CORNWALL begin their 2014 County Championship campaign at Redruth on Saturday with an opening fixture against The North Midlands.
Two years ago Cornwall enjoyed a 29-5 win over Saturday’s opponents at Camborne scoring five tries through Jamie Salter, Steve Johns, skipper Ben Hilton, Tom Rawlings and a penalty-try award.
PHOTO BY BILL HOOPER LINEOUT DRILL AT REDRUTH THURSDAY EVENING
This time round the Cornwall selectors have gone for an experienced side with the core of the pack that featured in the Tamar Cup match against Devon with Craig Williams skipper Ben Hilton and Tom Rawlings moving up from the bench.
At half-back the Redruth pairing of Greg Goodfellow and Paul Thirlby will look to dictate play, in mid-field the Launceston centre partnership of Ryan Westren and Nielson Webber get the nod with a back three of Kieron Lewitt Rhodri McAtee and Lewis Vinnicombe have pace and expierence.
The bench which has plenty of well seasoned names sees the return of hooker Richard Brown, who didn’t feature in the Tamar Cup, along with prop Rupert Freestone, who started the Tamar Cup match as did lock cover Bryn Jenkins, and half-back cover St. Austell’s Matt Shepherd. Lewis Paterson and Tom Notman are the other backs replacement, whilst Falmouth’s Tony Whittle did enough to impress in the Tamar Cup game to retain a berth on the bench as back row cover.
PHOTO BY SIMON BRYANT IKTISPHOTO – RICHARD BROWN BACK IN THE MATCH DAY SQUAD
The squad for Saturday had a final training session at Redruth on Thursday evening with Graham Dawe and Ian Morgan joined by Dawe’s old Cornwall team mate scrum-half Dave Rule to run the rule over the squad.
Prior to the session Cornwall’s captain Ben Hilton spoke to me. He said. “The excitement is building with the opening game so close, pressure on us to perform. The Cornish supporters expect a big performance and really the shirt deserves nothing less. Hopefully the squad that has been put together with the loyal core bunch, know what is expected and what is required. We want to win on Saturday and nothing else will do.
“A few weeks ago we were all feeling exhausted after a long hard club season but having now focused on Cornwall we all seem to have been reinvigorated by the prospect of another shot at a Twickenham final.
“We had great numbers for training at Truro on Tuesday almost enough for two match day squads, sadly there are players who will be disappointed at missing out this time round, but I know from experience that during the course of the Championship there will be opportunities for players who have missed out this weekend to come into the squad and stake their claim.
“I am very pleased for Tony Whittle who has made the Championship squad for the first time it’s a great honour for the Falmouth club to have a player playing in the county Championship once again.
PHOTO – GRAHAM DAWE CONDUCTS PACK DRILL
“With a great crowd behind us I am looking for a good win to set us up for the rest of the campaign, the crowd will have their role to play and I hope they turn out for us on Saturday.”
With regard to the North Midlands squad Stourbridge, Birmingham & Solihull, Bromsgrove and Luctonians have again given their enthusiastic support to the County Championship.
Birmingham & Solihull hooker Will Radburn will captain a side that includes nine newcomers in the starting XV with three more on the bench. Scrum-half David Brazier is the sole survivor in the North Midlands line up from the game two years ago though head coach Dan Protherough was an unused replacement that day.
CORNWALL: 15. Kieron Lewitt (Cornish All Blacks), 14. Lewis Vinnicombe (Truro), 13. Ryan Westren, 12 Nielson Webber (Both Cornish All Blacks), 11. Rhodri McAtee, 10. Paul Thirlby, 9. Greg Goodfellow (All Redruth); 1. Jamal Ford-Robinson (Cambridge), 2. Jamie Salter (Cornish All Blacks), 3. Craig Williams (Reduth), Ben Hilton (Cornish All Blacks Capt), Damien Cook, Chris Fuca (Both Redruth), Tom Rawlings, Barrie Chapman (Both Cornish All Blacks).
Replacements: Richard Brown (Redruth), Rupert Freestone (Clifton), Bryn Jenkins (Cornish All Blacks), Tony Whittle (Falmouth), Lewis Paterson (Ivybridge), Matt Shepherd (St. Austell), Tom Notman (Redruth)
Reserves: Lewis Webb (Cornish All Blacks), Jess Tompsett (Redruth), Jake Murphy (Cornish All Blacks), Ian Venner (St. Austell)
North Midlands: 15 Adam Canning (Birmingham & Solihull); 14 David Evans (Birmingham & Solihull), 13 Scott Smith (Bromsgrove), 12 Greg Evans (Coventry), 11 Drew Cheshire (Luctonians); 10 Alex Warner (Bournville), 9 David Brazier (Bromsgrove); 1 Anthony Marfell (Luctonians), 2 Will Radburn (Birmingham & Solihull – captain), 3 Richard Jones (Luctonians), 4 Chris Goddard (Birmingham & Solihull), 5 Matt Spink (Birmingham & Solihull), 6 Niall Dacres (Stourbridge), 7 Charley Thomas (Moseley Oak), 8 Drew Harper (Stourbridge).
Replacements: Steffan Thorp (Birmingham & Solihull), Gino Belmonte (Bromsgrove), Solomon Dacres (Bromsgrove), Matt Tibbatts (Coventry), Rod Petty (Birmingham & Solihull), Tom Jones (Luctonians), Adam Knight (Luctonians)