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Cornish over come multiple hurdles to claim win

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Photo – centre Jackson Szabo looks to evade tackle

London Cornish 18-16 Old Alleynians

Report & Photos by Ben Gilby

London Cornish overcame a virus sweeping through the squad, a mid-game injury and a very strong opposition to record a vital 18-16 win over Old Alleynians at The REMPF.

Prior to the game, ‘The Exiles’ lost three key players in captain Dave Theobald, vice-captain Luke Spells and lock Harry Somers to a stomach virus, which also affected several others who did play. The upshot of this was a return for Mark Osei-Tutu at number eight, who returned from almost six weeks out injured last weekend for the 2s when he scored a hat-trick of tries at Old Reigatian in the Zoo Sports Shield Division Three. Tim Homan was also back, for the first time since the beginning of January, with Tom Baker making his first start at fly-half.

Alleynians are always stubborn opposition with a nasty habit of upsetting teams in good form, and they started well on a sunny afternoon, with a strong breeze taking the edge off of what would otherwise have been a very mild afternoon. Playing with the wind behind them in the first half, the Dulwich side showed an early example of their prowess with a glorious behind-the-back off load by their superb full-back Gareth Wynn, which was picked up by Tom Unwin. The visitors’ scrum-half nudged a grubber kick through which forced a line-out within five metres of the Cornish line. Any advantage this may have given Alleynians was soon frittered away as ‘The Exiles’ won a penalty from the throw and cleared the danger.

Just a minute later, it was Cornish’s turn to launch a clever kick through as a sensational kick for territory from Tom Baker gained the home side huge metres. Alleynians secured the resulting line out, but lost possession soon afterwards, and the ball was picked up by Jackson Szabo, who went on a scything run, leaving countless attempted tacklers in his wake as he sprinted home from over 25 metres to score the game’s opening try after seven minutes. Josh Allison’s conversion attempt into the fierce breeze missed.

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Photo – Debutant fly-half Tom Baker on the move

However, the lead was not to last long. Just three minutes later, Wynn launched a pass that to several people on the touchline appeared to be slightly forward. The pass was snaffled up by Tom Shanahan who flew through to score. Wynn’s conversion was good, and Alleynians were ahead 7-5 after 12 minutes.

After two tries in three minutes, the assembled spectators would have to wait another fifty for the next one to come along, but there was still plenty of intrigue to occupy those at The REMPF.

Old Alleynians were operating at a high intensity, always looking for quick ball, and use of their speedy backs on a dry playing surface – but it was Cornish’s own speed merchant who launched the next attack. Jackson Szabo probed through the midfield, combining with Ievers, Carew-Gibbs, Chatley and Baker in an impressive move, but the Dulwich based visitors dealt with the danger.

Shortly afterwards, a great kick through from Allison pushed Alleynians back to within 20 metres of their try line. A rolling maul was launched, with Ben Ievers in control of the ball, but when grounded it was short, and once more Alleynians cleared.

Just before the half-hour mark, The Black and Golds, already disrupted by a stomach virus in the squad suffered a further set back when former Premiership player Simon Brading had to leave the field injured. Brading had only returned from a long term injury at the end of January, and had been in influential form so fingers will be firmly crossed that this will not be a serious knock. His replacement was Tim Homan, making a welcome return to the first team.

Old Alleynians had much of the remainder of the first half, and fly-half Ed Nethersole launched a superb kick through which forced Cornish to throw in to a line-out just five metres from their own line. The pressure built, and eventually the visitors were awarded a penalty which Wynn kicked to stretch their lead to 10-5.

Cornish had one further chance to reduce the arrears before the break when they were awarded a penalty to the right of centre. Allison’s kick into the wind was adjudged to be good by the touch judges, but the referee decided otherwise, stating that he felt it had gone over one of the uprights.

The second half opened with Josh Allison having another chance to kick for goal, within three minutes, and this time, with the benefit of the wind, there was no problems. Alleynians’ lead had been cut to just 10-8.

However, just as they did in the meeting between the two sides at Dulwich in late November, Alleynians’ had the best of the first twenty minutes of the second half, and built an identical 16-8 lead to the one they had done so in that previous encounter. Cornish were forced onto the back foot as the visitors built a succession of attacks, with the home side conceding a number of penalties in a short space of time. Gareth Wynn opted to kick for goal each time, and against the wind, two of his three opportunities were successful.

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Photo – lock Ben Ivers soars high for lineout ball

Cornish’s response to this adversity was highly impressive – they rallied, and although weakened by illness and injury, they displayed a sheer bloody-minded determination that this was not going to be a game they would lose. From an Old Alleynians error – a kick going out on the full – the ‘Black and Golds’ gained a line-out on the visitors ‘22’, a great piece of combination play between Ben Devonport, Will Carew-Gibbs and Mark Osei-Tutu set up the attack, before the ball was finally grounded by Tim Homan. Josh Allison’s conversion attempt was good, and with sixteen minutes left, Cornish were just a single point behind at 15-16.

With Cornish now in ascendancy, with eight minutes left, they finally re-took the lead that they last held early in the opening stanza. ‘The Exiles’ were awarded a penalty which was kicked to touch. Alleynians attempted clearance kick only found Josh Allison who went on an impressive fifteen metre run before being halted, the resulting move saw another penalty conceded by the visitors. Allison stepped up and sent the ball between the uprights for 18-16.

Alleynians hit back and ensured that the remainder of the match made difficult viewing for Cornish supporters, as the outcome of the game rested on a knife-edge. Replacement Joshua Grant-Butler broke through, but was stopped by a superb tackle by Cornish’s Will Carew-Gibbs, but soon after a penalty was conceded, just to the right of centre, well within Gareth Wynn’s range. However, the difficulty that Josh Allison had kicking into the wind in the first half now beset the Alleynian full-back, and his kick was wide. Despite several further close shaves, Cornish held on to record an absolutely vital victory.

London Cornish’s two wins over Old Alleynians this season have been by a cumulative total of just five points. There is no doubt that ‘The Exiles’ emerging victors in this game was down to the fact that they are in the habit of knowing how to close out tough matches. This was a game won in great adversity – several players suffering from a stomach virus, an injury to the influential Simon Brading – plus a superb opposition, who must take great credit and pride from their own performance.

Cornish now have a free weekend ahead of them before a huge clash with league leaders Tottonians on the horizon in a fortnight’s time.

Posted in Bill's Blog


Huge defensive effort seals the win for Cornish

Report & photos by Ben Gilby

An immensely impressive effort by One And All in the Black and Gold defence ensured that London Cornish came away from Old Reigatian with the win.

Despite overnight rain and a constant drizzle falling throughout the game which rendered the Surrey Hills that encircle Reigate almost invisible, the pitch held up well (something which the 2s may be slightly jealous of given their mudbath of an encounter against Reigatian on a back pitch), but it did mean than handling the ball was very difficult, with knock-ons occurring at a regular interval, particularly in the first half.

Cornish had to make a late re-jig of their forward line as Dave Theobald, who was to start, moved to the bench due to suffering from ‘flu. Tom Lloyd took the tighthead shirt instead of his planned position of loosehead, and Mike Bond moved up from the replacements list to start in the vacant loosehead berth. There were also two players making their first start for the club in Matt Johnson and Jackson Szabo. Additionally, Luke Spells was back in the centres for the first time since 31st January. The game started with a gusty breeze blowing against Cornish, who were resplendent in their eye catching change colours of gold shirts with thin black hoops.

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Photo – Harry Somers climbs high to secure the ball

It was the visitors who had the first opportunity when Johnson combined with Ben Devonport and Simon Brading down the left wing from a stolen line-out. The move was snuffed out by a loose pass.

It was immediately apparent that the slippery nature of the ball would provide a serious hurdle to any flowing rugby, or to many scoring chances, and the first quarter of an hour consisted of scrummages as a result of knock-ons. When chances did emerge, they generally fell the way of ‘The Exiles’, and with Ben Ievers in excellent line-out stealing form once more, a rolling maul was launched which made some vital metres. When the ball came out, Williams fed Spells, who made a trademark probing run, before offloading to Harry Somers. The former Cornish Pirate won a penalty. Allison kicked to touch, and Cornish were five metres from the Reigatian try-line. The expected maul was halted illegally, which resulted in a home forward being dispatched to the sin-bin – the first of a number of yellow cards that would be brandished during the game. The home side defended the resulting penalty well, and their winger Huw Jones ran the ball clear of danger.

Other than a series of further line-out steals by Cornish, there were few opportunities for either side which didn’t end with a knock-on, such was the slipperiness of the ball. Indeed, it would be fair to say that, in the second quarter of the game, there were only two real scoring opportunities, which both fell the way of the Black and Golds. First, a great flowing move which begun with Harry Somers feeding the jet-heeled Jackson Szabo, who after making the hard yards fed Phil Dale. He led an interchange of passes with Luke Spells and Matt Hakes, before the ball returned to Szabo. The winger’s progress was halted just five metres short of the line by an outstanding tackle from home winger Teo Bogdanon.

Rich Skinnard also led a Cornish charge with nine minutes of the half remaining, when his progress could only be stopped illegally. The resulting penalty was kicked for a five metre line-out, but the chance went. So, half-time saw the rather unusual scoreline of 0-0!

The second half saw the home side, coached by former Worcester and Esher player Jonny Hylton in the ascendancy. A series of penalties piggy-backed them up the field, but their undoing was once more in the line-out – this time an attempted throw to the front of the line was stolen by Will Carew-Gibbs. From this, Cornish worked their way up field and earned a penalty of their own – thus after 44 minutes, the very first kick at goal was launched, from around 40 metres, but Josh Allison’s effort didn’t quite have the legs. Shortly afterwards saw both sides reduced to fourteen. Cornish’s reduced defence was quickly tested when home winger Huw Jones ran through, but Harry Somers expertly dealt with the danger.

 

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Photo – Jackson Szabo probes in the centre

It was the line-out that propelled Cornish forward once more, and once Ievers secured it, Sam Williams hacked the ball through. Reigatian were forced to put the ball out. From the resulting throw, a huge Cornish maul could only be stopped with the concession of another penalty. This was kicked to touch, and the ‘Exiles’ maul was once more revved up, with Reigatian forced backwards until Harry Somers could ground the ball, which subsequently woke up the scoreboard operator from his slumber on 55 minutes. Allison added the extras, and Cornish were up and running at 7-0.

Shortly afterwards, it looked as if there would be another score when, following an Reigatian error, Matt Hakes kicked through and gathered, but was not able to ground the ball.

This let-off served to spur the home side on, and they were set to dominate the next fifteen minutes or so. Teo Bogdanon’s run saw him link up with centre Chris Bruce before an outstanding hit from Cornish’s ex Premiership man Simon Brading saved the day. However, back came Reigatian, and it was Bogdanon who again led the charge down the left. A series of recycles saw the Cornish defence halt the Old Boys, but in doing so, a number of penalties were conceded, a run of which led to the second visiting forward being dispatched to the sin-bin. From the resulting scrum, Cornish’s back line showed that regardless of the fact that they were a man short, they would not be dominated, and quite magnificently won a penalty immediately to clear. With Reigatian now permanently encamped in the Cornish ‘22’, the home side could have been forgiven for thinking that it was only a matter of time before they scored. But they reckoned without the ‘Black and Gold’ determination keep their hosts out. Ed Forsyth had a further opportunity for the Surrey side with his run down the left, but once more slippery ball prevented further progress, and Cornish, now back to fifteen had ensured their line remained unbreached.

The remaining seven minutes saw Cornish as an attacking force, as they put together their longest period of concerted pressure since the opening quarter. Rich Skinnard made an excellent run down the right, and Reigatian managed to clear, but ‘The Exiles’ were soon back in range. Simon Brading broke through the middle and earned a penalty, which Josh Allison successfully kicked from 30 metres out to the right of centre.

From the restart, the Black and Golds gathered, and Jackson Szabo launched forward at an impressive rate of knots, his offload resulted in the game’s decisive moment as Sam Williams dived over for the second try. Allison added the extras as the lead went out to 17-0. There was still time for another sin-binning for each side, but this produced no further scoring.

Cornish remain in second place in London Two South-West, with four matches left, having won their last eight league games. Old Reigatian will feel that the scoreline was rather harsh on them, and that they could (or indeed should) have got a losing bonus point. It is also a quite incredible fact given the way both games between the two sides have gone this season, that Old Reigatian have not scored in either game against ‘The Exiles’. Whilst this was not a game that may live long in the memory of London Cornish supporters, it is winning games like this which can make all the difference come the end of the season.

Posted in Bill's Blog


Camborne take derby day spoils

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Despite the Cornish Pirates, Redruth and Launceston all having the weekend off there was still plenty of exciting Cornish rugby to keep the fans happy and away from the dreaded box!

Pick of the day was the Tribute South West 1 West derby between Camborne and St. Austell.

An exciting game played in terrible conditions didn’t disappoint with the Cherry & Whites snucking the win 18-17.

The Camborne forwards had a tremendous game in the loose and in Dave Mankee a proven goal-kicker in difficult conditions.

Congratulations to the Camborne club off the field as the refurbished Town Bar looks very ‘ansum indeed.

Both sides could well meet again this season in the Tribute Cornwall Cup Final on Saturday 2nd May, no doubt their opponents Truro and Penryn will have other ideas.

You can read my report in the link.

In Tribute Western Counties West, Penryn unsurprisingly lost at home to Exeter University 38-29.

Having held the Students 17-17 at the break, Borough led 29-17 before the students greater fitness told in the final quarter.

Penryn’s tries were scored by Mike Creeden (2), George Jones, Josh Chambers and Ben Ashwin with Martin Strick kicking the rest of the points, to earn them a bonus point.

We await to hear Exeter University’s fate over their potential 50 point deduction by the league.

Truro lost at struggling Torquay 41-27. Truro did pick up a try-scoring bonus point thanks to tries from Darren Jacques, Luke Trescothick, Tom Eley and Darryl Riches.

St. Ives’ hopes of staving off the drop took a blow losing at fellow strugglers Tavistock 27-22, though the 2 points they picked up could yet prove handy.

Ben Taylor, Ben Wheeler, Jacob Ninnes and Tom Chandler scored the Hakes tries.

Wadebridge Camels completed a miserable day for Cornish clubs at this level losing 28-15 at leaders Teignmouth and had a player sent off.

Adam Collings got his marching orders following a mass brawl. Dan Lumb and Will Pengelly scored the Camels’ tries with James Grubb kicking the other points.

In London 2 SW better news as London Cornish kept up their promotion challenge with a 17-0 win at Old Regatian. See the following entry for a match report.

In the Tribute Cornwall & Devon League, Saltash’s win by 16-0 at Pirates Amateurs keeps them ahead of Crediton on points difference. Max Veneables, part of the Cornwall training squad, scored all the Ashes’ points.

Falmouth recorded a good win over promotion challengers Withycombe 18-3 at the Rec. Oli Church and Justyn Irons scored the tries with Irons kicking the other points.

Bude had a big win at relegated Liskeard-Looe 68-7 with Joe Wilson bagging five tries.

Bodmin look set for a very respectable mid-table finish following their 16-6 win at OPMs. Mark Trevarthan scored their only try with James Taylor kicking the other points.

Hayle defeated Exeter Saracens 20-12 thanks to tries from Scott Harvey and Neil Mitchell scored the Lions’ tries with Harvey kicking the rest of the points.

In the Tribute Cornwall Clubs Cup pool stage, there were wins for Illogan Park at St. Just 22-5, Veor at Perranporth 40-9 and Roseland at Lankelly-Fowey 48-0.

Good to see Jack Nowell perform well for England despite the defeat to Ireland at Lansdowne Road 19-9. Always busy and with not great service it has to be said he almost got in at the end to score a try but the pass was adjudged forward.

Also pleasing to see Cornish lads Oli Bryant and Jack Innard with the England Under 20s in their 19-14 win against Ireland at Donnybrook.

On Friday evening, Launceston’s Ben Hilton played a major part in England Counties 37-3 win against new opponents at this level Scottish Clubs XV at Fylde.

They now go on the face France Fédérale on Friday March 20th in Périgueux.

Cornwall Under 20s County Championship semi-final will kick-off at 1 pm on Sunday 15th March at Camborne RFC. See the poster at the top of the page for details.

Posted in Bill's Blog


Cornwall hope 2015 will finally be their year

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Photo – Cornwall at Twickenham in 2014, can they go one better this year?

There was a buzz of excitement and anticipation as some 40 odd players, coaches and officials gathered at Kingsley Village on Monday evening, reports Bill Hooper.

Exeter Chiefs’ winger and former Mount’s Bay and Cornish Pirates star Matt Jess came to talk to the squad about his experiences with Cornwall and how it helped further his career.

It was the first get-together for players likely to feature in Cornwall’s Bill Beaumont Cup campaign, also for some younger players to get a taste of the senior county squad.

Sadly not everyone will go on to play for Cornwall this season, but they will all play an important part as Cornwall, losing finalists in the past two season, seek to add a fourth county crown to those of 1908, 1991 and 1999.

Not all selected were able to be present; last season’s captain Ben Hilton was away on England Counties duty in preparation for Friday night’s game against Scottish Clubs at Fylde.

Also missing were one or two familiar faces in the county squad over previous years who have decided to call time on their county career.

County coaches Graham Dawe and Ian Morgan are both relishing the challenge, though accept that expectations, as ever in Cornwall, for success are sky-high.

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Photo – Cornwall’s coaching duo Graham Dawe & Ian Morgan plotting another tilt at Twickenham.

Dawe acknowledges that having fallen at the final hurdle last season expectations are to go one better this season: “Expectation levels in Cornwall are as high as ever, but you have to be realistic, we start with two away games, you have got to put the building blocks in place and as a coach you are looking for consistency from your players, with just three group games that is difficult to achieve you have to ally that with performance and availability.”

“That is where the shirt comes into play; players come in and want to make the shirt theirs by right with their performance.”

“After last season I told the players that they had to go away and look at amongst other things their fitness, when you are playing against sides that have a large number of players playing in National League 1, their fitness and intensity levels are higher and to compete we must match them.”

It looks like youth could well be given its head this season.

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Photo – Veteran lock Damien Cook again play a major role this season

“We have brought some of the younger players from this season’s Under 20s into the squad it will be interesting to see how far they can develop and step up. I think the Tamar Cup game will be ideal for players like that to lay down a marker.”

“I watched Tommy Phillips playing earlier in the season and to be fair he had a few problems back then. I saw him again just before Christmas and he looked a completely different player, he stood his ground and dealt with his opposition well, people tell me he has a good work ethic and is keen to learn, if he carries on that way then he could develop into a very fine player.”

Dawe was also pleased to bring in Kyle Marriott a player he worked with at Plymouth Albion: “I think Kyle has got good qualities, a player who says little but when he speaks players listen and generally he is right in what he says.”

Also in the squad for the first time Truro’s Jake Champion: “He’s a quality player and I want to see if he can step up at this level from what I have seen in training I think he can develop further into a fine player. He is very brave, but I want to see if he can make those decisions under pressure at this level.”

Likewise Ian Morgan is relishing this season’s challenge: “We want to go one step further this year, we think we have identified where we fell short and we hope we have put measures in place to counteract that.”

“We seem to be able to cope with teams from the South and Midlands but when you come against the Northern counties they are able to pick from National 1 sides, so we need to up our game and fitness levels to compete.”

“I personally feel that there has been greater emphasis on fitness in the clubs this season, that’s my opinion on having watched Redruth, Launceston and Camborne. I also feel that the younger players these days buy into the fitness ethic through college.”

“We are going to have a program of training sessions leading up to the Tamar Cup, which we will use as a warm up game for the first Championship game at Cinderford.”

“Tonight is about getting to know each other and getting a feel for squad, the young players coming in having the chance to rub shoulders with some of the established players and for us as coaches building that rapport.”

“There is no question that this season all the shirts are up for grabs, there is no given right to a player that they will be an automatic choice, that competition for places can only benefit the squad as a whole.”

Asked who could be a surprise package in the Cornwall squad this season: “I think prop Tommy Phillips will throw his hat into the ring, he has improved immensely during his first season of senior rugby at Redruth – he is going to be one to watch.”

“Brad Howe is another player, who has come through the Under 20s from last season, he is a good strong ball-carrier training full-time at the Pirates has done him the world of good, likewise John Stevens who had an outstanding game for Redruth last Saturday, also Dan Rutter has shown himself to be an accomplished footballer able to read the game at half-back.”

Redruth’s No.8 Kyle Marriott is looking forward to his first season playing for Cornwall. He said: “I am really looking forward to it. I’ve read and heard a lot about it, and have played against Cornwall in the past for Devon, so it will be interesting.”

“I worked with Graham Dawe at Albion and it was he that started my career in a lot of ways when he signed me up for Plymouth. Hopefully I can come in and add something to Cornwall but like everyone else we have earn the right to wear the shirt.”

“It’s been a real pleasure playing at Redruth this season following my injuries at the Pirates – it has rekindled my hunger for the game.”

Having switched clubs at the end of last season, former St. Austell star, now with Launceston Matt Shepherd is also keen to get back to Twickenham.

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Photo – Matt Shepherd keen for a more influential role this season

“I didn’t get a lot of game time last year coming off the bench. This season I have been playing in different positions for Launceston so that will give me a bit more versatility for the squad. I am comfortable playing in any position, All I want is to pull that shirt on and play for Cornwall: when Cornwall come calling you aren’t going to say no!”

Likewise hooker Jamie Salter is looking forward to the campaign. He said: “After the disappointment of last season’s final we are all desperate to get back to Twickenham and win. Luckily I had the England Counties tour to Georgia to focus on straight after, so I didn’t dwell on it for long, but now it’s time to put the record straight. I don’t want to experience another losing final and let down our tremendous supporters.”

Finally, a couple of the youngsters who have come into the training squad are Tommy Phillips and Brad Howe, both products of the Helston club and Truro College.

I asked Tommy how he felt about the call up: “I am very proud to have been called into the senior squad. I am surprised how far I have progressed since joining Redruth, and now this next step. I am really excited as to how far I can go.”

“I had a tough start at Redruth getting used to playing senior rugby, plenty of hard work and good coaching has helped my game improve.”

Brad Howe is equally thrilled to be part of the Cornwall squad: “I am really excited about the prospect, I what to show what I can do and hopefully get selected.”

“Training at the Pirates has really helped develop me as a player and understand the ethos of being a professional player. The older players down there have been great imparting their knowledge.”

Posted in Bill's Blog


Three-year Tribute sponsorship deal offers lifeline to Cornwall RFU

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Photo – John Beach – The Tribute logo will again feature on the County shirt for next three seasons

Cornwall Rugby Football Union (CRFU) has secured a three-year sponsorship agreement with Tribute Cornish Pale Ale at a vital time, as RFU funding for county representative rugby continues to diminish.

The sponsorship deal between St Austell Brewery and the CRFU was announced at a meeting of RFU committee members and players at Kingsley Village held this week, and will see Tribute Cornish Pale Ale featured on the new Cornwall 2015 kit. The deal also confirms the brewery’s support for the Cornwall Cup for the next three years.

Tribute, the flagship beer of regional brewer St Austell Brewery, is the official beer of South West rugby. The brand already sponsors the South West Tribute Leagues, and a number of Clubs in Cornwall and the wider South West.

Richard Simeons, Honorary Treasurer for Cornwall Rugby Football Union Ltd, said: “At a time when funding for representative rugby continues to be reduced, it is absolutely vital for the future of Cornwall’s County Championship XV that we get support from businesses.”

“Therefore, the CRFU is delighted to announce this agreement with St Austell Brewery.  The cost of running and administering representative rugby in Cornwall is increasing every year and to have a significant local company on board for the next three years is very important. I wouldn’t say that without this backing we wouldn’t have a County Championship XV but it’s not that far from the truth.”

“In addition, Tribute’s sponsorship of the Cornwall Cup, and the gate receipts from the final, will go straight back to the clubs that take part, which we’re pleased about. Over the last three years the support that St Austell Brewery has given Cornwall rugby has played a key role in us sustaining the development of the County Championship XV and helping it achieve great success. Long may that continue.”

Marc Bishop, Trade Marketing Manager at St Austell Brewery, said: “St Austell Brewery is delighted to continue to support Cornish Rugby through Tribute, our flagship ale brand.”

“Seeing the Tribute logo on the Cornish shirts is something St Austell Brewery is rightly proud of. We have a very close relationship with rugby in the South West but our Cornish links are something special.”

“We have many loyal friends within the Cornish rugby set up and we are pleased to play a part in supporting the great work that is being done across the county.”

Posted in Bill's Blog


Reds run riot at Rec

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Photo – Steve Larkins happy with Reds’ performance

Redruth finally notched up a big score at the Rec this season when they scored seven tries in defeating Shelford 41-5 in National League 2 South.

Young Robin Wedlake ran in three of the tries with Murray Westren also bagging a brace whilst skipper Sam Parsons and full-back Ashley Hosking also scored.

The win certainly pleased head-coach Steve Larkins and has moved the Reds up the table prior to their next game on Saturday week against Dings.

You can read my report from the West Briton in the link.

News today that Redruth have signed half-back Sam Fox from Wadebridge Camels. Fox has been a feature in this season’s Cornwall Under 20s side.

Another frustrating result for the Cornish All Blacks on the road this time at Worthing as they lost 25-13.

Despite going behind to an early try the All Blacks struck back with a Kieron Lewitt penalty and his conversion of Harry Davis’ try. Lewis then added another penalty before Worthing struck back with a converted try before half-time to leave the All Blacks with a single point advantage 13-12.

Sadly Launceston couldn’t add to their tally in the second half and Worthing won the game scoring another couple of tries and a penalty.

In the Championship, the Cornish Pirates put behind them their terrible performance at home against Doncaster winning 16-14 at Nottingham’s new home Lady Bay.

Three Kerion Hallett penalties gave the Pirates a 9-0 half-time advantage.

Although Nottingham pulled it back to 9-7 a Matt Evans try converted by Hallet put the Pirates more than a score ahead once more.

Despite a second converted Nottingham try the Pirates held out for their third league win on the road this season.

News today that both Jamal Ford-Robinson and Tom Kessell have signed deals with Bristol.

Both will still be available for the Pirates this season but will likely feature for Bristol in the play-offs.

Ford-Robinson is contracted with Bristol for 2015/16 season, whilst next season Kessell has put pen to paper with Premiership side Northampton Saints.

You can read Ian Davies’ reaction in the link.

In the local league, Tribute South West 1, despite a couple of Alex Ducker tries both converted by Dave Mankee Town went down to their 10th league defeat of the season at Wells 13-12.

Despite winning 19-12 against Matson, St. Austell still find themselves in the mire six points behind Clevedon and safety.

Alex Welland, Ian Venner and Dan Pearce all scored tries for the Saints with Andy Ashwin kicking a couple of conversions.

This Saturday St. Austell travel to Camborne with both sides needing a win for different reasons. It promises to be a ding-dong battle.

In Tribute Western Counties West, Truro slipped further down the table following their 45-17 loss at St. Clements to Teignmouth. Luke Trescothick, Darren Jacques and Matt Cross scored tries for Truro with “Eggy” Williams adding a conversion.

Wadebridge Camels fine run was halted by visitors Tiverton 16-15 at the Molesworth Field. Dom Hawkey scored both the Camels’ tries with James Grubb kicking a penalty and conversion.

St. Ives continue to battle against the drop picking up 15-13 win over Torquay. Tom Chandler and Scott Perkin scored the Hakes’ tries with Jamie Prisk kicking the other points.

Penryn lost at Devonport Services 11-10. Dan Booth scored a try and Martin Strick kicked the other points.

Up in London 2 SW, London Cornish had another fine win to keep their promotion hopes alive 51-27 against Farnham.

I’ll look at the Cornwall & Devon League in more detail next week, suffice to say Saltash remain top following their 34-18 win against Paignton.

We await to see if Jack Nowell comes into the England squad for the Ireland game, fingers crossed.

Congratulations to both Billy Keast, son of former Redruth prop Richard, and Jack Stanley who both featured for England U.18’s in their win over France at Doncaster yesterday 21-5.

Posted in Bill's Blog


Cornwall Under 20s called into SW trial

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Photo – Dan Rutter, Todd Prisk, Rhys Brownfield selected for SW trial

Eleven of Cornwall Under 20s squad have been called up for the south west trial prior to the Divisional Festival at Welbeck College over Easter.

Players will looking to earn a place in the England Counties Under 20 squad that will undertake a tour to Hungary in June to play fixtures against  Hungarian Barbarians & Hungary Under 23s.

Players picked:
Tommy Phillips (Redruth)
Tommy-Lee Southworth (Redruth)
Jay Tyack (St. Ives)
Todd Prisk (Redruth)
Dan Marsh (Truro)
Neil Stanleick (Camborne)
Johnny Haines (Cornish All Blacks)
Dan Rutter (Redruth)
Rhys Brownfield (Pirates Amateurs)
Jack Simmons (Hartpury College)
Tom Eley (Truro)

Congratulations and Good Luck to you all!

Posted in Bill's Blog


Pirates again frustrate fans in roller-coaster season

I took in both the Cornish Pirates and Redruth games last weekend. Whilst one was very exciting the other was, to say the least, a disappointment.

Redruth raced into a 22 point lead early in the second half and looked set for a bonus point win against Worthing, but a slip in concentration saw the visitors claw their way back to 22-17 and the Reds had to be content with just the four points.

reds ashley hosking
Photo – Ashley Hosking goal-kicking proved key for Reds

A key element in the Reds win was the goal-kicking of Ashley Hosking. He also got the Reds’ second try and edged the man-of-the-match award in my opinion.

You can read my West Briton report in the link.

Another 1 point loss for Launceston as they slipped to 22-21 defeat at Southend, with Brad Burr kicking a winning penalty for the Saxons deep into time added on.

Read Conrad Sutcliffe’s WMN report in the link.

On Sunday the Cornish Pirates had a great opportunity to move up the table with a win over struggling Doncaster Knights, but instead it was the Yorkshire side who showed the greater composure to earn a 30-13 win at the Mennaye in what was arguably the most disappointing Pirates’ performance of the season.

The only player who looked to shine in a sea of mediocrity was Max Bodilly who looked to go forward whenever he had the ball.

It was a shame that Western Morning News reporter Bill Sobey had such a dreadful game to cover in his final report for the paper before moving to a new career. I wish him well and will miss his excellent reports in the paper.

You can read Bill’s final report here, plus more reaction from Ian Davies in this link.

Now for catch up time in the regional leagues:

In Tribute Western Counties West a good win for Penryn over Tiverton 31-15. Ross Hancock’s Packet report in the link.

In the Tribute Cornwall & Devon League Pirates Amateurs scored a ton beating OPM’s 100-6 at the Mennaye.

At Lux Park in the basement battle South Molton won a dour game against Liskeard-Looe 12-0.

The Tribute Cornwall Clubs Cup saw the first round of pool matches with Veor defeating St. Agnes in pool A, Roseland overcoming Camelford 29-0 in pool B, St. Just winning at Redruth Albany 20-10 in pool C and Lanner turning the tables on Helston 32-27 in pool D.

Congratulations to our Cornwall Under 20s for their terrific win at Charlton Park against Kent 25-18 in the quarter-finals of this season’s Under 20 County Championship. Cornwall now have a HOME draw in the semi-final against old foes Yorkshire on Sunday March 15, venue to be confirmed. See previous blog entry for report on the game.

Posted in Bill's Blog


Cornwall defeat Kent to advance to semis

UNDER 20 COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP QUARTER-FINAL

KENT 18 – 25 CORNWALL

Report by Bill Hooper TASC Press Officer, Photos Simon Bryant Iktis photo

Cornwall Under 20s produced a storming performance to defeat Kent at Charlton Park RFC 25-18 on Sunday to advance to the semi-finals of the National Under 20 County Championships where they will face Yorkshire at home on March 15th.

With scores tied at 18-18 and the clock running down, Cornwall knew they needed a score as they trailed on the try-count 3-2 with no extra-time in the offing.

The breakthrough came from fly-half Dan Rutter who crossed near the posts allowing Rhys Brownfield a simple conversion for a seven point lead.

The final whistle brought great scenes of jubilation in the Cornish camp.

Despite a promising start Cornwall found themselves trailing to an early unconverted try from Kent.

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Photo – hooker Locryn Williams who scored Cornwall’s second try

Cornwall struck back with a penalty from Rhys Brownfield following a powerful rolling maul from the Cornish pack.

Kent re-established a five point lead with a successful penalty of their own.

A good break from Rutter set up a ruck near the Kent line and the Cornish forwards drove over the line with skipper Todd Prisk getting the un-converted try to tie the scores.

Right on half-time full-back Connor Swan kicked a thirty-five metre penalty goal to give Cornwall the lead at the break 11-8.

Kent came out fired up for the second half and soon retook the lead with a well-worked unconverted try tin the corner to regain the lead 13-11.

Cornwall then lost the influential Prisk through injury and Kent got a third unconverted try to stretch their advantage to 18-11.

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Photo – Rhys Brownfield who kicked two conversions and a penalty for Cornwall

Cornwall struck back immediately to tie the scores as the forwards put in a huge effort with hooker Locryn Williams getting the score which Brownfield converted.

As the clock ticked down Cornwall saw two penalty attempts go astray in quick succession.

Salvation was at hand as Rutter rounded off great Cornish pressure to score the visitor’s third try allowing Brownfield a simple conversion to confirm Cornwall’s semi-final berth 25-18.

Kent (Blackheath unless stated): C Bennison, C Wallace-Sims (Canterbury), H Sayers (Dover), C Moss (Deal & Betteshanger Lions), J Penny (Westcombe Park), G Montgomery (Gravesend), N Hill (Gravesend); P Briggs (Westcombe Park), J Garratt (O. Elthamians), S Kenny (Canterbury), A O’Malley (O. Colfeians, Capt), C Tallis (O. Elthamians), G Baker, L Bush, B Dickson (Beckenham).

Replacements: T Duggan, T Mount (Thanet W.), J Buckingham, R Ward (Canterbury), C Spence (Tunbridge Wells), A Clement (Thanet W), A Eastwood (Maidstone).

Cornwall: C Swan, A Taylor (both Cardiff Met), J Simmons (Hartpury Coll), R Brownfield (Pirates Ams), L Thomas, D Rutter (both Redruth), S Fox (Wadebridge Camels); T Phillips (Redruth), L Williams (Chinnor), J Tyack (St. Ives), T Prisk (Redruth, Capt), A Hughes (Penryn), S Furse (Newquay H), J Haines (Launceston), N Stanleick (Camborne)

Replacements: J Martin (Truro), T-L Southworth (Redruth), D Marsh (Truro), T Pellow (Penryn), T Eley,  Z Noseda (both Truro), T Sandercock (Launceston).

Cornwall scores – Tries – Prisk, Williams, Rutter, Conversions – Brownfield (2), Penalties – Brownfield, Swan

Posted in Bill's Blog


Cornwall U20s name side to face Kent

CORNWALL UNDER 20 TEAM TO FACE KENT ON SUNDAY IN THE COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP QUARTER-FINAL

Cornwall have made five changes to their starting line up (from the side that was defeated by Devon at Ivybridge) to face Kent at Charlton Park RFC in South East London for their quarter-final match.

Hooker Locryn Williams comes back in as does winger Jake Woodward both returning from injury having missed the game against Devon.

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PHOTO – HOOKER LOCRYN WILLIAMS WHO RETURNS TO THE SIDE ON SUNDAY

Ashley Taylor and fellow Cardiff Met player Connor Swann come in on the other wing and at full-back. In the second row, the impressive Adam Hughes steps up from the back row with Sam Furse moving up from the bench into the back row.

On the bench Lewis Thomas, Tom Sandercock, Joe Martin and Dan Marsh all drop down from the starting XV whilst Zac Noseda who also missed the Devon game comes back in.

CRFU President John Grindle said, “This is a tough game for Cornwall having to make the 600 plus mile round trip to face Kent. I am sure the squad will do their very best to put on a creditable performance against the pool winners Kent.”

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PHOTO CAMELS WINGER JAKE WOODWARD WHO RETURNS TO FACE KENT

Coach Ian Morgan said, “Last week we have reduced the training squad to 26 this will enable us to focus on particular areas and prepare for the game against Kent.”

Cornwall will travel up on the Saturday night in preparation for the game against Kent which will be played at Charlton Park RFC with a 1400 kick off time on Sunday 15 February.

Coach Mike Rawlings said: “I know the whole squad were disappointed with their performance and the result against Devon. We welcome back into the 26 both Locryn Williams and Jake Woodward who missed the last game due to injury.  All the places in the starting 22 are up for grabs and it is up the guys to prove their hunger to pull on the shirt.”

CRFU Chair Denis Preece said, “The team had a superb result against Gloucestershire but a few errors have cost them a home tie. In rugby you have to lose sometimes to know how to go on and win!”

Cornwall Under 20 team manager Chris Lea said:”We are now at the business end of the season in a winner take all game and therefore the coaches rightly reduced the training numbers last week. For those guys not involved we know they will be disappointed, we thank them for their efforts but know a number of them will be in contention not only next season but for two or more seasons at this level.”

CORNWALL RFU UNDER 20 TEAM V KENT

SUNDAY 15 FEBRUARY 2015 @ CHARLTON PARK RFC, LONDON 2.00 PM KICK OFF

1)         Tommy Phillips                    Redruth
2)         Locryn Williams                  Chinnor
3)         Jay Tyack                             St Ives
4)         Todd Prisk   (Capt)             Redruth
5)         Adam Hughes                     Penryn
6)         Sam Furse                            Newquay Hornets
7)         Jon Haines                          Cornish All Blacks
8)         Neil Stanleick                     Camborne
9)         Sam Fox                               Wadebridge Camels
10)      Dan Rutter                           Redruth
11)      Jake Woodward                 Wadebridge Camels
12)      Rhys Brownfield                Pirates Amateurs
13)      Jack Simmons                    Hartpury College
14)      Ashley Taylor                      Cardiff Metropolitan
15)      Connor Swan                      Cardiff Metropolitan
16)      Joe Martin                           Truro
17)      Tommy Southworth          Redruth
18)      Dan Marsh                          Truro
19)      Tony Pellow                        Penryn
20)      Lewis Thomas                    Redruth
21)      Zac Noseda                         Truro
22)      Tom Sandercock               Cornish All Blacks

Travelling Reserves
23)      Russell Stevens                 Hayle
24)      Adam Smith                         Redruth
25)      Tom Eley                              Truro
26)      John Tyler                            Penzance & Newlyn Colts

Coaches – Ian Morgan, Mike Rawlings, Bryn Jenkins
Team Manager – Chris Lea

Posted in Bill's Blog


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