Cornwall couldn’t have hoped for a better start in their quest to regain their place in the County Championship proper next season following an emphatic 66-8 win, scoring no less than eleven tries over Oxfordshire in their opening County Shield match at Redruth on Saturday in front of a sizeable crowd.
Played in fine weather though with a stiff breeze blowing across the pitch, which proved troublesome to the goal kickers, Cornwall stamped their authority on the game from the kick-off, as No 8 Sam Hocking made the first of his telling carries. The Cornwall pack carried far too many “big guns” for the Oxfordshire eight who had a torrid afternoon as the rampant Cornish forwards dominated.
The opening score wasn’t long in arriving, though it came from an intercept by Redruth centre Simon Peters who sprinted along the eastern Bank touchline to score near the posts after only 2 mins, Mark Scrivener added the conversion. Oxfordshire briefly rallied to cut the deficit with a penalty from fly-half James Cathcart after 5 mins. Cornwall then took hold of the game to score a further four tries during the first half, Lewis Vinnicombe showed some blistering pace in helping himself to a couple of tries, with scrum-half Mark Richards and flanker Chris Fuca scoring the others in a Redruth try scoring spree during the opening 40 minutes. Mark Scrivener adding a couple more conversions and a penalty. Oxfordshire managed to pull a try back through winger Nick Sevier to leave the half-time score 34-8 to Cornwall.
Early in the second half Vinnicombe completed his try scoring hat-trick with a touchdown in the Piggy Lane corner of the ground. Cornwall continued to dominate though several promising moves broke down. As the game moved into the final quarter Cornwall brought on their bench players who were keen to make their mark on the game. Referee Mr. Higginson had no hesitation in awarding Cornwall a penalty try following sustained pressure on the Oxfordshire line, remarkably the conversion from in-front of the posts was missed as the ball appeared to tumble over as the luckless kicker Jamie Semmens was about to make contact with the ball. It mattered not. Cornwall’s eighth try was scored by skipper Josh Lord, who led his side by example throughout, a blistering run by the back row forward saw him run in from 35 meters cutting through the visitor’s defence, like a knife through butter. Leading at this stage by 49-8, Cornwall looked to finish with style with further tries from Jamie Semmens, replacement fly-half Marek Churcher and a spectacular score from replacement loose-head prop Jason Bolt in the Piggy Lane corner, Semmens converting the final score.
Speaking after the match county coaching co-ordinator Benji Thomas was delighted with such a dream start, he paid tribute to his players, all week he had instilled in them pride in playing for Cornwall and he felt that they had shown that today. He couldn’t have asked anymore from his players, especially pleased with the interplay between forwards and backs, felt that Jason Bolt’s final try really summed up the style he was looking for.
Proud skipper Josh Lord was equally very happy after the match, he felt that the squad had gelled very well despite the minimal preparation time they have had together. Josh paid tribute to his teammates and also the crowd who got right behind the team. Looking to take the next step next Saturday at Hertford, players have got Twickenham in their sights and are determined to get there. Heartened by the great support at Redruth today and hoping that as many as possible can get to Hertford next week to cheer the boys on.
CORNWALL 66 Pts
Tries- Peters, Vinnicombe (3), Richards, Fuca, Penalty, Lord, J. Semmens, Churcher, Bolt Conversions – Scrivener (3), J. Semmens. Penalty- Scrivener
OXFORDSHIRE 8 Pts
Try- Sevier. Penalty – Cathcart
Cornwall: J. Semmens, N. Pedley, R. Westren, S. Peters, L. Vinnicombe (O. Faulkner 47), M. Scrivener (M. Churcher 59), M. Richards (R. Pellow 57); D. Jacques (R. Bolt 57), J. Salter (D. Semmens 68), P. Andrew, J. Griffiths (B. Jenkins 68), B. Hilton, J. Lord (Capt), C. Fuca (A. Nicholls 57), S. Hocking.
Oxfordshire: H. Jones, P. Huxford (A. Pearson 54), M. Goode (K. Sewell H/T), R. Williams, N. Sevier, J. Cathcart, A, Cope; J. Winpenny, D. Needham (J. Eckheret 57), T. Whelan (A. Cawston 57), M. Hutchings (Capt), S. Black, P. Rowe, S. Bannister, E. Rixon.
Referee: Mr. N. Higginson (Devon R.R.S.)