Despite the Cornish Pirates playing with a truly commendable spirit throughout, five tries from London Irish, all converted by Ireland international Ian Keatley, saw the visitors to victory, reports Phil Westren.
The teams had already played
each other three times this season, the Pirates in their last meeting recording
a first ever win against
London Irish, which back in mid-December had delivered a perfect
Christmas present. Following that loss, it was always likely that ‘Irish’ would
seek their revenge, with the added incentive of striving to hone towards almost
certain promotion at the business end of the season.
Pirates made three changes in their starting line-up from the one that ran out
at Bedford the previous weekend. AJ Cant slotted in on the left wing and in the
front-row Sam Matavesi was named at hooker and Jack Owlett at tight-head prop.
The visit of London Irish,
combined with that of the Falmouth Marine Band plus sunny weather, helped
create a real pre-match buzz about the ‘Mennaye’, and it one certainly enjoyed
by both sets of supporters.
After a lively start from the competing
teams, it was London Irish who opened their account in the twelfth minute with
a try scored at the old Western National corner by centre Tom Stephenson. Fly-half
Keatley followed up with the first of his five conversions slotted in the
In the period that followed the
visitors dominated possession, ending with Stephenson making it over the line
again for a second converted score.
Conditions were, of course, much
better than Irish had experienced on their last visit to Penzance, and fielding
a side littered with international performers there were threats aplenty for
the Pirates to contend with.
There was credit due the Cornish
team for efforts made in also striving to launch attacks. Centre Rory Parata
and wing Robin Wedlake were to the fore, alongside willing ball carriers in
hooker Sam Matavesi and flankers Josh Caulfield and Matt Bolwell. The Pirates
line-out also functioned well, as did their scrum which was holding up
commendably well against larger opponents. Despite these positives, however, it
was the defensive determination and line speed display of their opponents that
was mightily impressive. Indeed, here was a squad that had arrived fully focused,
their collective will to deliver at a level this particular scribe has seldom
After Pirates’ centre Javier
Rojas Alvarez was luckless with a penalty attempt on 32 minutes, just before
the break the visitors extended their lead when a run from Luke McLean was
given support by scrum-half Ben Meehan who scored a converted try to the left
of the Newlyn posts.
London Irish proceeded to notch a
bonus point just four minutes into the second half, it the turn of right-wing
Ben Loader to get his name on the scoresheet. Making a counter-attack from some
40 metres out, in what seemed just a flash he dotted the ball down at the
Penzance posts, with Keatley’s fourth conversion making it 0-28.
Showing resolve, the Pirates
maintained their effort and boosted by fresh legs gained ultimate reward. After
pressing close to the line, it appeared that London Irish were about to clear
the danger, only for Matavesi to pounce and score a try converted by Rojas
Now was a period when the Pirates
looked in control and pressing for a second score wing Cant was unlucky not to
gather and make it over on the left. It felt that their efforts were deserving of
further points, but it was not to be, Meehan’s second try of the match, again
converted, delivering for London Irish their keenly sought-after victory.
Speaking after the game, Cornish
Pirates’ co-coach Gavin Cattle had praise both for London Irish and his own
team. He commented.“We have to commend
London Irish for a complete professional performance. They made us work for everything
and controlled field position, especially with the breeze advantage in the
“Looking at how we played, there were certainly
positives to take from the match. Our discipline was improved and sticking in
the fight we reacted well from our defeat at Bedford.
“There are a few battered bodies and seeing the effort
put in every week I’m just proud of the boys. Today was a case that at times
you just have to tip your hat to a better team.”
CornishPirates: 15 Maliq Holden,
14 Robin Wedlake, 13 Rory Parata (Dan Koster 6), 12 Javier Rojas Alvarez, 11 AJ
Cant, 10 Will Cargill (Callum Patterson 54), 9 Alex Schwarz (Alex Day 54); 1
Marlen Walker (Jack Andrew 40), 2 Sam Matavesi (Dan Frost 70), 3 Jack Owlett, 4
Toby Freeman, 5 Brett Beukeboom (c), 6 Josh Caulfield, 7 Matt Bolwell (John
Stevens 53), 8 Tom Duncan (Dan Lee 53).
London Irish: 15 Alivereti Veitokani, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Tom Stephenson, 12 Fergus Mulchrone, 11 Luke McLean, 10 Ian Keatley (Jacob Atkins 74), 9 Ben Meehan (Scott Steele 74); 1 Gordon Reid (Lovejoy Chawatama 74), 2 Dave Porecki (Michael van Vuuren 74), 3 Ollie Hoskins, 4 Franco van der Merwe (Barney Maddison 73), 5 Josh McNally (c), 6 Albert Tuisue, 7 TJ Ioane, 8 Ofisa Treviranus (Jake Schatz 73).
JASON LEONARD CUP UNDER 20 COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP QUARTER-FINAL
28 – 19 CORNWALL U.20
By Bill Hooper
Cornwall’s quest for a return to Twickenham was
extinguished at Cheshunt as the hosts booked a home semi-final against
Cornwall’s preparations were hampered by injury and unavailability and were further hindered on the morning of the game when full-back Reuben Edwards failed a fitness test necessitating a re-shuffle of the back-line.
Hertfordshire made a fast start scoring a couple of
converted tries in the opening fifteen minutes. The first came from strong
forward play with hooker Steff Jones going over, then the backs got involved
with centre Joe Hall scoring. Both tries were converted by fly-half Luke Bouchier.
Cornwall needed a reply and it came with a try scored by centre Connor Gilbert on the half-hour mark.
Jake Penprase was full of running for Cornwall looking dangerous on the break.
Hertfordshire then got a third try from further forward
play when lock Matt Holmes crossed with Bouchier again on the money with the
Cornwall continued to show good spiirt and got their
reward just before half-time when No.8 James Eddy their second try with James
Tucker adding the extras to leave them 21-12 down at the break.
After half-time Hertfordshire scored their fourth try through winger Tommy Reilly again bettered by Bouchier to seal the result.
Cornwall didn’t let their heads drop battling away for
Gilbert to score his second try of the game with Tucker adding the conversion.
Under enormous pressure in the closing stages from Hertfordshire Cornwall’s defence held firm to deny the hosts another score.
Cornwall’s coaches, Josh Lord and Richie Kevern whilst
disappointed with the loss were much happier with the performance of their side
compared to the Gloucestershire game.
The other semi-final sees Gloucestershire host champions
Herts Stags U.20: Euan Rees (Royston), Cairo Sango (Notts
Trent), Joe Hall (O Albanian), Harry Collins (Oxford Brooks Uni), Tommy Reilly
(O Albanian), Luke Bouchier (Notts Trent), Caswell Parks (York Uni); Matt
Ramzan (O Albanian), Steff Jones (Cardiff Uni), Dan Hood (Uni of Surrey, Capt),
George Carter (Notts Trent), Matthew Holmes (Barnet), Oliver Moody (Uni of
Surrey), Josh Milton (Welwyn), Brad Etherington (Bishop’s Stortford).
Replacements: Callum McDermott (Royston, Chris Enslin
(Tring), Steve Mackenzie-Cardi (Fullerians), Jacques Hladkhu (O Albanian),
Connor Mak (Bishop’s Stortford), Curtis Woodham (Fullerians), Rohan Finnegan
CORNWALL RFU UNDER 20 COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP 2019 The
Jason Leonard Cup.
Cornwall Rugby Football Union (CRFU) 2019, Under 20 County Championship campaign is now into the knock out stage of the Jason Leonard Cup. Cornwall will play Hertfordshire at Cheshunt RFC with a 13:30 kick off time on Sunday March 31st.
rnwall RFU President Peter James said “This will be a real test for a young side that need to pull themselves back together following the defeat against Gloucestershire 2 weeks ago. An away trip to Hertfordshire who topped their group is a daunting task, but one this team I am sure will relish.”
Coach Josh Lord said. “We make no excuses for our last performance which was below the standard these guys are capable of, and we expect. Hertfordshire will go into this game as favourites especially with home advantage and rightly so, it is up to these guys now to perform to their true potential if they wish to progress in the competition. From now on in, it is winner takes all.”
Cornwall Captain Torin
Clarke said. “As a group of players we felt we let our coaches and of course the
supporters down at St Austell last week. It is easy to make excuses the true
fact is we did not perform well enough on the day and Gloucestershire were a
class outfit and that reflected in the score line.”
Hertfordshire won all of their group games with victories over Sussex, Eastern Counties and finally last week over Kent to top their group. Cornwall defeated Devon and Hampshire before losing to Gloucestershire coming runners up in their group and therefore earning an away quarter-final place.
U20 team manager Colin Hatch said. “Unfortunately we have picked up a few
injuries and of course most teams will be playing on Saturday before we make a
long trip to Hertfordshire to play on Sunday. This gives an opportunity for a
couple of the squad members to get a run out at this crucial stage of the
find themselves without prop Jack Hodge, who picked up a calf problem in the
last game, whilst Aaron Simmonds, Alistair Harding and Charlie Levick are also
missing from the backs.
Redruth’s Luke Barnes gets his first start at loose head prop, whilst St. Ives’ Aden Brassington starts at seven again in the pack. A change at fly half sees another Red James Tucker fill the spot with Will Trewin moving to centre. Jake Penprase moves to wing joining St. Austell’s Ben Plummer whilst Launceston’s Reuben Edwards covers full back. Camborne’s Adam Long comes onto the bench along with debutant Tom Wallace an exciting prospect and recent signing at the Borough via Waikato.
Redruth’s Jeykll and Hyde season continued with this disappointing
ill-disciplined home defeat to Barnes.
No question the Reds were the architects of their own downfall with
a display that frustrated and clearly annoyed Director of Rugby Nigel Hambly as
he spoke animatedly to his players in the post match huddle.
There was a sombre atmosphere as the players remembered their
former teammate James Huxtable, who tragically passed away a year ago.
The players wore James’ final club Belsize Park socks in his
memory, whilst the fly-half shirt worn by Richie Kevern had no number, with the
actual 10 shirt hanging in the home dressing room on the peg that was James’
during his spell at the club.
Barnes had first use of the slope, despite falling behind to a
Redruth penalty, kicked by full-back Aaron Simmonds, were soon level when Josh Hammett
replied in kind.
Barnes pressure led to Redruth losing the influential player/coach Pale
Nonu to the sin bin on the half-hour mark allowing the visitors to take full
advantage scoring an unconverted try
through skipper Jamie Collins.
Redruth’s growing woes were compounded when they lost Simmonds to a
red card. The full-back was adjudged to have made contact with his knee to an
opposing player’s head.
Barnes capitalised scoring a second try from another drive through
prop Alistair Ryan with Hammett adding the extras for a useful 15-3 lead at the
Redruth looked to claw back their deficit playing down the slope,
however Barnes defended well leaving the Reds frustrated. They eventually got
some reward as Dean Bonds got in amongst the forwards to score in the corner as
Barnes lost lock Matt Steele to a yellow card as the pressure finally told.
Scrum-half Jack Oulton looked to put Redruth on the front foot
kicking to the corner from a penalty which led to a penalty-try to the home
side and lifted the crowd.
Redruth looked to have saved the game when centre Jack Simmons
scored following good work from skipper Richard Brown and Nonu, but crucially
the conversion was disallowed by the referee, despite both assistants raising
With time running out back came Barnes piling on the pressure which
eventully told as they scored a try through scrum-half Josh Davies to allow
Hammett to kick what proved to be the winning conversion.
Barnes then survived a late penalty attempt from Oulton that sailed wide and summed up Redruth’s day.
Redruth: A Simmonds,
T Notman, J Simmons, P Nonu, D Bonds, R Kevern, J Oulton; L Kivalu, M Gidlow, J Tompsett, T Prisk, L Hattam,
J Clemson, S Stevens, B Howe.
Replacements: R Brown,
C Williams, L Barnes, J Tucker, N Webber.
Cornwall Under 20s
were given a sharp lesson by their Gloucestershire opponents who dominated the
game from the first whistle to the last.
On the day Cornwall
had no answers to a side that was quicker in thought, deed and utterly clinical
With wing Rueben Edwards forced to withdraw from the side during the warm up, there was a late call up for Falmouth’s Alistair Harding, sadly neither he nor Charlie Levick on the other wing so much ball for eighty minutes.
elected to play with the strong breeze first half and they made the best use of
it running up 22 points for a healthy half-time lead.
Cornwall lost their
skipper Torin Clarke after just six minutes with a nasty gash to the forehead,
which resulted in a trip to the local hospital for eight stitches, resulting in
Falmouth’s Harry Somers coming off the bench.
That was the first
of a string of injuries that Cornish players picked up throughout the game.
Gloucestershire used the wind well pinning Cornwall deep in their twenty-two, scoring a first try after just seven minutes when wing Brandon Pettitt forced his way in at the corner.
Play was scrappy but
the Cornwall pack was in difficulty at scrum-time as Gloucestershire put the
squeeze on to good effect.
Following a quick
tap the visitors got a second try through lock Sam Gregory with fly-half Tom
Price adding the first of his four conversions.
Gloucestershire maintained the tempo adding further tries from Pettitt and skipper Adam Hopkinson before half-time to wrap up the bonus point.
Cornwall needed a
quick start to the second half, cruelly
the wind dropped in it’s intensity and the pain continued as replacement
hooker Spencer Miller drove over for his side’s fifth try as the visitor’s
Cornwall could not
break the line despite efforts from centres Jake Penprase and Connor Gilbert in
mid-field, whilst the support was too often lacking.
Instead, the Gloucestershire continued with further tries from the excellent Tom Knight at scrum-half, and a brace late on from replacement back Nathan Brookes to complete their win and book a home tie with Kent in the last eight.
The Cornish pack battled away gamely but with too many key players picking up injuries they couldn’t make any headway.
James Tucker showed
some good touches at fly-half late on as Cornwall tried to salvage some pride
but it all came to nothing.
The result means
that Cornwall must now travel to face Hertfordshire in the last eight on Sunday
31st March at Cheshunt RFC with a 1 pm kick-off.
Cornwall’s backs coach Richie Kevern was very disappointed with the performance of his side. “It’s certainly not the result we wanted today, it was a catalogue of errors, we looked flat, we couldn’t string any phases of play together. We didn’t play into the wind very well first half whilst Gloucestershire used it very well and punished us. I have to say hats off to them for the game they played.
Head coach Josh Lord
echoed the thoughts of Richie Kevern. He said. “It was massively frustrating
watching that game, we were outplayed and out performed in all areas of the
park. We looked flat out there, hopefully this will shake any complacency the
lads might have had after their win at Hampshire out of the system. They need
to go away and realize what level of performance will be required when we go to
play Herts, they have to have a good look at themselves and sort it out, I am
sure there will be a reaction from the lads after that performance today and we
will see a different side against Herts.”
Simmonds (Redruth), A Harding (Falmouth), J Penprase (Bath Uni), C Gilbert
(Redruth), C Levick (Penryn Colts), W Trewin (Cardiff Met), O Davey (Truro); J
Hodge (Redruth), R Mead (Bude), C Jenkins (Launceston), D Goldsmith
(Launceston), M Osborne (Pz& N Colts) T Clarke (Launceston, Capt), E Hall
(Pirates Amateurs), J Eddy (Redruth).
Barnes (Redruth), C Worley (Unattatched), S Somers (Falmouth), H Lightfoot
(Launceston), J Murray (Redruth), B Plummer (St. Austell), J Tucker (Redruth).
Dunn (Spartans), W Bawden (Cinderford), J Guy (Newent), T Hargan (UWE), B
Pettitt (Avonmouth OB), T Price (Cleve), T Knight (O. Patesians); K Wilson
(Thornbury), J Jackson (Dings), B Phillips (O. Patesians), J Holliday, S
Gregory (both Cinderford), B Davies (Royal Agri Coll), J Du Plessis (Avonmouth
OB), A Hopkinson (Gloucs Uni, Capt).
Miller (Gloucs OB), E Manley, J White (both Gloucs Uni), J Du Plessis
(Avonmouth OB), T Broady (Spartans), N Brookes (Newent), G Sanderson (Gloucs
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