London Cornish laid the ghosts of last week’s defeat to leaders Tottonians to rest by beating Tadley Tigers 40-15.
Report and photos by Ben Gilby
Tadley are a side with good Cornish links of their own – one of the club’s founders, Frank Jose is a Camborne man, and it was his influence that led the Tigers to play in the black and gold of his beloved county.
The early exchanges were pretty even, but, within nine minutes it was the visitors who were ahead courtesy of a breakaway try from Matt Hakes, who received the ball, and was given the freedom of Berkshire to gallop home under the posts. Luke Spells converted, and Cornish were off and running.
Cornish now had the bit between their teeth and added a further three tries in the following ten minutes. Great ball from Rob Healey found Phil Dale who found Harry Somers on the left. The former Cornish Pirate played in Oli Low who broke attempted tackles and made the hard yards. Tadley managed to clear for a line-out. Ievers secured the ball and an absolutely monstrous rolling maul sent Tadley scurrying backwards, and it was Will Carew-Gibbs who grounded the ball at the end of it. Spells added the extras and with 13 minutes gone, ‘The Exiles’ were 14-0 up.
Photo – Good lineout ball claimed by lock Ben Ievers
Just three minutes later, and the impressive Cornish were over again as more pressure forced Tadley into a rushed clearance kick which went straight to Mark Osei-Tutu. A huge gap of open field presented itself and ‘Neuts’ was never going to do anything other than run home to score. Spells’ kick was good and it was now 21-0 to the visitors.
To their great credit, Tadley rallied and set up a pacy attack which resulted in the award of a penalty, which fly-half Craig Raymond successfully kicked.
Cornish received the ball back from the resulting kick-off following a Tadley knock-on, and another surge of pressure built, and Healey’s ball played in Robin Heymann who danced his way through more wide open space to seal the try-scoring bonus point with 23 minutes on the clock. Spells’ conversion put the score out to 28-5.
Photo – Fly-half Phil Dale makes a break
Tadley re-grouped and managed to close the flood gates at this point. Craig Raymond made a great run which needed stopping thanks to a great tackle from Will Carew-Gibbs. Shortly afterwards, from a scrum, Mark Osei-Tutu picked the ball out from the back and made ground. He found Healey, who put in a kick which was charged down. Thankfully Joe Skinnard comfortably won the foot race the snaffle the ball and clear the danger.
Cornish’s forwards were still enjoying total domination and, from another line-out, another immense maul was launched. Tadley were in serious trouble, and could only stop its progress illegally. The resulting penalty was kicked to the corner, and another massive drive resulted in Oli Low touching down. Luke Spells continued his 100% record with the boot to make it 35-5.
Photo – Cornish maul on the go
Tadley controlled the remainder of the half and a great move resulted in them getting over the Cornish line. Charlie Cox combined with Rob Dods-Samson. A further passing movement between Craig Raymond, Charlie Cox and Chris Beeby saw the ball recycled once more and Tom Altmann dotted down in the right hand corner. Raymon’s conversion attempt was unsuccessful and the score was 35-8 in Cornish favour at the break.
The Black and Golds were still in the ascendancy at the start of the second stanza, and from line-out ball, Ievers passed out to Healey who combined with Phil Dale, who in turn put in Robin Heymann. Once more Tadley could only stop the visitors with the concession of a penalty. This was kicked to touch to launch yet another huge rolling maul, and Mark Osei-Tutu grounded the ball for his second try of the afternoon.
Cornish had two further great chances – the first of which was a searing run from Rich Skinnard who was finally stopped by home full-back Rob Dods-Samson. Shortly afterwards, from a line-out, Phil Dale fed Joe Skinnard. Skinnard’s run then found Robin Heymann, but the ball was lost. From here on, Tadley stepped up to the plate and competed very well for the rest of the game. This character will serve them well for the remainder of the season. They built momentum further when a Cornish forward was sin-binned for not rolling away. Much of the final ten minutes was taken up by re-set scrums, but there was still time for one final score, and it went the way of the home side. Dods-Samson made a superb break through the centre, and played in replacement Chris Dennison who dived over to score. Craig Raymond’s conversion was a success, but Cornish took the spoils with a 40-15 win.
After the game, London Cornish Director of Rugby Dickon Moon commented: “This is the first match since Farnham away that we have managed to field our first choice locks, and you could see today the difference that makes. Though we tailed off in the second half, you cannot be disappointed with a 5 point away win and given how strong we are traditionally in the second half of the season, we must be happy with the biggest haul (43 points) we have ever achieved at this level in the opening 11 matches.”