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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

Cornwall ring changes for trip to Herts

Cornwall go into Saturday’s game against Hertfordshire at Bishop’s Stortford (kick-off 3 pm) with a side showing seven positional changes and just one new face in the match day twenty-two.

Cornwall’s coaches and selectors have had much to ponder over the last few days following, Cornwall’s dramatic late win against Gloucestershire at Redruth.

Cornwall coach Ian Morgan

Camborne’s Richie Kevern, who had a good game for Cornwall in the Tamar Cup, comes onto the bench, as Taunton’s Lewis Webb is unavailable.

Robin Wedlake is the only player from the Gloucestershire win to keep his place in the back three, Matt Shepherd moves to full-back, with Jake Murphy moving to centre in place of Sam Parsons who drops to the bench. Lewis Vinnicombe starts in place of John Dawe on the other wing.

At half-back, Billy Searle has recovered from illness and regains his place from Webb, whilst Greg Goodfellow starts at scrum-half, following his impressive introduction from the bench against Gloucestershire.

Photo: Billy Searle set to return this Saturday

In the front row, Craig Williams remains at tight-head, whilst Rupert Freestone switches from hooker to loose-head in place of Tom Cowan-Dickie who drops to the bench. Richard Brown starts at hooker.

Photo: Sam Matavesi had a big game against Gloucestershire

Hertfordshire were pushed all the way in their opening game at home to Surrey, just beating their opponents 31-28. They had ten players from Bishop’s Stortford in their ranks, although they will be without their players from Old Albanian, who are involved in the National League 2 play-off for promotion with Sedgley Park.

Cornwall’s task against Hertfordshire will nevertheless be a tough one, with the large Bishop’s Stortford contingent keen to win on home turf.

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

Travelling reserves: L Chapman (Cornish All Blacks), D Mankee (Redruth), D Tout (Bude)

Hertfordshire XV

  1. Ralph Adams-Hale (Ampthill)
  2. Brett McNamee (Hertford)
  3. Sean Edwards (Bishops Stortford)
  4. Rob Conquest (Darlington Mowden Park)
  5. Mat Tomlinson (Bishops Stortford)
  6. Steve Ball (Bishops Stortford) (C)
  7. Anthony Maka (Letchworth)
  8. Dave Archer (Hertford)

  9. Tom Banks (Bishops Stortford)

  10. Josh Sharp (Loughborough Students)
  11. George Elliott (Ampthill)
  12. Johnny Neville (Bishops Stortford)
  13. Sam Winter (Bishops Stortford)
  14. Jimmy Rea (Bishops Stortford)
  15. Pierfrancesco Dotta (Bishops Stortford)

  16. Will Roberts (Bishops Stortford)

  17. Andy Berry (Chinnor)
  18. Matthew Steele (Barnes)
  19. Rory Young (Bishops Stortford)
  20. Tom Sargent (Hertford)
  21. Dan Watt (L’boro)
  22. Michael Gallagher (Bishops Stortford)
Posted in Bill's Blog

TASC assists Cornwall U20 players involved with SW division

Photo Simon Bryant: TASC Press Officer Bill Hooper along with Cornwall Under 20 Players Luke Hattam, Jack Simmons (capt), Tommy-Lee Southworth, Tommy Phillips and Ben Illsley

Many of you will have seen (and hopefully purchased an item or two) from our merchandising stand at Redruth on Saturday (7 May 2016).

Many thanks must go to our hard-working volunteers especially Chairman Phil and his good lady Marina for running the stand and placing the stock orders to keep the Army lookin’ proper!

We take pride in the fact that all our profits are ploughed back into the game locally, an example of this took place at half-time on Saturday when we were delighted to present members of this season’s Cornwall Under 20s a small contribution towards their considerable travelling costs to trial and training games for the South West this season.

Ben Stean, Adam Hughes, Jack Simmons, Tommy-Lee Southworth and Dan Rutter were all involved with training at Keynsham with Tommy- Lee and Dan going on to represent the South West against London and the South East at Maidenhead.

Tommy Phillips, our Cornwall U20 player of the year last season, despite being injured over the trials period, has earned selection for the England Counties Under 20 training squad, which will tour Russia in June. Tommy played on the inaugural tour for England Counties Under 20s last season, along with Todd Prisk, when they toured Hungary.

On Saturday we were delighted to make a presentation to the players and wish them all the best for their careers in rugby.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Goodfellow’s wining return to Rec lays demons to rest

Photo by Simon Bryant: Goodfellow on his way to scoring on Saturday

Twelve months ago, Greg Goodfellow played his final game for Redruth. It was his 100th game for the club, and to mark that milestone he would receive the famous red jacket – yes there is a Cornish equivalent to that famous green jacket in Augusta for the Masters Golf! Then there was the prospect of another county championship campaign with Cornwall aiming to get back to Twickenham for a third consecutive year.

Sadly it all went horribly wrong for Greg in that game against Southend, as he was shown a red card by referee Calum Howard for alleged foul play reported by the touch judge. It brought to a sorry end Greg’s stay at Redruth and forced him to miss the county championship campaign that saw Cornwall triumphant at Twickenham. It was a bitter pill to swallow.

So fast forward twelve months, the scene the Recreation Ground, Redruth, Cornwall beginning the defence of their title against old foes Gloucestershire in front of a large crowd of bedecked Cornish men and women wearing the famous black and gold. Cornwall were struggling with their opponents, trailing by 20-11, under the same referee Calum Howard; in the 51st minute of the game, (and as my late colleague Paul Bawden often wrote), it was a case of “Cometh the hour, cometh the man!” So the scene was set for the return of Goodfellow on the pitch that he had graced in the red shirt with all the frustrations and disappointments of twelve months previous waiting to be exorcised….

Cornwall’s favourite Scotsman didn’t disappoint: he scored a memorable 70 metre try, in Hellfire corner (where else?), with his old club mate Lewis Vinnicombe playing no small part in the move; two other Goodfellow breaks were the catalyst for two further Cornwall scores as they sealed a remarkable comeback 33-27.

Interviewed after the game, Goodfellow spoke with the calmness and satisfaction of a man who had come to put matters right, and had done so brilliantly.  He said: “It’s hard to describe how I feel. They say that some fairy tales don’t have a happy ending, but for me in that game it was the best ending possible. Hopefully I’ve created some chaos and a few selection headaches for the selectors for next week!”

Photo Simon Bryant: Goodfellow playing for Cornwall in 2014 at Twickenham

Goodfellow’s elation at scoring the vital try that stretched Cornwall’s lead to 26-20, when all looked lost at 11-20 down as he came on, was indescribable: “To get over the whitewash and score that try was amazing especially in front of all those fans. The frustrations of having to sit out last season’s campaign and watch Cornwall triumph at Twickenham was hard to bear. Having played a big part in the previous campaigns it was tough to miss out on the lads great win last season. I wanted to get myself back into the squad and if an opportunity came along, take it with both hands.

“Whatever happens I am just happy to be involved again playing with a great bunch, even when Gloucestershire scored that late try to regain the lead I had confidence that we could go down the other and score and we did. We showed the character that we have, the passion, the desire to get back to Twickenham again; but it’s one game at a time, we focus on Hertfordshire next week and then see where we are after that.”

Posted in Bill's Blog

Tenacious Cornwall battle to last gasp win



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

Cornwall staged a late comeback to snatch a win with the final play of the game thanks to a try from hooker Rupert Freestone following a powerful maul from the Cornish forwards roared on by the partisan Cornish crowd.

Photo: Cornwall’s head coach Graham Dawe with much to ponder prior to Herts

Head coach Graham Dawe was relieved his side had won, but they made hard work of it: “We made far too many errors for my liking, especially during the first half, but we went back to basics and in the end it was the scrum and the maul that got us through. I am not sure who stood the ball up, whether it was Ben Hilton or Damien Cook, but between them they did. It may not have been pretty but it did the job.”

Dawe was pleased with the impact of his bench: “Goodfellow backed himself for his try and that paid off. I thought Cook and Vinnicombe also showed their experience when they came on.”

On Goodfellow’s try, Dawe felt his replacement had taken the wrong option: “His decision to go from 75 metres out was flamboyant, it’s not a call I would of made, but once he’s made the call he had to score! It will give me and the selectors food for thought for next week. We shall see who gets the nod. Both Greg and Matt Shepherd are great scrum-halves. It’s good to have them both in the squad.”

Cornwall took an early lead with a couple of Matt Shepherd penalties but Gloucestershire had shown their willingness to run the ball, so it was no surprise that they stormed back with a fine try from Sam Hanks converted by Leo Fielding.

Photo: Matt Shepherd moved to full back when Goodfellow came on

Cornwall retook the lead with an unconverted try through flanker Sam Matavesi from a catch-and-drive, to lead 11-7 at half-time. The Fijian international, who always revels playing for Cornwall, went on to have an outstanding game for the Black and Gold.

Gloucestershire made a great start to the second half when Sam Baker scored their second try, with Fielding once again adding the extras before kicking a couple of penalties, and setting nerves jangling in the Cornish crowd.

Cornwall needed the next score and they got it, as Matavesi bagged his second try after great work from skipper Kyle Marriott. Shepherd added the extras to cut the deficit to just two points.

The coaches rang the changes for Cornwall, with both Greg Goodfellow and Lewis Vinnicombe arriving to sharpen up the attacking options, whilst Damien Cook came on in the pack looking to write another page in his family’s glorious participation in the county championship with Cornwall.

Roared on by the sizeable Cornish crowd, the introduction of Goodfellow galvanised Cornwall. The scrum-half made the first of his trademark breaks to set up great field position for Cornwall, from which Shepherd kicked a penalty.

Photo: Cornwall skipper Kyle Marriott and hooker Rupert Freestone

Then he made a break from his own twenty-two, trading passes with Vinnicombe to score Cornwall’s third, try to huge cheers from the clamouring fans. Shepherd just missed the conversion, which looked to be crucial as Gloucestershire worked a good field position, and from their own catch-and-drive the ball was moved to the narrow side for Chris Rovery to score in the corner. Fielding added the extras, and Gloucestershire were ahead with time almost up.

Cornwall threw the kitchen sink into one final effort: forwards and backs were all involved, but with a penalty coming Cornwall mauled for the line, with Freestone getting the vital bonus point try and Shepherd converting with the final kick of the game to send the fans into delirium!

Cornwall (Redruth unless stated): J Murphy (Plymouth Albion), J Dawe (Albion), S Parsons, N Webber, R Wedlake (Albion), L Webb (Taunton), M Shepherd; T Cowan-Dickie, R Freestone (Albion), C Williams, B Hilton (Cornish All Blacks), T Whittle (Camborne), K Marriott (capt), S Matavesi (Albion), H Stupple (Albion).

Replacements: L Vinnicombe for Dawe (49), D Cook (Camborne) for Hilton (49), G Goodfellow (Chinnor) for Webber (52), BJ Chapman (Taunton) for Whittle (75), R Brown for Cowan-Dickie (79), Hilton for Chapman (81)

Replacements (not used): C Fuca, R Mankee

Cornwall scores: Tries, Matavesi (2), Goodfellow, Freestone, Conversions, Shepherd (2), Penalties, Shepherd (3)

Gloucestershire (Cinderford unless stated): M Wilcox (capt), R Goatley (Newent), S Hanks, L Fielding (Blackheath), S Baker, L Hemming (Old Centralians), J Dean (Newent); S Fritchley (Old Centralians), S Wilkes (Stourbridge), J Spencer (Hartpury), P Buxton (un-attached), J Robson (Dursley), J Rovery (Lydney), M Brown, M Lane

Replacements: J Rafter (Hartpury) for Fritchley (30), T Jerrum (Lydney) for Buxton (30), D Broady for Brown (41), J Lloyd (Dings) for Spencer (52), Buxton for Jerrum (60), Fritchley for Rafter (59), Jerrum for Hanks (69), Rafter for Fritchley (69)

Replacements (not used): R Webb (Newent), J Carolan (Loughborough Uni)

Gloucestershire scores: Tries, Hanks, Baker, Rovery, Cons, Fielding (3).

Yellow Card: Robson (67)

Referee: Calum Howard (RFU)

Crowd: 1,850

Cornwall-man-of-the-match: Greg Goodfellow, scored a great try and sparked Cornwall into life; he was the catalyst of the great escape.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Cornwall name eight from Albion to face Gloucestershire

Words Bill Hooper, photos Simon Bryant Ikitisphoto

Photo: Cornwall squad at a sunny Redruth!

Cornwall went through their paces last night (Thursday 5 May) at Redruth, ahead of Saturday’s opening game in this season’s County Championship campaign, which sees the Duchy defending the Bill Beaumont Cup thrillingly won at Twickenham last May against Lancashire.

The Cornwall Selectors have had much food for thought following Cornwall’s fine 45-10 win against Devon to retain the Tamar Cup for a fifth year.

Following a selection meeting at St Austell on Monday, the selectors were again locked in discussions last night at Redruth. My sources tell me that they are mulling over one or two positions with the bulk of the side picked.

Nineteen of the players who went to Twickenham last season were at training last night. Add to that all those players that featured in the Tamar Cup, plus players such as Sam Matavesi and Greg Goodfellow then you can see the dilemma the selectors are facing.

Photo: Graham Dawe get his point across

I spoke with Graham Dawe prior to training and asked for his thoughts on the eve of another campaign for Cornwall.

I asked him if being defending champions brought added pressure. He said: “Well yes, there is, as always, massive expectations from the Cornish public, supporters committee and selectors, but as in any campaign there is pressure, all we can do is manage that expectation and deliver.”

Dawe was delighted with the performance of the squad against Devon: “I think all the lads put their hands up to be considered for this game. I was impressed with the start and the way the set-piece went, the boys really showed pride and commitment to the shirt. I couldn’t have asked for much more.”

Dawe is taking each game as it comes without looking ahead too much. A good start on Saturday is vital to the success of the campaign: “The first game is always important. If you don’t win it then you are struggling and relying on others. Gloucestershire are always a physical side but we will concentrate on our game, putting together the components we want to play. We highlight five main components and we want to get those five right. If you get ahead of yourself in sport looking too far ahead, you find it all comes tumbling down.

Photo: Greg Goodfellow back on familiar turf

Fitness has always played an important part in Dawe’s preparations and I asked him the fact that many of the squad had been playing National league 1 rugby with him at Albion this season was a plus: “Well, you could look at it that way, but even these guys have to earn the right to play. There is no question that every Cornishman aspires to pulling on the black and gold and running out at Redruth or Camborne in front of a huge crowd that drives the lads on. We want to get the crowd behind us from the off, they have a key role to play.

“I have played here before when things haven’t gone well and they get on your back, and quite rightly so because they expect success. Last season we were under the cosh from Hertfordshire and it took a great try from Robin Wedlake and a try saving tackle from John Dawe to see us through against a good side who matched us all the way.”



  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. Matt Shepherd, Plymouth Albion
  10. Billy Searle, Plymouth Albion
  11. Robin Wedlake, Plymouth Albion
  12. Nielson Webber, Redruth
  13. Sam Parsons, Redruth
  14. Jon Dawe, Plymouth Albion
  15. Jake Murphy, Plymouth Albion

Richard Brown, Redruth
Barry-John Chapman, Taunton
Damien Cook, Camborne
Chris Fuca, Redruth
Greg Goodfellow, Chinnor
Lewis Vinnicombe, Redruth
Lewis Webb, Taunton

Coaches: Graham Dawe, Ian Morgan
Strength & conditioning: James “Earpy” Earp

Posted in Bill's Blog

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