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Jamal on bench for England against the Barbarians



Former Cornwall star prop Jamal Ford-Robinson has been picked on the bench by England coach Eddie Jones for England’s match against a star-studded Barbarians side at Twickenham immediately after Cornwall’s Bill Beaumont Cup Final against Lancashire on Sunday.

Jamal, who began his rugby career at Penryn and then Redruth played for Cornwall in the 2014 county final lost to Lancashire 36-26 scoring a memorable try.

The prop forward has spent the past two seasons with Bristol, having been previously with the Cornish Pirates, but has signed for Northampton Saints next season.

Jamal will be hoping to impress and get on the England tour to Argentina in June.


Starting England team to face Barbarians for the Old Mutual Wealth Cup:

  1. Mike Brown (Harlequins, 60 caps)
  2. Nathan Earle (Saracens, uncapped)
  3. Sam James (Sale Sharks, uncapped)
  4. Alex Lozowski (Saracens, uncapped)
  5. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 25 caps)
  6. George Ford (Bath Rugby, 35 caps)
  7. Danny Care (Harlequins, 71 caps)
  8. Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 1 cap)
  9. Jack Singleton (Worcester Warriors, uncapped)
  10. Will Collier (Harlequins, uncapped)
  11. Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 3 caps)
  12. Nick Isiekwe (Saracens, uncapped)
  13. Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, 55 caps)
  14. Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, uncapped)
  15. Josh Beaumont (Sale Sharks, uncapped)

16. George McGuigan (Leicester Tigers, uncapped)
17. Ross Harrison (Sale Sharks, uncapped)
18. Jamal Ford-Robinson (Bristol Rugby, uncapped)
19. Tom Ellis (Bath Rugby, uncapped)
20.  Ben Curry (Sale Sharks, uncapped)
21.  Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons, uncapped)
22. Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens, 27 caps)
23. Mike Haley (Sale Sharks, uncapped)


Posted in Bill's Blog

Cornwall announce side to face Lancashire at Twickenham


By Bill Hooper, photos courtesy of Simon Bryant Iktisphoto

Cornwall return to Twickenham for a fifth successive year in defence of their County Championship title, looking for a hat-trick of wins. It’s a feat that matches Devon’s run 2004-2008, but it’s still eclipsed by the red rose county for whom this will be a ninth final in ten years, having missed out in 2016.

Photo: Craig Williams binds with Dan Collier in training at Camborne last week

Lancashire’s run to the final has been as impressive as Cornwall’s, three bonus points wins against Northumberland 48-26 at Fylde, before two wins on the road 38-15 at Eastern Counties at Grange Road Cambridge and finally 29-5 against Cheshire at Sale.

They didn’t meet Yorkshire this year and they befell the fate that many feared Cornwall might suffer against Gloucestershire winning all their games but failing to qualify, crucially they missed out on a try scoring bonus point in their 26-17 win against Cheshire.

Lancashire will travel to Twickenham full of confidence and will test Cornwall for the full eighty, they have finished each of their pool games strongly racking up the tries in the final quarter.


Photo: Borough’s Grant Randlesome a revelation for Cornwall this season

Cornwall have announced their side for the final with just one new player coming into the twenty-two. Plymouth Albion lock Dan Collier comes onto the bench at the expense of Brad Howe. Many will feel Howe unlucky to lose his place in the twenty-two.

In the starting XV, Penryn’s George Jones replaces Redruth’s Chris Fuca, who drops to the bench. Those are the only touches made to the side by the selectors.

CORNWALL: (Redruth unless stated): M Shepherd (Plymouth Albion), L Vinnicombe, R Wedlake (Plymouth Albion), J Murphy (Barnstaple, capt), T Notman, J Elderkin, J Oulton; T Phillips, R Brown, C Williams, B Jenkins (Barnstaple), T Whittle (Camborne), G Jones (Penryn), S Matavesi (Camborne), G Randlesome (Penryn).

Replacements: M Ballard (Wadebridge Camels), A Zacharovas (Camborne), D Collier (Plymouth Albion), C Fuca, BJ Chapman, D Mankee (Camborne), S Raumakita (Plymouth Albion).

Travelling Reserves: R Dugard (Barnstaple), D Connor (Brixham), B Howe, R Friend (Okehampton), R Kevern (Camborne), J Simmons (Camborne), M Bowden.

For information only this is the Lancashire side that played against Cheshire last Saturday, awaiting confirmation of the side for Sunday. Alex Loney the Fylde hooker will miss the final having suffered a torn Achilles against Cheshire, he will also miss the England Counties tour to Spain.

There is a match report of the Lancashire v Cheshire game in the link here.

Lancashire: 15 Lewis Allen (Preston G); 14 Scott Armstrong, 13 Chris Briers (both Fylde), 12 Scott Rawlings (Sale FC), 11 Anthony Bingham (Fylde); 10 Chris Johnson, 9 Sam Stelmaszek; 1 Dan Birchall (all Sale FC), 2 Alex Loney (Fylde), 3 Peter Altham (Preston G), 4 Reece Tomlinson (Rossendale), 5 Bob Birtwell, 6 Mark Goodman (both Sedgley Tigers), 7 Evan Stewart (Fylde), 8 Tom Ailes (Sale FC).

Reps: 16 Adam Lewis, 17 Simon Griffiths, 18 Tom Burtonwood (all Fylde), 19 Rhys Davies (Sale FC), 20 Steve Collins (Sedgley Tigers), 21 Greg Smith (Fylde), 22 Ciaran Connolly (Sale FC).


Please note photos are copyright and not to be used without Simon Bryant Iktisphoto’ s permission.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Future of County rugby again in doubt as England Counties looks set to be scaled back

For those who might not have seen Neale Harvey’s excellent pieces in either the Sunday Independent or the Rugby Paper, Neale has very kindly allowed TASC to re-print his article on here.


Assuming yesterday’s result went to plan, Cornwall supporters will flock to London in their droves next Sunday for the County Championship final.

They had better make the most of this latest trip to ‘the Smoke’ because if the information I’ve received is correct – and I’ve absolutely no reason to believe it isn’t accurate – the days of County Championship rugby may sadly be numbered.

As I first reported in February, senior figures at HQ have been questioning the continuing value of county rugby, which has been fighting against a tide of indifference for some time, and matters finally appear to be coming to a head.

The catalyst, as ever, is money with the RFU looking to make savings because of: a) a significant overspend on the East Stand development at Twickenham; and b) the mushrooming cost of sustaining elite rugby and its deal with Premiership Rugby.

Despite the RFU pretty much doubling its turnover to £407m in 2015-16, it does not take a rocket scientist to work out that shelling out £28m a season to the Premiership clubs, not to mention running all the England teams – with the ever-increasing match fees and bonuses to players – is going to substantially eat into any profits.

Throw in the £65m East Stand redevelopment – up from an initial estimate of £54m – and you can quickly see there might be problems.

One of the early victims will be the England Counties team, which currently costs £110,000 to run and usually plays two matches during the Six Nations followed by a two-match tour to a developing rugby nation during the month of June.

Twickenham beaks have decided the February/March matches will have to go and that rather than the touring side visiting far flung parts of Europe, Asia, Africa and North or South America, they will in future remain much closer to home.

A triangular tournament involving the likes of France, Ireland or Scotland has been mooted, but you could hardly describe that as attractive to semi-professional players from the National Leagues who have to use annual leave to compete.

And here’s the thing. At present, players who represent England Counties must make themselves available for the County Championship, but with the incentive of proper touring removed, in all honesty who is going to sign up for that?

With the England Counties set-up reduced to a state of near worthlessness, it therefore does not take a massive leap of the imagination to see that the County Championship will be devalued further and may quite quickly wither and die.

Clubs are already reluctant to release their best players so it would give those shadowy senior figures at Twickenham the perfect pretext to say: ‘Nobody gives a damn about the counties anymore so why not just scrap the whole lot?’

Speaking to an RFU insider last week, they told me: “With match fees and bonuses the RFU spent £3.1m on England’s tour to Australia last summer and yet they want to save peanuts by denying semi-pro National League players the chance to wear an England shirt.

“It’s the only chance some of those guys will ever get to represent their country and they take huge pride in it. Those foreign tours are intense as well as fun and for some players it’s a proven pathway into top-flight rugby later in their careers.

“If you put the England Counties into a triangular competition hosted in, say, France or Scotland, who will be willing to take annual leave for that? No one. People will say ‘stuff county rugby’ and that will affect the County Championship.”

During a week in which former Cornish Pirates prop Jamal Ford-Robinson was called up for training by England head coach Eddie Jones, the irony of this situation will not escape the notice of the many committed devotees of Cornish rugby.

As well as Ford-Robinson, England Counties have in the past been represented by David Strettle, Ben Foden and Shaun Perry, all whom went on to enjoy top-flight careers in the Premiership and with England, so it’s not a bad pathway.

In the past I have questioned the value of county rugby. My gut feeling now, however, is that it is a traditional part of the game that is well worth keeping and I hope enough strident voices are raised to head off this threat at the pass.

The RFU will jettison the England Counties team at its peril.






Posted in Bill's Blog

Photos on site copyright

Please note, photographs displayed on this site and our social media pages provided by Simon Bryant, Iktis photo are subject to copyright and cannot be used by any other party without the consent of Simon Bryant, Iktis photo. Thank you.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Post match reaction from both Graham Dawe and James Shanahan


Photo: Dawe leaves nothing to chance

Cornwall head coach Graham Dawe was pleased, relieved and satisfied that Cornwall had booked another trip to Twickenham next Sunday.

Familiar foes await them at high noon in the shape of Lancashire and it’s game that Dawe looks forward to eagerly. “We know next Sunday will be a huge test for this Cornwall side, it’s a new team it’s a young team but they certainly know how to play for each other.

Dawe was pleased with the performance his side had put on against a fine Herts side. “All credit to our boys, they defended like tigers at times out there, Herts really challenged us and had nothing to lose, we stuck at it. As a coach little things like their final try at the end grates but all credit to them for their effort.

Before the game Dawe had a good look at the Herts side warming up. “Sometimes you pick up things from a side’s warm up, little things that people don’t necessarily notice from the sidelines. It’s down to the boys on the pitch but my job is to give them any little extra information I can on the opposition, 1% can make the difference.

Dawe was pleased with the way Cornwall started the game. “We came out strong and went into the game with a high tempo getting the reward with Matavesi’s first try and we had to be on the top of our game because they did challenge us in the scrums and in the backs, they were strong in the tackle area I thought their back row was outstanding especially their No.6 (Harry Bate) he was a real handful.

Turning to preparations for Twickenham Dawe said. “We have to sit down with the selectors and pick a squad for the final. A lot of lads have been involved but not had a game today, players like Jack Simmons, Robbie Dugard, Richard Friend and Dan Collier who joined the squad this week so we have to weigh up do we need a set-piece game or a complete game, we have to give ourselves the options. Training will be interesting this week, not sure as yet whether we will have one or two sessions.”

Hertfordshire player coach James Shanahan was fulsome in his praise of the Cornish side and the marvellous Cornish support. “When they put that black and gold jersey on they are a different animal, it’s hard enough playing a club side in Cornwall but when they play for the County they are something else. What an occasion fantastic support, they raise themselves massively. I watched their previous two games and I thought they played within themselves but today they were at another level, they controlled the game and thoroughly deserved the win.

“I don’t think the points deduction had too much bearing we knew if we wanted to get to Twickenham we had to win here and fair play to us we’ve scored four tries today.

Shanahan felt that if today was his swansong as player for Herts then it wasn’t a bad way to bow out. “I enjoyed it. We knew last week that Zak Vinnicombe would be out having torn his hamstring against Gloucestershire, we have also had our share of wedding etc restricting player availability.

Photo: Herts James Shanahan fulsome in his praise for Cornwall yesterday

Turning to Shanahan’s role with the England Counties squad he’s looking forward to this season’s tour to Spain. “Fingers crossed all the players selected have come through today unscathed, we have finalised the squad so most of the players know they are going. It’s a strong squad, very competitive with fourteen counties represented out of the 26 players picked, with more than half being debutants which is great.

“We have two hard games against the Basque region, which will be like playing Cornwall they are very passionate about their rugby and then we head to Madrid to play the Spanish national side and they will be preparing for a World Cup qualifier the following week.

And with continuing doubts about the future of the England Counties squad (see today’s Sunday Independent and the Rugby Paper), Shanahan is in no doubt about the importance of the representative side. “Elite rugby is about 2% of rugby players in this country. England Counties is the representative side for the other 98% so it really important. I’ve watched about twenty games looking to formulate the squad the quality of players has been high.

Shanahan also confirmed that Cornish lads Matt Shepherd and Robin Wedlake have been picked for the tour with a few other being close to selection.

Photos courtesy of Simon Bryant Iktis photo

Posted in Bill's Blog

Cornwall on the march to Twickenham yet again



By Bill Hooper at the Recreation Ground Camborne

Photos courtesy of Simon Bryant, Iktis photo

Glorious, simply glorious, Cornwall ran in seven tries against Hertfordshire to book another return to rugby HQ next Sunday for a fourth encounter in five years with the red rose of Lancashire.

There was a sense of excitement as kick-off approached, nerves too it has to be said, but the beating of the bass drum from the Falmouth Marine Band soothed the nerves, what a joy to see them doing what they do best raising the temperature of the crowd parading around the pitch. The hanging of the pasty from the crossbar and the sight of “Betty Stoggs” what more could you ask for!

Photo: Sam Matavesi celebrates one of his two tries

As kick-off approached and with a crowd of 3,000 plus the scene was set. There was drama before kick-off as news emerged that Hertfordshire had a number of changes to their published side as a number of players from the Old Albanian club had withdrawn due to a players wedding, forcing head coach James Shanahan to done the number 25 shirt at fly-half.

Cornwall, led by skipper Jake Murphy emerged from the tunnel to huge roars from the crowd, having won the toss they elected to play up the slope in the first half.

What a start it proved to be, Tom Notman collecting the ball and turning on a sixpence ran hard into the Herts twenty-two, ruck ball saw Cornwall pound the Herts line with scrum-half Jack Oulton slipping the ball to flanker Sam Matavesi to crash over, full back Matt Shepherd added the extras and Cornwall were up and running.


Photo: Tom Notman tackled by Herts Pierre Dotta

Cornwall had a little bit of trouble in the scrums early on, Shanahan found touch towards the scoreboard corner following a series of drives from the Herts’ forwards the wily fox at 10 sold a great dummy to stroll under the sticks for scrum-half Tom Banks to convert and level the scores. Game on.

Cornwall lost Oulton to a heavy knock allowing local favourite Dave Mankee to come on at 9. Cornwall had to soak up a lot of pressure putting in tackles like demons. They lifted the siege getting field good position. No.8 Grant Randlesome made a fine break, one of many, linking with lock Tony Whittle who in turn found fly-half Joe Elderkin, whose soft pass put flyer Lewis Vinnicombe away in the corner for try number two. Shepherd kicked a fine conversion from five meters in from touch.

Hooker Richard Brown played scrum-half at a ruck feeding Elderkin who broke away linking with Shepherd before giving the scoring pass to Notman for try number three and a 19-7 lead.


Photo: Bryn Jenkins had another towering game in the lineout

Hertfordshire pulled a score back through full back Pierre Dotta off a pass from centre Francis Denny, there was a brief altercation amongst the players before Banks added the conversion and the game remained poised at 19-14 up until the break.

Once again Cornwall began the half with a bang. Good work from centre Robin Wedlake and the impressive Matavesi saw Cornwall get a penalty. Shepherd kicked to the West Bank corner and with the crowd baying the lineout was secured and Cornwall drove for the line with Brown getting the bonus point try.

Still Hertfordshire would not lie down back they came with a try from lock James Apperley converted by Banks.

A speculative kick into the Herts’ twenty-two bounced very high allowing replacement hooker Matt Ballard to claim the ball he was hauled down short of the line, Hertfordshire killed the ball with the useful flanker Harry Bate yellow carded for his sins.

Another kick to the West Bank corner, another catch and drive for Matavesi to bag his second try of the game.

Brilliant lineout play from lock Bryn Jenkins saw him feed replacement No.8 BJ Chapman who set off down the touchline like a scalded cat; he looked certain to score a great try but was bundled into touch…just!

Photo: Lewis Vinnicombe swan dives for his second try


Try number six came soon after a lovely move involving Wedlake, Seti Raumakita, Shepherd and the excellent Elderkin put Vinnicombe in for his second try finished in Chris Ashton style. Shepherd added both conversions and Cornwall had space 38-21.

Raumakita was again involved for Cornwall’s final try as the backs moved the ball wide for Mankee to cross and dot downtry number seven. Shepherd added the extras and the party on the terraces was in full swing.

Hertfordshire had the satisfaction of the final say when their excellent lock Sam Lunnon deservedly got over for their fourth try with the final play again converted by Banks.




Photo: BJ Chapman celebrates Dave Mankee’s final try

The final whistle heralded scenes of great excitement as the prospect of a fifth consecutive final dawned and the chance to get a hat-trick of wins on the bounce at Twickenham.

Cornwall (Redruth unless stated): M Shepherd (Plymouth Albion),  L Vinnicombe,  R Wedlake (Plymouth Albion), J Murphy (Barnstaple, capt), T Notman, J Elderkin, J Oulton; T Phillips, R Brown, C Williams, B Jenkins (Barnstaple), T Whittle (Camborne), C Fuca, S Matavesi (Camborne), G Randlesome (Penryn).

Replacements: M Ballard (Wadebridge Camels), A Zacharovas (Camborne), B Howe, G Jones (Penryn), BJ Chapman, D Mankee (Camborne), S Raumakita (Plymouth Albion).

Cornwall scores: Tries: Matavesi (2), Vinnicombe (2), Notman, Brown, Mankee; Cons: Shepherd (5)


Hertfordshire: (Bishop’s Stortford unless stated): P Dotta, B Creasey (Hertford), N Hankin, F Denny (Letchworth), S Barnes (Tring), J Shanahan (unattatched), T Banks;  H King (Bishop’s Stortford), B McNamee (Hertford, capt), K Garside (Old Albanian), S Lunnon (Old Albanian), J Apperley, H Bate (Old Albanian), D Elsom, D Archer (Hertford).

Replacements: J Taylor (Old Albanian), W Roberts, A Berry (Old Albanian), J Concoran (Hertford), J Daly (Old Albanian), J Scantlebury, M Bendin (Hertford).

Hertfordshire scores: Tries: Shanahan, Dotta, Apperley, Lunnon; Cons: Banks (4)

Yellow Card – Elsom 55

Referee: Ben Russell (RFU)

Crowd: 3,525

Trelawny’s Army man of the match: Very hard to pick out one player from a side that had twenty-two heroes. Sam Matavesi looked at his awesome best today, a fine performance from one of Camborne’s favourite sons.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Herts points deduction halved

At the appeal hearing heard yesterday evening Hertfordshire’s points deduction of four points, for fielding an ineligible player during the  Kent v Hertfordshire game, was halved to two points by the appeals panel.

Hertfordshire come into tomorrow’s game at Camborne on 7 points, whilst Cornwall are on 10 points.


Posted in Bill's Blog

Penryn skipper keen to get back to Twickenham

Photo: Borough skipper George Jones

Report by Bill Hooper, photos Simon Bryant Iktis photo


Part of Cornwall’s successful squad in 2015 but forced to miss out on last season’s campaign due to injury Penryn’s George Jones hopes to make a return to rugby’s HQ on Sunday week

Speaking ahead of last evening’s training session at Camborne Jones said. “It’s been brilliant to be involved once again this season and be part of a successful team looking to build on it’s recent successes.

Jones was very modest about his try scoring against Devon at Ivybridge. Laughing he said.  “The ball came to me and I tripped over the line, it was nice to get some points but honestly I can’t take too much credit for it.

Asked about the step up in level from playing for Penryn in the Cornwall & Devon league to playing with players from the National Leagues. “I enjoy the challenge, the pace of the game is far higher at County level than that playing for Penryn, the contacts are harder everything is that much more intense, but having been part of the set-up now for a couple of years you know what to expect and what is expected of you as a player.

“You learn a lot as a player being involved with this squad everyone is keen to help and pass on tips to improve your own performance.

Jones also feels that having a fellow “ryner” with him has helped. “Having Grant (Randlesome) in the squad as well has been nice, not forgetting Lewis Vague who has also been involved this season, but it is good for me and especially Grant to have a familiar face in the group, he’s done really well this season and has reaped the rewards with his call up for the championship squad.


Photo: Penryn’s Grant Randlesome


Despite the changes to some of the squad this season Jones feels that there is still the same buzz around the boys. “I don’t feel that too much has changed this season, the desire to win and perform well is still there, it’s a great bunch of lads and we are all focused on what we have to do.

“I am looking forward to playing at Camborne, I am sure there will be plenty of familiar faces from Penryn there to cheer us on.”

Two try hero from Ivybridge Robin Wedlake was delighted with his move into the centre last week against Devon, his performance on the day sees him reprise his partnership with skipper Jake Murphy against Hertfordshire on Saturday. “I really enjoyed slotting in at centre last week, I’ve spent all season on the wing for Plymouth Albion but played at centre in their last game, I think Marek Churcher saw something he liked and decided to give me a go in the centre and it worked well last Saturday, so I am very happy with that.

Photo: Robin Wedlake stretches away against Cheshire in the 2016 final


“I get on well with Jake (Murphy) played with him at Albion before he moved to Barnstaple so we know each other’s style of play.

Asked which position he now prefers. “That’s the question! I am enjoying the challenge in mid-field but I’ll play anywhere as long as I am on the pitch.

Wedlake was happy with both his scores at the weekend. “I am always pleased to dot them down. The first one was a gift but you have to be in the right place to accept it. The second one came from Jack Oulton’s break and then I just stretched away to score the try.

For Wedlake playing for Cornwall is a huge honour. “I get asked about it quite a bit but pulling on that shirt is something very special and to play in front of so many people is something that makes me feel very proud indeed. It’s going to a massive day at Camborne with all the crowd and all your friends being there.”

Posted in Bill's Blog

Cornwall & Hertfordshire teams news

Can Cornwall again defeat Hertfordshire and make Twickenham

By Bill Hooper, Photos courtesy of Simon Bryant Iktisphoto

It’s the question on everyone’s lips in the mighty Duchy as all roads lead to Camborne’s Recreation Ground on Saturday afternoon.

Cornwall have reached Twickenham for each of the last four finals and have had mighty battles with the men in green on each occasion.

Having lost to Hertfordshire in 2011 18-25 at Redruth and also in 2012, the only time Hertfordshire have won the County Championship, 29-27 at Ware, Cornwall have since held the whip hand with wins in their last four encounters, 41-29 at Camborne in 2013, 13-9 at Ware in 2014, 25-18 at Redruth in 2015, and latterly 23-15 at Bishop’s Stortford in 2016.


Photo: Assistant coach Marek Churcher gets his point across

However, on Tuesday evening news broke that Hertfordshire had been deducted the four points they earned in defeating Kent as it transpires that they fielded an ineligible player, Saracens Academy Prop Ralph Adams-Hale.

A spokeswoman from the RFU said: “The RFU County Championship Organising Committee have determined that Hertfordshire should forfeit all match points that they received from their win against Kent on 6 May 2017 for breaching County Championship Division 1 regulation D (1). This provides:

“A player who is Effectively Registered (as defined in RFU Regulation 14) for a Club playing at Level 3 or below as at the date of the 2016-17 Transfer Deadline is eligible to play in any tier of the Competition. A player who is Effectively Registered for a Club at Level 1 or Level 2 as at the date of the Transfer Deadline in the 2016-17 season is not eligible to play in any tier of the competition.

“The player in question, Mr Adams-Hale, was said to be ineligible due to him not being registered with a Level 3 club at date of the transfer deadline.”

This ruling, which is subject to an appeal by Hertfordshire RFU due to be heard on Thursday, also opens the door for Gloucestershire making Twickenham if they beat Surrey by a large score on Saturday.

If the ruling is upheld, then Cornwall could afford to lose by a narrow margin less than seven points or score four tries to get the point needed to be sure. That will not be on the minds of coaches or players who will want to win in front of a home crowd.


Photo: Forwards Craig Williams and Robbie Dugard put in the hard yards

As ever the Hertfordshire side will provide a stern test for the Cornish side with their players drawn mainly from National 1 side Old Albanian and newly crowned champions of National 2 South, Bishop’s Stortford. They are of course coached by James Shanahan, no stranger to us, having played at both the Cornish Pirates and Plymouth Albion, where he was also head coach. He is also head coach of the England Counties side and will next season coach Blackheath.

Despite winning their two previous games in the Championship this season Hertfordshire come into this final game five points behind Cornwall – subject to the appeal.

In their first game against Kent they had to play for more than an hour with just fourteen men after scrum-half Stef Liebenberg was shown a red card. They already led 12-0 at that point then went 19-0 up before Kent pulled back two late tries leaving Herts winners 19-12 but crucially having scored just the three tries.

Against Gloucestershire they had no such worries running in eight tries to thrash the West Country side 46-19.

Bishop’s Stortford scrum-half Tom Banks is a livewire as is flanker Harry Bate, centre Tom Winter is a fluid runner and hooker Brett McNamee a seasoned gnarly  campaigner. Any pack that shoves a Gloucestershire eight back deserves respect!

Speaking ahead of training at Camborne last evening Cornwall head coach Graham Dawe said. “I’ve been impressed with the squad so far, there are always apprehensions when you first come together, especially this year with the turnover of players from last year, so to be where we are is credit to the squad, coaches and selectors.

Photo: Graham Dawe will leave no stone unturned

Dawe wasn’t reading too much into the Hertfordshire predicament. “It’s not something that’s within our control, we know that we have to perform to get to Twickenham and we will be fielding our strongest team.

“We seem to be improving with each game, the win at Surrey was important, we trailed at half-time and dug deep to get the win, then at Devon we seemed to carry on with that form from the second half at Richmond.

Dawe hopes the Cornish support will turn up at Camborne on Saturday. “I am sure there will huge support for the players on Saturday, with that support comes huge expectations and rightly so. The supporters have their part to play in what will be a hard game.”

Cornwall (Redruth unless stated): M Shepherd (Plymouth Albion),  L Vinnicombe,  R Wedlake (Plymouth Albion), J Murphy (Barnstaple) (capt), T Notman, J Elderkin, J Oulton; T Phillips, R Brown, C Williams, B Jenkins (Barnstaple), T Whittle (Camborne), C Fuca, S Matavesi (Camborne), G Randlesome (Penryn).

Replacements: M Ballard (Wadebridge Camels), A Zacharovas (Camborne), B Howe, G Jones (Penryn), BJ Chapman, D Mankee (Camborne), S Raumakita (Plymouth Albion).

Hertfordshire: (Old Albanian unless stated): B Lloyd (Hertford), B Creasey (Hertford), S Winter (Bishop’s Stortford), T Bednall, S Barnes (Tring), Z Vinnicombe, T Banks (Bishop’s Stortford); H King (Bishop’s Stortford), B McNamee (Hertford) (capt), K Garside, S Lunnon, M Tomlinson (Bishop’s Stortford), H Bate, D Elsom (Bishop’s Stortford), J Billows.

Replacements: J Taylor, W Roberts (Bishop’s Stortford), A Berry, J Concoran (Hertford), D Archer (Hertford), J Daly, M Bendin (Hertford), F Denny (Letchworth).




Posted in Bill's Blog

Cream of Cornwall tops Devon



By Bill Hooper at Cross-in-Hand, Ivybridge, Photos courtesy of Simon Bryant Iktisphoto

Cornwall ran in eight spectacular tries as they defeated Devon with something to spare to set up a final pool game decider at Camborne next Saturday against Hertfordshire who beat Gloucestershire 46-19 at Hertford.

The win delighted Cornwall head coach Graham Dawe. “It was a good win, pleasing to come to Devon and get a result, it wasn’t our best performance but we had enough to win. Fair play to Devon they challenged us and put their bodies on the line, they made it awkward for us in the first half before we broke free in the second to score five tries.


Photo: Robin Wedlake led Devon a merry dance

Dawe praised his whole squad. “The quality we have throughout the squad was evident today, we are able to maintain the same intensity and pressure for the whole eighty, the boys that came on certainly added zip and power, I thought Sam Matavesi showed what a fine footballer he is.

Dawe’s thoughts now turn to Hertfordshire next Saturday. “Our battles against them have been tight affairs in recent seasons and I expect nothing less on Saturday. We will keep our feet on the ground this week and work hard in training, there is always work tom be done and make sure we are both mentally and physically fit for a hard game with hopefully a big crowd at Camborne to support us.”

Roared on by the huge Cornish contingent the black and golds got off to a great start. Fly-half Dave Mankee kicked an early penalty and then added the extras to centre Robin Wedlake’s interception try as Cornwall raced to a 10-0 lead.


Photo: Camborne prop Andrius Zacharovas rampaged all afternoon

Devon got back into it when Cornwall had a clearance kick charged down in their twenty-two allowing Devon centre Ollie Rice to pounce on the ball and score, fly-half Tom Whelan’s conversion struck the posts.

Cornwall were getting good possession from the lineout through lock Bryn Jenkins, whilst Camborne prop Andrius Zacharovas was like a rampaging bull in the loose. No.8 BJ Chapman also made a lot of ground with his surging runs.

Cornish pressure told when full back Matt Shepherd scored a second try following scrum-half Jack Oulton’s quick thinking from a tap penalty allowing Mankee another simple conversion.

A couple of penalties from Whelan saw Devon claw their way closer on the scoreboard but their momentum was stopped following an injury to their skipper James Harris who felt the full force of Sam Matavesi’s knee in an attempted tackle.

Cornwall then finished the half the stronger, Shepherd made a great break down the wing and when the ball was recycled hooker Richard Brown burrowed over for try number three again bettered by Mankee, who added a penalty soon after.

Devon thought they had scored a second try but it was ruled out for a double movement by the officials and Cornwall led 27-11 at the break.


Photo: Sam Matavesi gets his pass away despite attentions of Devon’s Lewis Paterson

Cornwall then secured the important bonus point soon after halt-time when winger Lewis Vinnicombe was put away by Wedlake.

Matavesi was having a storming game and it was no surprise that the Fijian international went over for Cornwall’s fifth try near the posts, Mankee added a fourth conversion before making way for youngster Joe Elderkin.

Wedlake and replacement hooker Matt Ballard were involved in the build up to winger Tom Notman’s try, converted by Shepherd.

Wedlake then mesmerised the Devon defence with his balance and running to score a wonderful try from distance to cap his fine performance.

As they tired visably, Devon lost centre Lewis Paterson to the sin-bin for a professional foul. Penryn’s George Jones had the final say as the flanker scored Cornwall’s eighth try to complete a fine win.


Devon (Ivybridge unless stated): C Briant, W Topps (Barnstaple), O Rice (Exmouth), L Paterson, T Scoles, T Whelan (Sidmouth), C Setter (Plymouth Albion); R Morris (Brixham), A Crouch (Barnstaple), M Finn, M Richards (Exmouth), G Wilson, M Harvey (Brixham), J Harris (Exmouth), (capt), S Thomas (Brixham).

Replacements: A Taylor, I Dalton (both Exmouth), M Dowrick (Newton Abbot), T McGratton (Okehampton), R Dingle, J Bond (Newton Abbot), M Pinkus

Devon scores: Try, Rice, Pens. Whetton (2)

Yellow Card: Paterson (80)


Cornwall (Redruth unless stated): M Shepherd (Plymouth Albion),  L Vinnicombe,  R Wedlake (Plymouth Albion), J Murphy (Barnstaple) (capt), T Notman, D Mankee (Camborne), J Oulton; A Zacharovas (Camborne), R Brown, C Williams, B Jenkins (Barnstaple), T Whittle (Camborne), G Randlesome, G Jones (both Penryn), BJ Chapman.

Replacements: T Phillips, M Ballard (Wadebridge Camels), B Howe, C Fuca, S Matavesi (Camborne), S Raumakita (Plymouth Albion), J Elderkin.

Cornwall scores: Tries, Wedlake (2), Shepherd, Brown, Vinnicombe, Matavesi, Notman, Jones, Cons, Mankee (4), Shepherd, Pens, Mankee (2)

Referee: Robbie Bourke (RFU)

Crowd: 1,025

Cornwall-man-of-the-match: Hard choice so many standout performances but Robin Wedlake played like a man on fire, high skill set allied with his formidable pace, his second try will live long in the memory.

Standings after round 2

Up North, Lancashire are on 10 points after two wins but face last season’s beaten finalists Cheshire at Sale in their final game. Yorkshire are also unbeaten but only on 8 points, their final game is against Eastern Counties, who have lost their two games so far, at Hull Ionians.

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