ENGLAND ON THE BRINK

Who would have thought six weeks ago at the start of RWC 2007 that this England squad would have had a cat-in-hell’s chance of successfully defending their World Crown? Certainly not following their 36-0 defeat against the Springboks nor their uninspiring win over the USA in Lens. Yet hard fought wins over Samoa, Tonga and Australia showed that this group of players led by Cornishman Phil Vickery had the resolve and inner strength to battle on never more exemplified than by their dogged win in last Saturday’s semi-final against France in Saint Denis 14-9.

Semi-Finals are by and large tediously dull affairs yet at the same time gripping, this was to prove to be no exception with the outcome going right down to the wire with Jonny Wilkinson drop kicking England into the final next Saturday against South Africa.

It will not have gone unnoticed in the land of the silver fern that England in reaching their third World Cup Final have eclipsed New Zealand (two finals) in rugby’s premier event. Can they go on and create their own piece of history and become the first nation to successfully retain the Webb Ellis Cup? Who would bet against them now?

The Cornish Pirates made it six wins from seven starts with a 24-14 win at Esher in National League 1. The Pirates who have been suffering with a lengthy casualty list saw all their points scored by James Moore and Ollie Thomas and are now fourth in the league.

It was always going to be hard and the reality is settling in at Polson as the Cornish All Blacks lost their sixth league encounter of the current campaign to the Pertemps Bees 32-8. A win which lifts the Bees from the foot of the table vaccating the slot for the CAB’s. Owen Hambly with a try and Stuart Alred with a penalty were the points scores for Launceston. They will look to bounce back this Saturday when they entertain London Welsh at Polson. A few off the field rumblings at Polson which will not help the club as everyone needs to pull togeather to get the team away from the wrong end of the table.

Redruth are another side where it has been far from plain sailing this season. The close season opptimisim of a promotion push has all but evaporated with a ten point penalty hanging over the club following the unfortunate events at Cambridge which have been well documented elsewhere. Following last Saturday’s home reversal against Blackheath a daunting trip to Waterloo awaited. To Redruth’s credit they were in the game and only lost towards the end 25 – 19 to gain a losing bonus point. Redruth also had the satisfaction of scoring three tries through Lewis Vinnicombe, Fale Seve and Mark Bright, with Gareth Griffiths kicking a couple of penalties. A blow for the Reds was Griffiths leaving the field with a broken thumb.

Below the top two National Leagues it was Cup day elsewhere, Mount’s Bay led the way with another comprehensive win over Barking 55 – 19, Bay ran in eight tries with one from Jamie Semmens who was making a welcome return following his broken leg. Trelawny’s Army player of the Year, Lee Jarvis kicked six conversions and a penalty. St. Ives also made the 2nd round draw with a 26-15 win at Bristol Harlequins.

In the Senior Vase Bude defeated Penryn in a close encounter at Bencoolen Meadow 22-21 with Paul Williams kicking the winning penalty for the North Cornwall side. Wadebridge Camels completed a good day for North Cornwall over the Fal estuary with a 39-12 win over Falmouth. Up in the home counties, London Cornish enjoyed a fine win at Trojans 25-24.

Posted in Bill's Blog


POSTCARD FROM FRANCE

The reason for my lack of activity on this blog for the past couple of weeks has been my absence whilst attending some of the matches in France.

It’s been a tremendously exciting three weeks having attended all four of the host nation’s pool matches in Paris, Toulouse and Marseille. The atmosphere in France has been remarkable helped along by the excellent cuisine, fine wines and good beer. Everywhere you go RWC 2007 hits you, whether at Rugby Town just opposite the Eiffel Tower or in a sleepy village down south the whole country has been gripped with rugby fever. On the playing front there is no question that the ability of some of the so-called lesser nations has been the big plus in this World Cup. The failure of Ireland and Wales to progress to the Quarter-Finals coupled with England and Scotland being pushed all the way to secure their berths has shaken the old order in the Northen Hemisphere, France’s failure to beat the Pumas in their opening match has now left them with the unenviable task of facing the tournament favourites New Zealand at the Quarter-Final stage in Cardiff on Saturday night. This has caused a great deal of re-organisation for many as hotel plans and flight/travel plans have now had to be altered to travel to Cardiff on Saturday, no rest after having travelled back from Marseille via Paris today!!! It’s a hard life but hey someone’s got to do it!!

Everywhere you go in France one figure dominates, Chabal, Sebastien Chabal, the Sale Sharks player has become an insitution in France, his presence sending the fans into gutteral chants of some neolythical caveman who roamed the caves of the Massif Centrale many thousands of years ago. Is this the man who can inspire the French to an improable victory against the All Blacks as his countrymen managed eight years ago in the un-forgettable Twickenham semi-final?

We shall see. Whatever happens this has been a great World Cup so far with capacity gates at all the stadiums.

Vive la France and Vive la coupe du monde de rugby!!!

Posted in Bill's Blog


PIRATES ARE EDGING CLOSER

Whether it was still the effects of French hospitality from my lightning trip acoss the channel for the opening game of RWC 2007 on Friday night at the Stade de France or a lack of sleep over the previous 48 hours but at half-time on Sunday there was a sense that this could be the day that the Cornish Pirates turned over one of the big boys on their own turf. with score 19-10 to the Pirates courtesy of four Gareth Steenson penalties and a try scored by hooker Rob Elloway converted by Steenson you could sense that this time they might just pull it off.

Adryan Winnan had another stormer for the home side his vision creating the Pirates opening try when he chipped the ball ahead, Winnan was impeded in his chase by Saints winger Paul Diggin not once, nor twice but three times which should have seen the Saints’ winger spending 10 minutes in the ASK Secruity sin-bin.

The illusion was shattered soon after the start of the second half by Northampton as their fly-half Barry Everitt scored a fine try which he converted to pull his side back to within two points. The game then turned as the Pirates kicked a penalty to the corner and then launched from the lineout a massive assult on the Saints line. The period of pressure and resulting penalties were repulsed by the Saints pack who turned the ball over and set off downfield for Diggin to rub salt into the Pirates wound with a third try, now they trailled 24-19. It must have soul destroying for the home side, the Saints sensing the moment grabbed the try scoring bonus point with a fourth try from Dutchman Tim Visser for a 32-19 lead. James Moore on for Rhodri McAtee scored a second try for the Pirates which Steenson converted to leave the Pirates with a losing bonus point at 32-26, but even that slim reward was snatched away as the Pirates transgressed towards the end for Everitt to kick his third penalty of the game to leave the Saints 35 – 26 winners.

Almost 6,500 saw a great game.

The Cornish All Blacks made the long trip to Doncaster and had to give second best to the Knights 26-8. Matt Jess with a try and Stuart Alred scored the CAB’s points. Next week’s home game against Sedgley Park Tigers is one that the Cornish All Blacks will hope will kick-start their season.

With no games in National League 2 due to England Counties participation in the FIRA-AER Festival in SW France, Mount’s Bay once again stole the limelight with another impressive display in National League 3 South winning 42 – 18 at Bridgwater & Albion. With another five tries scored Bay now top the table with maximum points

News this week that Joff Rowe coach of the County side has stepped down from the position just weeks after having been confirmed in the post for a second season! Interesting to read conflicting reports from both camps as to the reasons why Joff Rowe resigned!!

Apologies for the lack of a review of our SW league clubs on the opening day of their league season, due to trips to the Rugby World Cup, once the tournament is over it will be back to buisness as usual.

Posted in Bill's Blog


PIRATES PLUNDER DERBY AS BAY THUNDER NATIONAL LEAGUE DEBUT

THE CORNISH PIRATES took the honours on the opening day of the National League 1 campaign with a hard fought 26 – 12 at new boys the Cornish All Blacks.

Whilst the Cornish Pirates will be satisfied with the win they will no doubt be less than satisfied with their second half performance which the East Cornwall side shaded by 12-7.

Leading 19-0 at half-time thanks to a try from winger Brian Tuhoy converted by fly-half Gareth Steenson who also kept the scoreboard ticking over with four well struck penalty goals, the travelling Press Gang faithfull would have been contemplating their side finishing the job during the second half and travelling back West with all five points in their booty. The Cornish All Blacks had other ideas. A trademark pushover try was scored by CAB’s No 8 Dave Kimberley to cut the Pirates’ lead to 19-7 with Stuart Alred kicking the conversion. Former Pirate Matt Jess scored a spectacular try on his competative debut for the CAB’s, the flying winger chipped the ball over Pirates’ Nick Buckley and Adryan Winnan to score in the corner, Alred couldn’t add the extras at 19-12 Launceston could sense at least a losing bonus point.

The Pirates made the game safe with their second try scored by skipper Tim Cowley following a break from Iva Motusaga, Steenson’s conversion completed the scoring.

Both sides will take positives from the match, however the Cornish Pirates will have their sternest test of the season already on Sunday when Northampton Saints roll into Camborne.

On Sunday, Redruth got their National League 2 campaign off to a fine start with a 21-14 win away at Nuneaton. This the first of three away matches for the Reds during September before their first home match against Blackheath on October 6th!!

Clive Griffiths kicked a couple of penalties to give the Reds a 6-0 lead before Huw Thomas cut the deficit to 6-3, there was no more scores during the first half. Nuns then took the lead with a try scored by flanker Ian Critchley. Redruth proceeded to score three tries in a 15 minute burst, the first from winger Nathan Pedley followed by a brace from fellow winger Lewis Vinnicombe, further penalties from Griffiths completed the Reds tally.

Next weekend the Redruth front row head to SW France for the FIRA-AER International Festival as part of the England Counties squad to play against Russia, Spain and France Amateurs.

And so to perhaps the most emphatic scoreline of the day and one which I couldn’t have forecast MOUNT’S BAY 63 – 10 BARKING.

Bay could not have wished for a more glorious debut as a National League club then this demolishon of a club that last season played in the league above. 35-3 up at half-time, Bay turned the screw mercillously during the second half running in a total of NINE tries ALL converted by fly-half Lee Jarvis. Australian Tim Mosey lead the way with a hat-trick of tries with the other tries coming from Jarvis, Nick Burnett, former Barking skipper Jon Marlin, Andrew Cheung-Fook, John Griffiths and Ben Hilton, Barking’s full-back Harry Bryan scored all their points with a try, conversion and a penalty.

This scoreline will have sent shockwaves throughout the whole division, with Bridgwater next up to tackle Bay on Saturday.

In the two EDF-Energy Senior Vase 1st Round ties involving Cornish clubs on Saturday there were mixed results. Falmouth progressed defeating Bideford 30 – 20 at the Recreation Ground, whilst Newquay Hornets bowed out 31-10 at Okehampton.

Posted in Bill's Blog


DERBY FEVER STRIKES DUCHY

There really couldn’t be a bigger game to start the National League campaign than the National League 1 derby between the Cornish All Blacks and the Cornish Pirates, or for the purists Launceston v Penzance & Newlyn. East versus West with all roads leading to Polson on Saturday, quite what the exodus of holiday makers heading back to England will make of the mass hords of the Pirates’ Press Gang heading up the A.30 is anyone’s guess. I hope that the expedition to the “borders” is plain sailing as far as the traffic goes.

The Cornish All Blacks deserve tremendous credit in getting to National League 1, Saturday will be their first major test not only on the pitch but off it as well as the demands in this league are far higher than anything they will have experienced before. I am sure that the pressure has already been felt with the pre-match ticket sales for this match and the rush to install the tiered terracing opposite the clubhouse and grandstand side of the pitch.

So what of the game, well I am sure that we are going to witness a tremendous tussle between the two sides and I am sure that former Pirates’ players such as Matt Jess and Owen Hambly will be keen to impress against their former club. I would expect the game to be close for 60 minutes before the Cornish Pirates’ pull away during the final quarter to seal all five league points on offer.

There have been some silly remarks this week about the lack of locals in the Cornish Pirates’ side. I have no truck with these ridiclous comments, the Pirates are a professional outfit who are duty bound to find the best players they can on their budget from wherever. They can come from Timbuktu for all I care as long as they do the buisness for the club! That is the reality of professional rugby and aiming for the Guiness Premiership.

In National League 2, Redruth kick-off their season at Nuneaton on Sunday afternoon. The Reds will be looking to get their league season off to a flying start. There is a great deal of optimisim in the Reds’ camp this season having gone close to promotion last time around. With the likes of Rob Thirlby and Lewis Vinnicombe out wide Redruth have a potent attacking option. A minor set back for the Reds this week is the absence of their new Samoan No 8 Faleoni Seve for the trip to Nuneaton. I’ll tip the Reds for a winning start to the new campaign.

Mount’s Bay begin life in National 3 South welcoming Barking to the Mennaye Field on Saturday. It really is a big day for the Bay and a feather in the cap for all concerned with the club to be playing National League rugby in such a short space of time since the formation of the club. Bay have former Barking skipper Jon Marlin playing in the centre one of several new recruits for the new campaign. A win for the Bay but they may not nick the bonus point on offer!

There are a couple of EDF-Energy Senior Vase 1st Round ties featuring Cornish clubs on Saturday, Falmouth entertain Bideford whilst Newquay Hornets travel to Okehampton.

Posted in Bill's Blog


ANOTHER BUSY WEEKEND OF PRE-SEASON FRENDLIES

It certainly was a very busy weekend with all four of the Duchy’s National League sides in action on Saturday.

At Camborne the Cornish Pirates played host to now familiar pre-season adverseries Celtic League side Newport Gwent Dragons. Once again the Welsh regional side ran out winners 21 – 13 in the Pirates final runout before their opening League encounter at Polson Bridge on September 1st.

Centre Paul Devlin scored the Pirates only try which was converted by fly-half Gareth Steenson made the score 14-13 to the Dragons. At that point the home fans hoped the Pirates could pull off an improbable win, it was not to be as the Welshmen scored a third converted try to make the final score 21 – 13. Steenson kicked two penalties for the Pirates’ other points.

Up at Polson Bridge the Cornish All Blacks ran up an impressive 68 points without reply against Welsh Premiership side Pontypool. Launceston ran in a total of nine tries with wingers Matt Jess and Marc Dibble scoring a brace each. Other scores came from lock Bryn Jenkins, centre Steve Perry, replacements Ryan Westren, Barry Chapman and Andy Birkett with referee Mr Parker-Sedgemore giving a penalty try in favour of the Blacks. Conversions were kicked by Jon Fabian, Stuart Alred and Mark Scrivener.

Launceston complete their preperations of their league campaign this Friday evening when they take on former Heineken Cup winners Bath at Polson with a 7-00pm kick-off.

National League 2 Redruth entertained Clifton at the Recreation Ground running out comfortable winners by 38 – 7. Rob Thirlby was once again in try scoring mood with two to add to the three he scored at Exeter the Saturday before. Brother Paul also got on the scoresheet with a try and four conversions. The Reds other tries came from No8 Fale Seve, hooker Glen Cooper and winger Lewis Vinnicombe.

Redruth’s Development XV lost to St. Ives on Sunday 17-15, Simon Peters and Jason Pengilly scored tries for Redruth whilst Josh Stevens and Rob Lowe scored for the Hakes.

In an entertaining game down at the Mennaye Field, Penzance, Mount’s Bay beat another Welsh Premiership side Cardiff 9 – 8 with Lee Jarvis kicking three penalty goals for the National League 3 South side.

France completed a pre Rugby World Cup double over the outgoing World Champions England down in Marseille by 22 – 9. France scored just the one try this week through their Toulouse centre Yannick Jauzion. Of concern to England was the injury sustained to their skipper Phil Vickery. I am sure we all wish Phil well to be fit for England’s opening game against the USA Eagles.

Posted in Bill's Blog


JESS OFF THE MARK

CORNISH ALL BLACKS 12 – 16 NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS

A report in the link from the Western Morning News on last night’s pre-season friendly at Polson Bridge.

Posted in Bill's Blog


BUILD UP CONTINUES

The build up to the new National League season continued on Saturday with two of our Cornish clubs in action across the border in Devon.

National League 2 side Redruth travelled to Exeter’s Sandy Park to play the Chiefs taking up also a Development XV to face an Exeter United XV. Whilst the Development XV lost by 78 – 5, the Red’s first XV gave the Chiefs a run for their money losing to the National League 1 outfit by 38 – 19. Rob Thirlby scored three tries for the Reds with debutant fly-half Gareth Griffiths kicking a couple of conversions. An encouraging effort by Redruth and one which will please coach Nigel Hambly although he will be the first to admit that there is still much to be done before the opening game at Nuneaton on Sunday 2nd September notably the lineout. Redruth are back in action on Saturday when they entertain Clifton at the Recreation Ground 3pm.

The Cornish All Blacks were at Newton Abbot winning 34 – 25. Jon Fabian (2), Tom Rawlings, Jake Murphy, Tony Roques and Barry Chapman all scored tries for the Cornish All Blacks. A good runout before they step up a gear on Tuesday evening when they entertain Celtic League side the Newport Gwent Dragons at Polson Bridge kick-off at 7pm.

The Dragons will be based at Tremough, Penryn for their Cornish visit and will be conducting training sessions on Penryn’s Memorial Ground this Thursday with the Borough’s youngsters and first team squad. Saturday the Dragons round off their Cornish visit with a game against the Cornish Pirates at Camborne kick-off 5pm. 

Mount’s Bay were due to play neighbours St. Ives however the Hakes were unable to field a front row and the game was called off. Mount’s Bay hope to be in action during the week at Helston on Tuesday evening, before they take on Welsh Premiership side Cardiff at the Mennaye on Saturday afternoon at 3pm.

England played their second warm up match for the Rugby World Cup taking on host nation France at Twickenham. After the euphoria of the big win against Wales the previous weekend England came back to earth losing to France by 21-15, the Frenchmen scored two tries through veteran lock Fabien Pelous who was equalling Philippe Sella’s 111 cap record for France and Sale Sharks talisman forward Sebastien Chabal. The game also saw the re-introduction of fly-half Frederic Michalak after a long injury lay-off during the second half. For England Cornishmen Olly Barkley kicked four penalty goals whilst skipper Phil Vickerey came on during the final quarter. England travel to the Stade Velodrome in Marseille for a rematch this Saturday evening. Both players have made coach Brian Ashton’s final 30 for the Rugby World Cup RFU link

Posted in Bill's Blog


PRE-SEASON RESULTS

EXETER CHIEFS 38 – 19 REDRUTH 

NEWTON ABBOT 24 – 39 CORNISH ALL BLACKS

CORNISH PIRATES 28 – 57 LEICESTER TIGERS

Posted in Bill's Blog


PIRATES TACKLE TIGERS TOMORROW

The waiting is almost over with the first pre-season friendly being played tomorrow afternoon at the Recreation Ground when the Cornish Pirates entertain Leicester with a 4 pm kick-off.

It will be a chance to see at first hand some of Jim McKay’s new recruits for this season’s campaign. Both sides will be hampered with enforced absences with players away preparing for the Rugby World Cup which stars five weeks today.

Squads for tomorrow’s match.

Cornish Pirates: J Beardshaw, S Betty, R Bolt, P Cook, T Cowley, B Cumming, D Dawiduik, P Devlin, R Elloway, E Gesinde, S Heard, S Hobson, R McAtee, J Moore, I Motusaga, S Parsons, A Paver, D Seal, G Steenson, B Tuohy, S Whatling, J Williams, E Williamson, S Winn, A Winnan.

Leicester Tigers (from): L Abraham, R Blaze, P Burke, M Cornwell, J Crane, T Croft, M Davies, B Deacon, L Deacon, A Erinle, O Finegan, A Goode, B Herring, G Hickie, I Humphreys, B Kayser, A Moreno, F Murphy, J Murphy, B Pienaar, M Smith, O Smith, B Stankovich, T Varndell, S Vesty, M Wentzel, J White, D Young, B Youngs, T Youngs. 

The referee is Mr Tony Spreadbury so that in itself will prove to be very entertaining!

Good to see that the RFU have at last published the England Counties squad for the forthcoming FIRA-AER Tournament in SW France, confirming the participation of the Redruth club’s front row of Darren Jacques, Glenn Cooper and Peter Joyce.

There have been some minor changes to the match venues from my previous posting;

The England Counties XV itinerary is:

September 6: England v Russia in Fleurance, Gers (17.00);

September 10: England v Spain in Morlaas, Bearn (17.00);

September 13: England v France Amateurs in Saint-Paul Les Dax, Landes (18.00).

 

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