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Cornwall relish Gloucestershire challenge

Cornish Pirates Awards Cornwall Kit Launch 050515
Skipper Kyle Marriott wears Cornwall’s new shirt for 2015

By Bill Hooper TASC Press Officer at the Recreation Ground

Photos Simon Bryant Iktis photo

The Cornwall squad assembled at Redruth RFC on Tuesday evening for the first of two training sessions this week, the second will be held at Bodmin RFC on Thursday evening.

The squad and coaches were in buoyant mood following their Tamar Cup win against Devon the previous Tuesday.

I caught up with both coaches Ian Morgan and Graham Dawe prior to the training session.

Looking back on the Devon game, I asked Morgan what lessons they had learned. He said,”Mainly organisation, we were fairly unorganised going into the game and I think at times the game showed that, having picked the squad for this Saturday we will now focus on getting that right.

“We gave some of the youngsters a run out at Brickfields and they put their hands up for the shirt this Saturday and that’s been reflected in the selection. Some of the more established players realised that they are going to have to fight for their place.”

Morgan was especially pleased with the half-back combination: “I was really pleased by the way Matt Shepherd and Lewis Webb combined last Tuesday. Shepherd is similar to Greg Goodfellow and offers a threat around the fringes. His service to Webb was great off both hands with Webby controlling the game well. Jake Murphy and Nielson Webber in the midfield proved a potent combination, so we have kept that four together for Saturday.”

Morgan was also full of enthusiasm about young Billy Searle who came on during the second half at Brickfields and has been rewarded with a starting berth at full back against Gloucestershire: “He really impressed when he came on in the Tamar Cup, so we put him at full-back with Robin Wedlake, another who had a fine game last Tuesday and the experienced Steve Johns on the wings.”

Morgan says this side will have no fear about facing Gloucestershire up at Cinderford: “These youngsters take it all in their stride, they know that Gloucestershire will come full on but they have no fear. Billy knows what’s coming his way and I have every confidence that he will more than deal with it.”

Graham Dawe was also pleased with the preparations this far and satisfied with the Tamar Cup result: “We gave debuts to a few players and they showed up well, now it’s another big step up to play Gloucestershire. Players now have got to set the tone in training tonight that they want to go up there and knock Gloucestershire over.

“We looked to put patterns in play and to dictate where we wanted to play on the pitch and give the boys some direction, if you can do that then that gives you a chance to win. Championship rugby is pressurised rugby: you have to minimize your mistakes and play in the right areas.”

Dawe, like Morgan, was very enthusiastic about some of the younger players who are now breaking into the squad: “There are some exciting young prospects, players like Tommy Phillips and Christian Judge at prop, both will start from the bench this Saturday, both will have to play some rugby as they come on and off via the rolling subs. Set-piece rugby is what it’s all about they are great lads to work with they want to improve they want to get better and they want to be successful as rugby players.”

Corwall County Championship Squad 26/02/14
Photo – Cornwall’s coaching duo of Dawe & Morgan

Dawe had no qualms about fielding the youngsters in his back three: “Losing Kieron Lewitt was a big blow but that now gives the chance to Billy Searle. He is a talented player, he can pass the ball off both hands, reads the game well and kicks well, so he has got a lot of tools to his game.

“Likewise winger Robin Wedlake, he has got good pace and looks assured. It will be a big step up for him facing Gloucestershire and the hostile crowd under a high ball, but I think he has the confidence.

Just like Morgan, Dawe is excited with Matt Shepherd coming in at scrum-half: “Again, losing Greg Goodfellow was a big blow. He’s a big match player and an experienced player, but Matt now has the chance to make a name for himself, having stepped up this season playing at Launceston. We shall see how he performs against a side with a lot of National League 1 players.”

Dawe felt that players’ fitness was an issue last season and he challenged players to go away and work on their fitness: “We asked the question and most of the players nodded in approval. We have asked them to up their fitness. Time will tell whether they have taken that message on board. It’s a slow process. Fitness is something that has to be driven from within. If you don’t challenge yourself, you can’t change anything, you just end up being the same player season on season.”

I also caught up with Matt Shepherd and asked him how pleased he was with his Tamar Cup performance: “I was really pleased with last Tuesday. I really wanted to impress before the County Championship. I got the chance with Greg getting his red card and knew I had to grasp it. I was pleased with my tries and to cap it with the man-of-the-match award.

“I think Webby and I struck up a good partnership and our performance at half back helped dictate Cornwall’s performance, both of us can interchange as and when which is a plus.

“Gloucestershire away is always hard. Last time we were up there we managed to get a win. The Cinderford pitch is wide and exposed, so it’s never a nice place to go but we will bind well as a group and go there to get the result.”

Finally I spoke to Saltash’s Max Veneables, for many a surprise choice, and asked him how he enjoyed his Tamar Cup experience. He said, “I really enjoyed it and was just glad to be out there and to have the chance to play. The call came a bit quicker than I expected but I had no complaints.

“It’s on the back of a couple of great seasons at Saltash which has seen the club rise up to Western Counties West next season. There is a good core of lads who have been there for five or six seasons now and we have grown together as a team. The colts are also going well so the club is very much on the up.

“I wasn’t too concerned about the pace of the game last Tuesday, it was a bit quicker but I just had to concentrate on what I needed to do and not make any errors. Hopefully my performance will be good enough to be involved up at Cinderford, but whatever happens I am just happy being down here and involved with the squad.”

Veneables is named amongst the replacements for Saturday’s game against Gloucestershire.


Gloucestershire (Cinderford unless stated): C Jackson (Hartpury Coll), L Fielding, S Hanks, S Rodwell (London Irish Ams), S Hawley, M Wilcox, A Frame; M Flook (Hartpury Coll), S Wilkes, T Brockett (Hartpury Coll), C Daniell (Lydney), E King, T MacDonald (Hartpury Coll), L Molitika (Coventry), G Evans, Capt

Replacements: C Bundy, J Smart, J Lloyd, Mike Uren (both Dings Crusaders), M Brown, S Arnott (Lydney), N Codlin (Coney Hill).

Cornwall: B Searle (Cornish All Blacks), S Johns (Birmingham & Solihull), J Murphy (Cornish All Blacks), N Webber, R Wedlake (both Redruth), L Webb (Taunton), M Shepherd (Cornish All Blacks); R Freestone (Clifton), R Brown, C Williams, D Cook (all Redruth), B Hilton (Cornish All Blacks), C Fuca (Redruth), G Jones (Penryn), K Marriott (Redruth, capt).

Replacements: J Salter (Cornish All Blacks), T Phillips (Redruth), C Judge, BJ Chapman (both Cornish All Blacks), J Goldsworthy, (Camborne), R Friend (Cornish All Blacks), M Veneables (Saltash)

Posted in Bill's Blog

Camborne make it three on the trot


By Bill Hooper at St. Clements Hill, Truro

Camborne made it three cup wins in a row to equal Launceston’s triple success in the mid nineties, however they needed extra-time to finally overcome a valiant St. Austell side who ended up once more losing finalists against Town.

Full-back Dan Pearce for St. Austell and man-of-the-match fly-half Dave Mankee for Camborne kicked early penalties before St. Austell’s early dominance was rewarded with a try scored by flanker Ian Venner with Pearce adding the extras.

A high tackle by St. Austell’s James Martin on Mankee saw the winger dispatched to the cooler for 10 minutes by referee Kevin Williams.

Although Mankee reduced the deficit with second penalty it was St. Austell who continued to enjoy the better of it until almost up to half-time when Dave Roberts fed Mankee from a scrum and the dancing feet of winger Alex Ducker did the rest for a score under the posts and a simple conversion for Mankee to give the Cherry & Whites an improbable 13-10 half-time lead.

Pearce missed with an early penalty at the posts in the second half as St. Austell looked to up the tempo. A string of kickable penalties came their way but each time they looked to the corner, and each time they lost possession!

Prop Hugh Noot appeared to have made the line for Saints but on the officials were unsighted. Then Camborne’s James Goldsworthy managed to get an arm under the ball as St. Austell again drove over the line. It was heroic stuff.

It looked like Camborne would hang on for the win but when skipper Steve Kenward was yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on, Pearce had the chance to level the scores, he did not miss, we were into extra-time.

The pivotal moment came on 87 minutes when centre Richie Kevern charged down a Callum Wilson clearance, the ball went loose and Mankee was on hand to dot down and convert the try for a seven point lead.

Mankee then added another penalty just four minutes from time to seal the win.

St. Austell’s cup of woe was complete when lock Rob Jeffs was given a red card for a head-butt on replacement scrum-half Dean Pascoe, but by then “Up Camborne Hill” was ringing out across St. Clements Hill!

Camborne 23 pts
Tries: Ducker, D Mankee; Cons: D Mankee (2); Pens: D Mankee (3).
Yellow Card: Kenward
St Austell 13 pts
Try: Venner; Con: D Pearce; Pens: D Pearce (2).
Yellow Card: Martin
Red Card: Jeffs

Camborne: G Mankee, R Floyd, R Kevern, S Kenward (capt), A Ducker, D Mankee, T Peacock, N Endean,S Milliner, A Zacharovas, T Whittle, B Kemp, C Bone, J Goldsworthy, D Roberts.
Replacements used: K Westlake, D Pascoe, M Woolcock, N Stanleick, S Bartle, S McDonald.

St Austell: D Pearce, J Martin, C Wilson, S Rhodes, B Chenoweth, L Freeman, A Ashwin, H Noott, M Davey (capt), M Martin, J Vian, R Jeffs, J Grigg, I Venner, A Kellow.
Replacements used: A Pearce, P Winterbottom, A Barbery, D Pellow, A Mason-Maxwell, D Johns.

Referee: Kevin Williams (Cornwall RRS).


Following the on-pitch presentation of the cup and mementoes to the players, Camborne’s head coach Liam Chapple spoke about his pride in his player’s performance. “I am really pleased for the boys they deserve it, not just for today but the season as a whole.

“Fair play to St. Austell they gave us a good game and it was tight, they had penalty chances which they perhaps surprisingly kicked for the corner rather than take the points, they felt confident with their forward drive but we didn’t help ourselves during the second half we made some silly decisions and tried to push things when they weren’t really on and should have played a bit more territory. In extra-time we were almost like a different team we woke up and played and got the result we deserved.

“We will enjoy the moment but for me attention has already turned to next season. We will be looking to recruit having had the injury problems we have had you have to have a bigger squad of players.

“Players will get a bit of rest but pre-season isn’t far off and myself Phil Angove and Scott Macdonald will be putting in place our plans to get the squad ready for next season. Phil helped out with a few sessions leading up to the final, the players will respect the experience and knowledge he has from 30 years of coaching, he won’t stand any nonsense and maybe that’s what some of the lads need now and again.”

Camborne’s man-of-the-match fly-half Dave Mankee was also delighted to finish the season retaining the cup: “We have had a hard season, loads of injuries and I think morale went’ down with that. Today we showed real character, that period in the second half when we had to defend we really dug deep really showed what we are about.”

Mankee felt that the turning point was his try from the charge down kick: “That was the crucial first score in extra-time and it gave us control. Kicking was difficult out there today with the swirling wind luckily I was able to judge it well and got those crucial penalties when we had the chance.”

Mankee also hopes that his season isn’t over as he hopes to be involved with the Cornwall side during the campaign: “I really enjoyed being part of the Tamar Cup win on Tuesday night and although I am not part of the squad this coming Saturday I hope I can get in at some stage during the campaign.”

In the Tribute Cornwall Clubs Cup played before hand, Veor secured their third cup success with a 10-7 win over Lanner.

It was a fitting send off for club stalwart Kevin Mankee playing his last game.

All the points came in the first half with Veor scoring a try through centre James McInnes converted by winger Bevin Stone.

Alan Rule at scrum-half was having an influential game for Lanner and they levelled matters when No.8 Mikey Allen went over with fly-half Marc Britton adding the extras.

Just before half-time Stone kicked what proved to be the cup winning penalty from in front of the posts.

Lanner threw everything at Veor in the final moments with Allan almost grabbing a second try but it was not to be for the village side in their first ever final.

Veor’s No. 8 Andrew Lancaster was voted man-of-the-match.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Cornwall name side for Championship opener

Having gone away and reflected upon Cornwall’s win against Devon in the Tamar Cup on Tuesday night, the County coaches and selectors have named their line up for the opening Bill Beaumont Cup fixture against Gloucestershire at Cinderford kick-off 3 p.m.

Among the changes from the starting XV at Brickfields sees young Launceston prospect Bill Searle starting at full back in place of Saltash’s Max Veneables, who is named amongst the replacements.

It’s certainly a brave call by the coaches and selectors, but the old saying rings true, if you’re good enough you’re old enough!

Searle certainly caught the eye on Tuesday night and his kicking from the tee was faultless also the following day he helped Exeter College to the British Colleges’ Cup against Welsh side Llandrillo.

Photo – Billy Searle performance caught selectors eye

The experienced Steve Johns is brought into the side on the wing in place of All Black Jon Dawe, who is also named amongst the replacements.

The pack sees numerous changes with Rupert Freestone moving to loose-head from hooker, with Redruth duo Richard Brown coming in at No.2 and Craig Williams at tight-head.

Both young props from the Tamar Cup Tommy Phillips and Christian Judge are listed among the long list of reserves from which a bench will be picked closer to the game.

Photo – Penryn’s George Jones will make a Championship start

Redruth’s Damien Cook partners Ben Hilton in the second row, no shortage of experience there, whilst in the back row skipper Kyle Marriott comes in at No.8 with club skipper Chris Fuca at blind-side with George Jones (Penryn) keeping his place at open-side after a fine performance at Brickfields.

Added to the potential bench are centre Sam Parsons, utility forwards Tony Whittle and Barrie-John Chapman all returning from injury.

Photo – Camborne’s Tony Whittle back in contention for the bench

The squad will train twice this week at Redruth on Tuesday and then Bodmin on Thursday before travelling to Cinderford.

CORNWALL: B.SEARLE (Cornish All Blacks), S.JOHNS (Birmingham & Solihull), J. MURPHY (Cornish All Blacks), N.WEBBER, R.WEDLAKE (both Redruth), L.WEBB (Taunton), M.SHEPHERD (Cornish All Blacks); R.FREESTONE (Clifton), R.BROWN, C.WILLIAMS, D.COOK (all Redruth), B.HILTON (Cornish All Blacks), C.FUCA (Redruth), G.JONES (Penryn), K.MARRIOTT (Redruth, capt).

REPLACEMENTS FROM: M.VENABLES (Saltash), J.DAWE (Cornish All Blacks), S.PARSONS (Redruth), C.JUDGE (Cornish All Blacks), T.PHILLIPS (Redruth), J.SALTER (Cornish All Blacks), J.GOLDSWORTHY, T.WHITTLE (both Camborne), B.J.CHAPMAN (Cornish All Blacks), M.GRUBB (Wadebridge Camels), R.FRIEND (Cornish All Blacks)

All photos by Simon Bryant Iktisphoto

Posted in Bill's Blog

Tamar Cup report plus quotes from Ian Morgan

Devon 13 Cornwall 38

Report by Nigel Walrond at Brickfields with photos by Simon Bryant Iktisphoto

CORNWALL warmed up for the County Championship by lifting the Tamar Cup for a fourth successive year with a convincing victory over their old rivals at Brickfields.

The Duchy were penalised off the park by Hampshire referee Adam Leal in the first half and struggled to get any continuity going, though they did lead 17-13 at the break.

In the second half though, as the weather conditions deteriorated at Brickfields, with rain sweeping across the ground, they maintained their discipline and scored some good tries to run out easy winners in the end.

Photo – Cornwall man of the match Matt Shepherd

Cornwall backs coach Ian Morgan said: “We needed to blow some cobwebs away and have a look at what we need to work on ahead of our opening Championship game against Gloucestershire.

“I thought the penalty count was a bit harsh against us, but I suppose the referee sees things differently to us when he is out on the field and we have got to look at our discipline.

“We probably did throw ourselves into a couple of rucks we didn’t need to, and compete for balls we didn’t have to, but it was the first game of our season and the boys were keen to impress.

“We had some new faces out there who wanted to show what they could do, and some of them stood up really well.

“As soon as we got a try in the second half we started to ring the changes, because it gave us a little bit of freedom to do so.”

One of the most pleasing aspects of the display was the performance of half-backs Matt Shepherd and Lewis Webb, who linked well and scored three of Cornwall’s five tries between them, with Shepherd also picking up the Trelawny’s Army Supporters Club man of the match award.

“They controlled the game really well, and Shep’s work rate was good and earned him man of the match, but it was nice to see the other guys come on and keep the same control,” said Morgan.

Photo – Taunton fly-half Lewis Webb had a fine game at fly-half for Cornwall

Cornwall were without the unavailable Kyle Marriott; Barrie-John Chapman, Damien Cook and Craig Williams were all rested; while scrum half Greg Goodfellow was banned by his club side Redruth after a red card against Southend last Saturday that could see him miss the whole of the Championship.

They took a fourth-minute lead when a fine touchline burst by winger Jon Dawe set up good field position, a penalty was kicked to the corner, and after initial surges by Chris Fuca and Rupert Freestone, Shepherd scored a try which he converted himself.

Cornwall then lost hooker Freestone to the sin-bin for repeated infringement by the Duchy, and Devon capitalised, with some poor tackling allowing blindside flanker Dan Williams to score a try, converted by fly half Joe Simmonds, who also added a penalty for a 10-7 advantage.

Photo – replacement Billy Searle scored a good try and kicked three conversions

A Shepherd penalty just before the half-hour mark levelled matters, before Webb grabbed his first try of the game after a quickly-taken tap penalty by Shepherd, who also converted, but Simmonds slotted another penalty in first-half injury time to cut Cornwall’s interval lead to 17-13.

A fine try by young Redruth winger Robin Wedlake in the corner lit up the start of a soggy second half, and when Webb also crossed, with Shepherd and replacement Billy Searle adding conversions, Cornwall were out of sight at 31-13 with 54 minutes gone.

Both sides rang the changes and the game became a bit disjointed, but Cornwall managed one more try, three minutes from time, when Searle got over in the corner, and converted superbly from the touchline, to give the Duchy a confidence-boosting victory ahead of their trip to Gloucestershire on Saturday week.

Devon (Brixham unless otherwise stated): Goodman, Crosscombe, MacLean, Paterson (Ivybridge), Squire, Simmonds (Teignmouth), Murphy (Tavistock), Halse (New Cross), Avery (Newton Abbot, capt), Morris, Gohl (Barnstaple), Templeton (Newton Abbot), Williams (Newton Abbot), Parsons (Teignmouth), Thomas. Replacements all used: Petherbridge (Barnstaple), Castleton (Newton Abbot), Sowden (Teignmouth), Maggs, Savage (Exmouth), Bryce, Massy-Birch (Taunton), Turner (Taunton), Manton (Taunton).

Cornwall (Redruth unless otherwise stated): Venables (Saltash), Wedlake, Murphy (Cornish All Blacks), Webber, Dawe (All Blacks), Webb (Taunton), Shepherd (All Blacks), Phillips (Redruth), Freestone (Clifton), Judge (All Blacks), Courtier (All Blacks), Hilton (All Blacks, capt), J Goldsworthy (Camborne), Jones (Penryn), Fuca. Replacements all used: Salter (All Blacks), J Drew, Brown, M Grubb (Wadebridge), Friend (All Blacks), Peacock (Camborne), Searle (All Blacks), Mankee (Camborne), Prisk.

Rolling replacements for Cornwall: Salter (All Blacks) for Jones 17, Salter for Freestone 27, Grubb for Goldsworthy ht, Prisk for Courtier ht, Friend for Shepherd 44, Peacock for Friend 51, Searle for Venables 51, Brown for Salter 59, Courtier for Fuca 59, Goldsworthy for Hilton 59, Venables for Wedlake 64, Shepherd for Friend 64, Mankee for Webber 67, Drew for Judge 72, Friend for Peacock 72.

Devon: Try: Williams; Con: Simmonds; Pen: Simmonds (2).

Cornwall: Tries: Shepherd, Webb (2), Wedlake, Searle; Cons: Shepherd (3), Searle (2); Pen: Shepherd.

Yellow cards: Cornwall: Freestone 16, Courtier 80.

Referee: Adam Leal (Hampshire).

Attendance: 467.

TASC Paul Bawden Cornwall man of the match: Matt Shepherd.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Five try Cornwall retain the Tamar Cup in style


Report by Nigel Walrond at Brickfields

CORNWALL lifted the Tamar Cup for the fourth successive year with a convincing victory over arch-rivals Devon at a very wet Brickfields last night.

The Duchy struggled to get any continuity going in the first half as they gave away a stream of penalties, but they stayed much more on the right side of referee Adam Leal in the second period to score some good tries.

Cornwall took the lead after only four minutes with a touchdown by scrum half Matt Shepherd, who also converted.

Photo Simon Bryant Iktisphoto – Matt Shepherd goes over for Cornwall’s first try

But repeated infringements by Cornwall led to hooker Rupert Freestone being sin-binned, and while he was off, Devon scored a try through Dan Williams, converted by Joe Simmonds, who also kicked a penalty for a 10-7 advantage.

Cornwall responded just before the hour mark with a Shepherd penalty to level the scores, before more good work by the visitors’ man of the match Shepherd set up a try for fly half Lewis Webb, improved by Shepherd.

In first-half injury time, Simmonds slotted another penalty for Devon to cut Cornwall’s lead to 17-13 at the break.

The Duchy made an impressive start to the second half, and tries by young Redruth winger Robin Wedlake and Webb again, converted by Shepherd and replacement Billy Searle, all but wrapped the game up at 31-13.

With three minutes left, Searle grabbed the last try of the game in the corner, and banged over a superb touchline conversion to complete an excellent victory for Cornwall.

Devon (Brixham unless otherwise stated): Goodman, Crosscombe, MacLean, Paterson (Ivybridge), Squire, Simmonds (Teignmouth), Murphy (Tavistock), Halse (New Cross), Avery (Newton Abbot), Morris, Gohl (Barnstaple), Templeton (Newton Abbot), Williams (Newton Abbot), Parsons (Teignmouth), Thomas.

Replacements all used: Petherbridge (Barnstaple), Castleton (Newton Abbot), Sowden (Teignmouth), Maggs, Savage (Exmouth), Bryce, Massy-Birch (Taunton), Turner (Taunton), Manton (Taunton).

Cornwall (Redruth unless otherwise stated): Venables (Saltash), Wedlake, Murphy (Cornish All Blacks), Webber, Dawe (All Blacks), Webb (Taunton), Shepherd (All Blacks), Phillips (Redruth), Freestone (Clifton), Judge (All Blacks), Courtier (All Blacks), Hilton (All Blacks, capt), J Goldsworthy (Camborne), Jones (Penryn), Fuca.

Replacements all used: Salter (All Blacks), J Drew, Brown, M Grubb (Wadebridge), Friend (All Blacks), Peacock (Camborne), Searle (All Blacks), Mankee (Camborne), Prisk.

Scores – Devon: Try: Williams; Con: Simmonds; Pen: Simmonds (2).

Cornwall: Tries: Shepherd, Webb (2), Wedlake, Searle; Cons: Shepherd (3), Searle (2); Pen: Shepherd.

Yellow cards: Cornwall: Freestone 16, Courtier 80.

Referee: Adam Leal (Hampshire).

Attendance: 467.

TASC Paul Bawden Memorial man-of-the-match: Matt Shepherd

Posted in Bill's Blog

The State of the Union

Final league fixtures were completed this weekend and I think all the clubs can now breathe a huge sigh of relief that the leagues are over for another season.

There is still the matter of both CRFU Cup Finals to be played on Monday May 4th with Veor taking on Lanner in Clubs Cup at 1 pm and then Camborne playing St. Austell in the Knock-Out Cup at 3:15 pm. Both finals will be played at Truro RFC.

There is little rest for some players as tomorrow night Cornwall defend the Tamar Cup against Devon at Brickfields before embarking on their County Championship campaign with their opening game away to Gloucestershire at Cinderford on May 9th kick-off 3 pm.

The Cornish Pirates ended their campaign with defeat at Leeds Carnegie 27-5. The result sees the Pirates finish 8th in the table.

Given the squad I believe that it’s a fair return. It was a big gamble going with some inexperienced youngsters this season but they have learned quickly and will be the better for it next term.

Naturally there are players moving on, whilst others will be joining and who knows what gems Ian Davies and the backroom boys will uncover!

In National League 2 South Redruth defeated Southend 18-16 in a scrappy game. The Reds did just enough to win whilst the Saxons got the point they needed to stay up and condemn Lydney to the drop.

Redruth scrum-half Greg Goodfellow had a most eventful day, his 100th appearance for the club, voted the supporters player of the year and a red card from the ref!

The Cornish All Blacks slipped to defeat at play-off contenders Bishop’s Stortford 31-24. The Essex side now travel to Ampthill next Saturday to decide who goes up to National League 1 with Henley Hawks and Hull Ionians.

Coming down to National League 2 South will be Old Albanian, whilst Bury St Edmunds, Redingensians and play-off winners Barnes will step up to National 2 South. Bang goes the travel budget!

Play-off success saw Camborne’s nearest rivals Ivybridge promoted to National 3 SW next season. Cony Hill, Teignmouth and play-off winners Newent come into South West 1 West, with Chard and Weston-super-Mare dropping down. Again major travel concerns there.

In Western Counties West, a feast of local derbies next season with Truro, Wadebridge Camels, Penryn, St. Austell and Saltash all involved.

There is an unbalance so in all likelihood Wellington will be level-transferred to Western Counties North.

The Cornwall & Devon League will have Pirates Amateurs, Falmouth, Bude, Bodmin, Hayle, St. Ives and promoted Newquay Hornets after a season’s absence.

For their first season at this level Bodmin deserve great credit. Sadly Veor couldn’t join the party as they lost their play-off with Plymstock Albion Oaks.

Liskeard-Looe return to Cornwall 1 and will be joined by promoted clubs St. Agnes and Lanner, whilst Stithians and Roseland return to Cornwall 2.

Congratulations to Camborne Colts on winning the Colts Cup against Saltash 34-12 at Wadebridge on Friday night.

Also Truro College who Sunday departed for Japan to take part in the Sanix World Youth Championships. Their first game, of a two-week tournament, takes place this Thursday against Japanese side Josho Gakuen High. Hopefully Steve Larkins and Marek Churcher will keep us up-to-date with their progress.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Cornish promotion hopes sunk in the Medway

playoff medway 3 crowd a
A section of the large crowd at Medway’s Priestfield’s Ground

Report & Photos by Ben Gilby

Medway 29-12 London Cornish

London Cornish’s historic season came to a disappointing end in the city of Rochester, as an impressive Medway side claimed the spoils in the London Two South Promotion Play-Off.

The Kent side were superb hosts and not just because of their pre-match meal of pasties, scones, clotted cream and strawberries!

Cornish selected a strong squad for the game, with Jackson Szabo returning in the centres having recovered from injury against Tottonians. Tom Baker was also back at fly-half, with Mark Osei-Tutu making a welcome comeback on the bench. The team were buoyed by a large number of travelling support – some coming from Penzance, Saltash and even a group of Cornish Pirates supporters choosing to come across to support London Cornish rather than their planned trip to Headingly to see their team play Yorkshire Carnegie! For this, we thank them wholeheartedly, as we also do Trelawny’s Army, and ‘Kernow In The City’ for helping to spread the word and the call to the Cornish arms!

‘The Exiles’ kicked off in front of a huge crowd bathed in bright sunshine. The pitch was very hard, but Cornish had the benefit of a strong breeze behind them in the first half. However, it became immediately apparent that two traditionally strong facets of the Cornish game – scrum and line-out – would be up against it in a way they had never been previously this season. Medway were a powerful side with a good pack, and an eye catching pair of wingers and South Sea Islander centres. Indeed, the Kent side stole the first three line-outs that Cornish gained, and went on to dominate this part of the game. Allied with some excellent work at the rucks and impressive defence to nullify Cornish’s pacey centres, Medway were too good on the day.

medway play off 2 a
Photo – Cornish’s Harry Somers claims the lineout

The home side built some early pressure with Eanna Flannagan combining well James Rutherford, before they played in pacy winger Dan Hamilton, who was quite magnificently dumped into touch by a fired up Saltash speedster Rich Skinnard. Cornish re-grouped well and earned the game’s first chance of points as Medway were penalised for holding on. Josh Allison stepped up and dissected the posts after seven minutes to the loudest cheer heard at a London Cornish game for quite some time! From the re-start, the Black and Golds won another penalty, which they kicked to touch. A rare line-out win set up a move between Chris Anstey, Rob Healey and Ben Ievers but the home defence snaffled up the danger. Medway used this as the foundation to build their first score of the afternoon as scrum-half James Dance combined with Daniel Harvey. Harvey fed centre Fred Tila who bulldozed his way through until the ball worked loose and Cornish kicked clear, but the referee pulled play back for an earlier infringement and awarded the home side a penalty which they kicked to touch. Harvey combined with his other Pacific Islander centre Leo Luia’ana who could only be stopped with the concession of another penalty which Harvey kicked after 15 minutes.

Once more, Cornish responded to adversity well, and within three minutes had re-established their lead. Ben Devonport fed Mike Bond who played in Will Carew-Gibbs, a trademark pacy run was stopped illegally, and Allison stepped up to put Cornish back in front at 6-3 with 18 minutes played.

As the half wore on, Medway gradually assumed more of the possession. Following a promising interplay between Healy, Szabo and Carew-Gibbs, the Kent side won turn-over ball, and on the back of this a penalty. This was kicked to touch, around 8 metres from the Cornish line. The line-out was taken cleanly, and all the home side’s Tom Beaumont had to do was dive over the line for the first try of the afternoon. Daniel Harvey added the extras, and Medway led 10-6.

Yet again, Cornish hit back within minutes of conceding a score, as a Medway clearance kick found its way straight to Josh Allison, who went on a run which was stopped by the concession of a penalty by the home side. ‘The Exiles’ full-back stepped up and kicked his third successful penalty of the afternoon, and there was just one point in it after 29 minutes.

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Photo – Ben Devonport challenging at the ruck

Cornish were then hit by two injuries in the number eight position in quick succession, as Ben Devonport had to be helped off the pitch. His replacement Mark Osei-Tutu didn’t last long before having to temporarily leave the field for a blood injury. This disruption in the back row didn’t help matters, and crucially, Medway took advantage. Try-scorer Tom Beaumont went on a great run, before finding Fred Tila. Once more, he could only be stopped by illegal means, and up stepped Harvey to restore Medway’s four point lead.

Back came Cornish, and the deficit was cut back to a single point within minutes as the hosts were pinged for offside, and Allison kicked his fourth from four. ‘The Exiles’ could even have gone in at half-time in front, when Medway were penalised in their ‘22’ just before the interval for holding on. However, the ball wobbled in the tee just as Allison’s boot was about to strike it, which sent it to the left of the upright slightly. The whistle went with Medway 13-12 ahead.

The start to the second half would be crucial to Cornish’s chances – Medway would now have the wind advantage and the visitors needed to make amends in the line-out. It was the black and golds who started better as Osei-Tutu, back on following the temporary mopping up of blood, combined brilliantly with Falmouth flyer Robin Heymann, but the Kent side pushed the Cornish winger into touch. Jackson Szabo got a rare opportunity to show his searing pace shortly afterwards, as he launched a scything run before offloading to Bond. He combined with Chatley who was halted, but the referee awarded a penalty in Cornish’s favour, unfortunately, Allison’s kick missed.

Medway saw their chance now and launched repeated raids on the Exiles’ ‘22’. Luia’ana and Bennison were both repelled by strong Cornish defence, who turned the screw, won the penalty and cleared. Just before the 50 minute mark, Cornish made their second permanent change as Matt Hakes replaced Josh Allison. Immediately he got into the game and involved in a great move as Osei-Tutu used his pace and power to hit the Medway defence with Carew-Gibbs, but the ball was eventually lost. Back came the home side, and they began a period of almost twenty minutes of continual pressure on the Cornish defence. Several times they drove for the line, and they were stopped, but on two successive occasions they were awarded penalties, which they tapped to keep the pressure on. At the third penalty concession, referee Mr. Odell ran between the posts, to award Medway a penalty try, with Harvey adding the extras to extend the home side’s lead to 21-12 after 56 minutes.

At this point, Cornish heads could have gone down, but they stuck manfully to their task and gained another opening just two minutes later. A great run from Mark Osei-Tutu saw the number eight dumped to the ground, which resulted in the tackler being shown a yellow card. Cornish kicked the resulting penalty to touch, and Ievers claimed the line-out, but Medway mauled strongly, won turn-over ball and gained a penalty of their own.

The game moved into the last quarter, and Tom Lloyd came on for Mike Bond. Medway were still in the ascendency, but it was the visitors who gained the next opportunity. A line-out 5m out from the Medway line saw Somers secure the ball, Osei-Tutu, Ievers and Somers all drove for the line, but the Kent side defended superbly, and to huge cheers gained a penalty and cleared the danger. Buoyed by this excellent effort, Medway made another powerful charge though the centres, which could only be stopped by the concession of a penalty. Harvey kept his 100% record intact with his sixth kick of the afternoon, and it was now 26-12.

The remaining 10 minutes saw Cornish permanently on the front foot and spending the vast majority of this time in the Medway ‘22’. Heymann recycled a ball brilliantly to Carew-Gibbs, who found Joe Skinnard, on as the final replacement. He launched a cross kick which was just slightly too strong. Cornish kept the pressure up, and by now Medway were conceding penalties back to back, which resulted in a forward being sin-binned. Yet try as Cornish might, and they tried incredibly hard, they could not breakthrough the red and yellow wall of defence, and Medway kept their line intact, and indeed added another score, courtesy of the excellent Harvey to take a well-deserved 29-12 victory, and with it, promotion to London One South.

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Photo – Cornish looking for a break

For Cornish, there is obvious immediate disappointment, but it should not be forgotten that this was the most successful season in the club’s history. Director of Rugby Dickon Moon commented after the game: “We have achieved our pre-season goal of topping our previous best ever finish in the league structure, and what this defeat tells us is that we are not quite ready for the step up despite winning 29 of our last 34 games at this level. Medway were able to nullify our chief threats in the set piece, and though we defended magnificently, the level of aggression they brought to the breakdown made it tough for us to create quick, clean ball. Sinners and I were delighted with the way we finished the game, and for the last 10 minutes we showed real spirit given the game had all but gone. We all agreed post match that this is the beginning for us – while we wish Medway well (and what a welcoming and decent rugby club they are) at the level above, we will have a short post season break before focussing on next season. The target now has to be to win the league.”

London Two South-West will provide new challenges and new faces next season, with potential new opposition including the likes of Basingstoke (who were a National Three side in 2013/14), Andover and a local derby against Barnes based London Exiles. Everyone at the club has certainly earned their close season break, but it won’t be long before all eyes focus in on 2015/16!

Posted in Bill's Blog

Cornwall look to retain Tamar Cup

Corwall Team Building 230215
Photo – Cornwall’s new skipper Kyle Marriott

CORNWALL go into Tuesday evening’s Tamar Cup game looking to retain the Cup for a fourth successive year whilst more importantly looking for a good win going into a challenging Bill Beaumont campaign, writes Bill Hooper.

Stern tests await Cornwall captain Kyle Marriott and his squad as they face two difficult away hurdles in Gloucestershire and Kent before receiving Hertfordshire at Redruth in their final pool game.

Marriott, who has enjoyed a very fine season at Redruth since going to the Reds from the Cornish Pirates last summer, is well known to Cornwall coach Graham Dawe from his time at Plymouth Albion and it was evident from conversations with the county coach that Marriott figured highly as a potential Cornwall captain for this season.

However, Marriott will miss Tuesday night’s game at his former club due to other commitments but will be back at the helm for the trip to Cinderford.

The whole of Cornwall will be hoping that for the third year running the Black & Golds can again get to Twickenham and finally lift the Cup.

However, they first need to retain the Tamar Cup against their near rivals at Plymouth Albion’s Brickfields Stadium on Tuesday evening.

The coaches Dawe and Ian Morgan along with the county selectors have picked an interesting side.

There are first caps for Saltash’s Max Veneables, Cornish All Blacks Chris Judge and the Redruth duo of Tommy Phillips and Robin Wedlake.

Photo – Tommy Phillips who is set to earn his first senior county cap

Prop Tommy Phillips has enjoyed a great season with the Reds culminating in selection for England Counties Under 20 tour to Hungary, whilst Chris Judge has also been a revelation in the Launceston front row this season.

Robin Wedlake has shown tremendous skill and pace for the Reds and this young back certainly has a promising future.

Veneables has shown prodigious kicking form in Saltash’s promotion run from the Cornwall & Devon League this season into Western Counties West, there is much more to his game than just his boot.

Corwall County Championship Squad 26/02/14
Photo – Launceston’s Matt Shepherd who will start on the wing Tuesday night

Looking to earn their first Cornwall cap from an enlarged bench are Mark Grubb (Wadebridge Camels), Billy Searle (Cornish All Blacks) and Taron Peacock (Camborne).

Speaking of the Tamar Cup game Cornwall coach Graham Dawe said: “This game is crucial to allow us to observe players in the County shirt and how they perform under that additional pressure. We have away games against Gloucestershire and then Kent, before our only home game this season game against Hertfordshire on Saturday 23rd May and there will certainly be pressure on everyone involved with this squad.” He went on to say: “Places for those three games are up for grabs and players who perform well in training and for their clubs games are in mix for selection.”

TAMAR CUP side originally picked to play DEVON

CORNWALL: M Veneables (Saltash), M Shepherd (Cornish All Blacks), J Murphy (Cornish All Blacks), N Webber (Redruth), R Wedlake (Redruth), L Webb (Taunton), R Friend (Cornish All Blacks); T Phillips (Redruth), R Freestone (Clifton), C Judge (Cornish All Blacks), D Cook (Redruth), B Hilton (Cornish All Blacks), J Goldsworthy (Camborne), G Jones (Penryn), BJ Chapman (Cornish All Blacks)

Replacements: J Drew (Redruth), R Brown (Redruth), J Salter (Cornish All Blacks), C Williams (Redruth), C Fuca (Redruth), M Grubb (Wadebridge Camels), D Mankee (Camborne), B Searle (Cornish All Blacks), T Peacock (Camborne)

NDLR – Team updated Sunday morning. Richard Friend (Cornish All Blacks) to start at scrum-half.

DEVON: T Goodman, M Crosscombe, T Maclean (all Brixham), L Paterson (Ivybridge), D Squire (Brixham), J Simmonds (Teignmouth), K Murphy (Brixham); R Morris (Brixham), D Avery (Newton Abbot) (Capt), N Halse (New Cross), M Gohl (Barnstaple), M Templeton, D Williams (Newton Abbot), R Parsons (Teignmouth), S Thomas (Brixham)

Replacements: J Petherbridge (Barnstaple), W Castleton (Newton Abbot), W Sowden (Teignmouth), L Maggs, C Bryce (both Brixham), B Hawley, G Savage (both Exmouth)

Posted in Bill's Blog

Day of destiny approaches for Cornish

By Ben Gilby LCRFC Press Officer

The biggest game in the history of London Cornish RFC is getting nearer, as Cornish Exiles supporters and officials count down the hours for their London Two South promotion play-off clash at Medway RFC in Rochester this Saturday.

In this winner takes all clash, the victors will gain promotion to London One South –  just one division below National League rugby – which would be the highest level that London Cornish have ever played at.

Photo Mark Osei-Tutu has been in sparkling form all season for Cornish

Whilst Medway are new opposition for ‘The Exiles’, their ground is very familiar, as it was the location for Cornwall’s Bill Beaumont Cup victory over Kent in May 2013 – a game that saw London Cornish’s Director of Rugby Dickon Moon patrolling the Rochester side’s touchline as part of the Cornwall County coaching staff. If Moon’s charges can pull off a result similar to the one that representatives from ‘God’s Country’ did on that day, then everyone in Black and Gold will be very happy indeed come 4:45pm on Saturday afternoon!

The Kent side will provide seriously tough opposition as they have won seventeen of their twenty league games in London Two South-East this season.

The only games lost were to eventual champions Maidstone (38-22) and Tunbridge Wells (24-23).

They also drew at home to Maidstone 14-14 – which was the only game that the league winners failed to win all campaign.

Medway boast an incredibly impressive attack, averaging 38 points a game during the league season, conceding an average of just 14. Like Cornish, they reached the Regional Quarter-Finals of the RFU Intermediate Cup, which they did so by beating Deal & Betteshanger (20-6) and Staines (48-7). Tellingly, they have not lost a league game at home all season.

dickon moon
DoR Dickon Moon looks to mastermind play-off success for Cornish

Cornish go into the game on the back of their best ever league season, having finished second in London Two South-West, winning 19 of their 22 matches, with the only losses coming to eventual champions Tottonians (19-6 at home, 26-14 away) and at fourth placed Warlingham (16-15). The ‘Black & Golds’ had the best defensive record in the division this season; only conceding an average of 13 points per game, and the second best scoring record, with an average of 28 points per game scored. One of the strong points about this London Cornish side is the high representation of Cornish born and bred players in the side – something which helps to provide a stubborn, never-say-die attitude as London Cornish Director of Rugby Dickon Moon proudly asserts: “With players from across the county from Penzance to Saltash in our ranks, we are truly a Cornish side with a Cornish coaching team in Tom Sincock, Marc Sweeney and myself. If we could win we would become one of the county’s top 5 ranked clubs, which would be some achievement given 13 years ago we were the lowest of the lot!”

eflh v lc 3 a
Photo Ben Ievers has ruled the line-out this season

Looking ahead to the game, Moon believes that Medway go in as favourites: “Medway are the home side, and had a better playing record than us in the respective leagues, but we wouldn’t be here if we couldn’t play and I hope we can display the same relentless tenacity that has characterised our league season.”

Whatever happens, a memorable occasion is in store, with Medway RFC putting on a Cornish Pasty lunch for their guests, with a big barbecue promised. As Moon concludes: “It’s going to be a great occasion for both clubs, neither of which has played at the higher level, and I am sure Medway will be great hosts too.”

The club hope for a good turn-out of London and South-East based Cornish exiles to support them on Saturday – plenty of Black and Gold and St. Piran’s flags will be incredibly welcome! For those of you in Cornwall not able to get to the game, BBC Radio Cornwall will be providing regular live updates from Medway throughout Ross Ellis’ Saturday Sport Show.

Finally, as was posted on London Cornish RFC’s twitter feed earlier this week – Can the club with no ground of their own, no clubhouse and no money make it to London One? Well, given the pride and passion that the team have played with this season, there is no reason why not!

Posted in Bill's Blog

Almost dried and dusted as league season draws to close

The Cornish Pirates wrapped up their home Championship program going down to promotion favourites Worcester Warriors 69-8.

The Warriors ran in ten tries in a comprehensive win, which shows the gap facing the Pirates’ at the moment.

People will point to the win against Bristol and to a degree they have a point, there were however extenuating reason for that performance fuelled by some unwise comments in the Bristol camp pre-match.

Lee Hall’s match report in the link for WMN

The Pirates wind up their season next Saturday with a trip to Leeds to play Yorkshire Carnegie looking for a 6th place finish.

Focus is now on next season and it was good to hear this week of the signing of scrum-half Alex Day from Northampton Saints. Day, who turned 22 this week, was a member of the England Under 20 side that won the World Championship in Vannes two seasons ago.

Plymouth Albion’s fate was sealed yesterday as they lost 29-0 at Moseley.

Sad to see the Devon side slip into National League 1 next season, it remains to be seen what impact their relegation will have with players being loaned out from Championship sides. No doubt Redruth and Launceston will watch developments keenly.

I am sure that this time last season Plymouth Albion supporters will have thought that their side was too good for relegation, food for thought!

Battling Lydney proved too hot for a depleted Redruth as the home side ran out winners 29-17 to keep their survival hopes alive in National League 2 South.

Lydney will be hoping that the Reds can do them a favour next Saturday in defeating Southend and denying them any points, whilst a bonus point win at Shelford would see them safe.

Ed Bawden’s WMN match report in the link

The Cornish All Blacks succumbed at Polson to play-off chasing Taunton 30-19, however the Cidermen will rely on a heroic effort from the All Blacks at Bishop’s Stortford to deny the Essex side a play-off berth.

Suzanne Cleave’s match report from the WMN

Launceston remain 3 points ahead of Redruth so next Saturday will settle a mid-table finish bragging rights!

The Tribute regional leagues were wrapped up yesterday. In South West 1 West, Cleve have long been crowned Champions with Ivybridge as runners-up and facing a play-off against South West 1 East runners-up Towcestrians next Saturday.

Camborne’s defeat at North Petherton 52-26 sees them finish the season in a disappointing 6th position, a far-cry from the hopes and aspirations of head-coach Liam Chapple. The injury list at the club has not helped at all but nevertheless hopes had been high of a better performance this season. Next season Camborne will be Cornwall’s sole representatives at this level with their nearest opposition being potentially Bideford and Teignmouth!

St. Austell’s two season stay at this level ended with defeat at Bridgwater 31-14. They will look to re-group next season in Western Counties West. Before that they will be hoping to land their first Tribute Cornwall Cup against Camborne at Truro on Monday 4th May.

In Tribute Western Counties West, Truro pulled off a good win at play-off bound Kingsbridge 27-25. Mark Carlyon, Theo Gayton and a penalty-try converted by Jake Champion who also landed the other two conversions and two penalties made up the Truro haul. A good finish for Truro who end up the top Cornish side finishing fourth. That said both coaches Josh Lord and Mark Richards will be disappointed that they weren’t stronger contenders in the promotion battle.

Wadebridge Camels finished a good fifth after a poor start to the league campaign blew away any hopes of an immediate return to South West 1 West. They finished the campaign going down to Exeter University 44-15, a side, who in the final analysis ended up losing the most with their massive points deduction.

Penryn will feel disappointed not finishing higher than eleventh and they will hope to climb the table next season under a new coaching regime. For the record Borough slipped to a 37-28 defeat at Sidmouth in their final game.

It’s been a torrid season for St. Ives as they finished bottom of the table. A 52-0 loss at Devonport Services in their final game pretty much summed up their season. Hopefully the Hakes can re-build next season in the Cornwall & Devon League.

The Tribute Cornwall & Devon League had it’s grand finale yesterday when the top two sides played at Crediton. The home side defeated Saltash 23-12 to claim the title. Both sides were already assured of promotion to Western Counties West next term.

Pirates Amateurs ended up in fourth following a 48-36 win at Exeter Saracens.

Falmouth’s win at home to Paignton 32-17 saw them finish sixth. Tom Spiller, Ashley Searle, James Dobson and Alex Sutheridge all crossed for tries in the bonus point win.

Bude also finished on a high beating relegated South Molton 35-24. The Seasiders ended up seventh.

Bodmin, in their first season at this level, finished a very respectable eighth following their 26-22 win over early pace-setters Withycombe.

Hayle ended up ninth, perhaps a final placing that is a little disappointing but they ended on a high defeating OPMs 64-19.

Liskeard-Looe’s brief stay at this level ended with conceding their game at Honiton.

A mention for St. Columbia & Torpoint who ended up third in Devon 1.

The Tribute Cornwall Clubs Cup final will be between Lanner and Veor. Lanner defeated last season’s finalists Perranporth 16-8 at Ponsmere Valley, whilst Veor, who last won the cup in 2013, beat Illogan Park 23-16 at Paynters Lane.

For Lanner, only re-formed this season, it will be a first appearance in a Clubs Cup Final.

The Cornwall Cups Finals will be held at Truro RFC on Monday 4th May. The Clubs Cup final will kick-off at 1:30 pm, whilst the Senior Final will kick-off at 4:00 pm.

Congratulations to Camborne Colts and to Saltash Colts who will play in the final of the Colts Knock Out Cup on Friday evening at Wadebridge.

Next Saturday in the promotions play-offs sees Veor host Plymstock Albion Oaks for a place in the Cornwall & Devon League next season, whilst in the South East London Cornish travel to Medway RFC looking for a place in London 1 South next season.

Posted in Bill's Blog

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