Page 10 of 68«89101112203040»

Cornwall complete Twickenham preparations

Bill Hooper reports from Camborne, photos by Simon Bryant Iktisphoto

Cornwall completed their preparations for Twickenham with their final training session last night (Thursday 26th May) at Camborne RFC.

Prior to training, it was the usual pre-Twickenham media scrum with BBC Spotlight, Radio Cornwall, Pirate FM and the written press all seeking that quote from the coaches and players!

It was good to see Josh Matavesi, Joel Matavesi and Pale Nonu there helping Cornwall last night: the motto “One & All” was so true!

Photo: Dawe seeks to write a little bit of history with Cornwall

I managed to get a few words with Graham Dawe and asked him for his thoughts going into Sunday. He said: “Well I am really looking forward to it. Cornwall are probably going there as favourites but Cheshire are an unknown quantity. They appear to play an unorthodox, quick game of rugby and give it a fair old go, not too structured. I imagine they have got some good players, having won their three games in the Northern group.”

Having studied Cheshire on the DVD, I asked him if he was confident Cornwall had the game to undo their opponents: “Well, I am not sure,” he joked, “that’s down to our players. If Cornwall are going to win back-to-back titles they have to do it with this team, because it is a well-balanced, magical side. But who knows, it will come down to decisions from the referee, kicks at goal and maybe a couple of powerful mauls, it will come down to a moment when the game changes, just like last Saturday against Surrey: we spoilt their lineout 10 metres from our line and went up-field to score and then go on to win the game what appears comfortably, five tries to one, but it was anything but comfortable.

I asked Graham if he was happier that his side appeared to concede fewer penalties against Surrey than in the previous two games: “It was lower but it was still too high for my liking. I think we gave away two penalties in a row three times last Saturday. You never get any momentum that way. It’s still an imbalance which we are putting down to over-enthusiasm.

I asked him if he had any worries about the noon kick-off: “Well you can get some hot days at this time of the year, but the boys are used to this now. The main thing is to get up in the morning and get their mindset right.”

Would the noon kick-off effect the planning of the rolling-subs? “Not really, the replacements are gut feelings watching the game unfurl, if players look to be falling off the pace then they get pulled.”

Ian Morgan pretty much echoed what Graham said: “It’s going to be tough. We respect Cheshire. Any side that beats Lancashire and wins all three games are proven quality. We have just got to focus on ourselves and do things right.

Photo: Ian Morgan looking for a big performance

“We’ve seen the DVD of their win against Lancashire, but you can’t get too much from that due to the conditions the game was played in. We’ve got to be better than we have in the past three weeks, despite winning. We still are looking for that big performance. Hopefully, we will up our game. The support of Trelawny’s Army will play a big role.”

For Cornwall’s scrum-half Greg Goodfellow, Sunday will be his final game for Cornwall and Cornwall’s favourite Scotsman will want to finish his Cornwall career with a winner’s medal, having missed out last season: “It’s great to be going back there with Cornwall. It was my goal to get back there with Cornwall. Firstly I had to make the squad and get back in the team. I’ve done that. Now I have got to play my part within the squad to get that win. I’ve tasted defeat twice here. Last year I had to watch the boys celebrate their win which was tough to take, but we have got an opportunity to do something special here and retain the Cup. What better way to bow out?

Photo: Greg Goodfellow seeks that Chamionship win to cap County career

“My principal job is to link, but if the opportunity arises I will look for that gap and hopefully take it with the support flooding in behind, to get us on the front foot.”

Asked if he knew much about Cheshire he said: “A couple of my team mates from Chinnor played against Cheshire for Eastern Counties and they gave me a detailed account of their structure of play. They are a hard working team. I think the fact that we have been here before may well help us. Twickenham is a lot to take in on the day. We will have our hands full but we are ready for it.”

I had a quick word also with Sam Matavesi: “I am buzzing, really excited about going. Everyone is here early tonight. We can’t wait to get on with it.”

Photo: Matavesi, a long wait to get back with Cornwall

Sam was involved with Cornwall in 2013, playing the first two games against Gloucestershire and Kent before being involved with Fiji so he is keen to get back to Twickenham and taste the experience with Cornwall: “I’ve been waiting to get back with Cornwall so I could get to Twickenham with the boys. Being with Albion in the Championship prevented me from that so this is a big opportunity for me.”

Posted in Bill's Blog

Cheshire make changes for Twickenham clash

Full-back Tom Foden, who played in Cheshire’s final pool game against Lancashire, misses out through injury with Macclesfield’s Charlie Venables coming in from the bench.

Caldy’s Harrison Crowe, who was also on the bench, is the other player to miss out from Cheshire’s final pool game. Club mate Ben Jones and Wirrell’s Craig Harvey are the two changes on the bench.

The side is captained by Macclesfield’s Dave Marwick.


  1. Gavin Wood (Chester)
  2. Paul Millea (Macclesfield)
  3. Elliot Millar-Mills (Macclesfield)
  4. Dave Marwick (Macclesfield, capt)
  5. Tom Sanders (Caldy)
  6. Nyle Davidson (Caldy)
  7. Harry Broadbent (Rosslyn Park)
  8. Ryan Parkinson (Macclesfield)
  9. Joe Murray (Wirrell)
  10. Jack Lavin (Caldy)
  11. Ali Baker (Wirrell)
  12. Rhys Hayes (Chester)
  13. Forbes Edwards (Caldy)
  14. Jack Leech (Sandbach)
  15. Charlie Venables (Macclesfield)


  1. Tim Oakes (Sandbach)
  2. Nathan Rushton (Caldy)
  3. Chris Roddy (Stourbridge)
  4. Nick Pearson (Sheffield Tigers)
  5. Mike Craven (Chester)
  6. Ben Jones (Caldy)
  7. Craig Harvey (Wirrell)

Coaches – Simon Verbrikas Matt Ciarns

DoR – Simon Wright

Team Physio – Laura Kirkham

Posted in Bill's Blog

Camborne add to squad for National 3 SW campaign

Photo, by Simon Bryant: Camborne parade three of their new signings Leigh Hocking (middle), Brad Howe & Joel Matavesi

Despite his preoccupation with Cornwall’s County Championship campaign, Camborne’s new Director of Rugby Ian Morgan has wasted little time in adding to his squad for next season’s National League 3 SW campaign, reports Bill Hooper from the Recreation Ground.

The Cherry and Whites announced last Wednesday, 18th May, the arrival of five new signing for next season, although three are faces already familiar at the Recreation Ground.

Utility back Joel Matavesi returns to his former club after a season in West Wales with the Ospreys. Cornish Pirates Player Development Foundation player Tommy-Lee Southworth, capable of playing at either prop or hooker, returns for a second season at the Rec, whilst prop Leigh Hocking makes a welcome return to rugby following a serious injury that has kept him sidelined for the best part of eighteen months.

The two other players to put pen to paper are: former Cornish Pirates PDF player back rower Brad Howe, who has spent the past two seasons playing at Redruth, where he picked up the prestigious Roy Jennings Cup for the most improved player at the club’s end of season awards ceremony held recently; and winger Tu Roko Kurusasa, a player with a superb 7’s and Rugby League pedigree. Kurusasa has represented the Royal Navy in League playing against New Zealand, Australia, Estonia and the RAF. He’s also played in the successful Capio Eggs 7’s squad where he was coached by Morgan, playing alongside Camborne’s Richie Kevern and Taron Peacock.

The youngest of the three Matavesi brothers, Joel, feels that he is returning to Camborne at just the right time: “I think it’s an exciting time for the club that’s clearly going in the right direction and with the squad we are building I feel we could possibly push on again. There is a huge buzz at the club we are all looking forward to pre-season and getting into the side.”

For Brad Howe, the promise of playing in the back row at Camborne was the incentive he needed to sign for the Cherry and Whites: “When I spoke with Ian Morgan I was excited by the prospects at Camborne. Ian wants to use me in my preferred role in the back row and that’s where I really want to play. It was difficult to get into the Redruth back row with the high calibre of players they had there and I feel now that I really need to develop my game in that position to be able to improve as a player.”

Ian Morgan feels that his new signings will strengthen his options going into the new league campaign, which they will open at home against Cleve: “I think these are excellent signings that complement the squad already in place, three of the boys are Camborne lads so they will feel right at home.

“Tommy-Lee is a fine prospect he has the ability to play right across the front row and that is a key asset for us over a long hard season.

“Brad Howe is a player I’ve had my eye on for a while, he’s had limited opportunities at Redruth playing in the back row and he really wants to play there and I am looking forward to seeing him in action for us.

“Joel Matavesi will need no introduction. He knows the club through and through, he’s obtained good experience with the Ospreys and at Neath and that will hopefully rub off on the boys here.”

When asked about any further additions to the squad Morgan replied: “Potentially one more player, probably in the backs, I am happy with the squad I have here now. It’s a good young squad with a lot of talent and experience. It can be counter-productive to tinker too much with a squad.”

Posted in Bill's Blog

Cornwall name side to face Cheshire on Sunday

Photo: Greg Goodfellow will be looking to bring the curtain down on his Cornwall career with a winner’s medal

Cornwall’s selectors have made just the one change to the starting line up for Sunday’s Bill Beaumont Cup Final at Twickenham, kick-off mid-day.

Plymouth Albion’s Rupert Freestone starts at hooker, whilst Redruth’s Richard Brown reverts to the bench.

The rest of the starting XV is as played Surrey at Camborne. The replacements are yet to be finalised but I would wager little change in personnel from last Saturday.

Photo: Kyle Marriott will hope to be the first Cornwall skipper to win back-to-back County Championships

1. Tom Cowan-Dickie, Redruth
2. Rupert Freestone, Plymouth Albion
3. Craig Williams, Redruth
4. Ben Hilton, Cornish All Blacks
5. Tony Whittle, Camborne
6. Kyle Marriott, Redruth (Captain)
7. Sam Matavesi, Plymouth Albion
8. Herbie Stupple, Plymouth Albion
9. Greg Goodfellow, Chinnor
10. Billy Searle, Plymouth Albion
11. Robin Wedlake, Plymouth Albion
12. Nielson Webber, Redruth
13. Jake Murphy, Plymouth Albion
14. Lewis Vinnicombe, Redruth
15. Matt Shepherd, Plymouth Albion

16. Richard Brown, Redruth
17. Christian Judge, Plymouth Albion
18. Damien Cook, Camborne
19. Chris Fuca, Redruth
20. Jon Dawe, Plymouth Albion
21. Sam Parsons, Redruth
22. Lewis Webb, Taunton

Coaches: Graham Dawe and Ian Morgan
Strength & Conditioning: James “Earpy” Earp
Medical: Lauren Albury, Sam West
Kit: Paul Hurrell, Colin Hatch

Posted in Bill's Blog

A brief look back at previous meetings with Cheshire

Games between Cornwall and Cheshire don’t come round that often: according to the records, this is only the sixth meeting between the two counties.

Cornwall lead 4-1, but that sole Cheshire win came in 1998 at the Tetley’s Bitter County Championship final on the 18th April, when the Northern side won 21-14.

Cornwall’s points that day were scored by Eddie Nancekivell , who came off the bench, with a try, and Danny Sloman’s three penalties.

Cornwall’s other wins were 20-3 in a friendly at Redruth  in 1981, 20-0 at New Brighton in 1983 and 9-6 again at Redruth, the last two games were in the Thorn EMI County Championship group stages.

It was a bitterly disappointing finale in 1998 to Dean Shipton’s Cornwall campaign, and for Tony Cook who made his 102nd and final appearance for Cornwall that day. Defeat drove Shipton and the rest of the Cornish lads on to greater things the following season, when they made up for that defeat with a win against Gloucestershire in the final 24-15.

In the semi-final at Redruth, played on the 8th of May,  Cornwall played their conquerors from the previous season in front of a packed Recreation Ground. Cornwall turned the tables, winning 35-16 and scoring five tries, with four scored by Penzance & Newlyn players Nat Saumi, Kevin Moseley, Jason Atkinson and Lee Mruk. Exeter’s Colin Laity scored the other try, with Redruth’s Steve Larkins adding a conversion and two penalties, whilst Saumi also added a conversion.

1998 Twickenham teams

Cornwall (Launceston unless stated): D Sloman, R Thirlby (Redruth), J Tucker, K Thomas (Truro), R Newton (Redruth), S Whitworth (Redruth), C Whitworth (Redruth); P Risdon, B Lucas, S Rush, G Hutchings, T Cook (Hayle), J Willcocks, M Addinall (Penryn), D Shipton (Capt).

Replacements: R Nancekivell, E Nancekivell, J Atkinson (St. Ives), L Murk (Penzance & Newlyn), R Tonkin, N Douch (Redruth).

Cornwall scores: Try E Nancekivell, Penalties, Sloman (3)

Cheshire: S Swindells (Manchester), M Blood (Manchester), C Ball (Widnes), R Hughes (New Brighton), M Hoskin (Manchester), A Guest (New Brighton), N Briers (London Irish); M Dorrington (New Brighton), L Hewson (Manchester), M Hill (Widnes), D Craddock (Manchester), M Kirke (Macclesfield),  G Jones (New Brighton), K Brookman (New Brighton, Capt), S Beeley (Widnes).

Replacements: A Yates (Lymm), S Dorrington (New Brighton), T Wasdell (Chester), S Wright (New Brighton), M King (Widnes), I Kennedy (New Brighton).

Cheshire scores: Tries, Briers, Blood, Conversion, Swindells, Penalties, Swindells (2), Drop-goal, Guest

Referee: Ashley Rowden (Berks Soc)

Posted in Bill's Blog

Alan and Gavin to Shadow ‘Stirlo’

Photo: Gavin and Alan with Chris Stirling overlooking Wellington Harbour

The Cornish Pirates coaching duo, Alan Paver and Gavin Cattle, are in New Zealand this week, meeting up and staying with the club’s former High Performance Manager, Chris Stirling, writes Cornish Pirates’ media officer Phil Westren.

They arrived in Wellington on Saturday, and will depart on Wednesday 1 June. The intention of the trip is for Alan and Gavin to shadow Chris at work in his role as High Performance Manager for the Hurricanes rugby team, with time spent with all the coaches and support staff. This will culminate at the end of the week when they will watch ‘Super Rugby’ action, when the Hurricanes play the Highlanders at the Westpac Stadium, Wellington.

Chris, who thinks very highly of both Alan and Gavin, commented: “With the appointment of Gavin and Alan as coaches, for the Pirates there are exciting times ahead. I have had the opportunity to gain vast knowledge through my work with New Zealand Rugby and the Hurricanes, and am very excited to be able to share this with them and the Pirates.

“The pair have great potential, and being very strong both technically and tactically they have all the qualities needed to succeed. Most of all they are loyal, passionate Pirates.”

For the Cornish Pirates, Chairman Ian Connell said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Gav and Paves to be at the sharp end and observe southern hemisphere Super Rugby within the squad environment. They will learn a lot and Chris has been instrumental in setting up this not to be refused opportunity. The Pirates are also hugely indebted to Richard Cockram (deputy chairman) and his wife Sue who have generously sponsored their airfares in order to support Gav and Paves as our rugby leaders.”

Posted in Bill's Blog

Cornwall defeat Surrey and march back to Twickenham


By Bill Hooper, at the Recreation Ground, photos Simon Bryant

Cornwall were again pushed all the way before making sure of the win during the final ten minutes of a pulsating game, to book a fourth successive County Championship final at Twickenham next Sunday, where they will play Cheshire in a repeat of the 1998 final.

Star of the show was young fly-half Billy Searle who helped himself to three excellent tries, but he’d be the first to acknowledge the work of his team mates with each of the scores, notably open side Sam Matavesi, who again had a tremendous game for Cornwall.

Photo: Billy Searle helped himself to three of Cornwall’s five tries

The win pleased Cornwall head coach Graham Dawe, but he conceded his side had made hard work of it at times: “It’s always good to get a win, but it was a close run thing, I think we made hard work of it at times today. Mid-way through the second half we only had a six-point advantage and they could have come back. We couldn’t shake off the shackles until the end. Having said that, I think it will have done us good to have had three very hard games going into the final next Sunday.

“All the players deserve a lot of credit today. They kept their shape, they kept their discipline, kept to the game plan and delivered the result and that, at the end of the day, is what it’s all about.”

Cornwall, roared on by the sizeable crowd got the early score following great work down the narrow side by Matavesi, back playing on his home turf, and putting centre Nielson Webber away for an unconverted try.

Photo: Cornwall skipper Kyle Marriott

Surrey shocked the home support with an immediate riposte as fly-half Matt Noble finished off good work from former Redruth player Ed Carne to tie the scores with an unconverted try.

Great pressure by full-back Matt Shepherd at the breakdown forced a penalty, which he kicked.

Shepherd then missed with his next two efforts at goal, a penalty from distance and then the conversion of Searle’s first try, which was again manufactured by the industrious Matavesi.

Photo: Herbie Stupple looks to get the ball away to winger Jon Dawe

Cornwall began early with the rolling subs, one of those being the introduction of back rower BJ Chapman, who soon put himself about in the rucks and mauls and then harried Surrey into a loose clearance that fell into the hands of winger Lewis Vinnicombe. The winger ran hard towards the scoreboard corner before slipping a pass to Searle for his second try. Shepherd added the extras before being called into action to make a last-gasp tackle on the lively Noble as Surrey looked for a quick reply.

Penalties from Noble and full-back Ollie Turner for Surrey made the score-line 20-11 in Cornwall’s favour at half-time.

Noble kicked a second penalty immediately after the break to reduce the deficit further.

Scrum-half Greg Goodfellow was sniping and probing all the time for Cornwall, but the breakthrough didn’t come until the final quarter, when winger Robin Wedlake went on a run; Matavesi was there again putting in a rampaging run from his own half to serve up Searle for his third try, Shepherd added the extras and Cornwall could breathe a little easier.

Photo: Lewis Webb scores Cornwall’s fifth try

With time almost up, great work from Searle and centre Sam Parsons took play into the Surrey twenty-two. No.8 Herbie Stupple linked with winger Jon Dawe, who popped a pass up to Lewis Webb to complete the scoring.

Referee Veryan Boscawen’s final whistle brought scenes of great joy and delight from the Cornish crowd, as Trelawny’s Army prepares to march on Twickenham once more.

Photo Cornish fans get behind the team

Cornwall (Plymouth Albion unless stated): M Shepherd,  L Vinnicombe (Redruth), J Murphy, N Webber (Redruth), R Wedlake, B Searle, G Goodfellow (Chinnor); T Cowan-Dickie (Redruth), R Brown (Redruth), C Williams (Redruth), B Hilton (Cornish All Blacks), T Whittle (Camborne), K Marriott (Redruth, capt), S Matavesi, H Stupple.

Replacements: R Freestone for T Cowan-Dickie 22, BJ Chapman (Taunton) for H Stupple 22, P Joyce (Redruth) for C Williams 34, C Fuca (Redruth) for T Whittle 38, T Cowan-Dickie for R Brown 38, S Parsons (Redruth) for N Webber 52, C Williams for P Joyce 60, T Whittle for C Fuca 62, H Stupple for BJ Chapman 62, L Webb (Taunton) for G Goodfellow, J Dawe, for L Vinnicombe 72, N Webber for J Murphy 76

Cornwall scores: Tries, Webber, Searle (3), Webb Cons, Shepherd (2), Pen, Shepherd

Surrey (Dorking unless stated): O Turner (London Irish WG), B Marfo, E Carne, S Cunningham (London Irish WG), K Irving, M Noble, M McDonald (London Scottish); C Connor (London Irish WG), M Cornish (London Irish WG), C Zeiss (Esher), I Kench ( Esher, capt), D Flashman (Wimbeldon), D Livett (London Irish WG), H Elbrow, H Rowland (Rosslyn Park).

Replacements: J Hunt (Wimbeldon) for I Kench 4, W Crow (Rosslyn Park) for M McDonald 50, R Jeffery for E Carne 50, T Lee for H Elbrow 75, S Obano for C Zeiss 79, J Gott (London Irish WG) for B Marfo 79, F Dalton for M Cornish 79.

Surrey scores: Try Noble, Pens, Noble (2), Turner

Referee: Veryan Boscawen (RFU)

Crowd: 3,125

Cornwall man-of-the-match: very hard, as many players put their hands up, but the nod goes just to young Billy Searle, who had a s great game and scored three fine tries.


Check the Cornwall RFU website for details about tickets for next Sunday’s final against Cheshire:

Trelawny’s Army are running an up and back coach on the day with match tickets guaranteed, see:

Posted in Bill's Blog

Cornwall ready for Surrey test

Bill Hooper reports from the training session at Camborne last night (Wednesday 18 May) with photos from Simon Bryant Iktisphoto.

Cornwall go into Saturday’s game against Surrey knowing that they are just eighty minutes from a fourth successive visit to England rugby’s illustrious HQ!

Between them and that achievement is a Surrey side who will be battling to avoid a swift return to Division 2 of the Bill Beaumont Cup following two defeats against Hertfordshire and Gloucestershire.

Cornwall make just minor positional changes to the starting XV, whilst the bench will be finalised later in the week.

For Surrey former Redruth player Ed Carne, who plied his trade in France notably at Nevers and more recently with Rouen (with coach former England scrum-half Richard Hill) features on the wing for the visitors.

Photo: Graham Dawe gets his point across

Head coach Graham Dawe is taking nothing for granted and expects Surrey to pose a tough hurdle for his side to overcome in their quest for more Twickenham glory.

“We have had two very hard-fought wins against good sides who have tested us,” remarked Dawe.

“We aren’t getting ahead of ourselves, so any talk about congratulations about the job thus far are premature; two wins from a pool of four leads us to a mini cup final this Saturday.”

Dawe acknowledged that his side had been pushed all the way in their previous two games: “They have been close games and fine margins usually determine games. We’ve been on the right side so far in both games but we felt the pressure right up to the final whistle. Those games have seen the side forge an identity. You’ve seen players fighting for the shirt, laying their bodies on the line for the county, players such as Sam Matavesi who have been going right to the end getting off the floor to put in yet another tackle and that’s what really counts.

Photo: Skipper Kyle Marriott leads the way

Skipper Kyle Marriott also knows that his side has won no prizes yet; good work accomplished but the main push towards the summit begins on Saturday: “Good work from the boys so far but we have a huge game to win this Saturday. We aren’t getting ahead of ourselves. One poor game and it could easily slip out of our hands. Surrey will be no pushovers and we expect a titanic battle with them.”

Marriott feels that the side are coming together game by game: “I am pleased with the progress so far. I think we are growing as a squad game by game, but we all feel that there is still more to come from this squad and that’s exciting.

“The games have been close but I think reflects on the sides this season. They have all upped their game. This is not an easy tournament at the end of a long hard league campaign. Winning is key and if we can keep winning then we will be successful. We are fortunate to have many of the players who were involved last year, whilst the new players coming in have bought into what we are trying to do.”

Photo: Sam Matavesi training on his ‘home’ turf

One for the new players in the county squad this season is Bude’s Duncan Tout: “It’s a big step up for me but it’s a great experience to be involved with the County this season. I have found myself improving as a player, benefiting greatly from the training sessions run by the coaches. For me, it’s big commitment travelling down from Bude but one that’s really worthwhile.

Photo: Coach Ian Morgan surveys the Rec.

“The training is intense with everyone pushing really hard so I have got to step up which is tough but enjoyable. The club are pleased to see a north Cornwall boy involved with the County.”

Cornwall (Plymouth Albion unless stated): M Shepherd, L Vinnicombe (Redruth), J Murphy, N Webber (Redruth), R Wedlake, B Searle, G Goodfellow (Chinnor); T Cowan-Dickie, R Brown, C Williams (all Redruth), B Hilton (Cornish All Blacks), T Whittle (Camborne), K Marriott (Redruth, capt), S Matavesi, H Stupple.

Replacements: R Freestone, P Joyce (Redruth), BJ Chapman (Taunton), C Fuca (Redruth), L Webb (Taunton), S Parsons (Redruth), J Dawe.

Surrey (Dorking unless stated): O Turner (London Irish WG), E Carne, R Jeffery, S Cunningham (London Irish WG), K Irving, M Noble, W Crow (Rosslyn Park); C Connor (London Irish WG), J Catton, C Zeiss (Esher), I Kench (Esher, capt), D Flashman (Wimbeldon), D Livett (London Irish WG), H Elbrow, H Rowland (Rosslyn Park).

Replacements: M Bunn (London Irish WG), S Obano, T Lee, J Hunt (Wimbeldon), M McDonald (London Scottish), B Marfo, J Gott (London Irish WG).

Posted in Bill's Blog

Phil Westren looks back at three classic Cornish encounters with Surrey from 1966-67

 County Championship semi-final 1967

Cornwall versus Surrey – A Look Back In Time!

For Cornish rugby followers of a certain vintage, this weekend’s match will kindle memories of three thrillingly tense matches played against Surrey 49 years ago.

Lineout action from the Athletic Ground, Richmond

Those were in the halcyon days of the County Championship, a competition which for many years was all-important, just one small step down from England trials.

In 1966-67 Cornwall played four early season friendly matches, including one at Penzance which was drawn 6-all against a strong Lancashire side. These games were vital preparation for what lay ahead, the real test known to be a Championship opener against Gloucestershire at Bristol in October. That match was won 9-3, and it was followed by a more comfortable 14-3 win against Somerset at Redruth. The final group match was against Devon at Camborne, which Cornwall won 9-0 thanks to three penalty goals kicked by Roger Hosen, who was England’s full-back that season. Two Pirates in the county’s side were centre Jimmy Glover and prop ‘Stack’ Stevens, and it was only the fourth time in all their history that Cornwall had won all of their group matches.

Roger Hosen – kicking for England

The quarter-final was against Oxfordshire at Redruth in January, Cornwall winning 16-6, with Penryn’s Graham Bate outstanding at full-back. Nobody knew it, but a story was about to unfold, the like of which the County Championship had never seen before.

A strong Surrey team were Cornwall’s opponents in the semi-final, but at least we were drawn at home on the first Saturday in February, for a match played at Redruth. The game ended in a 6-all draw.

Selection is often contentious, and there was certainly a level of controversy concerning the relative and impressive merits of both Graham Bate and Roger Hosen, the latter not selected against either Oxfordshire or Surrey.

Photo: Cornwall’s hooker Roger Harris

Roger was recalled for the replay, a sensational encounter played two weeks later at Richmond. 14-3 down, with twenty minutes to go all looked lost, but the Duchy’s finest refused to give in. With just seconds left hooker Roger Harris (Plymouth Albion) linked with fly-half Richard Sharp, who had Kenny Plummer (Penryn) in support. The swerving winger, elusive and deceptively strong, made it to the line, leaving Roger Hosen with as big a pressure kick as he ever attempted in his illustrious career. Yes, you know it went over, but what next? The answer, a second replay, back at Redruth on the 4th March.

Cornwall kept the same side: Roger Hosen, Kenny Plummer, Jimmy Glover, Tommy Palmer, Derek Prout, Richard Sharp, Ian Davey, Ron Glazsher, Gerry McKeown, Ray George, John Allen, Alan Greep, Rex Buckingham, Roger Harris and ‘Stack’ Stevens, but they disappointingly lost 14-3, there being no ‘Boys Own’ ending to a still remarkable, and wholly memorable eleven-match season.

Disappointing? Of course it was, but with a good crop of players to choose from it was no surprise that in 1968-69, the final would be reached – but that’s a story for another day!

Posted in Bill's Blog

Cornwall overcome Herts hurdle to set up Camborne finale



Photos: Simon Bryant Iktisphoto

Cornwall at times spluttered their way to another win at Bishop’s Stortford against a tough Hertfordshire side who pushed the reigning county kings all the way, reports Bill Hooper.

The Black and Golds began the game in great style going 12-0 up in the first quarter. Flanker Sam Matavesi scored Cornwall’s first try from a catch-and-drive and then No.8 Herbie Stupple barged his way over for Cornwall’s second try which was converted by full back Matt Shepherd to the cheers of the travelling Cornish support.

Photo: Sam Matavesi powers through the Herts’ defence

Cornwall were then guilty of letting their opponents back into it, as they fell-foul of referee Luis Caviglia, giving away a string of penalties and making far too many unforced errors.

Hertford hooker Brett McNamee snaffled a loose ball to score in the corner, then fly-half Josh Sharp kicked a penalty to bring his side to within four points of Cornwall.

Hertfordshire sensed the tide was in their favour, pounding the Cornish line and twice being held up over the line. Cornwall then conceded a penalty-try as Hertfordshire racked up the pressure from a five metre scrum, converted by Sharp for a 15-12 lead at the break.

Photo: Craig Williams on the drive

Matt Shepherd tied the scores early in the second half with a penalty, before Cornwall found themselves down to fourteen men as centre Jake Murphy was sent to the bin for not rolling away. Cornwall not only survived the ten minutes without conceding a score, they actually re-took the lead as Shepherd kicked his second penalty following another great break from scrum-half Greg Goodfellow.

Cornwall then made the game safe when Matavesi scored his second try of the game, his fourth in two games, to set up a finale at Camborne on Saturday against a Surrey side who have lost both their opening games.

After two wins Cornwall will want to finish their pool games with a great win at Camborne in front of a huge crowd.

Photo: Matavesi scores!

Up north, Lancashire and Cheshire both won for the second time, they will face each other at Sedgley Park to decide the winners of the Northern Group, whilst both Yorkshire and Eastern Counties, each without a point, will battle out a relegation decider at Grange Road, Cambridge.

In Division 2, Devon secured a second win at North Midlands. A draw at Medway against Kent will promote them back to the top-tier in Cornwall’s group next season.

East Midlands look likely to win the Northern Division 2, having already defeated Northumberland and Leicestershire.

Hertfordshire (Bishop’s Stortford unless stated): P Dotta, J Rea, S Winter, J Neville, G Elliott (Ampthill), J Sharp (Loughborough Students), T Banks; R Adams-Hale (Ampthill), B McNamee (Hertford), S Edwards, R Conquest (Darlington MP), M Tomlinson, S Ball (capt), A Maka (Letchworth), D Archer (Hertford)

Replacements (all used): W Roberts, A Berry (Chinnor), M Steele (Barnes), R Young, T Sargent (Hertford), D Watt (Loughborough Students), M Gallagher

Hertfordshire scores Tries, McNamee, Penalty, Conversion, Sharp, Penalty, Sharp

Cornwall: (Plymouth Albion unless stated): M Shepherd, L Vinnicombe (Redruth) J Murphy, N Webber (Redruth), R Wedlake, B Searle, G Goodfellow (Chinnor); R Freestone, R Brown (Redruth), C Williams (Redruth), B Hilton (Cornish All Blacks), T Whittle (Camborne), K Marriott (Redruth, capt), S Matavesi, H Stupple.

Replacements (used): T Cowan-Dickie (Redruth), BJ Chapman (Taunton), D Cook (Camborne), C Fuca (Redruth), J Dawe, S Parsons (Redruth).

Replacement (not used): R Kevern (Camborne)

Cornwall scores: Tries, Matavesi (2), Stupple, Conversion, Shepherd, Penalties, Shepherd (2)

Yellow Card: Murphy (45)

Referee: Luis Caviglia (RFU)

Crowd: 360

Cornwall-man-of-the-match: Sam Matavesi, another top-drawer display from the Albion open side, another two tries scored, and will relish playing at Camborne this Saturday.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Older posts