BILL BEAUMONT CUP
CORNWALL 31 – 34 KENT
By Bill Hooper
On World Bee Day, Kent drew the sting of the Cornish swarm to book their place in this season’s Bill Beaumont Cup final at Twickenham next Sunday.
Cornwall can have no complaints, Kent were the better side on the day and fully deserved their win.
It was of course bitter disappointment for the Cornwall players and the 2,000 plus crowd at Camborne, all bedecked in the black and gold, who never-the-less serenaded their heroes on the final whistle.
Kent kicked off playing towards the clubhouse end and immediately set about their business.
Centre Jake Hennessey went very close to a try early on with only good Cornish defence keeping the centre from scoring.
Cornwall didn’t heed the warning, Kent were awarded a penalty close to the Cornish line, quick thinking from Toby Wallace saw the wing take a quick tap and sliced through the cover to score. Fly-half Sam Evans added the first of his four conversions.
Cornwall skipper Fraser Honey reduced the deficit with a penalty, before Cornwall scored a slightly bizarre try. Good play from Duncan Tout set up Mike Austin, the scrum-half kicked ahead, the ball bounced in-goal over the defenders head, back towards the on-rushing scrum-half who claimed the try. Honey added the extras.
Matt Shepherd thought he had scored a try from a quick throw in but the referee ruled the ball had been touched!
Evans tied the scores with a penalty kick as the nip and tuck nature of the game became increasingly evident.
The same player was on the money moments later to nudge Kent back into the lead with a second penalty.
Cornwall responded well, good lineout ball from Edd Pascoe saw the ball moved wide, with Shepherd jinking his way to the line, Honey added a fine conversion.
With half-time approaching, Kent launched another good attack, Matt Harrison made the hard yards before flanker Rafael Dutta took the ball to dive in under the sticks to leave the visitors 20-17 up at the break.
Cornwall needed a fast start to the second period and it came from a lineout. Ben Hilton won the ball before Sam Stevens took play up to the twenty-two, quickly recycled the ball found it’s way to centre Nico De Battista, the Argentinean scoring on his Cornwall debut.
Cornwall were back ahead, they needed to build on the score to put them more than a score ahead, crucially two penalty attempts at goal went begging, the second crashing against the Camborne upright and bouncing back beyond the twenty-two.
Instead it was Kent who scored next, from good lineout ball Alfie Orris showed his pace to fly in.
Both sides looked to the bench, Jordan Nicholls put in a big run for Cornwall gaining good ground. The next score would prove crucial as the game moved towards the last ten minutes.
Kent got close to the Cornwall line earning a penalty, Cornwall were guilty of switching off as Hennessey took another quick tap and dive over, Kent now had the two score margin!
Cornwall gave it one last go, they score through the excellent Stevens with Honey drop-kicking the conversion but it was too little, too late.
After the match Cornwall Captain Fraser Honey was naturally disappointed with the final outcome. “We all feel very frustrated. There were moments in that game that we should of capitalised on but didn’t and then we paid the price for those missed chances.
“We fell two score behind but in the past we have clawed back and stayed in the fight, I take my responsibility for missing those two penalties. We gave it a final fling after Sam Stevens try but it wasn’t to be. Fair play to Kent, they were well organised and good luck to them in the final.”
Cornwall: Matt Shepherd (St. Austell), Sam Parsons (St. Austell), Duncan Tout (Tonbridge Juddians), Nicolas De Battista (Camborne), Konnor Ewudzi (St. Austell), Fraser Honey (Redruth, Capt), Mike Austin (Cinderford); Luke Barnes (Redruth), Ben Priddey (Camborne), Jess Tompsett (Redruth), Jack Heazelton (Camborne), Ben Hilton (Barnstaple), Edd Pascoe, Sam Stevens, Ben Fox (all Redruth).
Replacements: Tommy-Lee Southworth (Camborne), Richard Brown, Craig Williams (both Redruth) Freddie Stevenson (Bude), Jordan Nicholls (Camborne), Josh Semmens (Pirates Ams), Lewis Thomas (Redruth).
Cornwall scores:, Tries, Austin, Shepherd, De Battista, Stevens, Cons, Honey 4, Pen, Honey
Kent: Bryan Hotson (Tonbridge Juddians), Toby Wallace (Tunbridge Wells), Jake Hennessey (Blackheath , Matt Harrison (Westcombe Park), Alfie Orris (Medway), Sam Evans (Worthing), George Daly (Blackheath) ; Luke Boon (Tonbridge Juddians), Ryan Jackson (Bishops Stortford), Reece Conlon (Tonbridge Juddians), Tom Stradwick (Blackheath), Dave Irvine (Canterbury), Rafael Dutta (Blackheath), Harvey Furneaux, Jamie Stephens (Capt) (both Canterbury). .
Replacements: Alex Witchell (Blackheath), Sam Carmen (Sidcup), Max Hayes (Tonbridge Juddians), Mo Pangarker (Medway), Tom Williams, Frank Reynolds, Lewis Hollidge (all Canterbury).
Kent scores: Tries, Wallace, Dutta, Orris, Hennessey, Cons, Evans 4, Pens, Evans 2
Referee: Callum Watson (RFU)