Cornwall defeat Surrey and march back to Twickenham


By Bill Hooper, at the Recreation Ground, photos Simon Bryant

Cornwall were again pushed all the way before making sure of the win during the final ten minutes of a pulsating game, to book a fourth successive County Championship final at Twickenham next Sunday, where they will play Cheshire in a repeat of the 1998 final.

Star of the show was young fly-half Billy Searle who helped himself to three excellent tries, but he’d be the first to acknowledge the work of his team mates with each of the scores, notably open side Sam Matavesi, who again had a tremendous game for Cornwall.

Photo: Billy Searle helped himself to three of Cornwall’s five tries

The win pleased Cornwall head coach Graham Dawe, but he conceded his side had made hard work of it at times: “It’s always good to get a win, but it was a close run thing, I think we made hard work of it at times today. Mid-way through the second half we only had a six-point advantage and they could have come back. We couldn’t shake off the shackles until the end. Having said that, I think it will have done us good to have had three very hard games going into the final next Sunday.

“All the players deserve a lot of credit today. They kept their shape, they kept their discipline, kept to the game plan and delivered the result and that, at the end of the day, is what it’s all about.”

Cornwall, roared on by the sizeable crowd got the early score following great work down the narrow side by Matavesi, back playing on his home turf, and putting centre Nielson Webber away for an unconverted try.

Photo: Cornwall skipper Kyle Marriott

Surrey shocked the home support with an immediate riposte as fly-half Matt Noble finished off good work from former Redruth player Ed Carne to tie the scores with an unconverted try.

Great pressure by full-back Matt Shepherd at the breakdown forced a penalty, which he kicked.

Shepherd then missed with his next two efforts at goal, a penalty from distance and then the conversion of Searle’s first try, which was again manufactured by the industrious Matavesi.

Photo: Herbie Stupple looks to get the ball away to winger Jon Dawe

Cornwall began early with the rolling subs, one of those being the introduction of back rower BJ Chapman, who soon put himself about in the rucks and mauls and then harried Surrey into a loose clearance that fell into the hands of winger Lewis Vinnicombe. The winger ran hard towards the scoreboard corner before slipping a pass to Searle for his second try. Shepherd added the extras before being called into action to make a last-gasp tackle on the lively Noble as Surrey looked for a quick reply.

Penalties from Noble and full-back Ollie Turner for Surrey made the score-line 20-11 in Cornwall’s favour at half-time.

Noble kicked a second penalty immediately after the break to reduce the deficit further.

Scrum-half Greg Goodfellow was sniping and probing all the time for Cornwall, but the breakthrough didn’t come until the final quarter, when winger Robin Wedlake went on a run; Matavesi was there again putting in a rampaging run from his own half to serve up Searle for his third try, Shepherd added the extras and Cornwall could breathe a little easier.

Photo: Lewis Webb scores Cornwall’s fifth try

With time almost up, great work from Searle and centre Sam Parsons took play into the Surrey twenty-two. No.8 Herbie Stupple linked with winger Jon Dawe, who popped a pass up to Lewis Webb to complete the scoring.

Referee Veryan Boscawen’s final whistle brought scenes of great joy and delight from the Cornish crowd, as Trelawny’s Army prepares to march on Twickenham once more.

Photo Cornish fans get behind the team

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

Replacements: R Freestone for T Cowan-Dickie 22, BJ Chapman (Taunton) for H Stupple 22, P Joyce (Redruth) for C Williams 34, C Fuca (Redruth) for T Whittle 38, T Cowan-Dickie for R Brown 38, S Parsons (Redruth) for N Webber 52, C Williams for P Joyce 60, T Whittle for C Fuca 62, H Stupple for BJ Chapman 62, L Webb (Taunton) for G Goodfellow, J Dawe, for L Vinnicombe 72, N Webber for J Murphy 76

Cornwall scores: Tries, Webber, Searle (3), Webb Cons, Shepherd (2), Pen, Shepherd

Surrey (Dorking unless stated): O Turner (London Irish WG), B Marfo, E Carne, S Cunningham (London Irish WG), K Irving, M Noble, M McDonald (London Scottish); C Connor (London Irish WG), M Cornish (London Irish WG), C Zeiss (Esher), I Kench ( Esher, capt), D Flashman (Wimbeldon), D Livett (London Irish WG), H Elbrow, H Rowland (Rosslyn Park).

Replacements: J Hunt (Wimbeldon) for I Kench 4, W Crow (Rosslyn Park) for M McDonald 50, R Jeffery for E Carne 50, T Lee for H Elbrow 75, S Obano for C Zeiss 79, J Gott (London Irish WG) for B Marfo 79, F Dalton for M Cornish 79.

Surrey scores: Try Noble, Pens, Noble (2), Turner

Referee: Veryan Boscawen (RFU)

Crowd: 3,125

Cornwall man-of-the-match: very hard, as many players put their hands up, but the nod goes just to young Billy Searle, who had a s great game and scored three fine tries.


Check the Cornwall RFU website for details about tickets for next Sunday’s final against Cheshire:

Trelawny’s Army are running an up and back coach on the day with match tickets guaranteed, see:

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