from coaches Nick Brokenshire and Terry Pryor, kicked off the second half and were immediately on the attack. Cornwall threw the ball out along the line. A certain try looked on until a Herts player deliberately knocked the ball on, Mr Dix signalling the award of a penalty try. However, he chose not to sin-bin the offending player! Morgans conversion from in front of the posts stretched Cornwall to a 26 12 lead.
Cornwall started to move the ball, with Ashley Rescorla, James Hawken, and Matt Jess combining well to cause the alarm bells to ring in the visitors' defence on more than one occasion. A period of domination was rewarded with a try for the industrious prop Sam Heard, driven over by his pack.
Cornwall began to ring the changes, replacing the entire front row. Ricky Pellow came on for Mark Richards, Kevin Penrose for Julian Hosking, and Neil Corin for Julian Wilce, who did well with Lee Soper at the lineout. Rescorla was again denied a try as the referee penalised him for a double movement. Pete Bush grabbed a try for Cornwall, converted by Morgan. With time running out Herts had the final say when replacement No8 Peter Moulton hacked on to score a well-taken try.
So on to Redruth next Saturday for the anticipated clash with Devon. Yes there is work to be done to improve certain areas, notably ball retention and cut down the penalty count. It promises to be a battle royal in Hell fire corner, one not to miss, nor for the faint hearted.
Scores: Cornwall: Tries (5), Bonds, Jess, penalty try,
Heard, Bush; penalties (3), conversions (2) Morgan
Herts: Try Moulton; penalties (4) Barella
Cornwall: 15. James Hawken (Penzance & Newlyn), 14. Ashley Rescorla (Launceston), 13. Craig Bonds (Redruth), 12. I. Morgan (Camborne), 11. Matt Jess (Penzance &:Newlyn), 10. Seb Berti (Camborne), 9. Mark Richards (Redruth), 1. Ashley Morcom (Penzance & Newlyn), 2. Dave Risdon (Launceston), 3. Sam Heard (Redruth), 4. Lee Soper (Penzance & Newlyn), 5. Julian Wilce (Launceston), 6. Richard Carroll (Penzance & Newlyn, Captain), 7. J. Hosking (London Irish), 8. A. Durrant (Camborne)
Replacements: 16. Ian Hambley (Redruth), 17. Ricky Pellow (Penzance & Newlyn), 18. Pete Bush (Penzance & Newlyn), 19. Dan Seal (Penzance & Newlyn), 20. Nick Adams (Penzance & Newlyn), 21. K. Penrose (Penzance & Newlyn) , 22. Neil Corin (Redruth).
Less than twenty-four hours after Mounts Bay had gallantly failed in their quest to reach Twickenham, Penzance/Newlyn took the field knowing that they themselves were just eighty minutes from a Powergen Shield Final against Waterloo. Optimism hung heavily over the town as many expected the Pirates to avenge two league defeats at the hands of the visitors but long before the final whistle the big crowd knew it was not to be. Not for the first time this season, old habits and schoolboy errors returned to haunt the Pirates as they capitulated in the final quarter.
It had all begun brightly enough with inspirational captain Joe Bearman almost gathering his own chip ahead with the try line beckoning inside the first minute. But Bristol were allowed to quickly settle by an often all-too-casual home side and three points from the boot of fly-half Danny Gray soon set the pattern for the afternoon. Despite a Steve Evans penalty quickly levelling the score after some good pressure from the Pirates forwards, Gray slotted two more kicks and the Pirates found themselves having to play catch-up rugby. A succession of attacks from deep within Pirate territory foundered through needless errors and each time Gray and full-back Sean Marsden effortlessly pegged them back with accurate touch finders.
Under pressure, out of sorts, and struggling at the set piece where former Pirate Ollie Hodge reigned supreme, the Pirates rallied and stepped up the tempo briefly, working the ball through several rapid phases and allowing Josh Lord to crash over the line beneath the Newlyn posts. With the conversion a formality the Pirates led for the only time in the match before conceding two unnecessary penalties in first-half stoppage time to go in 10-15 behind at the break.
With the game still there to be won the Pirates were out of the blocks quickly at the restart and pressured again, only to be repelled by the boot of Gray. Bristol used their territorial gain to the full and from a lineout in the corner Gray launched a cross-field kick that Marko Stanojevic leapt high above Matt Jess to gather and score. It proved to be a killer blow. Another Pirate offensive then failed as Olonga turned over possession and having been marched back into defence the Pirates yielded another easy three points. Olonga atoned for this error on the hour as he launched another move from deep that ended with Jess putting Alaifatu Fatialofa in for a try, but the conversion went begging and, leading by 15-25 Bristol, again seized control.
The Pirates pack fought hard against fierce opposition but the absence through injury of Alan Paver and the half-time loss of Ashley Morcom told as the front row began to tire. Urged on by the terrier-like Hodgson at scrum half, Bristol`s forwards grew stronger the longer the game lasted. The Pirates in desperation tried to run the ball from every position at every opportunity, only to find every error punished. Further turnovers brought tries for El Abd and a second for Stanojevic, to give the final scoreline a slightly flattering look.
On the day Bristol were worthy winners. They stuck to their game plan, made fewer errors, and took their chances when they came. The only blot on their copybook was an exchange between both sets of forwards in the dying seconds when one of their number threw himself to the floor in a callous bid to have Pirates lock Dave Whitehead sent off for punching. Justice was done as the referee ignored the writhing body on the floor and drew the game to a close.
As for the Pirates it was very much a case of what might have been. Too many players under-performed in a game they should have won. With relegation still a mathematical possibility and a squad of players battered and bruised from their toughest season there can be no more complacency of this magnitude when they travel to Wakefield next Saturday.
Cornwall regained the Tamar Cup by soundly beating Devon at Penryn. Both counties fielded "development sides": hence the lack of players from Launceston and Penzance/Newlyn, and the inclusion of only 3 Redruth players.
This match was played in conditions that resembled Krasnador in Siberia, rather than Cornwall in spring. However, well done to the Penryn club for putting the match on and for all the hard work by the ground staff in getting the pitch playable. With piles of snow around the touchline underneath a blue sky, February sunshine, and a biting cold wind. Cornwall reclaimed the Tamar Cup with a fine display in difficult playing conditions. The Falmouth Marine Band entertained the 400 or so crowd before the kick off.
Cornwall were captained by Redruth scrum half Mark Richards, who led by example. Devon kicked off playing towards the Mabe end and a setting sun. Cornwall seemed to adapt to the conditions the quicker, pinning Devon back in their own 22 with a kicking game. Cambornes Chilean international Seb Berti, who had an outstanding game at 10, soon created an chance for Borough winger Chris Mann but the chance went begging. Cornwall were in the ascendancy. Nick Brown and Sheldon Waetford looked dangerous going forward. Berti was off target with an early penalty attempt. Cornwall threatened continuously but were unable to break the Devonian defence. On 21 mins the breakthrough came, with Richards darting through to set up a maul. The ball was fired out by Berti along the line at pace and James Greville-Smith was on hand to go over in the college gate corner. Berti was unable to add the extras.
Cornwall were doing well in the lineout with Damien Cook (son of Tony) and Darren Stanley competing well. Cornwall continued to take the game to Devon and were rewarded with a penalty following an attack into the Devon 22 by Mann. Bertis successful kick gave Cornwall an 8-0 half-time lead.
Cornwall resumed where they left off with Berti kicking an early penalty to put Cornwall 11-0 up. Cornwall continued to put Devon under enormous pressure and it was no surprise when Berti went over himself to score Cornwalls second try of the match. His conversion put Cornwall 18-0 up and from then on the result was never in doubt.
Sam Heard got Cornwalls third try after a powerful maul and drive put him over. Once again Berti converted. Both sided proceeded to introduce a stream of replacements as the half wore on. The ever-industrious Chris Mann went over in the scoreboard corner to seal Cornwalls win in the final move of the match. Cornwalls skipper Mark Richards received the Tamar Cup from the hands of CRFU President Peter Michell.
A great win for Cornwall but lets not be under any illusion: if the sides meet in the quarter-finals of the County Championship there will be totally different line-ups for both counties.
Cornwall scores: Tries: James Greville-Smith, Seb Berti, Sam Heard, Chris Mann; pens: Berti 2; cons: Berti
Cornwall team: 15. M. Churcher (Redruth), 14. C. Mann (Penryn),
13. S. Waetford (Penryn), 12. N. Brown (Penryn),11. J. Greville Smith (Penryn),
10. S. Berti (Camborne), 9. M. Richards (Redruth, Capt.), 1. A. Rapson (Hayle),
2. T. Gay (Truro), 3. S. Heard (Redruth), 4. D. Cook (Hayle), 5. D.
Stanley (Penryn), 6. A. Durrant (Camborne), 7. L. Ellis (Hayle), 8. M. Woolcock
Replacements (all used): 16. J. Caruana (Truro), 17. B. Kearney (Hayle), 18. R. Worden (Camborne), 19. A. Smith (Camborne), 20. D. Clackworthy (Hayle), 21. L. Stevens (St.Ives), 22. L. Pengelly (Camborne).
Referee David May (C.R.R.S.), replaced by Mr I Pengelly (C.R.R.S.) on 70 mins.
Camborne's long unbeaten run ended as South West Two Cleve ran out winners to progress to the last 8 of the Powergen Intermediate Cup.
In front of a good sized crowd, the visitors exerted the early pressure and went ahead when a speculative loose pass was scooped up by full back Liam Davies to burst through the home cover for a try that he also converted.
The Cherry & Whites came into the game with a chargedown and follow up by livewire openside Dan Kennedy taking play to the Cleve line. Davies was deservedly sent to the sin bin for cynically killing the ball and skipper Ian Morgan put over the simple penalty.
Although Camborne had the wind at their backs they were unable to spend any sustained periods in the visitors' half. Full back Morgan, however, reduced the arrears with a well-struck 15th minute penalty from fully 40 metres, and 6 minutes later put his team in front with a monster penalty from near the half way line.
This lead was short lived as the home backs were caught offside and Davies slotted the penalty for a 9-10 scoreline.
Camborne's forwards, prompted by their excellent scrum half Brett Wakfer, then put Cleve under pressure in front of the grandstand. From a lineout on the Cleve 22 metre line flanker Martin Woolcock took a clean catch and the home 8 drove their heavier opponents to the try line. Joining the maul, it was diminutive fly half Seb Berti who emerged from the pile-up to claim a try giving Camborne a 4 point lead.
On the half hour the visitors scored a well-worked 2nd try through left wing Tom O'Leary rounding the home cover to touch down under the posts. Davies' conversion made the score 14-17 before Morgan was just wide with another long range effort.
With all to play for Cleve started the 2nd half strongly and went further ahead in the 50th minute. Berti's attempted chip out of defence was charged down by hooker Matt Parfit who fed lock Steve Hunt to romp over for a try well converted by Davies to open up a 10 point lead.
Urged on and prompted by Berti, Camborne took play to the visitors half for a spell. Cruelly a 65th minute attack broke down with an interception by replacement scrum half Ian Price who raced fully 70 metres unopposed for the decisive try again converted by the accurate Davies.
Down but not out the home side hit back from deep in their own half with a 50 metre burst by the promising Victor Oniyide-Frampton before feeding on to No 8 Ali Durant and linking up again to give a scoring pass to right wing Kelvin Smitham for a try in the scoreboard corner.
Trailing 19-31 Camborne received a hammer blow with 5 minutes remaining when Davies coolly sent over a penalty to put Cleve out of sight with his 19th point of the match.
There was still time for injury time consolation for Camborne when Berti made a delightful individual break through the Cleve defence before chipping ahead and winning the scramble for the ball to touchdown his 2nd try.
Camborne: I Morgan, K Smitham, V Oniyide-Frampton, D Roberts, L
Smitham (A Fisilau), S Berti, B Wakfer, N Endean, A Smith, A Bartle (S
Macdonald) L Pengilly (T Thatcher), S Oates, M Woolcock, D Kennedy, A Durant.
Camborne scorers: tries; S Berti 2, K Smitham pens; I Morgan 3 Cleve: tries; Davies, O'Leary, Hunt, Price cons; Davies 4 pens; Davies 2
Referee Mr D Sinclair (Dorset & Wilts RS)
London Cornish took unbeaten Tring all the way in this titanic encounter at Cow Lane, and were ultimately undone by a combination of giving away 7 points in the first minute of the match and by their inability to secure lineout ball as the home side utterly dominated this one aspect of play. Playing in front of their vocal travelling support, Cornish handed the initiative to Tring from the off when they knocked on the kick-off and missed tackles in the first attack, allowing the excellent right wing to scoot over in the clubhouse corner. The conversion was made and the home support was in good voice as they anticipated more of the same and an uncomfortable afternoon for their lower league visitors. How wrong they were!
Steadily, Cornish began to run the ball at their opponents and gain a foothold in the match. With skipper Tom Thirlwall and youngster John Hollick to the fore, repeated attacks lead to a penalty on 18 minutes from the trusty boot of Darren Jordan and a Tom Fegen drop-goal brought the visitors to within 1 point on 25 minutes. The home side continued to dominate the line-out and, using their powerful pack, used the pick and drive to good effect. The Cornish side is nothing if not resilient, however, and frequently scrambled the ball to safety until, on the stroke of half-time, another foray upfield resulted in a penalty, which Jordan slotted to give his side a half-time lead.
Fegen withdrew at half-time with a hamstring strain, resulting in a reshuffle in the Cornish midfield. Tring began to string together repeated phases of play in the second period and were repeatedly repelled close to the Cornish line. Where possible, the home side tried to release their elusive full-back and pacy right wing but the visitors' tackling stood firm, including one superb cover tackle by full-back Julian Paull stopping his man inches from the line. Tring brought on more heavy artillery and this brought its reward on the hour mark when they fashioned an overlap out wide and the wing stretched to plant the ball over the line and give his side their first points since the start of the match, though the conversion fell short on this occasion.
The Cornish pack were straining every sinew in their efforts to keep out the well organised and powerful home 8 but were lifted by the superb travelling support who frequently out shouted the home side's. With 6 minutes remaining, Cornish back-row Neil O'Connor intercepted a chip and dashed half the length of the pitch to be brought down in the shadow of the posts; Cornish desperately tried to release quick ball but the ball was killed by the home side resulting in a sin-bin for the offender and a penalty by Jordan to level the scores. Time ran out with the home side back in the ascendancy, though once again the Cornish tackling stood firm.
The battering was taking its toll on the visiting pack and, despite making changes to bring on fresh legs, the inability to secure any lineout ball was to cost the side dear. Tring upped their game one last time in extra-time and, to their credit (and let it be said, they are a fine side) stuck to their game-plan. They carved out 2 further tries, one converted, and kicked 2 penalties in the extra period, which was also notable for an extremely short appearance by a home sub who was sin-binned within seconds of appearing, and for some massive hits made by centre Jamie Banwell on his opposite number!
That London Cornish came so close to another giant-killing against an unbeaten and talented team is a reflection of how well they played and they did so despite only winning a handful of lineouts all day. They will also rue those costly first few seconds. They can look back with pride at their efforts in this competition and will hope to take lessons from their run into their League season, which continues next week with a top of the table home clash v Old Walcountians.
Cheered on by a large contingent of travelling supporters, Penzance/Newlyn recorded their first away win in National League 1, and their first win of any kind since November 29th.
This was a game that both bottom-of-the-table sides were desperate to win. Following their last-gasp defeat by Bristol last week, another loss would have left the Pirates firmly anchored in the second relegation spot, 8 points adrift of Henley, one place above them.
It was a strange game, with both sides enjoying periods of dominance. Crucially for the Pirates, this week their goal-kicker, Rob Thirlby, was on target.
Henley started strongly and soon had their first points on the board. After only 2 minutes Penzance/Newlyn were awarded a penalty, which the referee promptly reversed, apparently due to a comment by a Pirates' player. Henley fly-half Barry Reeves calmly stroked the ball through the posts.
For the first 10 minutes it was all Henley. Their forwards looked bigger than the visitors' pack, and their backs moved the ball at speed. On 8 minutes, Reeves missed a kickable penalty. The Pirates couldn't get hold of the ball.
It was not until the 12th minute that Pirates had their first attack, and they made it count. Henley were penalised for holding on in their own 22, and Thirlby's kick made it 3 - 3.
Pirates now enjoyed their best period of the match. The rest of the first half was spent almost exclusively in the Henley half of the field. Unaccountably, and much to the dismay of the Henley supporters, the Pirates' pack started to push their bigger opponents off the ball, and won two scrums against the head in the Henley 22. Steve Evans at fly-half was dynamic and urgent.
On 27 minutes, Pirates crossed the Henley line but couldn't ground the ball. At the five yard scrum, Pirates infringed and Henley were able to clear their lines.
The play was now all in the Henley half. On 34 minutes Thirlby kicked his second penalty, from in front of the posts, to make it 3 - 6. The Pirates backs moved the ball at speed from one side of the pitch to the other, but the Henley defence was solid. Thirlby, playing at full-back today, made two electric runs from midfield into the Henley 22, but left the support behind him and couldn't offload the ball. Then, on 41 munutes, the pressure finally told and Evans was in at the corner for a well-earned try. Thirlby failed to land the touchline conversion, to leave the score 3 - 11 at half-time.
Henley started the second half strongly, as they had the first, and within a minute a break by their number 8, Hayman, led to their running in a try under the posts. Reeves duly converted, to make it 10 - 11.
On 46 minutes, Pirates were awarded a penalty on half-way, straight in front of the posts. Instead of kicking for the corner, Thirlby opted to go for the posts. Luckily, today he was on top form, and the kick sailed between the uprights. Shortly afterwards, the Pirates' prop, Nick Adams, was sin-binned, and Henley missed with a penalty of their own.
Then came two crucial scores for the Pirates. First, Thirlby kicked another penalty; then, following a good Pirates' break, he ran in under the posts. The easy conversion made the score 24 - 10 to the visitors. These two score were, if anything, against the run of play, for Henley had the lion's share of possession throughout the second half.
Now it was the Pirates' turn to soak up the pressure. For long periods they found it difficult to get hold of the ball, as Henley attacked with more and more desperation as time began to run out.
Midway through the second half, Ma'asi and Waqanivere came on for the Pirates, both returning after injury.
It was now all Henley. First they landed a penalty. Then, on 82 minutes, winger Obi was in at the corner to make it 18 - 24. Cornish hearts beat faster at the memory of last week's last-minute defeat. Henley were only 6 points adrift. Could it happen again? Six minutes of injury time ticked by and still Henley attacked. A final brek-out by the Pirates ended with Evans being held up over the line. And then it was all over -- the large band of Pirates' supporters saluted the 24 - 18 victory.
Man-of-the-match? Thirlby, but it was a good performance by the whole team.
Pirates scorers: Tries: Evans, Thirlby; pens: Thirlby (4); cons:
Pirates: Paver, Owen, Adams, Morgan, Soper, Bearman, Lord, Farini, Pellow, Evans, Jess, A. Fatialofa, Thomas, Newton, Thirlby.
Replacements: Morcom, Ma'asi, Seal, Waqanivere, Turnbull, Scrivenor, Penrose
A tremendous cup-tie played out in front of a packed Mennaye Field. Although defeated, the Pirates gave a great account of themselves and were not overawed by their Zurich Premiership visitors. Both sides welcomed back World Cup stars, Pirates' Viliami Maasi starting his first home match after his adventures with Tonga in Australia, and Saracens' fly half Nicky Little (Fiji) and scrum half Morgan Williams (Canada). Saracens were captained by former All Black skipper Taine Randell.
Saracens kicked off towards the Newlyn end in bright November sunshine. The visitors enjoyed possession and retained the ball well. However, the Pirates' defence held firm. The Pirates more than held their own in the set pieces. Former Saracen Rob Thirlby looked lively against his former club. Indeed, it was Thirlby who kicked a couple of penalties to put the Pirates 6-0 up. Saracens were keen to run the ball at every opportunity -- especially Saracens' Cornishman Adryan Winnan. Wings Richard Haughton and Darragh OMahoney were also dangerous with the ball in hand. The Pirates continued to soak up pressure and when they could counter with purpose through Thirlby, and wings Matt Jess (who had a fine game) and Victor Olonga.
Saracens took the lead following a catch and drive in the Pirates' 22. Taine Randell secured good line out ball, allowing the Saracens to maul their way to the line and second row Kris Chesney to claim the try. Nick Littles conversion nudged the visitors into a one point lead. It was short lived as the Pirates tore back at the Saracens. A fine run by Matt Jess saw him cut inside off his wing to link up with Olonga who found Shanahan for the try. Thirlbys conversion put the Pirates back into the lead at 13 7. Little cut the deficit with a penalty. With the half fast growing to a close, OMahoney looked clear for a try but the Pirates pulled off a try saving tackle. However, the Pirates were penalised from the resulting ruck, enabling Little to tie up the scores at the break 13-13.
The second half was very much a stop/start affair early on. Rob Thirlby pulled off a try-saving tackle on centre Paul Bailey in the Newlyn gate corner. After Little had given his side the lead again with a penalty, Saracens gradually wore down the spirited Pirates defence. The ever-dangerous Haughton sliced through the Pirates' defence to score under the posts. Littles conversion put Saracens two scores ahead for the first time in the match, 23-13. The Pirates did mount their own counter attacks but found the well-oiled Saracens' defence a match.
Saracens increased their lead with a third try from prop Ben Russell and again Little converted. Numerous replacements took place as the match drew to a close. Matt Jess grabbed a deserved try in the dying moments in the scoreboard corner, Thirlby adding an excellent conversion. Saracens almost got a fourth try; however, the final pass to Haughton was adjudged forward.
A great performance from the Pirates. No injuries that I am aware of so hopefully all will be well for next Saturdays vital league game away to fellow strugglers Manchester.
Scorers: Pirates: tries Shanhan, Jess; penalties Thirlby (2);
cons Thirlby (2).
Saracens: tries Chesney, Haughton, Russell; penalties Little (3); cons Little (3).
Pirates: 15, Rob Thirlby, 14, Victor Olonga, 13, Steve Evans, 12, Martin Worthington, 11, Matt Jess, 10, James Shanhan, 9, Ricky Pellow (capt), 8, Josh Lord, 7, Kevin Penrose, 6, Viliami Maasi, 5, Richard Carroll, 4, David Whitehead, 3, Nick Adams, 2, James Owen, 1, Alan Paver.
Replacements: 16 Ashley Morcom, 17, Peter Bush, 18, Dan Seal, 19, Lee Soper, 20, Alex Aylesbrook, 21, Stuart Turnbull, 22, Mark Scrivener.
Saracens: 15, Adryan Winnan, 14, Richard Haughton, 13, Ben Johnston, 12, Paul Bailey, 11, Darragh OMahony, 10, Nicki Little, 9, Morgan Williams, 8, Taine Randell (capt) 7, Ryan Peacey, 6, Tony Roques, 5, Kris Chesney, 4, Ben Skirving, 3, Ben Broster, 2, Johnny Marsters, 1, Andy Kershaw.
Replacements: 16, Emiliano Bergamaschi, 17, Stuart Philpott, 18, Simon Raiwalui, 19 Ben Russell, 20, Dan Kirton, 21 Denis Cech, 22, Daniel Legge.
The Pirates went into the lead for the first time in this cup tie on 80 minutes, when Rob Thirlby went off on a solo run that took him past the Bedford cover into the Newlyn Gate corner. That he failed to convert the try was only to add to the suspense as the Blues went in search of a score to snatch back this cup tie which, until that Thirlby try, they appeared in control of. When Blues fly half Ali Hepher lined up a long-range penalty kick in injury time the tension around the Mennaye field increased. His kick was successful and, had it won Bedford the tie, no Pirate fan present would have had cause to complain about the result. However, from the restart the Pirates charged up field and tore into the Bedford 22 with such ferocity that Bedford came into the ruck from the side, presenting Thirlby with what proved to be the match-winning kick.
Before the final whistle Penzance & Newlyn had to endure a drop attempt at goal by Hepher, which sailed wide, and then relied on the flanker for all seasons, Kevin Penrose, to snuffle out the final Blues attack. Referee Ashton-Jones final whistle brought relief and utter amazement to the Pirates' supporters, who could not quite believe the turn around in this tie.
For the preceding 79 minutes such a result, though hoped for, appeared increasingly unlikely. Matters were not helped with team selection having to be held over until the morning of the match, and while second row Dave Whitehead was passed fit, centre Mark Fatialofa was out. Matt Worthington who came into the centre did a fine job. However, the Pirates would miss Fatialofas cutting edge throughout the afternoon.
The Blues kicked off towards the Newlyn end and their supporters were in fine voice, especially as centre Ed Barnes gave his side the lead with an early penalty kick. Mark Scrivener was wide with a penalty attempt shortly after. He was successful with a kick on 13 minutes, which levelled the scores. The Blues played a good kicking game, pinning the Pirates back into their own 22. The Pirates were under very heavy pressure, illustrated by their need to play their get out of jail card three times in as many minutes. A kick through to the Pirates' line saw Olonga and Scrivener get in each other's way, only for a Bedford player to knock on. From the resulting scrum, No 8 Joe Bearman lost the ball in his own in-goal; again Bedford failed to capitalise. Shortly after, from a lineout close to the Pirates' line a Bedford player went over in the Newlyn gate corner but touched the corner flag in the act of grounding the ball. It was all heart-stopping stuff.
There was a bust up after Whitehead was dangerously pulled down in a lineout, resulting in a stern lecture to both captains. A Blues try had to come. In the end it was the impressive Ali Hepher who dummied to create space to send in his back row player Lawrence White. Barnes' conversion gave us the half time score of 10-3 to Bedford.
You felt that the Pirates needed to score first in the second half to stand a chance. Scrivener missed with a couple of penalty chances. Instead, Barnes increased the Blues' lead with another penalty. It looked a tall order to make up 10 points in this game! However, the Pirates were not giving up without a fight and battling Steve Evans led the way in mid-field. He created a fine break, which led to a penalty kick for the Pirates. With Scrivener having been replaced by Matt Jess, it was Thirlby who assumed the kicking duties. His successful kick was soon cancelled out by another Barnes penalty on 68 minutes, to make the score 16-6 to Bedford.
Divine intervention was called for. It came following a penalty into the Blues 22 and the ball being moved right and the left for James Shanhan to dummy his way to the posts. Thirlbys conversion cut the deficit to three points. At that point, the crowd began to believe and the Bedford players seemed visibly to wilt. A few minutes later, it was Thirlby off on a jinking solo run that baffled the cover and took him over in the Newlyn gate corner to set up the final nail-biting moments.
Next Saturdays league encounter at Goldington Road will have added spice. Bring on the fez gang!
Scorers: Pirates: tries Shanahan, Thirlby; penalties Thirlby (2),
Scrivener; con Thirlby.
Bedford Blues: try White; penalties Barnes (3), Hepher; con Barnes.
Pirates: 15 Mark Scrivener, 14 Victor Olonga, 13 Steve Evans, 12, Martin Worthington, 11 Rob Thirlby, 10 James Shanahan, 9 Ricky Pellow, 8 Joe Bearman (Capt) 7 Kevin Penrose, 6 Richard Carroll, 5 Lee Soper, 4 David Whitehead, 3 Dan Seal, 2 James Owen, 1 Alan Paver.
Replacements: 16 Ashley Morcom, 17 Alex Alesbrook 18 Stuart Turnbull, 19 Matt Jess, 20 Nick Adams, 21 Peter Bush, 22 Josh Lord.
Bedford Blues: 15 Ben Whetstone, 14 Mike Staten, 13 Paul Baird, 12 Ed Barnes, 11 James Hinkins, 10 Ali Hepher, 9 Dominic Malone, 8 Howard Quigley, 7 Chris Rainbow, 6 Laurence White, 5 Arthur Brenton, 4 Simon Hepher, 3 Mattie Stewart, 2 Kramer Ronaki, 1 Matt Volland (Capt)
Replacements: 16 James Ross, 17 John Brooks, 18 Paul Saffy, 19 Andy Orugboh, 20 James Ball, 21 Simon Lincoln, 22 Tom Kirk.
Pressure had been on the Pirates all week to get a result in this match. That they did so says much about the spirit of this team, and to crown it their first bonus point, achieved by scoring four first half tries.
This was a cracking performance from the Pirates. However, there were two worrying statistics: they had only one successful kick at goal and the penalty count against them was far too high.
Coventry came to the far South West fresh from their league victory against Bristol Shoguns at Coundon Road. Before the game, it was interesting to see the former Cornwall and Penryn hooker Roger Harris in the grandstand. Who can ever forget that memorable National Cup match Penryn played against Coventry in 1972 in the mud at the Memorial Ground? David Duckham called the crowd the most partisan he had ever played against!
The Pirates were eager to get on with the game, perhaps a shade too eager as a fumble from the Coventry kick off put the home side under pressure. There was more misfortune when the Pirates were penalised for throwing a punch. There was unfortunately a fair bit of niggle throughout this match, which did erupt from time to time!
Mark Meenan, who was deputising at fly half for this match, kicked the opening points for a short-lived Coventry lead. Rob Thirlby was looking lively in mid field, always keen to counter. James Shanahan, relieved of kicking duties, created a lovely break and ran clear of the cover. Lakalaka Waquinevere was on hand to accept the scoring pass. Ricky Pellow, who had kicking duties today, missed the conversion. Coventry pressed for position. However, the Pirates looked to counter and were very dangerous every time they broke out of defence.
Coventry regained the lead after the Pirates infringed at a scrum. Meenan from the half way line kicked the goal. The Pirates pack was going well. Lee Soper looked to have turned an ankle but kept going until half time despite the agony he must have been in. The Pirates regained the lead after 17 minutes following another lightning break out led by Mark Fatialofa. Thirlby and Shanahan were again involved before Steve Evans went over in the scoreboard corner. Again, the conversion went awry. Skipper Joe Bearman carved an opening in midfield as the Pirates looked to cut loose again.
Shanahans positional kicking was effective in pinning back Coventry. On 25 minutes, Ricky Pellow kicked a penalty goal to extend the Pirates' advantage. Matt Jess had a fine run from a break out following a sliced Coventry drop attempt at goal. Then came the try of the match, made and scored by Mark Fatialofa from 60 meters. The crowd were on their feet! Coventry were reeling and they had more to ponder as two minutes later Waqanivere scored his second of the match, following great play from Thirlby and Bearman amongst others. The bonus point was in the bag. Coventry had some pressure in the Pirates 22 just before half time but resolute defence kept the line intact. 23 6 at the break.
With Lee Soper having gone off before half time, Richard Carroll moved up to partner David Whitehead in the second row. Josh Lord did come on but was replaced at half time as Waqanivere moved into the back row, allowing Martin Worthington to come on. From the restart the Pirates contrived to score their fifth try by Rob Thirlby, which Thirlby was unable to convert from the touch line to stretch their lead to 28 - 6.
It could be argued that from that point the game degenerated, fights broke out, and the referee had problems getting his authority on the game. Fatialofa departed to be replaced by Mark Scrivener but not before doing one of his juggling tricks in front of the grandstand to bemuse the Coventry defence, much to the roar of the crowd. Yet another flare up amongst the players saw Richard Carroll for the Pirates and Coventrys Mc Murray sin-binned. Coventry appeared to cope the better and Cornishman Richard Siveter went over in the clubhouse corner for a try for the visitors. Shanahan enjoyed another good break but was isolated. Coventry enjoyed the final word when Kurt Johnson, who had looked lively, grabbed their second try in the dying minutes of the match.
A reassuring win for the Pirates. However, the goal kicking must remain a prime concern, especially in this league where chances for points must be taken.
Scores: Pirates 5 tries, Waqanivere (2), Fatialofa, Evans, Thirlby. 1 pen Pellow. Coventy 2 tries, Siveter, Johnson. Pens Meenan (2).
There were two changes from the Cornwall team that faced Sussex in the quarter-final last week. Rocky Newton came back on the wing after injury to replace his fellow Pirate Ian Hambly, who must have been disappointed at not even making the squad. And Lee Soper of Launceston (who many people expected to come on at lock at some stage during last week's game) came in at number 8 in place of the injured Joe Bearman. The main concern for Cornish supporters was the lack of both Bearman and Laka Laka Waqanivere, those equally-dynamic number 8s who complement each other so well.
The Lancashire squad was drawn from a diverse set of clubs, including Sedgley Park, Waterloo, Preston Grasshoppers, Liverpool St. Helens, Fylde, Orrell, and Manchester. Everyone knew that Lancashire, who edged out a strong Yorkshire side last week, would be a tough nut to crack.
The Falmouth Marine Band marched into the ground twenty minutes before kickoff and marched around the ground to huge applause from the large crowd. Another roar went up as the giant pasty was hung from the crossbar.
Lancashire kicked off, playing towards the Camborne end of the ground. Cornwall, playing down the slope, were playing into a strongish wind. Almost immediately, Lancashire went ahead after being awarded an early penalty after a high tackle by James Lancaster. From the restart, Cornwall charged into Lancashire. Villi Ma'asi charged down a kick and grounded the ball under the Lancashire posts but was adjudged to be offside. Then Cornwall were awarded a penalty after Lancashire played the ball on the ground, but the decision was reversed.
Lancashire were looking strong in the scrums and dangerous outside. After 10 minutes, Cornwall conceded another penalty just inside their own half but Lancs full back Chris Glynn slid the ball outside the posts.
Cornwall threatened the Lancashire line after good interaction between the forwards and backs. However, the game was turning ugly, and the referee seemed unable to get a grip on it. Lancashire were clearly guilty of playing the ball on the ground, and seemed to be targeting Richard Carroll for "special treatment". Cornwall were awarded the penalty, but both James Lancaster and Lancs player Sean Casey were sin-binned. Larkins slotted the penalty to level the scores on 16 minutes.
Then Cornwall started to run the ball and began to look dangerous. On 21 minutes, after a wonderful move Rocky Newton beat two men to score in the corner. Larkins' attempted conversion from the touchline just failed, so the score was 8 - 3 to Cornwall. Another long Cornwall move just failed to end in a score.
The game then became scrappy, with Lancashire having the better of it. Lancashire fullback Glynn failed with another penalty attempt. A Lancashire drive was held up on the Cornwall line.
The Cornish forwards and backs started to combine well, with Rocky Newton coming in from his wing and getting involved. Cornwall were recycling the ball well and Lancs found it difficult to clear their lines. Cornwall were awarded a penalty after deliberate handling on the ground by the Lancashire forwards. Larkins' kick was bang on target but the tricky wind pushed it short of the posts. Both sides then had good passages of play. The referee, however, was having a nightmare. He missed several blatant professional fouls by the Lancashire forwards. After 46 minutes, he inexplicably reversed a kickable Cornish penalty, so at half-time the score remained 8 - 3 to Cornwall.
Cornwall started the second half well, throwing the ball around and pressing the Lancashire 22. Again, Cornwall used the ploy of Newton coming inside. Casey, the Lancs forward who had been sin-binned in the first half, was guilty of a high tackle, one of many offences missed by the referee.
Lancashire were being to disrupt the Cornish scrum. Cornwall did well to defend a scrum 10 meters from their line. Soon afterwards, Pirates' Alan Paver came on at prop for "Oggie" Wright. However, 13 minutes into the second half Lancashire made a period of pressure pay by scoring a converted try and taking the lead for the second time in the match. 10 - 8 to Lancashire.
Lancashire were looking dangerous and were held up on the Cornish line. Still Lancashire looked dangerous. They were putting pressure on the Cornish scrum and their backs were starting to run the ball. After 23 minutes of the second half, Lancashire scored a deserved try, unconverted, to extend their lead to 7 points.
Cornwall came back, recycling the ball and attacking from their own half, but the Lancashire defence held. James Hawken came on for Rocky Newton, who had taken quite a battering from the Lancashire defence. Cornwall were spending more time in the Lancashire half but the Lancashire defence looked solid. Cornwall were trying everything, but on 32 minutes an interception led to a breakaway try for Lancashire. At 20 - 8 to Lancashire with only 8 minutes to go, things seemed to be all over for Cornwall.
John Navin came on for Lee Soper. Another high tackle by Lancashire's Casey went unpunished by the referee. On 37 minutes, Cornwall's efforts were rewarded with a try by Hawken, who went over in the corner with three Lancashire tacklers hanging on to him. Larkins failed with the touchline conversion.
In injury time, Larkins put a penalty into touch just outside the Lancashire 22. Cornwall tried everything, recycling the ball time after time. Cornwall were awarded another penalty inside the Lancs 22 and a Lancs forward was sin-binned. A penalty being no good at this stage, Cornwall took the scrum, but lost the ball going forward.
The last word went to Lancashire when they scored a penalty on 47 minutes.
15. Steve Larkins (Redruth), 14. Craig Bonds (Redruth), 13. Paul Gadsdon (Penzance & Newlyn), 12. Bede Brown (Redruth), 11. Richard Newton (Penzance & Newlyn), 10. Steve Evans (Penzance & Newlyn, Captain), 9. Ricky Pellow (Manchester), 1. Martin Rice (Launceston), 2. Viliami Ma'asi (Penzance & Newlyn), 3. Jonathon Wright (Redruth), 4. Julian Wilce (Launceston), 5. Richard Carroll (Penzance & Newlyn), 6. James Lancaster (Redruth), 7. Kevin Penrose (Penzance & Newlyn), 8. Lee Soper (Launceston).
Replacements:16. Mark Richards (Redruth), 17. James Hawken (Penzance & Newlyn), 18. Alan Paver (Penzance & Newlyn), 19. Mark Harper (Plymouth Albion), 20. Sam Heard (Redruth), 21. Neil Corin (Redruth), 22. John Navin (Redruth).
Cornwall scorers: Tries: Newton, Hawken. Penalty: Larkins.
15. Chris Glynn (Sedgley Park), 14. Jalo Van de Venter (Waterloo), 13. Paul Bailley (Preston Grasshoppers), 12. Sean Casey (Liverpool St. Helens), 11. Neil Kerfoot (Orrell), 10. Rob Hitchmough (Waterloo), 9. Dave Mc.Cormack (Sedgley Park), 1. Martin O'Keefe (Orrell), 2. Martin Scott (Fylde), 3. Alan Yates (Fylde), 4. Paul Arnold (Sedgley Park), 5. Dave Mercer (Waterloo), 6. Richard Senior (Sedgley Park), 7. Dan Wilkes (Manchester), 8. Tim Fourie (Sedgley Park, Captain).
Replacements:16. Matt Pinnick (Sale Jets), 17. Chris Timms (Waterloo), 18. Pete Levans (Liverpool St. Helens), 19. Ben Fisher (Vale of Lune), 20. John Broxson (Manchester), 21. Oliver Vinney (Preston Grasshoppers), 22. Arno de Jager (Sedgley Park).
For the first time a County Championship match was held at Launceston's Polson Bridge Ground, where Cornwall took on Sussex in this quarter-final tie, with the winners being at home in the semi-final to the winners of the Roses match at Otley between Yorkshire and Lancashire.
Cornwall were looking to build on their initial outing against Berkshire, when, despite scoring 59 points without reply, there was still room for improvement.
Cornwall coach Nick Brokenshire was forced to make a couple of changes to his original choice against Berkshire. James Hawken, who missed the first match, and Rocky Newton both had hamstring injuries. Joe Bearman, who came on at Camborne to such a good effect, started at No 8 with Lakalaka Waqanivere reverting to the bench. Lee Soper, back from active service, and Richard Siveter came on to the bench in place of Neil Corin and Ashley Morcom.
A dry breezy afternoon, with Cornwall playing towards the scoreboard or town end, saw Sussex begin purposefully, giving notice that they would pose more of a threat than Berkshire did the week before. Cornwall took time to settle; indeed it was the visitors who posted the first score of the match when wing Ben Coulsen kicked an early penalty goal. Cornwall, urged on by the good-sized crowd at Polson, tore into the visitors. Turnover ball came the Duchy's way and Sussex were caught infringing. Cornwall kicked into the Sussex 22 to set up a platform from the ensuing lineout. Cornwall drove the visitors back, earned another penalty, and continued in the same vein, kicking to the 22m and setting up another maul from the ensuing lineout. At first the Sussex defence held firm but from yet another drive the Cornish pack drove over for Richard Carroll to claim the opening try, just rewards for Carroll, who once again had another storming game in the Cornish pack. Terry Pryor, once again present as a selector for the England Counties XV, could not have failed to notice. Steve Larkins badly hooked this conversion attempt.
Sussex were now causing a few problems to the Cornish scrum. But Cornish No 8 Joe Bearman appeared to be everywhere on the field during the opening period, ripping back possession and mixing it in the three quarter line. What a motor this guy has! Cornwall were still a little loose and one Barbarian-style move near their own line could have cost them dear as it broke down!
The game moved into the second quarter with Cornwall still only 5-3 up. However, the Cornish back line was beginning to get its passing together and another try was not long in the offing. Sussex were penalised for collapsing a good driving maul from Cornwall in mid-field. Cornwall again kicked to the 22m. From the lineout, Cornwall spun the ball out at speed and the flying Reds winger Craig Bonds was on hand to score a fine try. Larkins successful conversion put Cornwall 12-3 up.
The Duchy were then dealt a double blow. First their influential skipper and playmaker Steve Evans was yellow-carded for a high tackle. Fortunately for Cornwall, Coulsen missed the kick at goal. Then the ever-present Bearman was forced to leave the field, to be replaced by club mate Lakalaka Waqanivere. Shortly after, Sussex had their second row Damien Lyal yellow-carded after intervention from the touch judge.
With half time fast approaching Cornwall began to cut loose. A flowing move with backs and forwards interchanging passes brought play close to the Sussex line once again. From the resulting scrum, Sussex were turned and Lakalaka Waqanivere picked the ball up and calmly ran over the line to claim Cornwall's third try. Larkins conversion cannoned off the upright, but he made amends shortly after when he scored Cornwall's fourth try after yet another flowing move in which his club coach James Lancaster featured. Larkins converted his own try and suddenly Cornwall appeared to be out of sight at 24-3.
It seemed to be a long road back for Sussex. The road was to prove even longer as Cornwall began the second half where they left off. Before long Craig Bonds was on hand to score his second of the match following a long pass from his skipper. Bede Brown was not be left out of the scoring and soon he too was dancing his way over the Sussex line. Then fellow centre Paul Gadsdon out sprinted the cover to claim a score and Larkins conversion stretched Cornwall to 43-3. 19 points in the third quarter proved a hammer blow to Sussex hopes. The singing in the clubhouse corner was beginning to rise in celebration. Still the visitors kept plugging away and their endeavours were rewarded with a fine try for replacement Simon Bradford, which centre Jack Smallman converted to make the score 43-10. However, Cornwall would have the final say. Exeter's Adam Harris, on for Carroll, and hooker Viliami Ma'asi scored tries, both of which Larkins converted to complete the scoring at 57-10.
So Cornwall had scored 9 tries, just like last week at Camborne, and Craig Bonds had grabbed a brace again. Overall it was a much better performance from Cornwall, who were given more of a test this week than last. That said, Cornwall will have to tighten up their play for the semi-final next Saturday at Redruth, where Lancashire (who won the Roses match against Yorkshire away at Otley 32-30) will provide Cornwall with a formidable hurdle on their quest for another Twickenham appearance. Cornwall will be punished for any lapses of concentration against the Northen side. That carrot alone should focus the Cornish minds to the task ahead this week in training.
15. Steve Larkins (Redruth), 14. Craig Bonds (Redruth), 13. Paul Gadsdon (Penzance & Newlyn), 12. Bede Brown (Redruth), 11. Ian Hambly (Penzance & Newlyn), 10. Steve Evans (Penzance & Newlyn, Captain), 9. Ricky Pellow (Manchester), 1. Martin Rice (Launceston), 2. Viliami Ma'asi (Penzance & Newlyn), 3. Jonathon Wright (Redruth), 4. Julian Wilce (Launceston), 5. Richard Carroll (Penzance & Newlyn), 6. James Lancaster (Redruth), 7. Kevin Penrose (Penzance & Newlyn), 8. Joe Bearman (Penzance & Newlyn).
Replacements:16. Mark Richards (Redruth), 17. Mark Harper (Plymouth Albion), 18. Richard Siveter (Coventry), 19. Adam Harris (Exeter), 20. Lee Soper (Launceston), 21. Laka Laka Waqanivere (Penzance & Newlyn).
Cornwall scorers: Tries: Carroll, Bonds (2), Waqanivere, Larkins, Brown, Gadson, Harris, Ma'asi. Conversions: Larkins (6).
Sussex scorers: Try: Bradford. Conversion: Smallman. Penalty: Coulsen.
Cornwall advanced to the quarter-finals of this season's Tetley Bitter County Championship with this comprehensive victory over Berkshire.
If this had been a boxing match the referee would have stopped the fight long before half time! Cornwall will be the first to admit that not everything was perfect in this performance, and that fact alone tells you how much Berkshire were overwhelmed by the Cornish side in this one-sided contest.
Cornwall probably found the elements more of a challenge than the opposition. A stiff wind blew across the Recreation Ground, making goal kicking, line out throw-ins, and any long passes a lottery.
Cornwall kicked off playing towards the scoreboard end with the wind in their favour. Steve Larkins had an early penalty chance but missed in the tricky conditions. Cornwall had to wait until 13 mins for their first points when Larkins was successful with a penalty kick. The Cornish boys kept up the high tempo and play remained in the opposition's half. Cornwall's first try came after 17 mins when scrum-half Ricky Pellow capitalised on a mistake in the Berkshire 22. He collected the loose ball and managed to roll over the line to claim the score. Larkins' conversion stretched Cornwall to a 10 point lead.
Pellow once again was the instigator of Cornwall's second try, scored almost immediately after the re-start, when he ran a penalty in the Berkshire 22 and fed winger Craig Bonds who ran in the try. The score remained un converted. Cornwall continued to dominate. However, some misunderstanding and lack of cohesion spoilt the Cornish play. On 30 mins Berkshire made their first incursion into the Cornish 22. With half time approaching, Larkins kicked another penalty goal to put Cornwall 23-0 up. Cornwall were then reduced to 14 men after Lakalaka Waqanivere was yellow-carded for throwing a punch. Despite this Cornwall were rarely threatened, and the score remained the same to the break.
Cornwall turned around and now faced the stiff breeze. Berkshire enjoyed their best period of the game for about 5 mins, and Craig Bonds had to get back to deal with a kick in goal. Rocky Newton was starting to get some of his mazy runs under way, no doubt impressing England Counties selector Terry Pryor with his fluid movement and pace. Newton was involved again with Waqanivere as they set up Larkins for the opening try of the half on 53 mins. Larkins missed the conversion. However, the Cornish were soon back on the attack after the Berkshire re-start went out on the full. Cornwall earned a penalty on the Berkshire 22 and kicked to the corner. From the resulting catch and drive the ball was recycled and skipper Steve Evans scored another try for Cornwall. Larkins' conversion took Cornwall to 35-0.
The game was now entering the final quarter and the pace of the match was beginning to tell on the Berkshire forwards. Cornwall brought on Joe Bearman in place of James Lancaster, and he was immediately involved in the action, setting up another Newton surge out wide. The flood gates were soon to burst as Cornwall ran in four tries in the final stages with hooker Viliami Ma'asi, replacement No 8 Joe Bearman, winger Craig Bonds, and centre Paul Gadsdon all going over as Cornwall racked up a record score in the Championship of 59-0. Coach Nick Brokenshire brought on the entire bench during the final quarter, in preparation for next week's match at Launceston against Sussex, who beat Kent by 30 -23.
In all the years I have watched County Championship rugby, I cannot remember such a one-sided contest as this one. A worrying note for the organisers of this competition, the RFU. Perhaps the CRFU will have to cut its admission prices to attract more spectators to these 1st Round matches! Finally, this win confirms that Cornwall will still be a Top 16 county next season and that whatever happens in the next match they will play in the main County Championship competition once again next year.
Cornwall now face Sussex in the quarter-final, next Saturday at Launceston, K.O. 3:00 p.m.
15) S. Larkins (Redruth), 14) C. Bonds (Redruth), 13) P. Gadsdon (P&N), 12) B. Brown (Redruth), 11) R. Newton (P&N), 10) S. Evans (P&N,capt) 9) R. Pellow (Manchester), 8) L. Waqanivere (P&N), 7) K. Penrose (P&N), 6) J. Lancaster (Redruth), 5) R. Carroll (P&N), 4) J. Wilce (Launceston) 3) J. Wright (Redruth), 2) V. Ma'sai (P&N) 1) M. Rice (Launceston)Replacements: 16) M. Richards (Redruth), 17) I. Hambly (P&N), 18) A. Harris (Exeter), 19) J. Bearman (P&N), 20) N. Corin (Redruth), 21) A. Morcom (P&N), 22) M. Harper (Plymouth Albion)
Scorers for Cornwall: 9 tries: Pellow, Bonds (2), Evans, Newton, Larkins, Ma'asi, Bearman Gadsdon. 3 cons & 2pens, Larkins. Yellow card L. Waqanivere, 38 mins.
Redruth regained the Cornwall Knock Out Cup with a thrilling win over higher-league opponents Launceston, on a glorious spring evening in front of a sizable crowd of 1500 plus.
This win capped a fine second half of the season that has seen the Reds become a real force in their league, and augurs well for a more successful campaign next season.
If anybody doubted the continued merits of this competition, then they were surely dispelled by two sides that were up for it. No quarter was asked or given in a bruising encounter on a hard pitch, which to compound Launcestons miserable evening saw them lose Scott Martin with a fractured arm (a big blow to Cornwall U.20s) and their influential French centre Thomas Bonnefoy with concussion.
Redruth started the quicker, playing against the breeze. Winger Lewis Vinnecombe had an early chance following up his kick-and-chase, but the ball went dead off the hard pitch. Reds' fly half Mark Scrivener soon had points on the board for Redruth with a penalty in front of the posts as Launceston fell foul of the referee; they were heavily penalised for ruck infringements all evening. A few minutes later Scrivener was on target again.
Launceston slowly got back into the game, mainly through their forwards and their mauling game, which would eventually pay dividends. When penalties came their way they chose to kick to touch and set up a rolling maul from the resulting line out. This paved the way for their first try as they eventually drove over the Reds' line, with Dave Uglow claiming the score. Jon Hill was unable to convert.
However, Redruth were pinning the Cornish All Blacks back with a clever kicking game. The Reds were forcing Launceston into errors and penalty chances came their way. Scrivener kicked two more on 31 and 35 minutes to stretch the Redruth lead again. Immediately the Cornish All Blacks hit back. Another maul was pulled down by the Reds' defence and referee Mr Williams awarded a penalty try, which Hill converted to level the scores 12-12 at the break.
Scrivener and Hill then swapped penalties. However, the Reds' breakthrough was not long in coming. Launceston were unable to deal with a spiralling kick from Scrivener, the ball was re-cycled, and Jon Wright crashed over for the try. Scrivener added the conversion.
Launceston tore back at the Reds. Once again they kicked to the corner to set up a maul. Lock Mihajlovic was close before another penalty was awarded. Again a kick to the corner and from the resulting drive Deano Shipton was driven over by the pack for the try. The conversion failed and that was as close as the Cornish All Blacks were to get to Redruth, who dominated the final quarter. Kiwi skipper Bede Brown went off on an arching run into the Launceston 22, found a gap, and scored a beautiful try. Scrivener kicked the difficult conversion and the Reds led 27-20. Scrivener then dropped a peach of a goal, and the game was slipping away from Launceston. Neil Corin rounded off a majestic move from the Reds to score the final try of the night under the posts. Scrivener added the extras and the cup was back at Redruth for the first time since 1995.
Launceston: J Hill; A Yates, E Nancekivell, T Bonnefoy (R
Fry 37), S Martin (S Yates 19); T Alatini, A Birkett; M Rice (S Rush 25-28), D
Risdon, I Langbridge (Rush 66); A Mihaljovic, J Wilce (I Goldsmith 70); D Uglow
(D Shipton 50), B Sibthorp (P Edwards 70), N Burnett.
Scorers: Tries - Uglow, Penalty Try - Shipton; Conversions - Hill; Penalty - Hill.
Redruth: S Larkins; A Hymans, C Bonds, B Brown (capt), L
Vinnecombe (N Pedley 52); M Scrivener, M Richards (M Churcher 79); N Douch (N
Croker 65), G Cooper, J Wright (S Heard 65); N Corin, A Hawken (S O'Sullivan
74); J Navin (J Arnold 52), J Lancaster, N Pascoe.
Scorers: Try - Wright, Brown, Corin; Conversions - Scrivener 3; Penalties - Scrivener 5; Drop-Goal - Scrivener. Referee: N Williams (RFU and Somerset Society).
On the wettest day in the Duchy for weeks, Cornwall gained a well-deserved revenge win over the county that defeated them in last seasons final at Twickenham.
Cornwall got off to the best possible start, playing up the slope with the driving wind and rain behind them. The initial kick-off was knocked on by Hampshire into touch, deep in their own 22. From the resulting scrum, Cornwall drove the visiting pack back over their own line for No 8 Sam Hocking to claim the try.
In the difficult conditions it was going to be a forward-orientated game and Cornwall, with the heavier pack and taller forwards, looked set to dominate. However, it was to be Hampshires No 8, Matthew Morgan, who squared up the score on 14 minutes. Cornwall regained the lead 3 minutes later when prop forward Sam Heard crashed over near the posts. This time centre James Tresize slotted the conversion.
Nathan Pedley was looking lively on the wing and a charged down clearance by the Reds flier almost brought another Cornish try. Second row Gavin Boak went over under the posts for the third Cornish try of the half, which Tresize converted. The score remained the same until half time.
Would it be enough? The first score in the second half would be crucial. Cornwall, with the elements abating slightly, were now playing down the slope and they obtained a touch from a penalty deep in Hell Fire Corner. After several phases of play, Marek Churcher crossed for the crucial opening score of the half. The conversion failed but Cornwall now led 24-5.
Hampshire were reduced to 14 men when lock Matthew Allen was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle. Cornwall maintained the pressure and Churcher dropped a goal to stretch the Cornish lead once more.
Cornwall also found themselves reduced to 14 when skipper Botterill was sin-binned. Hampshire, who never gave up, scored a well-worked try through wing Neil Mc Govern, which the other wing Keith Molinieux converted. However, Cornwall were soon back down field and Tresize kicked a penalty goal to bring up the 30 mark for Cornwall. In injury time Hampshire scored their third try from a pushover but by then it was Cornwalls day.
Cornwall 4 tries Hocking, Heard, Boak and Churcher 2 cons & 1 pen Tresize 1 drop Churcher.
Scott Martin (Launceston); Matt Jess (Mount's Bay), Stephen Yates (Launceston), James Tresize (Mount's Bay), Nathan Pedley (Redruth); Marek Churcher (Redruth), Martin Strick (Penryn); Ashley Lawton (Penryn), Mario Massimino (Falmouth), Sam Heard (Redruth); Guy Botterill (capt, Redruth), Gavin Boak (Mount's Bay); Richard Tucker (Bath and Truro), Victor Norman (Falmouth), Sam Hocking (Liskeard-Looe).
Replacements: Mark Lea (Truro), Ryan Westren (Mount's Bay), Peter Webster (Penryn), Scott Langdon (Redruth), Gareth Bilkey (Truro), Wim Baars (Truro), James Comber (Bude).
With Henley going down 42-27 at Sedgley Park, this win means that Penzance/Newlyn are almost certain of finishing the season as champions of National League 2 -- a great achievement in their first season in this league. They now lead Henley by four points and need only to draw one of their two remaining matches to clinch the title. (In fact, because of their healthy points difference, they could probably afford to lose both matches and still win the league!)
As for the game itself, it was another of those matches that was a lot closer than the score suggests. After trailing throughout the first period, it was not until very late in the second half that Pirates were able to make the game safe. Without the injured Ma'asi and Saumi, Pirates started the match with a slightly experimental-looking side. Olonga played at full-back, with Alan Paver moving from prop to hooker. Usual hooker James Owen started the match on the bench. The half-backs were Berti (at scrum-half) and Paul Thirlby.
Pirates did their cause no favours by arriving late at the ground, thereby depriving themselves of a proper warm-up and causing the start to be delayed by five minutes. Perhaps because of this, Newbury started the game in sharper form, and it was no surprise when they went ahead after 12 minutes with a converted try. For much of the rest of the half there was little to choose between the sides, as play flowed from end-to-end. Pirates looked dangerous on the break and showed a willingness to run the ball from deep, but there were too many handling errors and play was generally scrappy. The referee didn't help by blowing up for every minor infringement.
After 25 minutes, it was still 7-0 to Newbury. Both defences looked solid and Newbury were giving as good as they got up front. The most impressive Pirates player was centre Mark Fatialofa, who was starting to punch holes in the Newbury defence. Pirates threatened the Newbury line and looked odds-on to score, but gave away a scrum due to a knock-on.
On 30 minutes, Pirates got their first points on the board when Berti landed a penalty. Two munutes later, Pirates lost their own lineout on the Newbury 10 metre line, Newbury hacked upfield, and scored a push-over try from the resulting lineout -- 12-3 to Newbury. Pirates responded immediately, and threatened the Newbury line. The Newbury number 2 was sin-binned. Berti kicked the resulting penalty into the corner. From the lineout, Pirates scored their own push-over try, which Berti converted to make the half-time score 12-10 to Newbury.
The second half had barely started -- in fact, some enthusiastic supporters were still in the clubhouse, queuing to relieve an excess of alcohol -- before Pirates had scored an unconverted try, to take the lead for the first time in the match. Newbury came straight back to threaten the Pirates' line, the ball was fed back to fly-half Czerpak, who dropped a goal -- one of several he attempted during the game -- to make the score 15-15. Berti replied with a penalty -- 15-18.
On 50 minutes, Mark Roderick and James Owen came on as replacements, but shortly afterwards Fatialofa was sin-binned. The game took an ugly turn when fighting broke out among the forwards and soon both sides were down to 14 men.
Slowly, the Pirates started to dominate the forward exchanges, shunting the Newbury pack backwards in the scrums. The Blues backs still looked dangerous, however, and it seemed that the game could still go either way. It was not until the 67th minute that the Pirates were able to open up a convincing lead, with the best try of the game. After sustained pressure on the Newbury line, the ball was moved from one touchline to the other for a score which replacement Steve Evans converted. 15-25 to Pirates.
The final score of the game came right at the end, when Fatialofa intercepted a pass inside his own half and raced away to score. Evans converted from the touchline, to make the final score 15 - 32.
All eyes were on the Mennaye Field where Penzance & Newlyn were within sight of that long cherished place in next seasons National League 1. A win against Stourbridge and promotion would be confirmed, and the Pirates could look forward to some interesting visitors to the Mennaye Field next season. Led from the front by their skipper Joe Bearman, the Pirates secured promotion with a fine 44 18 win over a plucky Stourbridge side. The large crowd were treated, as is the custom, to a veritable tries feast, with seven being scored by the home side.
Nat Saumi opened the scoring with a penalty goal on 7 minutes. However, the Pirates had to wait until 22 mins for their opening try from James Hawken as home side pressure finally told. Saumi failed with the conversion. Brett Harvey pulled back three points for Stourbridge on 30 mins with a penalty kick. Penzance maintained the pressure on the visitors' line and were rewarded with a second try from a forward surge which saw prop forward Dan Seal claim the score; Saumi added the extras. Harvey kicked a second penalty for the visitors as half time approached to leave the Pirates 15 6 to the good at the break.
Two quick tries at the beginning of the second half put the Pirates in a commanding position, the first from skipper Joe Bearman, and the second from Laklaka Waqanivere. Saumi converted the first and the Pirates led 27 6. As the game entered the final quarter, play became more open. Stourbridge scored a try through winger John Hall. Penzance & Newlyn hit back and replacement prop Ashley Morcomb scored, with Sebastian Berti putting the conversion over. Waqanivere then grabbed his second try of the game. Moments later, Hall did likewise for the visitors, with the impressive Harvey converting once more. Nat Saumi then completed the scoring, adding the Pirates final try after some fine running from Rocky Newton. The final whistle confirmed promotion and the start of the celebrations.
Well done, the Pirates! Cornwall is proud of you. Proper job!
The Pirates won the day in this eagerly-awaited clash, played in atrocious conditions in front of a large crowd at the Mennaye Field. The home side elected to face the elements during the first half. From the kick off, tension boiled over amongst the forwards. Launceston settled first. In the third minute, after a fine touch kick into the corner from Andy Birkett, Lee Soper secured the line-out and the ensuing drive from the Cornish All Blacks saw Julian Wilce driven over for the opening try. Scott Martin was unable to add the conversion. Nat Saumi and Scott Martin then exchanged penalty goals, before Martin with his second penalty goal stretched Launcestons lead to 11-3. However, the Pirates enjoyed good fortune when Steve Evans charged down Tony Alatinis kick, the ball fell into a clear field, Evans kicked on and won the chase to the touch down. Saumis conversion cut the deficit to a single point, 11 10 at half time.
With the elements in their favour, the Pirates looked to dominate during the second half. Saumi missed a couple of penalty goal attempts early on, before Victor Olonga calmed the home crowd's nerves by scoring a fine try out wide in the score board corner. Saumi belied the conditions to convert the try from the touchline, making it 1711 to the Pirates. Paul Gadson sealed the Pirates' win in the 78th minute by scoring the home sides third try.
Scorers for Pirates: tries, Evans, Olonga, Gadsdon; conversions, Saumi 2; penalty, Saumi. For Launceston: try, Wilce; penalties, Martin 2.
This was a very close, hard-fought match which Henley just about deserved to win. The difference between the sides lay in the Hawks' skill in kicking from hand and in the Pirates' relative lack of discipline. Time and again, Henley relieved pressure by finding good touch upfield. When the Pirates tried the same thing, they frequently failed to find touch and succeeded only in giving away possession. Three Pirates were sin-binned at various stages of the match, so that for 30 of the 80 minutes Pirates had to play with 14 men -- you simply can't afford to do that at this level. No Hawks were sin-binned.
Henley had the edge in the lines out, while the Pirates' forwards had slightly the better of the set scrums and the loose play. Both sides tried to run the ball, with the Henley backs in particular looking dangerous. However, both defences were solid; the Pirates tackling was ferocious.
After 10 minutes, Pirates opened the scoring when good work by the forwards allowed Victor Olonga, playing on the wing, to run in a try in the corner. Saumi converted from out wide to make it 7 - 0 to the Cornish team. For much of the rest of the first half, Pirates found themselves bottled up in their own half. They seemed incapable of finding a good touch upfield. However, their defence was sound and never looked liked cracking.
After 25 minutes, centre Mark Fatialofa was sin-binned and the Pirates' defence came under even more pressure. However, it held firm and leaked no points during the time he was off the field. On 35 minutes, Henley missed with a penalty attempt, but succeeded three minutes later, to make the half-time score 7 - 3 to Pirates.
Play became more open in the second half, but the defences were in control. Then, on 52 minutes, Henley landed their second penalty, to creep within one point of the Pirates. Soon afterwards, scrum half Mark Roderick was sin-binned, and for the second time in the match the Pirates were down to 14 men. While Roderick was off the field, flanker Vili Ma'asi stormed over for the Pirates second try. The conversion attempt by Saumi slid just wide, so it was 12 - 6 to Pirates.
On seventy minutes, yet another Pirate was sin-binned. This time it was lock Martin Haag and Pirates were made to pay for it. With time fast running out, Henley forced themselves into the corner, near the Pirates' line. Eventually, they forced their way over, to make it 12 - 11. A perfect conversion, from way out on the right touhline, gave Henley the lead for the first time in the match.
Pirates fought back, but on eighty minutes Henley added insult to injury by landing a penalty, taking the score to 16 - 12 to the home side. Still Pirates could have won it. Deep into injury time, they spurned two chances to regain the lead. First, when an overlap had been created, the ball was knocked forward. Then they were awarded a penalty on the Henley 10 metre line. Three points was not enough, so they opted to place the ball near the Henley corner flag and go for a catch-and-drive over. Alas, the attempted kick into the corner was symptomatic of Pirates' kicking all day. The ball sailed far beyond the corner flag and out of play, for a scrum back to Henley.
On this showing, there is very little to choose between the top sides in this division. Certainly, Pirates have shown that they can compete with the best. With Victor Olonga's British residency status now confirmed (making it possible to play him in the same side as the non-Britons Ma'asi and Fatialofa), and Lakalaka Waqanivere due to return from injury shortly, there is cause for optimism. However, Pirates desperately need a player who can, when necessary, play the territorial game, kicking for position from fly-half. And they must sharpen up their discipline.
Penzance/Newlyn team: Saumi, Olonga, Gadson, Fatialofa, Hawken, Evans, Roderick, Paver, Owen, Seal, Haag, Carroll, Ma'asi, Durant, Bearman
With Henley Hawks surprisingly going down at home to Nottingham, the Pirates had the chance to join the Hawks and Bracknell at the top of the table. However, it was not to be as the Yorkshire boys were determined to go home with a positive result.
The Pirates were caught cold as Wharfdale scored a couple of tries in the first ten minutes, through winger Craig Ecclestone and centre Chris Matherbe, both converted by Jonathan Davies. Nat Saumi cut the deficit first with a penalty and then a try as both sides were reduced to fourteen men, with Fatilofa for the Pirates and Hargreaves for the visitors sin-binned. Wharfdale scored a third try after 21 minutes with Ecclestone grabbing his second try of the game; Davies was again successful with the conversion.
The omens looked bleak as Nat Saumi had to leave the field with an injury. Nevertheless, the Pirates' pack began to boss the game. However, it was Wharfdale who stretched their lead once more via a drop goal from fly half Baggert. Trailing 8 24, the Pirates needed to score before half time. They succeeded twice. Mark Fatialofa and Villiami Maasi both went over and Ian Hambly slotted the conversions to bring the Pirates back to within 2 points of the visitors.
The Pirates went ahead for the first time in the match when Ian Hambly scored a fine try, which remained unconverted. They seemed to have the match in hand following their fifth try scored by James Hawken, Ian Hambly adding the extras to put the Pirates in the driving seat at 34-24. However, Yorkshire grit and determination saw Wharfdale draw level first via a Davies penalty and finally from a fine try scored by replacement George Smithson, which Davies converted.
Both sides were given a rousing reception at no side for a fine game in which a draw was a fair result.
Scores: Pirates-Tries, Saumi, Fatialofa, Maasi, Hambly and Hawken Pen, Saumi. Cons Hambly (3) Wharfdale: Tries Ecclestone (2), Matherbe, Smithson. Drop goal, Baggert Pen, Davies, Cons, Davies (4).
The biggest game in the Duchy so far this season saw the Pirates entertain the Chiefs in this intriguing third round tie. Played in excellent conditions and in front of a 2000+ crowd, Exeter booked a fourth-round berth with this hard won victory at the Mennaye, with a more than flattering score line.
The Pirates gave the visitors the sternest of examinations, with the forwards leading the way and giving the Chiefs' pack a thoroughly uncomfortable afternoon. Richard Carroll dominated the lineouts for the home side, and the Pirates front row gave their higher league opponents a torrid time. Despite this endeavour, the Pirates fell behind as early as the second minute, when Chiefs centre Stephen Ward kicked a penalty to steady the visitors' nerves. The intensity of the match saw players on both sides in need of running repairs. Nat Saumi levelled the scores with a penalty kick from in front of the posts.
Referee Rose was kept busy and before long the yellow card was being brandished, Pirates' flanker Kevin Penrose being the first recipient, followed shortly after by Chiefs prop Phil Sluman. Ward kicked Exeter into the lead again with a second penalty. However, from the re start, which was one of those funny ones, Olonga gathered and Nat Saumi took a difficult pass to race in at the corner, the try remained unconverted. The crowd were lifted once more as the Pirates now led 8-6. Deep into first-half injury time, Exeter had a succession of mauls near the home try line and in the end the pressure told, when the ball was spun out for full back Glenn Bunny to cross and give the Chiefs a halftime lead of 11-8.
Early in the second half Nat Saumi kicked his second penalty to tie the scores. The game was very even and chances appeared few. However, Chiefs fly half Thompson dropped a goal to nudge his side ahead once more at 14 11. In a tight finish and perhaps with superior fitness telling, Exeter sealed their victory deep into injury time with a rolling maul from the forwards to send No 8 Richard Baxter over for a try.
A brave performance from the Pirates, who on this performance have the ability to hold their own in the higher league should they achieve promotion again this season.
Scores: Pirates: 1 try, 2 Pens Nat Saumi. Exeter Chiefs: 2 tries Bunny, Richard Baxter, 2 pens Ward, 1 drop goal Thompson.
The Reds recorded their first league win of the season with victory over a plucky Havant side. On a glorious Cornish afternoon and playing up the slope in the first half, Redruth fell behind after 13 minutes when Havants second row Nick Allica crashed over in Hellfire corner following a break from scrum-half Grant Morris. Morris fed skipper Joe Duffett, who set up his second row colleague Allica. Flanker Dave Archer was unable to add the extras.
This score stirred the Reds and they replied immediately with a Steve Larkins try in the scoreboard corner. Bede Brown, who had earlier missed with a penalty attempt, slotted the conversion to put the Reds in front.
Redruth attempted some risky long passing in midfield and twice Havant were fingertips away from intercepting. Bede Brown stretched the Redruth lead on 20 minutes with a penalty from 40 meters in front of the posts. Center Mark Richards then scored the first of his two tries of the afternoon, again in the scoreboard corner, following good work from Larkins and Bonds, who got his pass to Richards from the deck. Bede Brown missed the conversion.
Allicia, who had seen an earlier penalty strike the post, cut the deficit with another successful kick to bring Havant back to 15-8. The Reds then enjoyed a moment of good fortune when an attempted chip by a Havant player in front of the grandstand rebounded off Mark Richards into a clear field. The Reds center calmly gathered the ball and sped off gratefully to score. Bede Brown rubbed salt into Havant with the conversion sailing between the uprights. Havant had the last say of the half when, having camped in Hell fire corner, they worked the ball wide for their full back Anton Petzer, who caused Redruth problems all afternoon with his running from deep. Allica missed the conversion and the half-time score was 22-13 to Redruth.
The second half saw Havant camped in the Redruth half for long periods of the opening 20 minutes. Petzer was again close to scoring. However, the score remained the same until 59 minutes, when Bede Brown slotted another penalty, only for Allica to do likewise for Havant shortly afterwards.
As the game entered the final quarter, Redruth got down to Hellfire corner and orchestrated a well-worked try for skipper James Lancaster under the posts. Brown converted. Havant must have said something to the referee, as Redruth were awarded a penalty from the restart. Larkins put the pressure back on with a monster kick into Hell fire corner.
Soon after, Lancaster was over again to complete his brace of tries. Bede Browns conversion sealed Redruths win.
A fine game and a fitting tribute to Redruth stalwart Andy Hawken, who prior to the kick-off received a presentation from Redruth club President Bill Bishop marking 200 league appearances for the Reds.
Scores: Redruth; Tries Lancaster (2), Richards (2), Larkins. Pens; Brown (2), Cons: Brown (4) Havant; Tries Allica, Petzer. Pens; Allica (2)
The Memorial Ground Penryn has over the years been the scene of some memorable encounters in the RFUs Knock Out Cup. David Duckham, in his autobiography, described the Borough crowd as the most partisan he had ever played in front of when Coventry defeated Penryn 28-4 in the quarterfinal in 1972. London Welsh, with its star-studded side in 1973, and Rosslyn Park that same year have been other notable visitors. So this was indeed a fitting setting for this all Cornish first round match, played on a glorious afternoon on an excellent pitch in front of a decent sized crowd.
Redruth gained revenge for their Cornwall Cup defeat when they beat a spirited Borough side 28-13, in an error-strewn encounter. From the kick off the Reds camped in the Penryn 22, and were rewarded with a penalty on 5 minutes which Bede Brown slotted over.
Penryns forwards tore into the opposition and there was a flare up amongst the forwards, nothing nasty, but the tension was there. Penryn mounted some good attacks but the ball was spilled or lost in the contact. Redruth lost as much possession, especially at the breakdown; forwards were not arriving in enough numbers soon enough.
Redruths first try of the afternoon came from a Penryn clearance which Brown collected near the half way line. He feed the ball inside to Pedley, who put in a deep kick to the Boroughs 22. Redruth secured the line out and from the resulting drive hooker Sam Harrison crashed over; Brown was unable to convert the try. Penryn tore into the attack and, having won a penalty, saw the decision reversed and their hooker sin-binned, which saw old favourite Paul Smith come on for a time. During the match 3 more players were to be shown the yellow card, two for each team in all. Brown converted another penalty soon after to stretch the Reds' lead to 11-0.
Penryn carried on taking the game to Redruth and were awarded a penalty in front of the posts. Peter Gregory had no problem notching up the Boroughs first score. Bede Brown was a constant thorn to the Borough, his pace carving openings, and if the support had been quicker the scores would have piled up.
Penryn were dangerous towards half time and Reds scrum half Marek Churcher had to ground a kick ahead in goal ahead of the fast-advancing Penryn players. Half time and 11-3 to the Reds.
Penryn scored first in the second half after several phases of play through their Kiwi centre Sheldon Waetford. Gregory missed the conversion. The crowd got right behind the Borough as they sensed another upset. However, Bede Brown slotted another penalty for the Reds to stretch their lead once more. Redruth then combined well to create an excellent try for their captain James Lancaster, which Bede Brown converted.
Penryn came back when the ever-dangerous Chris Mann stretched his legs for a long run in at the corner.
But it was to be the Reds' day and wing Lewis Vinnecombe, fed by the ever-present Brown, rounded off a good move. Bede Browns conversion ended the scoring and saw Redruth into the second round and a trip on October 5th to take on Division 2 side Bracknell.
Scores; Penryn; tries Waetford, C.Mann, Pen, Gregory. Redruth: tries, Harrison, Lancaster, Vinnicombe, pens Brown (3), cons Brown
Despite the fact that the Reds have now lost their 3 opening fixtures in the league, the performance of this young side still allows hope. A win will no doubt boost their confidence and lead to results going their way.
The learning curve is steep and the Redruth cause was not helped by three players being shown the yellow card during this match. Redruth were rocked by 3 first half tries from Lydney, with full back Adam Westall scoring 17 points in a 27 point haul. All the Reds had to show in the first half was a Bede Brown penalty.
Redruth played better in the second half and scored 3 well worked tries through Dave Guffick, replacement Luke Ellis, and James Lancaster. Bede Brown slotted 2 conversions. Lydney scored 2 more tries themselves in this half to run out comfortable winners overall.
Next Saturday its Powergen Cup Rugby with the Reds travelling to the Memorial Ground Penryn to take on an in-form Brough, winners at St Ives this weekend, 34 5. It promises to be some match!
Scores; Lydney: 5 tries Vine (2), Scriven, Westall, Jenkins. 4 pens & 3 cons Westall Redruth: 3 tries, Guffick, Ellis, Lancaster. 1 pen & 2 cons Brown
This, as they say, was "a match of two halves". Penzance/Newlyn, playing against a slight breeze in the first half, were 24-5 up at the break and looked to be in charge. Pirates' supporters confidently expected them to cut loose in the final quarter and run up 40 to 50 points. It never happened. In fact, Esher had the better of the second half, scoring three converted tries to the Pirates' one. (Though Pirates did have another well-executed try disallowed for an off-the-ball offence.)
In warm sunshine and good conditions, the crowd were treated to some entertaining running rugby, particularly in the first half. Esher are a good all round side, with no obvious weaknesses, and it was they who scored first, with an unconverted try after 5 minutes. Pirates replied almost immediately, with a well-worked try converted by Saumi. Pirates moved further ahead when Saumi kicked a penalty and number 8 Waqanivere broke free to score near the posts. Another fine move brought another converted try, to make the score 24-5 to Pirates.
A little before half-time, Pirates' kicker and influential centre Nat Saumi damaged his knee ligaments and had to be replaced.
In the second half, with Saumi off Pirates seemed to lose their rhythm. Coach Kevin Moseley made several changes, but to no avail. The play became more attritional. Pirates had their moments, scoring one try and having another disallowed. However, the half belonged to Esher. Pirates' defence suddenly began to leak points, and at the end Esher were only one try adrift.
Penzance/Newlyn team: Whitcombe, Lambert, Saumi, Fatialofa, Hawken, Evans, Becconsall, Paver, Ma'asi, Steel, Carroll, Hodge, Bearman, Penrose, Waqanivere.
Despite going down to a second consecutive home defeat, this young Redruth side gave a gutsy performance against a Rosslyn Park side that will be pushing for promotion.
On a dry sunny afternoon with a stiff breeze blowing down into the Piggy Lane corner, the visitors, playing down the slope, got off to a flying start with a try from their full back Richard Jackson on 3 minutes. Jackson was to prove to be a constant threat to the Reds all afternoon with his well timed runs from deep. The conversion was missed and the wind was to prove awkward for goal kickers on both sides all afternoon.
Soon after, Park were reduced to 14 men when their scrumhalf was yellow carded for use of the elbow on his opposite number at the put in. The Londoners continued to enjoy territorial advantage and after 19 minutes they scored a second try through their No 8 Ben Thirwell after a catch and drive from a line out in Hell Fire corner.
Redruths youngsters were stung into more urgent action and, from a scrum 5 meters out, full back Nathan Pedley was on hand to score Redruths first try of the afternoon. Park were soon back in the Redruth 22 and their third try came from No5 Lee Gibson, who was driven over close to the posts. This time, Stuart Hibbert converted the try. Just before half time, Redruth cut the deficit with a fine try from Craig Bonds in the score board corner after some good work from forwards OSullivan and Hawken. Half time and 17-10 to the Park.
The Reds came out firing on all cylinders after the break and took the game to the Londoners. Steve Larkins was stopped just short of the line. The third Redruth try came from a move initiated deep in their own 22 by Larkins, who broke Parks three quarter line and fed centre Mark Richards who outsped the cover to score in the Piggy Lane corner. Redruth were now within 2 points of Park but that was the closest they would get on the scoreboard. Park scored their fourth try on 68 minutes when scrum half Mike Friday got the first of his brace, Hibbert converting to stretch Park away again. The Reds skipper Bede Brown was at last successful with a couple of penalties to bring Redruth back to a deficit of 3 points. In injury time, Rosslyn Park sealed their victory with Fridays second try and ran out worthy winners by 29 to 21.
Redruth: Tries, Pedley, Bonds, Richards. Penalties, Brown (2) Rosslyn Park: Tries, Friday (2), Jackson, Thirwell, Gibson. Conversions, Hibbert (2)
Pirates celebrated their arrival in National League Two with a powerful victory over Fylde in front of a four-figure crowd. In ideal conditions for running rugby, the Pirates centres Nat Saumi and Victor Olonga had a field day, ably supported by new signing full-back Ian Hambly. With the rest of the team responding, the crowd had full value for their money. Fylde, to their credit, never gave up, but the Pirates let them have little room to manoeuver and their seventh minute converted try was all the Pirates allowed them.
Scorers for the Pirates: tries, Waqanivere 2, Carroll, Olonga, Durant; penalties, Saumi 5; conversions Saumi 3.
Hampshire gained victory in injury time with two quick tries. With Cornwall only three points behind in the closing stages of the game, it was the extra cutting edge in midfield, where the Hampshire fly-half and centres had the upper hand, that made the difference between the two teams. The Cornwall forwards had their fair share of the ball, particularly in the earlier stages of the game, but Hampshire gradually took control as the match progressed and finished up on top by the end. It was not that Cornwall played badly - they did not - it was just that Hampshire were a shade too good for them and deserved the spoils. Scorers for Cornwall: tries, Hambley, Collins; conversions, Hambly (2).
Team: 15. Ian Hambley (Truro), 14. Stephen Yates
(Launceston), 13. Marc Sweeney (Redruth), 12. Nathan Pedley (Redruth), 11.
Simeon Lewry (Launceston), 10. Merrick Churcher (Penryn), 9. Ricky Brandon
(Truro), 8. Josh Lord (Truro, Captain), 7. David Roberts (Camborne), 6. Ian
Boyling (Wadebridge Camels), 5. Guy Botterill (Redruth), 4. Luke Collins
(Redruth), 3. Gareth Bilkey (Newquay Hornets), 2. Sam Harrison (Redruth), 1.
Martin Rice (Launceston).
Replacements: 16. Martin Strick (Redruth), 17. James Tresize (Penzance & Newlyn), 18. Sam Heard (Redruth), 19. Nial Turner (Mounts Bay), 20. Damien Cook (Camborne), 21. Tom Thatcher (Hayle), 22. Nathan Pascoe (Redruth).
In a pulsating game where no quarter was asked or given, Gloucester managed to dig deep to pull off victory in extra time. Against a large and experienced pack, led by ex-international player David Sims, Cornwall struggled in the set pieces but held up well in the loose. In the backs, both sides defended with grit and determination which reflected in the half-time scoreline of 0-0 and the normal-time score of 3-3.
Cornwall just had the better of the attacking positions in the first half but Gloucestershire came back into contention more and more in the second-half as Cornwall struggled hard to contain the Gloucestershire mid-field. Gloucestershire broke the deadlock in the 47th with a well struck penalty by Scott Pollock while Cornish pressure finally told when Gloucestershire were penalised for illegal use of the boot and Steve Larkins put over the kick.
Cornwall started extra time in attacking manner, going close three times without reward before Gloucestershire's full-back, Dave Knight, scored the vital first try to make the score 8-3 to the visitors. From then up it was catch-up rugby for Cornwall and a bad mistake while running out of defence cost Cornwall dear as Gloucestershire scored a second try by Nathan Evans, converted by Pollock, to make the score 15-3 and put the result beyond dispute. Gloucestershire's third try came from David Sims, again converted by Pollock, while Cornwall scored a consolation try by Shane Kirman, converted by Steve Larkins. Cornwall had given their best but on the day it was not good enough against such experienced opponents.
Photo by Sam Morgan-Moore. Here are some more of Sam 's photos of the semi-final.
S. Larkins (Redruth, Captain), M. Richards (Penzance & Newlyn), C.
Bonds (Redruth), S. Kirman (Redruth), J. Hawken (Penzance & Newlyn), J.
Tucker (Launceston), R. Pellow (Worcester), P. Risdon (Plymouth Albion), B.
Lucas (Launceston), S. Rush (Launceston), J. Wilce (Launceston), L. Soper
(Worcester), R. Carroll (Penzance & Newlyn), K. Penrose (Penzance &
Newlyn), J. Lancaster (Redruth).
Replacements: T. Sincock (Redruth), M. Richards (Truro), C. Hammond (Launceston), D. Risdon (Launceston), A Hymans (Redruth), J. Arnold (Redruth).
The omens were not good for Cornwall. With one exception, the Devon side was composed entirely of First Division players from Exeter Chiefs, Plymouth Albion, and Henley Hawks. The previous week, Devon had run in nine tries against Cumbria. And a torrential downpour before and during the match turned the field into a quagmire that seemed to favour the heavy Devon pack at the expense of the Cornish running game. Nevertheless, the large crowd of 3000-plus Cornish supporters standing in the rain was determined to roar their side to victory.
The only changes in the Cornwall side from last week's game against Surrey were at centre, where Craig Bonds replaced his Redruth colleague Andy Hymans, and at lock, where Lee Soper (of Worcester and the Army) replaced Glyn Hutchings.
Although both sides tried to open up the game at times, it quickly developed into a forward battle. The big Devon pack had a slight edge in the scrum, but the Cornish were quicker to the loose ball. Crucially, the Cornish lineout worked far better than last week: Cornwall won most of their own ball, and some of Devon's too. In an all-Penzance/Newlyn back row of Penrose, Bearman, and Carroll, flanker Kevin Penrose was a thorn in the flesh of Devon all afternoon. Both defences were solid.
Cornwall scored first, after only three minutes, when full-back Larkins kicked his first penalty. Fabian, of Henley Hawks, replied with two penalties for Devon, before Larkins struck twice more. Devon forced their way over the Cornish line, but the referee ruled that the ball had gone forward. Cornwall hung on to lead 9-6 at half-time.
In the second half, Larkins and Fabian exchanged further penalties. Now it was the Cornish turn to put the Devon line under pressure. Given a kickable penalty, Larkins opted to put the ball in the corner. Cornwall won the lineout, but couldn't make it count. The referee awarded a scrum to Devon. Still Cornwall threatened the Devon line.
Devon coach Graham Dawe sent on three fresh forwards, each as huge as the man he replaced. Devon started to edge Cornwall backwards at the scrums. Time and again, Devon launched their big men, trying to batter their way through, but the Cornish tackled like tigers.
In the final minute of normal time, Devon were awarded a penalty about 35 meters out, to the left of the posts. The prospect of extra time loomed as full-back Fabian stepped up to level the scores. Thankfully, he missed and Cornwall ended the game on the attack.
Cornwall team: S. Larkins (Redruth, Captain), M. Richards
(Penzance & Newlyn), C. Bonds (Redruth), S. Kirman (Redruth), R. Newton
(Penzance & Newlyn), J. Hawken (Penzance & Newlyn), R. Pellow
(Worcester), P. Risdon (Plymouth Albion), B. Lucas (Launceston), S. Rush
(Launceston), J. Wilce (Launceston), L. Soper (Worcester), R. Carroll (Penzance
& Newlyn), K. Penrose (Penzance & Newlyn), J. Bearman (Penzance &
Replacements: T. Sincock (Redruth), J. Lancaster (Redruth), M. Richards (Truro), C. Hammond (Launceston), G. Hutchings (Launceston), D. Risdon (Launceston), D. Jaques (Penryn).
Scorers: Devon: Penalties: Fabian (3); Cornwall: Penalties: Larkins (4)
Cornwall are through to the quarter-final of the County Championship, but will have to correct some weaknesses before next week in order to stand a realistic chance of beating a strong Devon side at Plymouth.
Cornwall scored first, after only five minutes, when Andy Hymans crossed following good work by the forwards. Larkins missed the conversion. At this stage, the large contingent of Trelawny's Army basking in the sunshine looked forward to a Cornish try-fest. However, the game was to be a lot closer than the scoreline suggests.
Playing against the wind and a slight slope, for long periods of the first half Cornwall were penned in their own half. The strengths and weaknesses of the Cornish game were plain to everyone. The pack, based on the Launceston front five, aided by Penzance/Newlyn's Penrose, Bearman, and Carroll, were solid in the scrums and effective in the loose. Worcester's Ricky Pellow at scrum-half was calm and efficient. Outside, Penzance/Newlyn's Mark Richards and Rocky Newton looked dangerous on the rare occasions they received the ball in space. The glaring weakness in the Cornish game was at the line out, where Cornwall struggled all afternoon to win their own ball. And Penzance/Newlyn's talented young James Hawken, playing out of position at fly-half, looked hesitant.
In the last quarter of the first half, Surrey broke through on the right to score a converted try and take the lead at 7-5.
In the second half, playing with the wind, it was Cornwall's turn to have the territorial advantage. However, the game was not made safe until the final ten minutes. Steve Larkins landed a penalty, which was quickly cancelled out by one to Surrey. The sides exchanged further penalties to take the score to 13-11 to Surrey. When Steve Larkins hit first one post and then the other with failed penalty attempts, we wondered whether it was to be Surrey's day. Then Cornwall scored an unconverted try, followed by a Larkins penalty, and suddenly Cornwall were 19-13 ahead. The game was still not safe. Surrey pressed forward.
The game was sealed in Cornwall's favour by two fine tries late in the game. Following good forward pressure on the left, the ball was whipped across the field for a score in the right corner. Finally came what was possibly the try of the game. Mark Richards burst on to the ball on the Surrey 10 metre line and chose a superb angle of running to power his way through the Surrey defence and score in the left-hand corner.
So the game finished 29-13 to Cornwall. It was a mixed performance. If Cornwall can sharpen up their line-out and half-back play, they have the basis of a very good side here.
S. Larkins (Redruth, Captain), A. Hyman (Redruth), M. Richards (Penzance & Newlyn), S. Kirman (Redruth), R. Newton (Penzance & Newlyn), J. Hawken (Penzance & Newlyn), R. Pellow (Worcester), P. Risdon (Plymouth Albion), B. Lucas (Launceston), S. Rush (Launceston), G. Hutchings (Launceston), J. Wilce (Launceston), C. Hammond (Launceston), K. Penrose (Penzance & Newlyn), J. Bearman (Penzance & Newlyn).
Replacements: D. Risdon (Launceston), D. Moyle (Truro), R. Carroll (Penzance & Newlyn), J. Lancaster (Redruth), J. Arnold (Redruth), T. Sincock (Redruth), C. Bonds (Redruth).
Cornwall overcame Surrey in Esher by 29-13, in a scrappy performance that will not linger for long in the supporters' memories. On a dry sunny day and a firm pitch, and in front of 400 spectators, 90% supporting the boys in black and gold, Cornwall gave a disjointed display, like a team that has yet to gel. Cornwall began the match well, with Redruths South African player Andy Hymans going over in the corner after 4 minutes, following a catch and drive from a lineout deep in the Surrey 22. Steve Larkins conversion attempt failed. It was to prove to be a mixed day for Larkins goal kicking, mirroring the performance of his team.
The buzz around the ground was that Cornwall had the measure of the Surrey team and that more scores would follow rapidly. Cornwall attempted to play a running game. However, all to often movements broke down, and support was not always at the breakdown in time or in sufficient numbers. The game also suffered from numerous stoppages for injuries, especially cuts. Launcestons veteran second row Glyn Hutchings needed stitches in a nasty eyebrow injury. As the half wore on and Cornwall failed to add to their score, the uneasy feeling crept in that Surrey could sneak back in to the game from their scraps of possession. Towards the end of the half Surrey had some good passages of play. The Cornish defence kept them out. However, just before half time supporters' fears were confirmed when Surrey scored a try from their flank forward Jim Hayes, following a lineout in the Cornwall 22. A catch and drive saw the Surrey pack drive over the line and Hayes coming up with the ball. Paul Dunckley converted from out wide to give Surrey a half time lead of 7-5.
Cornwall needed to up the pace in the second half to wrest back the lead. Steve Larkins kicked an early penalty goal to give the Duchy the lead once more. However, the lead see-sawed with Dunckley and Larkins exchanging penalties. At 13-11 to Surrey, Cornwall coach Nick Brokenshire made a triple replacement, Bonds, Risdon, and Lancaster coming on for Hymans, Risdon, and Hammond.
As the game went into the final quarter, Cornwall manufactured a try for Penzance & Newlyn No 8 Joe Bearman, after good work from fly half Hawken. The Cornish boys' superior fitness was beginning to tell. Larkins then kicked a monster penalty goal from near half way to put Cornwall 19-13 up. Larkins failed with another penalty attempt, which came back from an upright. With time running out, Cornwall ran the ball from just inside their own half. A pass from Hawken to Newton was almost intercepted by a Surrey player, before Pirates center Mark Richards rounded off the move in the corner. Larkins conversion was wide. Deep into injury time, Richards scored his second try to seal a Cornish win by 29-13. The Cornish supporters gave their team a huge cheer, more in relief than for a resounding victory.
The selectors for the England Counties XV slipped away knowing not much more than before the kick off from this disappointing performance. They will no doubt be in Devon to cast another eye over potential squad members for the tour to Chile in June. Incidentally, Chile last weekend qualified for the final round of qualifying in the Americas' section for next years world cup in Australia.
Nick Brokenshire will no doubt put the boys through a couple of tough training sessions this week to try and iron out the problems in time for next Saturday's match against Devon at Beacon Park Plymouth, which will be a formidable hurdle for Cornwall.
The fact that its Devon and a semi final beckons should be incentive enough. This result also means that Cornwall will keep a Top 16 place for next season's County Championship proper.
Cornwall Scorers; Tries, Hymans, Bearman, Richards (2). Penalties, Larkins (3)
Surrey Scores; Try, Hayes. 1 Conversion and 2 Penalties Dunckley
The bitter memories of last seasons defeat at the hands of Sedgley Park at the same stage were swept away with this commanding performance from a determined Launceston side as they joined Penzance & Newlyn in National League 2 next season.
The hard lesson of last season was very much a motivation for the playing squad and the coaching staff, who prepared this match meticulously. That Launceston scored 26 points without reply says much for the side's total commitment to the game, for this Dudley side were a good side make no bones about it, beaten by an even better one on the day. In front of a large crowd of some 3,000 spectators crammed into the Polson Bridge ground, Launceston set about their task with relish. After 7 minutes Dudleys defence was undone when Cornish All Blacks centre Mark Fatialofa took a pass from Andy Birkett to dance his way through the Dudley cover to score the opening try. Dudley came storming back after this set back and only tenacious home defence kept the visitors out. Launceston flanker Steve Dyer put in many a crunching tackle on the opposition in stemming the tide. Having weathered the storm, Launceston stretched their lead thanks to a penalty goal from their South African player Barney Vorster on 27 minutes. Smart then missed with a penalty for the visitors and Launceston were back on the attack. From a scrum on the left the ball was moved right, Andy Birkett once again manufactured a scoring pass from behind his back for the onrushing Jimmy Tucker to score from 5 meters out. Vorster added the conversion and a second penalty goal off a post to give the home side an 18-0 lead at the break.
To stand any chance in the second half Dudley knew they had to score first to stay in the hunt. Smart had an early penalty chance but again he saw his kick drift wide of the uprights. As the half wore on Launceston began to take back command of the game. Birkett with his kicking and Tucker and Dyer with purposeful runs put Dudley on the back foot. On the hour Vorster stretched the Cornish All Blacks lead with his third penalty goal to make the score 21-0. Dudley were not done yet and only a try-saving tackle from Vorster, Fatialofa and Dyer prevented Dudley winger Benedict from scoring. With time fast running out, Dudleys scrum half Perry was caught in his own 22 and the ball was turned over. Nick Burnett, whod come on as a second half replacement, gleefully charged for the line to score Launcestons third try of the afternoon. Vorster failed with the conversion. However, soon after the referee blew no side, Launceston were up and the party was just beginning. Congratulations to Launceston, hard luck to Dudley, whom the Launceston boys would admit gave them one hell of a match.
Scores: Tries Fatialofa, Tucker, Burnett; Conversion Vorster; Penalties Vorster 3.
For the first time in the history of the Cornwall knock out cup, Truro R.F.C. are the proud holders. Truro were playing in their first ever final in this competition. In a fiercely contested final against Penryn, who were the inaugural winners of this competition back in 1968 and playing in their first final for 22 years, Truro sealed their victory with an injury time try scored by full back Ian Hambly and converted by Mark Richards, to give the city side an historic 27-20 win.
A crowd of 2,000 watched the game, in which seven tries were scored, at Redruths Recreation Ground. It proved a fitting finale for Truro coach Phil Angove, who is stepping down at the end of the season. Truros captain and county veteran Kevin Thomas was presented the cup by sponsor Kevin Skinner of Skinners Brewery and C.R.F.U. president David Roberts.
Scorers for Penryn: Tries Ben Short, James Greville-Smith, Chris Mann; Penalty - Richard Hambly; Conversion - Richard Hambly.
Scorers for Truro: Tries - Ian Hambly 2, Dave Sibson 2; Penalty Mark Richards; Conversions - Mark Richards 2
Penzance/Newlyn clinched the National League Three (South) title (and promotion!) when they finally overcame a spirited Westcombe Park side at Orpington. The Pirates started at speed and, following good interchanges between the forwards and backs, were 14-0 up after 10 minutes, through two tries both converted by Saumi. At this stage the result looked a foregone conclusion. However, playing with a slight wind and slope advantage in the first half, the "Park" dug in and penned the Pirates back in their own half for long periods. Before long they had scored two converted tries of their own to even the scores. The sides exchanged penalties and tries and at half-time the score was 24-24.
In the second half the game developed into a war of attrition between the forwards, in which the Pirates' hooker, Viliami Ma'asi, was outstanding. Playing like a Tongan Keith Wood, time and again he charged into the heart of the Park defence, always making yards and often committing two or three defenders. If the game was less open than in the first half it was because both defences were uncompromising. Whenever the ball was spun wide attacks were snuffed out. Saumi landed two penalties for the Pirates against one for the Park.
With ten minutes to go, at 30-27 to the Pirates it was still anybody's game. Centre Joe Bearman was sin-binned and Pirates were down to 14 men. Then Pirates broke out down the left to score an unconverted try -- 35-27 and Westcombe needed to score twice to win. With time running out, the Park pressurized the Pirates' line. Just as they looked likely to score, Pirates' fullback Victor Olonga jinked away to score a long-range try, which Saumi converted with the last kick of the match. This was the cue for Pirates' travelling support to start the promotion celebrations! Final score: 42-27 to Pirates.
Deep in injury time and trailing by 26-20, Cambornes David Roberts cut through the Kent defence to score his second try of the match and give Truros Ian Hambly the chance to win the match with the last kick of the game, and send Cornwall into the semi-finals of this seasons county U.20 championship. With nerves of steel Hambly dispatched his kick between the posts and Cornwall were home and dry by the skin of their teeth.
Facing the wind in the first half, Cornwall were put under the cosh by a classy Kent side who scored four first half tries courtesy of their centre Pat Sykes who has signed for Plymouth Albion next season. None of these tries were converted and Kent only landed one penalty in the first half, as did Penryns Marek Churcher to leave the Duchy trailing by 23-3 at the break.
With the wind at their backs, Cornwall set about the Kent score. However, it was to be Kent who scored first in this half with a second penalty goal. It was time for a fight back; Cornwall tore in to Kent and began to get the upper hand at the set pieces. Tries came from Roberts and the Redruth pair of Sam Harrison and Martin Rice. Hambly converted one of the tries, and Cornwall were still chasing the game with time fast running out. David Roberts' second try and Hambys conversion sealed the result in Cornwall's favour.
Cornwall completed their South West group matches with an impressive 44-15 win over old rivals Devon to top the standings. Cornwall will now play Kent U.20s in the quarterfinals away at Blackheath on Sunday April 7th.
Cornwall, playing down the slope at Redruth, were soon on the scoreboard when Launceston winger Simeon Lewry was fed the ball from a lineout in Hellfire Corner to touch down at the Piggy Lane corner. Devon hit back from this early set back and scored a fine try through wing Richard Young under the Cornish posts. Stung by this effort, Cornwall hit back and scored a second try from the other Launceston wing, Stephen Yates. Two further tries followed before half time from Truro scrumhalf Rikki Brandham and Redruth second row Guy Botterill, to give Cornwall a useful lead at the break of 20-5.
Cornwall were soon back in the scoring grove after halftime with another try after 42 minutes scored by Yates, his second of the match. Marek Churcher (Penryn) converted from the touchline. Devon scored their second try of the game when full back Gary Kingdom went over. Cornwall were not finished yet and proceeded to score the try of the game with a movement that began in their own 22. Lewry took the ball a full 70 meters, outpacing the Devon defence, the ball was moved inside and, after several passes, Cornish skipper Josh Lord rounded off the move, Churcher added the conversion to crown the score.
Cornwall were now flying and their scoring was completed by a Churcher penalty goal and a try from Redruth flanker Nathan Pascoe that Churcher converted. Devon, who never gave up, had the final say with a try from their No 8 Sam Harris. However, this was a Cornish performance to be proud of. The lads will travel to Blackheath full of confidence and will give Kent a hard game. The prospect of a semi-final will be all the motivation they will need.
Cornwall U.20s continued their winning ways in the South West group with a fine away win against Somerset in Yeovil.
Somerset were leading 8-0 at the break, having had the wind and slope in their favour. Redruth scrum-half Martin Strick put over a penalty goal to be followed by a try from club mate Sam Heard to tie the scores. Strick then put Cornwall ahead with his second penalty goal of the afternoon, before Marc Sweeney scored a late try to seal the Cornish victory. Somerset could only reply with a second penalty goal. The win was marred by the sending off of Cornish prop Sam Heard for an alleged stamping incident. Cornwall coaches Darren Chapman and Adrian Bick thought it was a very harsh decision.
Cornwall will book their place in the quarterfinals if they avoid defeat against Devon, who lost to Gloucestershire, in their final group match on March 24th.
A fine all-round team performance enabled Cornwall U20s to defeat Gloucestershire at the Mennaye, in the first group game of the Under 20s County Championship.
The Cornwall side, with seven Redruth players, ran in six good tries, four of them after half-time.
Simeon Lewry (Launceston) and Ian Hambly(Truro) scored the Cornwall tries in the first half, one of them converted by Martin Strick (Redruth), as Cornwall led 12-6.
After the break, Cornwall stretched away with tries from Lewry (2), Luke Collins (Redruth), and Strick, with the same player adding two more conversions and Mark Churcher one.
This was a game that Penzance/Newlyn could easily have lost. Indeed, were it not for some wayward goal-kicking from Camberley, they probably would have done. Perhaps Pirates underestimated the opposition, whose record so far this season has not been inspiring. Whatever the reason, Pirates started with three first-team regulars -- Haag, Waqanivere, and Saumi -- on the bench.
Camberley, demoted from National League 2 at the end of last season, are rebuilding. They soon showed themselves to be a young, fit side capable of playing hard, fast rugby. They scored first with a penalty. Before long, following a mazy run by Olonga, Pirates replied with a converted try, followed by a penalty. Camberley came back with an unconverted try to make the score at the break 10-8 to Pirates.
At the start of the second half, coach Kevin Moseley brought on Nat Saumi at full back in place of Adam Redgrave. Saumi immediately made his presence felt with some surging runs. Camberley, however, refused to lie down. Midway through the half, on came Waqanivere and Martin Haag and Pirates started to look more solid. Soon after, however, Haag had to go off for a long spell for repairs to a gashed head.
At 23-13 with fifteen minutes to go, Pirates seemed to have the game sewn up. The travelling Pirates' supporters waited for the opposition to tire and for Pirates' superior fitness to tell, as it usually does in the final quarter of a match. It didn't happen. Camberley pinned the Pirates in their own half and attacked with determination and no little skill, eventually scoring and converting a deserved try to make the final score 23-20 to Pirates.
Both defences were solid. Both sides showed good attacking skills, though perhaps the Pirates were not at their best. Two areas in which the Pirates were superior were goal-kicking and lineout. Richard Carroll at lock had a fine game, often winning opposition ball.
In ideal sunny conditions at the Mennaye, the Pirates put on another fine display of attacking rugby. One would think from the scoreline that Old Pats were an easy touch but, until they became dispirited towards the end of the second half, this was not the case. Their powerful pack had the edge on the Pirates in the set scrums, and their backs often moved the ball at speed, producing some slick handling moves. Indeed, one of these moves produced an early score, Old Pats going ahead after only 3 minutes with an unconverted try. Pirates were swift to respomd with a try from winger Rocky Newton, followed by further tries from Mark Richards, Victor Olonga, and Newton again. Laka Laka Waqanivere scored Pirates' final first half try, while Nat Saumi, having an almost faultless afternoon with the boot, converted all five to make the score at the break 35-5.
More Pirates' tries followed early in the second half. To their credit, Old Pats never gave up. For a while they put the Pirates under pressure, and were eventually rewarded with a push-over try of their own. This, however, had the effect of spurring the Pirates to even greater efforts. In the final quarter, Pirates' superior fitness told. Playing fast, 15-man rugby, they seemed able to threaten the Old Pats' line almost at will. There were some fine charging runs through the centre from Haag, Waqanivere, and young Danny Clackworthy.
The final try count was 11-2 to Pirates, with Saumi converting nine. When he eventually missed a conversion (it must have been about number eight), a disbelieving groan went up from the crowd, to the kicker's obvious amusement.
Having made some shrewd summer signings, Pirates have clearly progressed since last season. They seem a more rounded outfit, with the pack, in particular, strengthened by the arrival of (among others) Haag, Hodge, and Waqanivere. Their defence, organised by Haag (who had a fine game) seems much more solid. The tactic of playing Olonga at fly-half, with Saumi at inside centre and young James Hawken at full back, seems to work.
Launceston may have lost but they emerged from this game with much credit. Playing against a team two leagues higher and pushing for promotion to the premiership league, Launceston, the underdogs, refused to lie down. For long periods of the game Launceston held sway up front but Exeter had too much pace and power out wide. Nonetheless, the Launceston backs had their moments with two tries by centre Mark Fatialofa and one by winger Matt Trinder. The rest of the Launceston score came from two penalties, a conversion and a drop goal by Andy Birkett. Among the Exeter scorers were Cornishmen Ian Sanders and Neil Clark. Two other Cornishmen, Andy Reed and Adam Harris, were also in the Exeter squad.
As expected NEC Harlequins were much too powerful for Cornwall. With the weather fine and the pitch firm underfoot the professional speedsters had a field day. Although England's Will Greenwood and Scotland's Craig Chalmers did not play there was still a galaxy of premiership players on the pitch including England's most capped player Jason Leonard and David Wilson the Australian World Cup winning flanker.
Cornish rugby had its moments. To the biggest cheer of the day Steve Larkins powered his way past three Harlequins defenders to score Cornwall's try, and for the Harlequins Launceston-born Ben Gollings scored a try and put over seven conversions. Credit should also be given to the Cornish squad as a whole who never gave up and battled it out right to the final whistle.
In all Harlequins scored twelve tries, six each side of half-time with the sporting Cornish crowd giving an extra special cheer to a try scored by Jason Leonard. And afterwards the Harlequins players lingered on the pitch much to the delight of young autograph seekers. No doubt the thoroughbreds from the east were enjoying the delights of a sunny Cornish spring day away from the heavy atmosphere of London.
This was a game that Penzance/Newlyn could, and perhaps should, have won. In an exciting, evenly-matched contest, first division Wakefield played efficient, disciplined rugby and gave nothing away. Pirates, on the other hand, had one of their infuriating days. Their back play was often exhilarating, but indiscipline and tactical naivete ultimately cost them the match.
In the third minute, Pirates gave away a penalty in front of the posts and were immediately punished. Worse was to follow. With Pirates in possession, winger Gareth Davies gave away an unnecessary penalty by body-checking his opponent off the ball. Wakefield kicked into the corner, scored, converted, and suddenly, against the run of play, were 10-0 in front.
Midway through the half, Pirates' top points scorer Nat Saumi raced from his own half to ground under the posts and kick the conversion. At 7-10 Pirates were back in it, and looking perhaps the more likely to score again. Then, defending deep in their own 22, Pirates spurned several opportunities to clear their lines, preferring instead to keep the ball alive. They paid heavily for this: losing the ball, they conceded another converted try and it was 7-17. Pirates were having the better of the play but their only reward was a penalty slotted by Saumi. At the break the score was 10-17.
After the interval, Wakefield landed a penalty and Saumi missed one. Then replacement Ali Durrant went over for Pirates after a mesmerising run from centre Victor Olonga. Saumi just failed to land the conversion. Olonga was looking more and more dangerous and eventually scored himself after another fine run. This time Saumi was successful with the conversion and Pirates were ahead for the first time in the match . With 10 minutes to go, it was 22-20 to Pirates.
Playing with calm professionalism, Wakefield refused to give up. They pressurized the Pirates' line and, not for the first time, the home side's tactics had their supporters' hearts in their mouths. Saumi, in particular, showed a prediliction for setting up attacks from behind his own goal line. It was wonderful, terrifying stuff.
Wakefield's persistence paid off. They were awarded two penalties and kicked them both, to bring the score to 22-26. Back came Pirates. In injury time, Durrant, Birkett, Gadson, and Saumi all looked potential scorers but the visitors' defence held out. Pirates were awarded a scrum close to the Wakefield line, a score looked likely, but the referee blew for full time before the scrum could be taken.
In front of a large crowd of travelling Cornish supporters, Cornwall successfully came through their first game of this season's County Championship. In warm sunshine beside the Thames, the beer flowed freely while on the pitch both sides played some attractive running rugby.
The final try count was 6 to 2 in Cornwall's favour, which just about reflects the balance of play. The game was certainly no walkover for Cornwall. The scrummages were evenly matched. Cornwall had the better of the loose play and their backs looked the more dangerous. However, at times Buckinghamshire, playing with zest and determination, had Cornwall on the back foot.
Cornwall scored first after nine minutes, centre Paul Gadson going over following sustained pressure on the Buckinghamshire line and good interaction between the forwards and backs. Much of the first half was spent in the Buckinghamshire half as Cornwall, playing with the advantage of a slight slope, continued to dominate. Coming up to half time, the score was 24-0 to Cornwall, winger Steve Larkins having converted two of Cornwall's four tries. Then, on the stroke of half time, on one of their rare forays into Cornwall's half, Buckinghamshire scored. Following good combination play, a converted try made it 20-7 at half time.
Immediately after the restart, Buckinghamshire kicked a penalty and suddenly Cornwall's lead looked less secure. Buckinghamshire enjoyed their best period of the game. They started to play as if they believed they could win, and now it was Cornwall's turn to be pinned back in their own half. Luckily, the Cornish defence held. Realizing they had a match on their hands, Cornwall raised their game to score two more converted tries. Jimmy Tucker capped a fine display by completing his hat trick on 78 minutes. Right at the end, Buckinghamshire scored a breakaway try to make the final score 36-17 to Cornwall.
Cornwall try scorers: Paul Gadsdon (9), Jimmy Tucker (16), Andy Birkett (21), Jimmy Tucker (39), Steve Rush (67), Jimmy Tucker (78). Steve Larkins converted 3 of the 6 tries (all 3 after tries scored by Jimmy Tucker).
Andy Birkett (Penzance & Newlyn), Tom O'Donnell (Launceston), Paul Gadsdon (Penzance & Newlyn), Ed. Nancekivell (Launceston), Steve Larkins (Redruth), Jimmy Tucker (Launceston), Mark Roderick (Captain, Penzance & Newlyn), Richard Siveter (Bristol), Neil Grigg (Launceston), Steve Rush (Launceston), Glyn Hutchings (Launceston), Richard Carroll (Penzance & Newlyn), JJ Willcocks (Launceston), Adrian Bick (Penzance & Newlyn), Jason Atkinson (Penzance & Newlyn)
Ricky Pellow (Bath), Richard Hambly (Penryn), Simon Griffiths (Redruth), Andy Joint (Ruislip), Peter Risdon (Launceston), Barry Lucas (Launceston)
Cornwall gained their place in the quarter-final of the County Championship with a fine display of running rugby in which Launceston's Eddy Nancekivell, playing on the left wing, ran in four tries. To put the icing on the cake, Cornwall Colts beat Middlesex Colts 22-8 in a pre- match warm-up game.
Cornwall got the match off to a good start when in the second minute Steve Larkins put over a long-range penalty. Two more penalties soon followed and from then on Cornwall never looked back. Jason Atkinson scored the first try following some good forward play, with other first half tries coming from Nancekivell and Andy Birkett. Neil Grigg opened the scoring in the second half before Nancekivell capped a splendid individual performance by running in three successive tries. Two of the Cornwall tries were converted by Larkins and three by Steve Evans.
Andy Birkett (Penzance & Newlyn), Steve Larkins (Redruth), Paul Gadsdon (Penzance & Newlyn), Steve Evans (Penzance & Newlyn), Ed. Nancekivell (Launceston), Jimmy Tucker (Launceston), Mark Roderick (Captain, Penzance & Newlyn), Neil Douch (Redruth), Neil Grigg (Launceston), Steve Rush (Launceston), Glyn Hutchings (Launceston), Richard Carroll (Penzance & Newlyn), JJ Willcocks (Launceston), Adrian Bick (Penzance & Newlyn), Jason Atkinson (Penzance & Newlyn)
Ricky Pellow (Bath), Tom O'Donnell (Launceston), Simon Griffiths (Redruth), Julian Wilce (Launceston), Barry Sobey (Launceston), Barry Lucas (Launceston)
Oxfordshire, made up almost entirely from Premiership club Henley Hawks, started clear favourites among the pundits and had Cornwall on the back foot for long periods of the match. Cornwall withstood wave after wave of attacks from Oxfordshire as forwards and backs combined to find a way through the resolute Cornish defence. But Cornwall held the ace card - the black and gold shirt and the pride that goes with it. Helped by Oxfordshire conceding penalties at crucial times, they took their chances well and sealed victory with two brilliant tries from stand-off Jimmy Tucker.
As early as the third minute the Oxfordshire centres were caught offside in front of the posts and Steve Larkins made no mistake with the penalty attempt. A second successful penalty kick followed. In the 20th minute scrum-half Ricky Pellow combined well with Tucker, who wrong-footed the defence to touch down the first of his two tries. Larkins converted to put Cornwall 16 points to the good. Oxfordshire scored in the 40th minute with a penalty, only for Larkins to reciprocate in injury time to make the score 19-3 in Cornwall's favour.
Oxfordshire, now with the wind at their backs, started the second-half strongly and regularly switched lines of attack. Their all-out effort was rewarded with an unconverted try. Yet another Larkin's penalty followed before Oxfordshire narrowed the gap to a nail-biting 6 points with an unconverted try in the scoreboard corner. Sensing victory, Oxfordshire piled into the attack but Cornwall were not to be denied and gradually pushed the visitors back up field. Then, with seven minutes of the second-half remaining, Cornwall fought their way in to hell-fire corner, where Tucker mesmerised the Oxfordshire defence with a darting run that took him clean through the cover for his second try and victory for Cornwall.
Andy Birkett (Penzance & Newlyn), Steve Larkins (Redruth), Paul Gadsdon (Penzance & Newlyn), Steve Evans (Penzance & Newlyn), Eddie Nancekivell (Launceston), Jimmy Tucker (Launceston), Ricky Pellow (Bath), Neil Douch (Redruth), Neil Grigg (Launceston), Richard Siveter (Bristol), Glyn Hutchings (Launceston), Adam Harris (Exeter), JJ Willcocks (Launceston), Adrian Bick (Penzance & Newlyn), Jason Atkinson (Captain, Penzance & Newlyn)
Tom O'Donnell (Launceston), Ian Boase (Redruth), Simon Griffiths (Redruth), Steve Rush (Launceston), Richard Carroll (Penzance & Newlyn)
Cornwall scorers: Jimmy Tucker 2 tries, Steve Larkins 5 penalties, 1 conversion
Following their heroic efforts in defeating an Oxfordshire side of Premiership players, this was a game too far for Cornwall. It's easy to make excuses: captain Mark Roderick and classy full-back Andy Birkett were both out injured; unlike last year, there was no Saumi, no Shipton, no Addinall; maybe the players found it difficult to raise their game twice in just seven days. The truth is Cornwall were outplayed in all departments by a very talented Yorkshire side who will undoubtedly go on to win the Championship. There's no disgrace in that: the Yorkshire team consisted almost entirely of Premiership and National League One players and the Cornish side tried their best to bridge the gap in class with passion and commitment.
Cornwall scored first after eleven minutes -- an unconverted try by winger Rocky Newton after good pressure from the forwards. It was the only time in the match they were to be ahead.
Three Cornwall players suffered facial injuries in the first fifteen minutes, and there were mutterings among the crowd that Cornwall were being "softened up" by cynical and dirty play, though the referee didn't see anything worthy of a booking. The worst injury was to winger Eddie Nancekivell, who had to go off for stitches to a badly cut lip, though he came back later.
The game was controlled by the Yorkshire fly-half Colin Stephens, formerly of Llanelli and Wales, who showed some delightful touches. Playing behind a powerful set of forwards, who regularly had Cornwall on the back foot, he prompted a string of tries from his fast and incisive backs. By half-time Yorkshire were already twenty points to the good and it was apparent that it wasn't going to be Cornwall's day. In the second half, Cornwall kicked a penalty and got a consolation converted try, in between further tries by Yorkshire.
About 500 Cornish supporters made the long trek to Yorkshire and outnumbered the Yorkshire supporters by maybe three to one. It wasn't all gloom. Although we lost the match, we won the singsong in the bar! Though, having gone through all the Cornish songs and started on Ilkley Moor Bar T' at, we had to rely on the locals for the words of the later verses! Seriously, we enjoyed some excellent Yorkshire hospitality, organized at short notice by the Otley club. We look forward to returning and reversing the result!
Steve Larkins (Redruth), Rocky Newton (Penzance & Newlyn), Paul Gadsdon (Penzance & Newlyn), Steve Evans (Penzance & Newlyn), Eddie Nancekivell (Launceston), Jimmy Tucker (Launceston), Ricky Pellow (Bath), Neil Douch (Redruth), Neil Grigg (Launceston), Steve Rush (Launceston), Glyn Hutchings (Launceston), Adam Harris (Exeter), JJ Willcocks (Launceston), Adrian Bick (Penzance & Newlyn), Jason Atkinson (Captain, Penzance & Newlyn)
Mark Chudleigh (Moseley), Tom O'Donnell (Launceston), B. Lucas (Launceston), Ian Boase (Redruth), Simon Griffiths (Redruth), Richard Siveter (Bristol), Julian Wilce (Launceston)
Cornwall scorers: Rocky Newton 1 try, Jason Atkinson 1 try, Steve Larkins 1 penalty, 1 conversion
Cornwall were without county players from Penzance/Newlyn, Launceston, and Truro, while Devon were without players from Barnstaple and Brixton for this match, all these clubs having been in important cup or league matches the previous day. The result, particularly for Cornwall, was a disappointing match. Playing in rainy conditions, Devon made far fewer mistakes and were deserved winners. Cornish supporters can take heart from the fact that last season, with similar player unavailability, Cornwall lost this match but then went on to win the County Championship.
By half-time Cornwall were 15-0 down to 2 tries, a conversion and a penalty, and never looked like recovering. Then Cornish hopes were raised as the gap was closed to within 5 points with a try, conversion and a penalty all by Steve Larkins of Redruth. However, 4 minutes later Devon had pulled away again with a converted try before Larkins put over his second penalty. With 10 minutes to go Devon made the game safe with another converted try to give a final score of 29-13 in Devon's favour.
Tom Sincock (Clifton), Wesley Robinson (Penzance & Newlyn), Steve Larkins (Redruth), Andy Hymans (Redruth), Mark Rose (Exeter Chiefs), Kingsley Harding (Redruth), Stuart Turnbull (Redruth), Neil Douch (Redruth), Peter Bush (Redruth), Nick Croker (Redruth), Cullum Osborne (Camborne), Ian Goldsmith (Plymouth Albion), Andrew Joint (Ruislip and Redruth), Ian Boase (Redruth), Jon Polglase (Camborne).
Replacements: Danny Sloman (Launceston), Chris Mann (Penryn), Ricky Pellow (Bath), Barry Lucas (Launceston), Barry Sobey (Launceston), Julian Wilce (Launceston), Kevin Hughes (Penryn).
Penzance/Newlyn narrowly defeated Launceston to win the Cornwall KO Cup for the second year in succession, and the third time in the club's history.
Pirates were worthy winners - just - against spirited Launceston. It was the teamwork of Launceston versus the talented backs of the Pirates, and it resulted in a cracker of a game to thrill the crowd of 3000. "Cornish rugby at its best," said former president of the RFU, Bill Bishop.
Launceston scored first with a penalty by Danny Sloman, then Pirates replied with one by Nat Saumi. A try by Steve Evans and a try and a conversion by Saumi gave the Pirates a 15-3 lead, to be cut before half- time to 15-10 with Jimmy Tucker, the Launceston skipper, touching down for Sloman to convert.
In the second half Pirates looked to have had to game sewn up with tries by Rocky Newton and Kevin Penrose, both converted by Saumi. But nobody told Launceston. Dean Shipman, on as a second-half replacement, scored a try and Sloman converted. Then, after Launceston had laid siege to the Pirates line, JJ Wilcocks forced his way over. Sloman failed with his conversion attempt but the lead had been cut to just 5 points. Saumi again opened up the gap with a penalty before Jimmy Tucker, with time running out, grabbed his second touch down. Sloman's kick drifted just wide and the referee called time on a memorable match.
(Launceston used to have a motto to "Never return home from a match on the same day as they went away". After the match Roger Spurrell, the Launceston coach, said, "We will enjoy our evening and won't be home all that early." Well done Launceston and well done the Pirates. Kernow Bys Vyken.)
Cornwall will start the new millennium as rugby champions of England. In the 99th County Championship final, they overcame Gloucestershire 24 - 15 to win the title for only the third time in their history.
It was a nail-biting match. The big Gloucestershire pack had the edge in the set scrums and the lineouts. The Cornish forwards were quicker around the pitch, the Cornish backs more creative. The final try count was two-nil to Cornwall, which just about reflected the two sides' attacking skills. However, too often promising Cornish moves were thwarted by handling errors; too much ground was lost by an inabilty to win good line-out ball, or indeed any line-out ball at all.
Cornwall drew first blood after 5 minutes when Steve Larkins stroked home a penalty. Gloucestershire replied with interest when centre Lee Osborne kicked two . Larkins struck back with his second successful kick, then Cornish captain Dean Shipton flicked a quick tap penalty to scrum-half Mark Roderick, and Saumi put centre Jimmy Tucker in for the first try -- 11-6 to Cornwall. Osborne and Larkins traded further penalties .
At half-time it was 14-12 to Cornwall. Gloucestershire had dominated the lines-out and given the Cornish front row problems in the scrums. Throughout the first half, Cornwall had won only one of their own lines-out. In the loose, the Cornish forwards -- especially the back row of Addinall, Shipton, and Atkinson -- had been much more effective. Number 8 Shipton, as ever, was all power and aggression, leading by example. Cornwall's Fijian international, Nat Saumi, had made some strong runs and put in some crunching tackles.
In the second half Cornwall played with more conviction, winning more line-out ball and having the better of the game territorially. Still Gloucestershire refused to crumble, and made some dangerous breaks of their own. Saumi and Osborne swapped penalties.
With five minutes to go, Cornwall led 17 - 15. Already Osborne had kicked five Gloucestershire penalties -- one more would have settled the match. Play flowed from end to end. Cornwall tried to slow it down, playing it tight, holding the ball at the base of the scrum. The 20,000 Cornish spectators in the crowd bayed for the final whistle but the referee refused to be browbeaten. As the minutes ticked away, Gloucestershire became desperate. Cornwall counter-attacked. After no less than six minutes of injury time, a slick move led to Stuart Whitworth crossing for Cornwall's second try. People invaded the pitch. They thought it was all over. Saumi kicked the conversion. It was then!
3-0 larkins pen; 3-3 Osborne pen; 3-6 Osborne pen; 6-6 Larkins pen; 11-6 Tucker try; 11-9 Osborne pen; 14-9 Larkins pen; 14-12 Osborne pen; 17-12 Saumi pen; 17-15 Osborne pen; 22-15 Whitworth try; 24-15 Saumi con.
A. Birkett (Launceston), N. Saumi (Pz/Newlyn), J. Tucker (Launceston), C. Laity (Exeter), S. Larkins (Redruth), S. Whitworth (Redruth), M. Roderick (Pz/Newlyn), P. Risdon (Launceston), N. Grigg (Launceston), J. Thomas (Pz/Newlyn), G. Hutchings (Launceston), K. Moseley (Pz/Newlyn), J. Atkinson (Pz/Newlyn), M. Addinall (Penryn), D. Shipton (Launceston, capt.).
Replacements: E. Nancekeivell (Launceston) for Larkins 39, S. Rush (Launceston) for Thomas 62, B. Lucas (Launceston) for Grigg 76, L. Mruk (Penzance\Newlyn) for Hutchings 80, P. Gadsdon (Penzance\Newlyn), K. Penrose (Camborne).
Cornwall stormed their way into a County Championship final against Gloucestershire at Twickenham with their best performance of the season. County champions Cheshire, who beat Cornwall in the final last season, stood no chance against a Cornish team determined to redress the balance. Dean Shipton of Launceston, the Cornwall captain, was outstanding, as was Trelawny's Army Player of the Year Martyn Addinall (Penryn). And the rest of the team? Outstanding as well.
Cheshire fielded a similar team to last year, with players from National League 1 teams making up the bulk. Cornwall were definitely the underdogs for this match.
Cornwall made three changes from the team that beat Kent in the quarter-final. Nat Saumi, the Penzance/Newlyn fullback and Fijian international, came in on the right wing in place of Danny Sloman. Colin Laity of Exeter came in at centre in place of Steve Evans. The only other change was in the back row, where Martyn Addinall, seemingly back to full fitness and power, returned in place of Kevin Penrose of Camborne.
Cornwall opened their score with two Steve Larkins (Redruth) penalties within the first twenty minutes. Then came the first of the tries as the backs linked to send Saumi in at Hellfire Corner. A try from Jason Atkinson (Penzance\Newlyn) to a penalty and a try by Cheshire put Cornwall 16 - 6 up at the break.
The Cornish defence, slightly suspect against Kent, had been far steelier in this game, the attack more inventive. Cornwall were playing some great 15-man rugby, attacking from all over the field and often running the ball from deep in their own half. The whole team oozed determination. This was a match Cornwall were not going to lose! No-one was more psyched up than captain Dean Shipton, whose enthusiasm sometimes caused him rather unwisely to question the referee's decisions.
Early in the second half Kevin Moseley (Penzance\Newlyn) crashed over for Larkins to convert. Then Cheshire briefly caused a flutter in the hearts of the Cornish supporters when a penalty and a converted try brought them to within seven points of the Cornish score. But Cornwall held firm and pulled away again with a try by Laity and a conversion by Saumi. In injury time Lee Mruk (Penzance\Newlyn) was driven over the line to touch down Cornwall's fifth try.
It would be invidious to pick out individuals in what was essentially a team performance. The backs made their tackles and attacked with verve. The pack were solid as a rock -- more than once shunting the big Cheshire forwards back at a rate of knots. The back row, as ever, were outstanding.
Twickenham here we come, and we're bringing our other County Championship finalists with us. It's Cornwall v Yorkshire in the Under 21 County Championship final and Cornwall v Gloucestershire in THE County Championship final. Both matches are on May 22nd. Be there! KERNOW BYS VYKEN!
A. Birkett (Launceston), N. Saumi (Pz/Newlyn), J. Tucker (Launceston), C. Laity (Exeter), S. Larkins (Redruth), S. Whitworth (Redruth), M. Roderick (Pz/Newlyn), P. Risdon (Launceston), N. Grigg (Launceston), J. Thomas (Pz/Newlyn), G. Hutchings (Launceston), K. Moseley (Pz/Newlyn), J. Atkinson (Pz/Newlyn), M. Addinall (Penryn), D. Shipton (Launceston, capt.).
Replacements: P. Gadsdon (Penzance\Newlyn), E. Nancekeivell (Launceston), S. Rush (Launceston), B. Lucas (Launceston), L. Mruk (Penzance\Newlyn), K. Penrose (Camborne).
In an all-action game, Cornwall emerged victorious but not before causing their supporters all kinds of agony. Kent fielded a team drawn largely from the Westbourne Park club, who won London Division 1 this year without losing a game.
Kent started nervously and for the first 20 minutes Cornwall were all over them, scoring three tries from Kevin Penrose (Camborne), Andy Birkett (Launceston) and Steve Larkins (Redruth). Unfortunately, Danny Sloman (Moseley), brought in in place of Nick Edyvean on the wing to bolster the Cornish kicking, had a rare off day and failed to kick any of the conversions (all of which were difficult). Sloman was eventually substituted by Roly Nancekivell in the second half. Kent hit back with a try by Peter Macauley and by the half-time whistle were starting to look dangerous.
After the break Cornwall seemed to have made the match safe when they went into a 22-5 lead after a Mark Roderick (Penzance\Newlyn) try, converted by Sloman. However, Kent had other ideas and twice man-of-the-match Macauley sliced through an uncertain Cornish defence to score, both tries converted by Derek Coates. Suddenly Cornwall's lead was down to 22-19.
Kent winger Graham Askley went down injured after a tackle with a badly dislocated knee. Play was held up for 25 minutes while the Air Ambulance landed on the pitch to take him to hospital. The 25 minute wait for the game to restart did nothing for the nerves of the Cornish supporters as they reflected how a 17 point lead had been reduced to just 3 points.
On the restart Birkett extended Cornwall's lead to 6 points with a drop goal and then with 4 minutes to go, and much to the relief of the home crowd, Larkins dropped on a loose ball to put Cornwall 11 points to the good. Still Kent fought back and in the dying moments of the game Macauley once again burst through the Cornish defence for his fourth try to make the final score 30-24 to Cornwall.
A. Birkett (Launceston), D. Sloman (Moseley), J. Tucker (Launceston), S. Evans (Pz/Newlyn), S. Larkins (Redruth), S. Whitworth (Redruth), M. Roderick (Pz/Newlyn), P. Risdon (Launceston), N. Grigg (Launceston), J. Thomas (Pz/Newlyn), G. Hutchings (Launceston), K. Moseley (Pz/Newlyn), J. Atkinson (Pz/Newlyn), K. Penrose (Camborne), D. Shipton (Launceston, capt.).
Replacements: R. Nancekivell (Launceston), B. Lucas (Launceston), S. Rush (Launceston), J. Wilcocks (Launceston), P. Gadsdon (Penzance\Newlyn), L. Mruk (Penzance\Newlyn).
This was an impressive performance by Cornwall. In front of 1500 flag-waving travelling Cornish supporters, they overwhelmed a Sussex side that had previously seen off Berkshire (24 - 12) and Oxfordshire (24 - 13). The Cornish forwards were just too strong and determined, the backs too skilful for a Sussex side drawn mainly from the Hayward's Heath club.
Cornwall made three changes for this game, two of them forced by injury. Nick Edyvean (Redruth) came in for Peter Redgrave at right wing, and Glynn Hutchings (Launceston) replaced Andrew Joint at lock. Neil Grigg came in for his Launceston teammate Barry Lucas at hooker. Danny Sloman, now with Moseley, and Launceston stalwarts J.J. Wilcocks and Steve Rush were added to the replacements.
Cornwall, playing up the slope, had far the better of the first half, spending long periods encamped in Sussex territory. Left wing Steve Larkins (Penzance/Newlyn), who impressed all afternoon with his strong running, drew first blood when he struck over a penalty. This was followed by another try from Larkins and one by Andy Birkett (Launceston), both unconverted. Then Sussex, who had hardly ventured into the Cornwall half, scored the try of the game when winger Sam Cole (Lewes) jinked his way through half the Cornish team to score under the posts. Cornwall extended their lead with another penalty by Larkins, making the score at half-time Sussex 7 Cornwall 16.
The second half saw more of the same. The Cornish forwards were dominant, and the defence generally sound. The ball was recycled well, and play spread across the pitch to stretch the Sussex defence. Cornwall clinched victory with a try by Steve Evans (Penzance\Newlyn), a Larkins penalty and a push-over try touched down by Cornwall captain Dean Shipton (Launceston), converted by Larkins. Sussex piled on all six substitutes and were rewarded with a late consolation try to make the final score 31 - 12 in Cornwall's favour.
A. Birkett (Launceston), N.Edyvean (Redruth), J. Tucker (Launceston), S. Evans (Pz/Newlyn), S. Larkins (Redruth), S. Whitworth (Redruth), M. Roderick (Pz/Newlyn), P. Risdon (Launceston), N. Grigg (Launceston), J. Thomas (Pz/Newlyn), G. Hutchings (Launceston), K. Moseley (Pz/Newlyn), J. Atkinson (Pz/Newlyn), K. Penrose (Camborne), D. Shipton (Launceston, capt.).
Replacements: D. Sloman (Moseley), B. Lucas (Launceston), S. Rush (Launceston), J. Wilcocks (Launceston), M. Addinall (Penryn).
The Cornwall team set themselves up for a "winner take all" final pool match against Sussex after a solid home win over a Berkshire side consisting of heavyweight forwards and skilful backs drawn mainly from the Reading, Newbury, and Bracknell clubs.
The Cornwall selectors made wholesale changes for this match, some forced by injury but others prompted by the less-than-impressive display against Oxfordshire in the first group game. Out went hooker Brian Andrew, winger Nick Edyvean, centre Paul Gadson (injured), prop Richard Tonkin (injured), and lock Lee Mruk (injured). In came Andy Birkett of Launceston, winning his first cap at full-back, with Steve Larkins switching to the left wing. In came John Thomas of Penzance/Newlyn at prop, Andy Joint of Redruth at lock, and veteran Jason Atkinson at flanker. Stuart Whitworth retained the fly-half''s berth, having replaced the disappointing Jimmy Tucker in the first group game. Tucker replaced Gadson at centre.
This was a far better display by Cornwall. Forwards and backs combined well, there were far fewer handling errors, and the more mobile Cornish forwards were more than a match for the juggernaut Berkshire pack. Jimmy Tucker was back to his elusive best. John Thomas, winning his first cap, was rock-solid at tighthead prop.
Cornwall got off to a dream start when winger Peter Redgrave (Penzance/Newlyn) went over after only 90 seconds, with Steve Larkins adding the extras. From then on, Cornwall captain Dean Shipton (Launceston) led the way with two tries, and there was one apiece for Andy Joint (Redruth) and Jimmy Tucker (Launceston). Steve Larkins (Redruth) converted two more of the tries and also struck over a penalty kick. Berkshire's score came from three tries, one conversion and a penalty.
A. Birkett (Launceston), P. Redgrave (Pz/Newlyn), J. Tucker (Launceston), S. Evans (Pz/Newlyn), S. Larkins (Redruth), S. Whitworth (Redruth), M. Roderick (Pz/Newlyn), P. Risdon (Launceston), B. Lucas (Launceston), J. Thomas (Pz/Newlyn), A. Joint (Redruth), K. Moseley (Pz/Newlyn), J. Atkinson (Pz/Newlyn), K. Penrose (Camborne), D. Shipton (Launceston, capt.).
Replacements: N. Edyvean (Redruth), E. Nancekivell (Launceston), B. Andrew (Pz/Newlyn), N. Douch (Redruth), M. Addinall (Penryn), M. Murley (Reading).
This match was played in atrocious conditions. For the players there was a strong wind, thick drizzle and rain to contend with, and for the spectators there was fog.
Cornwall's opening score came from a long-range penalty kick by Steve Larkins (Penzance\Newlyn) followed by a try by Redruth winger Nick Edyvean, converted by Larkins. A second successful penalty kick by Larkins and one from Oxfordshire's fly-half Ashley Tapper made the half- time score 13-3 in Cornwall's favour.
In the second half Oxfordshire, with the wind at their backs, came more into the game but Cornwall ensured themselves of victory in the 60th minute when Cornwall captain Dean Shipton (Launceston) was driven over by the pack. With 2 minutes to go Oxfordshire pulled back three points with a second successful penalty kick from Tapper.
S. Larkins (Redruth), P. Redgrave, P. Gadson, S. Evans (all Pz/Newlyn), N. Edyvean (Redruth), J. Tucker (Launceston), M. Roderick (Pz/Newlyn), P. Risdon (Launceston), B. Andrew (Pz/Newlyn), R. Tonkin (Truro), L. Mruk, K. Moseley (both Pz/Newlyn), M. Addinall (Penryn), K. Penrose (Camborne), D. Shipton (Launceston, capt.).
Replacements: A. Birkett, B. Lucas (both Launceston), S. Whitworth, N. Douch (both Redruth), M. Goldsmith (Pz/Newlyn), M. Murley (Reading).
With both teams resting players involved in promotion battles and cup- tie commitments, forward power, and the boot of Okehampton's full back Arnie Searle, won the day for Devon. Cornwall were without their star players from Launceston and Penzance & Newlyn, both engaged in promotion chasing, and Devon were without their Barnstaple players, still in the NPI Cup and still with an outside chance of promotion.
In heavy conditions, Devon opted to play it tight and rely on their large forwards to grind out victory. They were on top of the battle during the first half but could only manage one score, a penalty by Searle which gave them a 3-0 half-time lead.
In the second half Cornwall came more into the game, but two penalty kicks by Steve Larkins of Redruth were fired wide either side of a successful second penalty kick by Searle. In the 57th minute, Cornwall took the lead when replacement flanker Ian Boase (Redruth) turned over a Devon attack deep in the Cornish half. The ball was swiftly fed to winger Nick Edyvean (Redruth) who beat the Devon defence in the race to the corner for a try converted by Larkins.
After 63 minutes came the winning Devon score when Searle put over a long penalty chance from just inside the Cornish half. One minute later a Larkins penalty attempt to put Cornwall back in the lead bounced back into the field of play off the crossbar. Cornwall now piled forward. Right wing Andy Hymans of Penryn came agonisingly close to scoring, and Edyvean just failed to hold a difficult pass with only 2 minutes to go and the line at his mercy.
Cornwall Under-21 are through to the semi-final of the County Championship!
Cornwall overwhelmed their much-fancied Buckinghamshire opponents 6 - 76 in their Under 21 County Championship quarter-final encounter. Cornwall scored fourteen tries, six in first half and eight in the second half, and conceded none.
Buckinghamshire scored first, after 5 minutes, with a penalty by home team centre Richard Shakespeare. The lead was short-lived and never to be repeated. On the 8th minute, Cornwall went ahead with a try by flanker John Byers (Camborne), followed two minutes later by an interception try from centre Ben McGregor (Newquay), both unconverted.
After 17 minutes, Buckinghamshire closed the gap to 4 points with another penalty kick by Shakespeare, and then the flood gates opened. Four more Cornwall tries came before half-time after 26, 33, 38 and 40 minutes, with scores by left wing Rocky Newton of Penzance & Newlyn (2), right wing David Combes (Truro) and full-back Mark Richards (Penzance & Newlyn). Two conversions were struck over by Ben McGregor for a half- time score 6 - 34.
In the second half Cornwall scored a further 42 points without reply. First Rocky Newton raced over for his third try in the 49th minute, then second row forward Allan Jordan (Penryn) was in on the act with a touchdown after 55 minutes. David Coombes got his second try after 59 minutes and Rocky Newton his fourth after 66 minutes. Three minutes later Ben McGregor added his second try and in the 75th minute Craig Bonds (Redruth), on as a replacement, went over.
Still Cornwall swarmed forward with prop Mathew Keverne (Penryn) and centre Ben Trevorrow (St. Ives) getting on the try scoring sheet, the last one being converted by Rocky Newton with the last kick of the game to bring his personal tally to 22 points and Cornwall a victory by 6 points to 76.
Cornwall Under-21 are in the quarter-final of the County Championship! The deciding group match, away to Gloucestershire, was a real nail-biter. Teamwork won the day for Cornwall against bigger, streetwise and, on paper, higher-class players. Among the Gloucestershire team were 6 players from Gloucester, 2 from Bristol, 2 from Worcester and 1 from Wasps.
In the quarter-final, Cornwall are away to the Under 21 Southern Area champions, Buckinghamshire, on Jan. 24th, at Marlow. KO 2:00p.m.
Cornwall took this match by the scruff of the neck and were in total charge throughout. They raced to a 22-0 lead by half time, and at one stage were 39-0 up.
Truro speed merchant David Coombes, added to the squad for this match, took his chance at County level well. He scored two tries and made the break for two more. Other tries were scored by Marcus Ross (Penryn), Ben Trevorrow (St Ives), Geoff Arnold (Loughborough), Ben McGregor (Newquay Hornets), and Joe Bearman (Penzance-Newlyn), who crossed the line twice. The extras were added by Liam Chapple (Gloucester) with five conversions and a penalty.
Having weathered an early spell of Devon pressure, Cornwall quickly slipped into gear in their opening County Championship match. By half time they were 17-0 up, with tries from Alex Finch (Redruth), Ian Warren (Launceston), and Joe Bearman (Pirates). Joe Williamson (Redruth) completed the score with two conversions.
Devon started the second half strongly, and were rewarded with a converted try to pull the score back to 17-7. But confident Cornwall never looked like surrendering their lead further, and sealed the game with a fine interception try by Ben McGregor (Newquay Hornets).
Redruth may have scored the only try in this close-fought match, but Launceston had the deadly boot of Danny Sloman. Sloman had six chances to kick penalties, three each side of half-time, and succeeded each time.
Redruth dominated the scrummages and often had the Launceston forwards on the back foot. But it was the opposite story at the line-out, where Launceston were in charge. Both teams were willing to release the ball to their backs and both teams had passages of good attacking play.
Danny Sloman opened the scoring for Launceston with his first penalty kick after only one minute of play. Two minutes later, Rob Thirlby landed a penalty for Redruth to bring the scores level. Then two more Sloman penalties, in the 8th and 20th minutes, put Launceston 9 - 3 up. Redruth hit back with a Chris Whitworth try. An awkwardly bouncing ball, that several pairs of hands had failed to hold, was scooped up by Whitworth for a touch-down. Thirlby converted. A successful penalty kick by Thirlby in the 40th minute gave Redruth a 13 - 9 lead at the break.
In the 48th and 56th minutes, two more Sloman penalties restored the lead to Launceston. But it was short-lived. Within 3 minutes, a Thirlby penalty kick put Redruth back in front with a score of 16 - 15. Then, in the 68th minute, came Sloman's last penalty kick - from near the halfway line - and the lead was once again back in Launceston's hands, where it stayed until the final whistle. With 6 minutes to go, Redruth chose to run the ball rather than attempt a penalty kick into the wind, but a stout Launceston defence held firm for victory.
Launceston have appeared in the last 5 finals, winning 4 of them. They have now beated Redruth 3 times and lost to the Reds once. Their other win was over St. Ives last year.
Cornwall, with three of their "Twickenham 98" team playing -- Stuart Whitworth, Kevin Thomas and Martin Addinall -- avenged their defeat by Merseyside in the Fire Brigade National Sevens competition last September to become National Fire Brigade champions for the 4th time since the competition started in 1989.
Playing in heavy rain, Merseyside scored first with a penalty in the 12th minute. Three minutes later Cornwall replied with a try by winger Danny Goudge of St. Austell and converted by Kevin Thomas to make it 7-3 to Cornwall. Merseyside drew close in the 18th minute when they put over their second penalty kick, but by then Cornwall were exerting increasing pressure on the opposition and were in complete charge of the lineouts. Indiscipline by the Merseysiders, which had been simmering below the surface since the start of the match, now surfaced and resulted in two more penalty kicks from Kevin Thomas and a half time score of 13-6 in favour of Cornwall.
The sun broke through soon after the start of the second half and this sparked off a Merseyside revival. Their fast-running backs started to move the ball freely and in the 55th minute penetrated the Cornish defence for an unconverted try to bring their score to within 2 points of the Cornish score. But the revival could not be sustained as Cornwall drove into the Merseyside half and stayed there for most of the remainder of the game. Pressure told and two further Kevin Thomas penalties -- in the 33rd and 37th minutes -- gave Cornwall a well deserved 19-11 victory.
Cheshire won this encounter by 2 tries to 1 and by 21 points to 14 but it was the Cornish team who did the lap of honour after the final whistle. The team were cheered and applauded all the way around the ground after just failing to stage a "Twickenham 91" comeback.
Going from 9-6 down to 21-6 down in the space of three minutes in the third quarter of the match would have sunk a lesser team. But Cornwall fought back and swarmed all over their opponents to reduce the deficit to 7 points; but in a pulsating last fifteen minutes the one final score needed to draw level eluded them.
Cornwall's captain, Dean Shipton, at Number 8 led by example with a towering performance that caused all sorts of mayhem each time he had the ball. Danny Sloman at full back made some telling tackles, some good runs into the line and, although twice shaving the wrong side of the post, some reliable kicking. The backs tackled like furies and, but for one telling moment that led to Cheshire's second try, contained their talented opposite numbers. Cornwall's lighter but more mobile forwards threw everything at the Cheshire pack and often threatened to break through, but the experience of playing at league levels way above that of the Cornish forwards meant that the Cheshire defence never panicked even under extreme pressure and managed -- just -- to stay firm.
Cheshire, described by their coach as a "local" side despite having three southern hemisphere players in their squad, went into a 9 point lead with two penalties from the boot of Steve Swindells, the National leagues' leading points scorer, and a drop goal from stand-off Alex Guest. A successful Danny Sloman penalty kick just before the break gave a half-time score of 9-3 to Cheshire.
Almost from the restart, Danny Sloman kicked a second penalty to narrow the gap to 9-6 and Cornwall mounted a sustained attack on the Cheshire line. Then, 15 minutes into the second half , Cheshire had their "purple patch" and in the space of three minutes had scored twice. First, a scrambled touch down by London Irish scrum-half Nick Briers following a good Cheshire forward drive and a conversion from Swindells made the score 16-6. Then a slick passing movement by the backs put winger Mike Blood in for a touchdown to make it 21-6.
A lesser team would have folded, but the Cornish players refused to let their heads drop and their efforts were rewarded with a try by Ed Nancekivell and a penalty kick by Danny Sloman. The score now stood at 21-14 and that tantalising 7 points - one converted try - difference. The stage was set for a frantic and thrilling last 15 minutes as Cornwall threw everything they could muster into attack and at times almost broke through; but Cheshire tenaciously clung on to their lead until the final whistle.
It was a great rugby occasion and all credit to both teams for making it an enthralling and hard-fought encounter. Congratulations to Cheshire, but watch out -- we will be back. KERNOW BYS VYKEN!
D. Sloman (Launceston), R. Thirlby (Redruth), J. Tucker (Launceston), K. Thomas (Truro), R. Newton, S. Whitworth, C. Whitworth (all Redruth), P. Risdon, B. Lucas, S. Rush, G. Hutchings (all Launceston), T. Cook (Hayle), J.J. Wilcocks (Launceston), M. Addinall (Penryn), D. Shipton (Launceston, Capt.).
Substitutes: J. Atkinson (St Ives), N. Douch (Redruth), Lee Mruk (Penzance-Newlyn), Richard Tonkin, R. Nancekivell, E. Nancekivell (all Launceston).
In a pulsating second half Cornwall shattered Gloucestershire with three wonderful tries to book a trip to Twickenham and a County Championship final against Cheshire on 18th April.
Gloucestershire, with a pack strengthened by players two divisions above the Cornish forwards, started strongly and gave the Cornwall defence a testing time. But Cornwall were up to it and defended resolutely, and by half time had restricted Gloucestershire to just two successful penalty kicks and a 6 - 0 lead.
Then came a great fight back. For the first part of the second half Cornwall gradually got the upper hand up front. Two Danny Sloman penalties made it 6 - 6 after 50 minutes of play. Gloucestershire briefly regained the lead with a penalty kick but by then were becoming a spent force.
Cornwall, with the forwards gaining more and more possession, now started to move the ball wide. Three tries followed. First Jimmy Tucker raced in for a try in the 66th minute. Then Rocky Newton intercepted a pass to put himself clear for Cornwall's second try after 70 minutes. Finally, in injury time, good forward pressure resulted in a Martin Addinall touch-down.
Gloucestershire may well claim to have the better players but what was beyond doubt was that Cornwall had the better team.
D. Sloman (Launceston), R. Thirlby (Redruth), J. Tucker (Launceston), K. Thomas (Truro) (sub. E. Nancekivell, 15), R. Newton, S. Whitworth, C. Whitworth (all Redruth), P. Risdon, B. Lucas, S. Rush, G. Hutchings (all Launceston), T. Cook (Hayle) (sub. J. Atkinson, 73), J.J. Wilcocks (Launceston), M. Addinall (Penryn), D. Shipton (Launceston, Capt.).
Substitutes: J. Atkinson (St Ives), N. Douch, J. Navin (both Redruth), N. Grigg, R. Nancekivell, E. Nancekivell (all Launceston).
J. Reid (Lydney), K. Thompson (Matson), D. Edwards (Cinderford), L. Osborne (Berry Hill), D. Morgan (Cheltenham), R. Mills (Lydney), J. Davis (Lydney), P. Price (Lydney), N. Nelmes (Lydney), G. Williams (Lydney), N. Cuthbert (Spartans), N. Kilby (Lydney), A. Knox (Cinderford, Capt.), C. Dunn (Gloucester Old Boys), M. Nicholls (Lydney).
Substitutes: M. Foyle (Gloucester Old Boys), L. Beck (Gloucester), Steve Baldwin (Gloucester Old Boys), Simon Baldwin (Gloucester Old Boys), M. Graham (Berry Hill), N. Evans (Spartans).
Watched for the first time on home soil by the CRFU's Patron the Duke of Edinburgh, Cornwall stunned Hampshire at Redruth with a storming opening fifteen minutes which saw them pile on seventeen points without reply. After only 6 minutes of play, Hampshire were caught napping when Cornwall were awarded a penalty in front of the posts. Quick-thinking Chris Whitworth took a tap penalty to put Jimmy Tucker through to score and Danny Sloman to convert. Five minutes later, Sloman scooped a long pass up off his boots and put Rocky Newton in under the posts. Two more points came with Sloman's conversion. Sloman followed that with three more points when Cornwall were awarded a penalty after 15 minutes.
Hampshire rallied and scored a converted try before another successful penalty kick from Sloman gave Cornwall a 20 - 7 half-time lead.
In the 15th minute of the second half a powerful hand-off by Rocky Newton and a well timed inside pass saw Rob Thirlby in for Cornwall's third try. Danny Sloman converted. Then, with 5 minutes left on the clock, came the biggest cheer of the day as Tony Cook, playing in his 100th game for Cornwall, dived over in the corner. Danny Sloman's conversion attempt just slipped the wrong side of the uprights. In injury time Hampshire scored a converted consolation try.
D. Sloman (Launceston), R. Thirlby (Redruth), J. Tucker (Launceston), K. Thomas (Truro), R. Newton, S. Whitworth, C. Whitworth (all Redruth), P. Risdon, B. Lucas, S. Rush, G. Hutchings (all Launceston), T. Cook (Hayle), J.J. Wilcocks (Launceston), M. Addinall (Penryn), D. Shipton (Launceston, Capt.).
Substitutes: N. Douch, A. Rutter, A. Hawken, J. Navin (all Redruth), R. Nancekivell, E. Nancekivell (both Launceston).
Cornwall Under 21s came agonisingly close to pulling off a win against a fancied Berkshire Under 21 team. Berkshire, with six players from National League clubs and several more from the highly placed divisional leagues, took an early lead with a converted try, but Cornwall fought hard for every scrap of possession to haul themselves back into the game. First a penalty goal by Chris Trace of Newquay Hornets, then a try by Ross Polkinghorne of Hayle, converted by Trace; and then another penalty goal, again by Trace, took them into a 13 - 7 lead. This they held on to until the 64th minute, when the Cornish defence was breached with a touch down under the posts by Jeremy Flynn of Rosslyn Park. The conversion gave Berkshire a slender one point lead but it was sufficient to see them into the next round. In the dying minutes Cornwall had a chance to snatch victory when awarded a penalty but Chris Trace's kick from the left side of the field drifted just to the wrong side of the right-hand post.
Dobson (Bude), Trace (Newquay), Doyle (Redruth), Polkinghorne (Hayle), Smith (Penryn), Roberts (Truro), Dunkin (St. Austell), Risdon (Bude), Lear (Truro), Kevern (Penryn), Wilce (Wadebridge), Wallis (Penryn), Durant (Camborne), Lock (Wadebridge, Capt.), Arnold (Liskeard/Looe).
Substitutes: Grendall (Hayle), Smith (Camborne), Worden (Camborne), Angove (Penryn), Short (Penryn), Hicks (Wadebridge), Jones (Penryn).
Westcombe Park arrived at the Pirate's Mennaye ground with an unbeaten run of 28 games, but that counted for nothing against a determined Penzance-Newlyn team. Despite scoring 4 tries, Park were outplayed and outrun by strong forward play and fast-running back play. The Pirates replied with 7 tries; three from Gerald Cordle, and one each from Nick Yelland, Kevin Moseley, Mark Roderick and Chad James. Six of the tries were converted by Steve Larkin, who added 3 further points with a penalty kick.
Cornwall County Fire brigade became Southern Area Champions in the Fire Brigade National Knock-out Cup when they beat Devon Fire and Rescue Service by 55 points to 7 at Camborne. Cornwall outscored Devon by nine trys to one. Top scorer was Tony Penrose of Truro with 15 points (2 penalties, 2 conversions and a try). Other scorers were Howard Davey of Perranporth and Steve Jones of Penryn (2 trys each), Grant Nicholls of Camborne, Ben Reynolds of Bude, Des O'Connell of Penzance and Danny Goudge of St. Austell. The Devon score came from a try by S. Ebsworth and a conversion by S. Mole.
Cornwall now go on to the National final against the Northern area champions Merseyside at Worcester on Wednesday 22nd April.
This match is an annual event for the Ginsters Cup. In damp and slippery conditions which made ball handling difficult it was the Navy's powerful back row that made the crucial difference. Cornwall, lacking both first-choice second row players, struggled to hold the super-fit well drilled servicemen in the set pieces. Good mid-field defence, however, and strong counter-attacks meant that Cornwall were able to stay in touch and push the Navy all the way.
Cornwall scored first through a penalty kick by Danny Sloman but two tries, one unconverted just before the interval and one converted early in the second half, were enough to see the Navy home. Cornwall finished the match the stronger side and in an attacking last fifteen minutes came very near to scoring a consolation try when Danny Sloman just failed to hold the ball as he burst through the heart of the Navy's defence.
Tony Cook, who was destined to receive a record-breaking 100th cap for Cornwall, had to pull out of the match after suffering a rib cartilage injury while playing for Hayle the previous weekend. Hopes are high that he will be fully fit in time for the County Championship quarter-final match against Hampshire at Redruth on 28th February.
Having defeated Oxford 47-6 in the previous round, Penzance/Newlyn faced much tougher opposition in Guildford & Godalming in the 6th round of the NPI Intermediate Cup.
In a hugely entertaining match, Pirates eventually triumphed 25-22 to reach the quarter-finals. Pirates' first try, after only five minutes, was a cracker. A rampant pack set up good possession, the ball was spun wide through most of the backs, and winger Cordle crossed the line like an express train. At this stage, Pirates looked set for an easy win. Guildford, however, had other ideas. Although the strong Pirates' pack had the edge, it was never allowed to dominate fully. The Guildford half-backs gained good ground with some fine kicking out-of-hand. Some slick handling moves brought their reward. At half-time it was 12-8 to the home team.
The tide of the game turned with two good Pirates' tries early in the second half, both demonstrating good interplay between the forwards and backs and some incisive running. A third try was denied them when the referee blew for a penalty, failing to allow the advantage with the line at the Pirates' mercy. Guildford came back again with tries of their own, and were pressing at the close.
The following extract is from the report of the Eastern Counties match that appeared in the Ipswich Evening Star. It was kindly sent to us by John Stevens, an exile living in Suffolk.
Eastern Counties' dreams of progressing into the quarter finals of the County Championship were savagely ended at Grange Road. A relentless tide of black and gold jerseys swept aside the Counties' best with a near faultless display of aggressive, attacking rugby. It was not that Counties' played badly -- it was just that they were not allowed to play at all as the kings of the County Championship moved smoothly onwards towards another Twickenham appearance.
Make no mistake, this was a storming performance by Cornwall, arguably their best for a couple of seasons. OK, so Eastern Counties are not the strongest county side, but they had beaten Sussex (whom Cornwall defeated 25-5) by 17-9, and they'd taken their preparations seriously -- the previous week they'd defeated the Belgian national side 35-16 in Brussels. The Cornish forwards were dominant throughout, frequently stealing lineout ball and shunting Counties backwards in the scrums. Most encouragingly, though, this was a team performance, with forwards and backs combining and scrum-half Chris Whitworth spinning the ball wide at every opportunity. It would be unfair to pick out individuals, because the whole team was on top form. However, what a joy it is to see Cornwall field two penetrative wingers, in Thirlby and Larkins; at times, Thirlby's pace was electric. Pirates' Welshman Lee Mruk was full of power and controlled aggression. Veteran Kevin Thomas at centre was a human battering-ram. Fly-half Jimmy Tucker's running was elusive. Whitworth was as nippy as ever. Danny Sloman's kicking was as cool as ever.
If one had to make a criticism (and it would be churlish to do so) it would be that at times Cornwall were almost too ambitious; for example, in the first half, before they had the game sewn up, rather than opting for the simple clearance they sometimes tried to run the ball from their own 22. But how wonderful to see a Cornwall side so confident!
Counties never seriously threatened the Cornwall line, their only score coming from a penalty. By half-time, Cornwall were ahead 20-3, and after that it was just a question of how big the final score would be. In the second half, Cornish confidence was so high they were prepared to build attacks from their own goal-line. Coach Phil Angove made full use of his substitutes; Mark Goldsmith at flanker caught the eye.
To give Counties their due, they never gave up, and tried to run the ball at every opportunity. Their star was Tiger Carroll from the Barking club, a strong-running forward and their chief ball-carrier. The game was played in good spirit throughout. A crowd of young Counties supporters, though outnumbered by Trelawny's Army, continued to give their side good support even when the situation was hopeless, and at times matched the Cornish chants.
Afterwards, Trelawny's Army repaired to the bar, where a good time was had by all. We look forward to the quarter-final with anticipation. One thought: if Dean Shipton recovers in time, will he get back into this Cornwall side? This looks like a strong, well-motivated, and skilful Cornwall squad -- Phil Angove may have some tough decisions to make.
(Launceston unless otherwise stated):
D. Sloman, S. Larkins (Pz/Newlyn), K.Thomas (Truro), E. Nancekivell, R. Thirlby (Redruth), J.Tucker, C. Whitworth (Redruth), P.Risdon, B. Lucas, R. Tonkin, L. Mruk (Pz/Newlyn), A. Cook (Hayle), J.J. Willcocks, M. Addinall (Penryn), J. Atkinson (St Ives) capt.
S. Rush, D. Sibson (Redruth), N. Douch (Redruth), C. Monk, M. Goldsmith (Pz/Newlyn), Ian Veale (Bridgwater)
Following the comprehensive defeat of Sussex in the first of their County Championship group games, Cornwall prepared for the decisive match against Eastern Counties by overwhelming the Australian Navy at Penzance on 6th December. The Cornish forwards were dominant throughout. In atrocious conditions, the outsides were slightly less impressive. In all, Cornwall scored eight tries, with full back Danny Sloman kicking a penalty and three conversions.
The team was the same as for the Sussex and Devon games (see below), except that Mark Goldsmith of Penzance replaced Martin Addinall,who was unavailable. Addinall returns for the Eastern Counties game.
Cornwall defeated Devon 15-0 in the annual Tamar Cup match on Sunday 23rd November at Penryn. This match, coming just one week before the start of the county championship, was a vital build-up for that tournament.
The team included 7 Launceston players, 2 from Redruth, 2 from Penzance/Newlyn, and one each from St Ives, Hayle, Truro, and Penryn. There would have been 8 Launceston players, but unfortunately No. 8 Dean Shipton dislocated his shoulder in the game against Bracknell on 15th November, and is ruled out. Let's hope he recovers in time for at least some of the county championship games!
(Launceston unless otherwise stated):
D. Sloman, S. Larkins (Pz/Newlyn), K.Thomas (Truro), E. Nancekivell, R. Thirlby (Redruth), J.Tucker, C. Whitworth (Redruth), P.Risdon, B. Lucas, R. Tonkin, L. Mruk (Pz/Newlyn), A. Cook (Hayle), J.J. Willcocks, M. Addinall (Penryn), J. Atkinson (St Ives) capt.
S. Rush, S. Oates (Camborne), D. Sibson (Redruth), S. Whitworth (Redruth), C. Monk, M. Goldsmith (Pz/Newlyn).
In their first semi-final for three years, an understrength Cornwall side fought bravely but were finally overpowered by a classy Cumbria outfit. Unable to field any of the Redruth first team players, who were prevented from playing by a National League 3 fixture, Cornwall relied heavily on the successful Launceston side, whose exciting young forwards had served them so well in the quarter-final. The Cumbria team was made up mainly of National League 4 players, augmented by three professional rugby league players.
It was apparent before the match that if Cornwall were to stand a chance they had to win the forward battle. The class of the Cumbria backs was well-known. Unfortunately, Cumbria had done their homework; having discussed tactics with the Hertfordshire side that Cornwall beat in the quarter-final, they fielded a massive pack. It was clear after the first couple of scrums that Cornwall would be hard-pushed to hold them, let alone dominate them.
In front of a sellout crowd of 9000 plus, Cumbria had the better of the first half, pinning Cornwall back in their own half for long periods. Luckily, Danny Sloman's kicking was as reliable as usual. He struck a penalty to give Cornwall the lead after ten minutes. It was the only time Cornwall were to be ahead. Cumbria equalised from a penalty. The sides exchanged further penalties, and Cumbria crossed for a try. The Cumbria captain, Richards, a huge bear of a man, was outstanding at number 8. By half-time, Cumbria had scored another try to consolidate their lead.
Cornwall fought back strongly in the second half, playing with pride and aggression. During a period of sustained pressure on the Cumbria line, Cumbria conceded a string of penalties. Many in the crowd thought the referee should have awarded Cornwall a penalty try. However, the Cumbria defence was strong, and the best period of Cornish play ended when Cornwall opted to take the three points from yet another penalty. Soon afterwards, Cumbria broke away to score another try. Cornwall came back again. Jimmy Tucker at fly-half started to make some telling runs. At last, Cornwall scored a deserved try of their own. For once, Sloman's boot let him down and he missed the conversion. Cumbria scored yet another try and the game was effectively over.
To their credit, Cornwall never gave up. Never quite able to match the class of the Cumbria backs or the sheer power of their forwards, they were often forced to attack from deep positions. It was Cornish passion against English power and coolness. Continuing to attack to the end, Cornwall forced another try in the dying seconds.
D. Sloman (Launceston), I. Veal (Bridgwater), B. Stafford, K. Thomas (both Redruth), M. Bradshaw, J. Tucker, R. Nancekivell, P. Risdon, B. Lucas, P. Brooks, G.Hutchings, J.Willcock (all Launceston), J.Atkinson (St Ives) capt., M. Addinall (Penryn), D. Shipton (Launceston).
Replacements: T. Borradaile (Wasps), G. Johns (Launceston), C. Monk (Penryn), S. Warring (Launceston), S. Richardson (Penryn), M. Tummon (Launceston).