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.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Cornwall & Devon name sides for cross-Tamar clash

Photo: Matt Shepherd training with Cornwall last night

Words by Bill Hooper, photos Simon Bryant Iktisphoto

Following training last evening at Camborne RFC Cornwall’s selectors have announced the side to take on Devon this Saturday at Ivybridge RFC kick-off 3pm.

The starting XV shows four changes from the side that commenced the game against Surrey last Saturday.

Camborne’s Andrius Zacharovas makes his first Championship start at tight-head prop. The powerful Cherry and White prop has made a fine impression in his two previous outings for Cornwall this season.

Penryn’s Grant Randlesome joins his Borough skipper George Jones in the back row, the only other change in the pack.

In the three-quarters, Plymouth Albion’s Matt Shepherd comes in at full back, Tom Notman starts on the wing whilst Robin Wedlake moves from the wing into the centre with skipper Jake Murphy.

Photo: Sam Matavesi back in contention for Cornwall after playing for the Royal Navy


Prop Tommy Phillips, flanker Chris Fuca and full-back Joe Elderkin all drop onto the bench, whilst flanker Sam Matavesi and centre Seti Raumakita both come into the match day twenty-two. A powerful looking bench is completed by Matt Ballard and Brad Howe.

Jack Simmons can consider himself unlucky to be left out of the twenty-two as can winger Matt Bowden.

Speaking prior to training Cornwall head coach Graham Dawe hopes Cornwall can build on the win at Richmond. “I was happy with performance against Surrey and I hope the side can build on that again this week. This is a brutal competition, there are no margins for error, we did what we had to do get the win and get the five points.

Photo: Graham Dawe gets his point across

Asked about making changes to his side for this week Dawe said. “It’s always hard bringing new players in and disrupting the pattern but both Matt Shepherd and Sam Matavesi will be involved this week, both have made a huge contribution to Cornwall in the past and are both top class players. It’s about the squad not just the starting XV, with this rotation policy players can come on and make an impact during a game.

Devon are boosted by the availability of Plymouth Albion scrum-half Cameron Setter.

Setter, who started his career at Ivybridge, missed last weekend’s defeat at Gloucestershire, but comes straight into the team to face the Duchy at Cross-in-Hand.

Devon make six changes to their starting line-up for their first County Championship meeting with Cornwall in seven years.

Ivybridge’s Charlie Briant and George Wilson also come into the team, as does Barnstaple’s Will Topps, Exmouth’s Ollie Rice and Brixham’s Matt Harvey.

Devon RFU have announced that RFU President Peter Baines will be their guest at Ivybridge on Saturday, as will Peter Cross, Twickenham’s Mr. England.

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

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


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 & Royal Navy), S Raumakita (Plymouth Albion), J Elderkin.


Posted in Bill's Blog

Shepherd & Matavesi in-line for Cornwall recall

Matt Shepherd and Sam Matavesi both key players in Cornwall’s successful defence of the Bill Beaumont Cup last season are poised to make a return to the squad for this week’s game against Devon at Ivybridge.

Both players were unavailable for last Saturday’s game at Richmond when Cornwall defeated Surrey 34-14.


The side to play Devon will be selected following training at Camborne RFC this evening.

Apart from the twenty seven players listed, Matt Bowden will be playing for the Combined Services this evening against Bath,  other players from the training squad will be in attendance to help their team mates prepare for Saturday’s game


Team selected from the following;-

Forwards: Matt Ballard (Wadebridge Camels), Richard Brown (Redruth), BJ Chapman (Redruth), Dom Connor (Brixham), Robbie Dugard (Barnstaple), Chris Fuca (   Redruth), Brad Howe (Redruth), Bryn Jenkins (Barnstaple), George Jones (Penryn), Sam Matavesi (Camborne, Royal Navy & Fiji),  Tommy Phillips (Redruth), Grant Randlesome (Penryn), Tony Whittle (Camborne), Craig Williams* (Redruth), Andrius Zacharovas (Camborne).

Backs: Matt Bowden  (Redruth & Royal Navy) Joe Elderkin (Redruth), Richard Kevern (Camborne), David Mankee (Camborne), Jake Murphy (Barnstaple), Tom Notman (Redruth), Jack Oulton (Redruth), Seti Raumakita (Pymouth Albion & Royal Navy), Matt Shepherd* (Plymouth Albion), Jack Simmons (Camborne),         Lewis Vinnicombe* (Redruth), Robin Wedlake (Plymouth Albion).

Coaches – Graham Dawe ,Marek Churcher & Rhodri McAtee

Strength & Conditioning – Tristan Lark

  • Denotes England Counties Player
Posted in Bill's Blog

Late surge sees Cornwall off to winning start



Report by Bill Hooper. Photos Simon Bryant Iktisphoto

Cornwall scored four tries in the final quarter to secure a vital bonus point win against Surrey at Richmond as they began the defence of their County title.

It began brightly for Cornwall as Cornwall got a try after just 8 minutes as No. 8 BJ Chapman was driven over from a powerful maul for a try converted by fly-half Dave Mankee.


Photo: Prop Tommy Phillips on the hoof

They were soon pegged back by Surrey as fly-half Matt Noble found a hole in the Cornwall defence before wing Karyim Noble sped in for a good try bettered by Noble.

Noble set the alarm bells ringing in the Cornish defence soon after but the defence scrabbled back to snuffle the threat.

Surrey maintained the pressure and when scrum-half Jack Oulton was sin-binned on 19 minutes for Cornwall the signs looked ominous for the champions.

Cornwall coped with the initial threat but when Chapman was also sent to the bin and where down to 13 men for about sixty seconds the pressure told with referee Neil Chivers awarding the home side a penalty-try converted by Noble.

Cornish wing Robin Wedlake went close to a try from a Mankee crossfield kick.

Oulton was proving a constant thorn in the side for Surrey with his snipes around the rucks and scrums. Before half-time Cornwall earned a penalty which Mankee despatched between the sticks leaving Cornwall 14-10 down at the break.

With the wind now in Cornwall’s favour Mankee saw an early penalty opportunity drift wide of the posts early doors in the second half as Cornwall looked to their replacements to maintain the head of steam they were building.

Lock Bryn Jenkins was having a great game in the lineout, whilst the forwards drove with purpose with Tommy Phillips, Andrius Zacharovas, George Jones, Chris Fuca all putting in big shifts.

Mankee kept pinning Surrey back with his kicking, Cornwall were dominating but the score wasn’t coming as news of Gloucestershire’s big total against Devon began to filter through.


Photo: Matt Ballard gets Cornwall’s second try with Chris Fuca lending his weight

Cornwall pinched a lineout  in the Surrey twenty-two to set up a big drive that saw replacement hooker Matt Ballard driven over for the black and gold’s’ second try to huge cheers from Trelawny’s Army.

The cheers got even loader just two minutes later when Wedlake showed his Albion form to run in from 50 meters from a Grant Randlesome pass. Mankee nailed the conversion but Cornwall wanted and needed more.

It came from replacement winger Tom Notman who gleefully took skipper Jake Murphy’s pass to score the vital bonus point try.


Photo: Tom Notman scores the vital fourth try

Fellow Red Matt Bowden rounded off the scoring with Cornwall’s fifth try from a Wedlake pass to complete the scoring, with Mankee adding his third conversion of the game.

After the game Cornwall head coach Graham Dawe was pleased with the win. “It was a tough start, Surrey took the game to us in the first half scoring a couple of tries and challenging us defensively putting us on the back foot a bit up front. We had to survive the best part of twenty minutes with just fourteen men and did well to contain them.

“ We took time to gel as a side but as the game went on we saw that cohesion coming through, all the work we have put in showed through.

“At half-time we had a good chat, the boys knew they were in a game and needed to lift their efforts especially up front. I think our defence stood up well and when we got the ball our backs showed their scintillating pace.

“On reflection we did well to turnaround just 14-10 down at the break, the penalty just before halt-time was crucial. That wind was moving around we made good use of it second half with Mankee and Oulton getting us the territory.

Cornwall will train on Wednesday prior to the game at Devon next Saturday at Ivybridge kick-off 3 pm.


Surrey (London Irish WG unless stated) E Carne (Dorking), T Richards, B Kitching, B Meeson, K Irving (Worthing), M Noble (Dorking), T Trotter (Cambridge); K Furey, N Sweeney, C Zeiss (capt) (all Esher), J Touma, D Flashman (Wimbeldon), T Bush, H Elbrow (Dorking), H Rowland.

Replacements: C Connor, K O’Sullivan, C Burman (Esher), F Osborne (Dorking), E Milne (Rosslyn Park), J Reville (Wimbeldon), M McDonald (Amersham & Chiltern).

Surrey scores: Tries Irving, Penalty-try, Cons Noble (2)

Cornwall (Redruth unless stated): J Elderkin,  L Vinnicombe,  J Murphy (Barnstaple) (capt), J Simmons (Camborne), R Wedlake (Plymouth Albion), D Mankee (Camborne), J Oulton; T Phillips, R Brown, C Williams, B Jenkins (Barnstple), T Whittle (Camborne), C Fuca, G Jones (Penryn), BJ Chapman.

Replacements: A Zacharovas (Camborne), M Ballard (Wadebridge Camels), R Dugard (Barnstaple), B Howe, G Randlesome (Penryn), T Notman, M Bowden.

Cornwall scores: Tries Chapman, Ballard, Wedlake, Notman, Bowden, Cons, Mankee (3), Pen, Mankee

Yellow Cards: Oulton (19), Chapman (28)

Referee: Neil Chivers (RFU)

Crowd: 643

County Championship tables in link

Posted in Bill's Blog

Dawe & Murphy thoughts prior to Surrey plus teams update

Cornwall’s head coach Graham Dawe has a buzz of anticipation on the eve of another County Championship campaign, reports Bill Hooper from Redruth’s Recreation Ground.

Photo Simon Bryant Iktisphoto; Graham Dawe directs training

“We’ve been together since February training at Perranporth, we’ve identified some good youngsters who are coming in this season and I shall look forward to seeing how they cope in the pressurized atmosphere of playing for Cornwall.

Dawe and his coaching side have had to look at replacing quality players from last season’s squad such as skipper Kyle Marriott and scrum-half Greg Goodfellow, sadly Ben Hilton has not recovered in time from a neck injury suffered playing for Barnstaple.

“The side has got players who have played for Cornwall before, George Jones, BJ Chapman, Dave Mankee and Tommy Phillips were part of the squad in 2015 so know the drill others such as Jack Oulton, Joe Elderkin, Grant Randlesome, Jack Simmons, Andrius Zacharovas and Brad Howe are involved in their first senior championship game so it will be interesting to see how the step up, I love to see young players push themselves and see how far they can go, I’ve heard a lot of good things about Joe Elderkin and look forward to seeing him play.

Photo Simon Bryant Iktisphoto: Cornish forwards go through the drill

Dawe feels certain that Jake Murphy will do a fine job captaining Cornwall this season. “Jake has got a lot of qualities as a leader which I feel he can transmit to players around him on the field, he’s captained Plymouth Albion and been in the Cornwall squad for a few seasons now and knows what we are about.

Looking ahead to the Surrey game Dawe knows his side will be in for a hard game. “They came down to Camborne last season and gave us a hard game, they will have some very useful backs with a good running and off-load game. We will have to be at our best to match them. We will have to restrict their chances and play a smart game. We shall look to dominate up front in the set-piece, look after the ball and attack when the opportunity comes.

Dawe feels that having Marek Churcher and Rhodri McAtee involved this season is important. “Both are involved with Redruth and Camborne so know the bulk of the squad well and the players will respond to them. I’ve known Marek for many years from his time at Albion he is a challenging coach for his players.

Jake Murphy is delighted with his appointment as skipper for this season and looks forward to leading his side out at Richmond. “I am very excited to be appointed skipper this season, I guess I am now regarded as a senior member of the squad, so yes it does bring added pressure, these young players are hungry for your shirt  but I am looking forward to it.


Photo Simon Bryant Iktisphoto: Cornwall captain Jake Murphy

“I’ve captained Albion in the past but first and foremost I must make sure that I am on top of my game and show that I should be wearing that shirt, as far as I am concerned we start with a blank sheet the two wins in the final are in the past.

Jake is looking to Trelawny’s Army to get behind the boys especially in the two away games. “Their support will be vital to us running out up country to see so many black and gold shirts in the crowd and Cornish flags fluttering is a huge lift to the boys. I know that the support will be there on Saturday and we will play our hearts out for them.

Cornwall have made three changes to the side published earlier this week. Surrey side from their website, mostly from London Irish Wild Geese.

Cornwall (Redruth unless stated): J Elderkin,  L Vinnicombe,  J Murphy (Barnstaple) (capt), J Simmons (Camborne), R Wedlake (Plymouth Albion), D Mankee (Camborne), J Oulton; T Phillips, R Brown, C Williams, B Jenkins (Barnstple), T Whittle (Camborne), C Fuca, G Jones (Penryn), BJ Chapman.

Replacements: A Zacharovas (Camborne), M Ballard (Wadebridge Camels), R Dugard (Barnstaple), B Howe, G Randlesome (Penryn), T Notman, M Bowden.

Travelling Reserves: D Matthews, S Buzza, R Friend (Okehampton)

Surrey (London Irish WG unless stated) E Carne (Dorking), T Richards, B Kitching, B Meeson, K Irving (Worthing), M Noble (Dorking), T Trotter (Cambridge); K Furey, N Sweeney, C Zeiss (capt) (all Esher), J Touma, D Flashman (Wimbeldon), T Bush, H Elbrow (Dorking), H Rowland.

Replacements: C Connor, K O’Sullivan, C Burman (Esher), F Osborne (Dorking), E Milne (Rosslyn Park), J Reville (Wimbeldon), M McDonald (Amersham & Chiltern)

Referee: Neil Chivers (RFU)


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