Pirates settle for draw under the Mennaye sun

Photo Mark Collett, action from Penryn v Saltash with Borough’s Adam Hughes driving forward.

A very busy weekend for me covering both the Redruth and Cornish Pirates’ games for the local press, both were excellent games although the more satisfying from a spectator’s point of view will have been the 31 all draw between the Pirates and Ealing on Sunday.

It was a full-on game played in glorious sunshine. Ealing had the better of the early exchanges as the Pirates fell foul of referee Christophe Ridley far too often in the first forty.

A Mark Bright-inspired Ealing scored three excellent first half tries to lead 21-7, with the Pirates sole reply coming from winger Matt Evans with a try converted by fly-half Will Cargill.

Ealing’s player-coach Ben Ward nudged the visitors further ahead early in the second half before the Pirates’ bench brought some greater energy to the fray. Tom Duncan and Kyle Moyle scored tries both converted by Cargill to tie the scores at 24-24. Ealing got their noses ahead again with a converted try but the Pirates pegged them back thanks to Stuart Townsend’s quick thinking from a tap and go, with Cargill again on the money with the extras.

A draw was probably a fair result in the end, whilst those from Redruth will have been happy to see former players Bright and Aaron Penberthy in action for Ealing.

In National League 2 South Redruth made it two wins on the trot with a 48-12 win against newly promoted Barnstaple. Jack Oulton, Tommy Phillips, Sam Parsons, Nielson Webber and a penalty-try award plus three conversions and a penalty from James Huxtable saw the Reds go in 34-0 with the game won at half-time.

Second half Barnstaple salvaged some pride with a couple of tries, but Alex Ducker came on to score a couple himself, both converted by Huxtable.

The Reds hit the road for the first time this season on Saturday to face Chinnor with a few familiar faces waiting to greet them!

In National 3 SW, Camborne also made it two wins from two with an impressive 22-16 win at Dings Crusaders. Dave Mankee scored all his side’s points with a try, conversion and five penalties.

The only blemish was lock Damien Cook’s red card for retaliation, but to win at Dings is a fine marker and will make the rest of the division take note!

Launceston succumbed to a second defeat, this time at Hornets 31-17, Lloyd Duke, Fred Bulut and Martin Kneebone scoring the Cornish All Blacks’ tries.

In Tribute Western Counties West, Truro also made it two wins with a fine 26-24 win at Sidmouth. Ieuen Bone, Jake Champion, Daryl Riches and Jack Symons all scored tries, with Ashley Hosking adding three conversions.

Wadebridge Camels came from behind to win a thrilling encounter 32-26 at Torquay.

Trailing 20-3, Camels fought back with Dan Thomas, Matt Ballard, Adam Blackmore and Dom Hawkey scoring tries and James Grubb kicking three conversions and two penalties.

St. Austell also had to battle from behind to claim their first win of the season 29-24 against Burnham. Tries were scored by James Martin (2), Miles Davey and Sam Rhodes, Andy Ashwin kicked the other points.

St. Ives put up a good show at Devonport Services before losing 29-23. Jamie Prisk and James Wright scored tries for the Hakes, with Jordan Gott converting both scores and kicking three penalties.

A weakened Bude proved no match for Exeter University going down 83-5! James Comber with their consolation try.

In London 2 SW, London Cornish, despite missing a few regulars, defeated Twickenham 19-14. Former Wasps and London Welsh player and Samoan International Dan Leo made his debut for the club.

In Tribute Cornwall & Devon League, Falmouth made it back-to-back wins with a fine 34-15 win at Honiton. Tom Edmonds, Justyn Irons (2), former Red, Owen Hambly and Nick Carne scored tries with Irons adding three conversions and a penalty.

Pirates Amateurs remain unbeaten following their 45-17 win against Plymstock at the Mennaye. Rhodri McAtee (2), Chadwick (2), James and Barrett scored tries for the Amateurs, with Magee kicking three conversions and three penalties.

Penryn won the Cornish derby at the Memorial Ground against Saltash 35-24. Borough’s tries were scored by Ross Hancock, Adam Hughes (pictured), Josh Chambers and Sam Hitchens with Matt Horton adding three conversions and three penalties.

For the Ashes, Ollie Mulberry (2), Will Morton and Joe Ronayne scored tries with Kieran Down and Ryan Cruickshanks each adding a conversion.

Lanner lost for the second game running this time 35-19 at home to Tavistock.

Dave Hewett scored their only try with Nick Prout kicking the other points.

Bodmin lost their opening game at Topsham 25- 8.

The Cornwall League results can be viewed in the Cornish results page. Hats off to St. Agnes who won the surfers derby 19-8 against Perranporth!

Cornwall U.18s got their season off to a winning start defeating Plymouth College 27-19.

Posted in Bill's Blog

League season is up and running

Photo : Ian Morgan happy with Camborne’s start

The league season got under way for most of our clubs last Saturday and the weather was typical Cornish rugby weather!

In the Championship, the Cornish Pirates got their season off to a great start with a win on the road at Bedford Blues 26-17.

Fly-half Will Cargill had a 100% record with the boot kicking four penalties and adding the conversions to Matt Evans and Tom Duncan’s tries.

Pirates will be looking to back up their opening day win at the Mennaye next Sunday when Ealing Trailfinders make the trip down to the far sou’west. Former Red Mark Bright has joined Ealing this summer and he always seems to raise his game when back in the Duchy!

In National League 2 South, Redruth withstood a ferocious late surge by Henley Hawks to hold out for a 23-18 win.

Quite where referee Calum Howard found almost fifteen minutes of time added on was a mystery to all in the ground.

Head coach Marek Churcher was delighted with his side’s performance. Tommy Phillips, Brett Rule and Ashley Lawton scored the tries with James Huxtable kicking the rest of the points.

The Reds are at home again this Saturday with newly promoted Barnstaple making the trip down from North Devon.

In National League 3 South west, there were mixed results for our two sides. Camborne, playing their first game back in the National league for 19 years, got their season off to a great start with a 30-14 win at home against Cleve.

The excellent Jack Simmons scored two tries with Dave Roberts getting a third. Dave Mankee back from his sojourn across the Red river banged over all three conversions and three penalties to boot.

Not such a good start for Launceston as they lost at Polson 21-16 to Dings Crusaders, despite the visitors playing most of the game with fourteen men as hooker Paul Fincken was red carded for punching!

Andy Knight and Tom Sandercock scored tries for the All Blacks with Fraser Honey and Ben Hawke adding a penalty each.

Launceston travel to Hornets on Saturday for what will be a very tough game.

In Tribute Western Counties West, Truro registered an opening day win 41-16 against Torquay Athletic.

Getting a good start to the season has eluded Truro of late but they made no mistake scoring six tries through Toby Armstrong (2), Jake Champion (2), Ashley Riches and Ethan Pattison. Ashley Hosking banged over four conversions and a penalty.

Bude defeated Devonport Services 22-19 thanks to a late Dan Pearce penalty.

Elsewhere it was defeats for our sides. St. Austell, despite a brave battle went down 25-19 at Tiverton. Shane Johns, Cav Boyer and Max Duggan with the Saint’s tries with Liam Freeman landing a couple of conversions.

Wadebridge Camels lost at home 5-10 to Exeter University, player-coach Mike Rawlings with their sole points.

St. Ives also lost at home against Cullompton 10-23, Jordan Gott and Josh Palmer scored tries for the Hakes.

In the Tribute Cornwall & Devon League. There was a good win for Falmouth 15-0 against Topsham, Matt Brewer and Ashley Searle scored the Eagle’s tries with Justyn Irons adding a penalty and conversion.

Pirates Amateurs got off to a winning start 6-0 at Plymouth Argaum thanks to a penalty and drop-goal from Dan McGee.

Saltash lost at Moorlands 3-0 against Paignton.

Lanner also lost 3-0 at Tamar Saracens.

Penryn lost 15-12 at Plymstock. All their points coming from Matt Horton’s boot.

Bodmin’s game with Withycombe was re-arranged.

In Tribute Cornwall League both Hayle and Newquay Hornets made solid starts. The Hayle Lions defeated Illogan Park 53-3, whilst Hornets accounted for Stithians 62-0.

Liskeard-Looe defeated Perranporth 31-11, St. Agnes won at Roseland 8-3, St. Just defeated Redruth Albany 13-7, Lankelly-Fowey won at Camelford 41-7 and Veor beat Helston 15-5.

Camborne School of Mines begin their program next Saturday.

Posted in Bill's Blog

‘Stack’ Tribute Night

Tribute Night to Stack! – Reminder                

As previously mentioned, a special event is to take place at Penzance & Newlyn RFC’s ‘Westholme’ clubhouse on Friday 9th September (7.30pm for 8pm).

The event will form a ‘Tribute Night to Stack!’, centring on the man himself (Brian ‘Stack’ Stevens) and what he achieved as one of Cornwall’s greatest ever sportsmen, despite playing in an era when the far west of Cornwall was cut off from the rugby mainstream.

With Stack and his family present, the tribute event will welcome many other former Pirates, county players, officials and friends. Admission is free to all who wish to attend, partners are welcome, and a thoroughly enjoyable evening is envisaged – no doubt recalling so many fond memories

There will be a number of speeches, plus a varied range of associated memorabilia which will form an exhibition, including a display case which has Stack’s England cap, British Lions shirt, England shirt, plus the shirt that he exchanged in 1971 after the England versus Rest of the World centenary game.

Also, for those who may be interested, copies of former player Steve Tomlin’s latest title “Stack Stevens – Cornwall’s Rugby Legend” will be on sale.

Steve’s wonderfully written book, which he will happily sign, tells the incredible story of someone born in a remote area of Cornwall who found he had an exceptional talent for rugby. Besides playing over 500 games for the Pirates, and 83 times for Cornwall, Stack won 25 caps for England and he also played for the British Lions.

The book lists quotes from a number of rugby’s finest, including Gareth Edwards and Willie John McBride. It is also worth noting that monies from the book will go to Cornwall Air Ambulance.

For more information, please contact Phil Westren – telephone 07817 998879, or email phil.westren@cornish-pirates.com

Stack has suffered from a rare and serious neurological condition in recent years, and it is of enormous credit that he has displayed heroic stoicism and courage to battle against it.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Pre-order new book by Steve Tomlin on ‘Stack’ Stevens

TASC are pleased to be able to offer pre-orders for the latest book by Steve Tomlin, who in recent years has also published “Pirates, Pirates, the rise and rise of a Cornish rugby club” and “Cornish Pirates Legends.”



This is the incredible story of Brian ‘Stack’ Stevens, born in a remote former mining area of Cornwall with no sporting background, yet found he had an exceptional talent for rugby. When still a teenager, he was playing against established international players but, with Penzance being cut off from the rugby mainstream, he would have very little recognition for a decade.

At twenty-eight, following some outstanding county matches for Cornwall, he was at last given an England trial. He won twenty-five full international caps for England over the next six years, including famous wins over the top southern hemisphere teams; he also scored the winning try against the All Blacks in Auckland and represented the British Lions in New Zealand.

He was under constant pressure from his father, who needed him at home on the farm, and this prevented him going on a second Lions tour. He temporarily signed for Harlequins to the dismay of his local club Penzance & Newlyn, and had to travel overnight to London for England training and Harlequins matches by hitching a lift on a broccoli lorry to Covent Garden and then back again afterwards.

Stack is still very much a favoured son throughout Cornwall, where the locals see him as ‘one of their own’. He continued to run the farm after his father died, and became an England selector when he finally stopped playing. In recent years he has suffered from a serious neurological condition but as ever he continues to battle against the odds. This book has been written with the full cooperation of Brian and his family by someone who played with him, and who remains a friend.

Latest title from Amberley’s Sports range
Foreword and testimonial by John Inverdale
Review coverage in national sporting press, local press and radio
Covers playing career with England and British Lions and features anecdotes by former England and Lions players
Highlights the current debate around the dangers of head injuries in rugby.

Steve Tomlin is a passionate Cornish rugby fan who has followed the Pirates since he was nine. He and his wife, Miquette, live close to their family and five grandchildren near Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire, but still gets back to his beloved Cornwall as often as possible.


John Inverdale is one of Britain’s leading sports broadcasters and journalists. Among others. he has presented coverage on the Olympic Games, Rugby World Cup and Wimbledon Championships.

STACK is the story of one of Cornwall’s Greatest sporting heroes Brian ‘Stack’ Stevens, who played for England and was called up for the famous Lions Tour of 1971 in New Zealand.

The book in paperback is some 168 pages and contains 50 illustrations.


The book is due to be on sale during September and your copy can be reserved for £14.99 + £3.65 P & P by pre-ordering now from TASC Merchandise. Contact Marina by e-mail m.dudley052@btinternet.com or phone 01726 843822.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Tribute Cornwall RFU Cups fixtures & format for 2016-17

Tribute Cornwall Super Cup 2016/17

This trophy will be contested by CAMBORNE, REDRUTH & LAUNCESTON. The FINAL will be between the top two clubs who accrue the most points in a home and away mini league to be played as follows:

1st October Camborne v Launceston (played as a double header with League match)

26th December Redruth v Camborne (played as a double header with Rodda’s Milk Cup)

31st December Launceston v Redruth

21st January Launceston v Camborne (played as a double header with League match)

18th March Redruth v  Launceston

15th April Camborne  v  Redruth (played as a double header with Rodda’s Milk Cup)

Final to be played on Bank Holiday Monday 1st May 2017.


Tribute Cornwall Cup 2016/17


(Matches to be played on 22nd October 2016)






(Matches to played on 12th November 2016)





Draw for the SEMI-FINALS to be made on SUNDAY 20th November (at the CRFU Clubs’ Conference) with matches to be played 18th March 2017.

Final to be played over the Easter weekend – 15th 16th 17th April 2017.


Tribute Cornwall Clubs Cup, Plate, Bowl & Shield 2016/17

On completion of their league programme these trophies will be contested as follows:

Tribute Clubs Cup – TOP FOUR clubs in Cornwall One

Tribute Clubs Plate – BOTTOM FOUR clubs in Cornwall One

Tribute Clubs Bowl – TOP FOUR clubs in Cornwall Two

Tribute Clubs Shield – BOTTOM THREE clubs in Cornwall Two

Round-Robin matches for clubs taking part in Tribute Shield will be played on 25th March, 1st April and 8th April with the top two clubs contesting the Final.

Semi-finals of Tribute Cup, Plate and Bowl to be played on 22nd April.

Finals of Cup, Plate, Bowl and Shield to be played on Bank Holiday Monday 1st May 2017.


Tribute Duchy Cup and Plate 2016/17


(Matches to be played on 24th September 2016)

Match One CAMBORNE 2nds  v  TRURO 2nds

Match Two PENRYN 2nds v BODMIN 2nds

Match Three BUDE 2nds v SALTASH 2nds

Match Four FALMOUTH 2nds v ST IVES 2nds

First Round Byes: REDRUTH 2nds, WADEBRIDGE CAMELS 2nds, ST AUSTELL 2nds & LAUNCESTON 2nds.

Draw for the SECOND ROUND to be made on SUNDAY 25th September ,with matches to be played 5th November 2016.

Losing teams from FIRST and SECOND ROUNDS to play in the Plate Competition, the FIRST ROUND of which will be played on 7th January 2017.

Semi Finals of Cup and Plate to be played on 4th February 2017.

Finals of Cup and Plate to be played over the Easter weekend – 15th 16th 17th April 2017.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Pre-season fixtures Cornish clubs 2016-17

Pre-season games involving Cornish clubs during August

Advise to check with clubs re kick-off times.

Sat 13th August

Aberavon Wizards v Cornish Pirates

Teignmouth v Wadebridge Camels

Sun 14th August

Plymouth Albion v Camborne

Fri 19th August

Launceston v Taunton Titans

Sat 20th August

Camborne v St. Ives/ Truro XV

Northampton Saints v Cornish Pirates

Penryn v St. Austell

Swansea v Redruth

Sat 27th August

Camborne v Peterborough Lions

Launceston v Bideford

Redruth v Plymouth Albion

Wadebridge Camels v Penryn

Posted in Bill's Blog

Cornwall no longer masters of own destiny

Photo: Cornwall celebrate their latest Cup win at Twickenham

Many of us have questioned the wisdom of those who occupy the ivory towers of the RFU at Twickenham over the years, often with good reason, so it will come as no surprise that those concerns are raised again as the ‘draw’ for next season’s Bill Beaumont Cup is released.

There were inklings at the end of the last campaign that changes were afoot!

Despite finish bottom of the pool, many of the Surrey lads believed they would not be relegated as changes were due. Devon too felt they would be involved in the top-tier despite missing out in their Division 2 battle with Kent.

Both camps were correct in their assumptions.

The Bill Beaumont Cup will see twelve sides challenging for the cup. This is a welcome step to see more counties involved. They will be split six each into North and South. However, rather than increase the number of games, the RFU have come up with a cunning plan! Let’s replicate the LV Cup, draw the sides into groups of three and then play their counterparts in either the North or the South, with the side with the best overall results from each geographical area advancing to the final.

Relegation will be decided over two seasons so that each county plays the same number of games at home and away.

As you can see from below Cornwall are drawn in a group with Gloucestershire and Kent but will play each of the counties drawn in the other southern group namely Surrey, Devon and Hertfordshire. It is feasible that a county having won all their games could be pipped by another county who win all their games with a better record without having a chance to play that county!

For Cornwall, seeking a third consecutive title, the road is not an easy one. They start with two away trips at Surrey on May 6 and then in Devon on May 13 before hosting Hertfordshire on May 20. The final will be on the 28th May at Twickenham.

The new format also causes disruption in the North with both Lancashire and Yorkshire drawn in the same pool, so no “Roses Match” in next season’s competition.

Cheshire, last season’s finalists, will have to face both the Roses counties plus East Midlands, with crucially two games at home and a trip to Yorkshire to overcome.

There must also be doubt about Cornwall’s traditional warm up game as it would seem unlikely that Cornwall would wish to play Devon prior to the Championship.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Cornwall Under 20s draw for 2016-17

Photo: Tommy Phillips, TASC 2015 Under 20 Player of the Year, with CRFU Chairman Denis Preece

Cornwall Under 20s will begin their campaign with two home games against Berkshire and Gloucestershire before an away trip against Hampshire in their pool games for this season’s Under 20 County Championship.

Hampshire have replaced Devon, who were relegated to the Shield competition at the end of last season’s pool games.



Sunday Mar 18 Hampshire v Cornwall (Away) venue TBC

If Cornwall finish in the top two places and qualify for the quarter-finals, that will be played on Sunday 1 April 2017. A first place in their pool will guarantee a home tie, finish runner-up and they will face a trip to a side in the other Southern pool from Essex, Surrey, Hertfordshire or Kent.

The semi-finals are scheduled for Sunday 15 April, with the Final at Twickenham on Sunday 6 May.

Posted in Bill's Blog

Truro acclaims its heroes

Photo: Team assemble at County Hall

Cornish rugby fans turned out on the streets of Truro to cheer the Cornwall rugby team following their historic back-to-back win in the Bill Beaumont Cup against Cheshire 35-13 on Sunday.

The crowds may not have been the size of those in days gone by, but the warmth and feeling was just the same as people clamoured for a photograph with their heroes on Lemon Quay Plaza.

The evening kicked off with a reception for the team, coaches and officials at County Hall, with words of thanks from Cornwall Council’s Chairman Ann Kerridge in both English and Kernewek.

I spoke to a couple of the players, first of all Cornwall’s fly-half Billy Searle. I asked him for his thoughts a couple of days on from the win. He said: “To be honest it still hasn’t really sunk in. It was an awesome weekend coupled by an equally awesome performance on the pitch, and then a fantastic evening with all the fans at the Puriton Inn on the way home!”

Photo: Billy Searle takes on Cheshire

I asked him about the great start the side made on Sunday and of course his wonderful try: “It was a dream start for me and the team. To get that early score really set the platform for the day.

“We wanted to start big. Getting an early lead would lift our confidence levels and put pressure on Cheshire. We managed that and we built on those early scores.”

Billy felt the side coped well when Cheshire came back at them later on during that first period: “We had that cushion and defensively we were very sound dealing with their threats, then we were able to come again to score those two late tries to seal the win.”

Billy acknowledged that Herbie Stupple’s try was the crucial score: “Yes that was the crucial score. We didn’t want to get ahead of ourselves but I felt that was clincher, and then Matt Shepherd went in at the corner and rounded it off with a great conversion and that sparked off the celebrations.”

I asked Billy about his roofing exploits at the Puriton Inn, where he was caught on camera high up with Nielson Webber: “Oh, I don’t know about that,” he said laughing, “it was a good night and all in the spirit of the celebrations! It was nice to celebrate with the fans, they have put in the miles following us and being there as our 16th man. It’s not something that happens too often these days, but it sums up the special bond we have with our supporters.”

For Billy, a new chapter in his rugby career awaits when he joins Premiership side Bristol this summer: “It’s the next step in my career. I am really looking forward to pre-season and getting stuck-in. I can’t predict what will happen in the future. Hopefully I will get a chance and hopefully I can take it. I shall obviously miss being involved with Cornwall next year, whether I can play or not remains to be seen.”

I also spoke with Cornwall’s centre Jake Murphy and asked him if he had recovered from the weekend. “It’s still a little blurry to be honest,” he said with a huge grin. “Rugby-wise it was fantastic. Second time round, I think I felt the pressure more this time, the expectation was even higher than last year, but to go out there and put that performance on after we stuttered a little in our pool games, shows the quality of the squad we have. The pressure was on us, we brought in some quality players like Tom Cowan-Dickie and Sam Matavesi, and the public expectations went sky-high. That pressure did get to us in the pool games I am sure, but we saved the best for the final.”

Photo: Jake Murphy looks to get away

Jake also acknowledged that the side couldn’t have hoped for a better start: “We couldn’t have hoped more for that start, it was just what we wanted, Sheppy’s little run, which he’s being doing all season with Albion, and then Billy knows his way to the try-line for a fantastic try.”

Jake was also full of praise for the Cornish fans: “There aren’t enough superlatives to describe our great fans, they help us put that pride in the shirt, and without them the county game would struggle when you run out in front of the black and gold. You really want to fight for the shirt. They are crazy, but we love them for what they are. They played their part especially in that opening game at Redruth against Gloucestershire. Without them I am not sure we would have done it. It doesn’t go unnoticed. The boys mention the support a lot on the bus and when we meet up. Walking out at Twickenham to see the black and gold and hear them lifts you hugely!”

Asked about going for a hat-trick of wins, Jake smiled: “Well that has to be the next goal and I have no doubt that Graham Dawe’s thoughts have already turned to that prospect! I think for us it will be good to let it sink in and reflect. I don’t think the lads really appreciate yet just what they have achieved, back-to-back wins is a first for Cornwall. Competition for the squad is likely to be even fiercer next season, so we all be looking to play well for our clubs and hopefully get asked to join the squad in the New Year. I know I am up for it.”

I also managed to get a few words from Cornwall RFU President Ken Plummer, who was understandably proud as punch. He said: “It’s been fabulous to see everyone smiling and happy with Cornwall’s latest success and it’s the icing on the cake for what we have done over the past two years. This squad of players have been truly fantastic. They have put their all into this campaign and they have got their rewards. As a county we are absolutely delighted.”

Kenny spoke to World Rugby President Bill Beaumont on Sunday, and he told him that the Championship belonged to Cornwall as they were keeping the tournament going: “The RFU are always delighted when we get to the final and bring our support to Twickenham. There are a lot of counties who want to aspire to what we are doing and that can only be good for the Championship.”

Photo: CRFU President Ken Plummer

I asked him about the group this year and how hard it had been: “Difficult, difficult. Hertfordshire are no fools and they know how to win rugby games especially at home, so that was a crucial victory. Gloucestershire at Redruth, we were slow starters that day and we did stutter, no question, but we pulled it out of the bag and that showed the character of our lads. We saved the best until last, we played by far our best game. Our defence was awesome and our attack, well to win by 35-13 and score four tries was unbelievable. I believe this squad of players can go from strength to strength. All we need for them now is a Stadium for Cornwall, we need a top class facility for these boys to play in!”

Kenny feels passionately that the Stadium for Cornwall will benefit all levels of the game in Cornwall: “I think the long-term objective is for the Cornish Pirates to play in the Premiership, and for us to win a Championship playing in the best stadium in the West Country, and I hope that comes to fruition in the not too distant future.”

Photo: Graham Dawe with the Cup

At the end of the evening I caught Graham Dawe’s eye. I said to him: “Going for a hat-trick Graham?” With a glint in eye and a wry old smile he replied, “There’s going to be that expectation and the pressure that goes with it.” Somehow, I feel it’s a challenge that he relishes deep down!

Posted in Bill's Blog

Cornwall retain their title to deny Cheshire the cream

Photos by Simon Bryant Iktis photo, words Bill Hooper

Cornwall deservedly retained the Bill Beaumont Cup, adding a fifth county title to their palmarès with a 35-13 win against Cheshire at Twickenham.

The black and golds scored four tries through Billy Searle, Sam Matavesi, Herbie Stupple and Matt Shepherd, with Shepherd kicking fifteen points (three conversions and three penalties) for a personal tally of twenty points, as he enjoyed another stellar day on the hallowed turf. All Cornwall’s points were scored by Plymouth Albion players, but the cream was defiantly on top by the end of this encounter!

For scrum-half Greg Goodfellow, Cornwall’s favourite Scotsman, it was the fitting finale to his Cornwall career he had wished for, following the disappointments of missing out last season

Head coach Graham Dawe was thrilled to have retained the Bill Beaumont Cup and make a little bit of Cornish sporting history. He said: “It’s a special day for Cornish rugby. We were calculated and organised today which I think was the difference between the two sides.

“To win this competition two years in a row is fantastic and our team showed how good they are this afternoon. We came up against a very tough Cheshire side. We were very impressed by the quality of their players.

“This means a lot to the many supporters who are here and to all involved in Cornish rugby.”

Photo: Billy Searle scores Cornwall’s opening try

Cornwall got off to a blistering start with Billy Searle, as his fellow Albion team-mates Jake Murphy and Shepherd combined to put the young Bristol bound fly-half away. Shepherd added the extras, and the first strains of ‘Olé, Olé, Olé, Cornwall!’ could be heard around the steeple terraces of English rugby’s HQ.

Cornwall kept the pressure on Cheshire, forcing a succession of kicks to the corner, from which the pressure told, with none other than Sam Matavesi powering over for an unconverted try: with barely ten minutes on the clock, the Falmouth Marine Band were in full cry!

Photo: Sam Matavesi on the charge

Cheshire needed a score and they got it on the 20 minute mark, as fly-half Jack Lavin slotted a penalty.

It was just the fillip Cheshire needed. They began to turn the screw kicking to the corner and being held up near the Cornish line. They were not to be denied, as hooker Paul Millea drove over with Lavin adding the extras, to trail by just two points.

Cornwall began to make use of the rolling subs on the half hour mark as Lewis Webb and Damien Cook replaced Goodfellow and Tony Whittle.

Shepherd steadied Cornish nerves with a couple of penalties as Cheshire lost a player to the sin-bin. Cornwall went close to another score before the break but turned around with a useful 18-10 lead.

Photo: Another consummate performance from Matt Shepherd, with 20 points

Cheshire began the second half strongly, with Lavin kicking a penalty, and being unlucky not to cut the gap to two points as a long-range effort clipped the bottom of the bar.

Cornwall then got the decisive third try. Strong running from winger Robin Wedlake saw the Albion speedster tackled close to the Cheshire line. Prop Christian Judge, making his first appearance for Cornwall this season off the bench, was halted before the ball came to No.8 Herbie Stupple, who scored with some force. Shepherd’s conversion stretched Cornwall’s lead to 25-13 as the singing intensified.

Photo: Robin Wedlake in full flight

Goodfellow returned to the fray as the clock ran down.

Sam Parsons thought he had scored, but was called back by referee Lehay for an earlier Cornish infringement. With the decibels rising, the icing on the Cornish ‘Heavy Cake’ was provided by Shepherd, who scored and converted Cornwall’s final try, to create a little bit of Cornish sporting history with the first ever back-to-back titles.

The final whistle brought great scenes of Cornish joy, with ‘Trelawny’ once again resounding around the home of English rugby!

Cornwall (Plymouth Albion unless stated): M Shepherd, L Vinnicombe (Redruth), J , Webber (Redruth), R Wedlake, B Searle, G Goodfellow (Chinnor); T Cowan-Dickie (Redruth), R Freestone, C Williams (Redruth), B Hilton (Cornish All Blacks), T Whittle (Camborne), K Marriott (Redruth, capt), S Matavesi, H Stupple.

Replacements: L Webb (Taunton) for Goodfellow 30, D Cook (Camborne) for Whittle 30, S Parsons (Redruth) for Webber 45, C Judge for Williams 45, R Brown (Redruth) for Cowan-Dickie 49, C Fuca (Redruth) for Stupple 52, J Dawe for Vinnicombe 72, Goodfellow for Webb 72, Stupple for Marriott 73, Hilton for Cook 74, Webber for Murphy 79.

Cornwall scores: Tries: Searle, Matavesi, Stupple, Shepherd; Cons: Shepherd (3); Pens: Shepherd (3).

Cheshire: C Venables (Macclesfield), J Leech (Sandbach), F Edward (Caldy), R Hayes (Chester), A Baker (Wirral), J Lavin (Caldy), J Murray (Wirral); G Woods (Chester), P Millea (Macclesfield), E Millar-Mills (Macclesfield), D Marwick (Macclesfield, capt), T Sanders (Caldy), N Davidson (Caldy), H Broadbent (Rosslyn Park), R Parkinson (Macclesfield).

Replacements (used): C Roddy (Stourbridge) for Broadbent 34, M Craven (Chester) for Roddy ht, N Rushton (Caldy) for Woods 51, B Jones (Caldy) for Murray 51, T Oakes (Sandbach) for Millea 66, N Pearson (Sheffield Tigers) for Parkinson 66.

Cheshire scores: Try: Millea; Con: Lavin; Pen: Lavin (2).

Yellow card: Cheshire: Sanders 27.

Referee: Jamie Leahy (RFU).

Crowd: 3500 (of us!)

Posted in Bill's Blog

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