Sam Hocking gets the plaudits from the team versus Kent – Photo John Beach
Cornwall’s skipper Ben Hilton on the charge against Kent – Photo John Beach
Cornwall staged a remarkable comeback to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against a spirited Kent side at Medway RFC.
The win sets up Cornwall for a tilt at reaching Twickenham for the first time in a county championship final in fourteen years against reigning champions Hertfordshire next Saturday at Camborne. It promises to be a titanic struggle with the prize a final at rugby HQ on Sunday 26th May against in all probability Lancashire who triumphed today in the Roses match against Yorkshire at Fylde.
Cornwall enjoyed the use of the stiff breeze first half though they had to wait until the quarter-of-an-hour mark before registering their first points, a try scored by hooker Richard Brown with fly-half Paul Thirlby adding the extras.
Thirlby then added a couple of penalties as Cornwall established a useful 13-0 lead and looked well set to take command of the match.
However, Kent got back into it when they scored a try through Blackheath winger Richard Lankshear, which was converted by fly-half Rory Teague.
Thirlby kicked a third penalty just prior to half-time to put Cornwall 16-7 up at half-time.
The second half was a different affair with Kent putting Cornwall under the cosh for long periods.
Cornwall lost prop Craig Williams to injury, however young teammate from Redruth John Drew stepped off the bench for a Championship debut.
Further disruption came with the loss of Paul Thirlby, as Teague whittled away at Cornwall’s advantage before a Cornish error gifted Lankshear a second try, Teague’s conversion giving the hosts a 17-16 lead.
It looked like Cornwall were going to throw it all away, but they rallied and from a penalty they mauled towards the Kent line with No.8 Sam Hocking claiming the all-important try that full back Jake Murphy converted to put Cornwall ahead once more 23-17.
Ashley Lawton came on and made an important contribution with a try-saving tackle, the Camborne player is sure of a huge reception on his home turf next Saturday.
Kent laid siege to the Cornwall line in the closing moments and despite losing Barrie Chapman to the bin Cornwall saw the game out to set up next Saturday’s mouth-watering tie against Hertfordshire.
Kent 17 pts
Tries-Lankshear (2), Conversions- Teague (2),Penalty – Teague
Yellow Card – Lindfield (63)
Cornwall 23 pts
Tries – Brown, Hocking, Penalties – Thilby (3), Conversions – Thirlby, Murphy
Yellow Card – Chapman (80)
Kent: A Gallagher (Old Colfeians), R Lankshear (Blackheath), T May (Westcombe Park), D Bonner (Blackheath), B Summers (Loughborough University), R Teague (Blackheath), J Hosken (Old Elthamians), J Cleverley (Blackheath), J Bonner (Blackheath), S Goode (Canterbury), T Stradwick (Blackheath, capt), A Vanner (Old Elthamians), H Barton (Westcombe Park), J Lindfield (Blackheath), J Catt (Blackheath).
Replacements: H Fry (Westcombe Park), B McKinnell (Sheppey), J Green (Canterbury), B Johnson (Medway), T Chapman (Blackheath), C Kingsman (Canterbury), J Crust (Blackheath).
Cornwall: Jake Murphy; Richard Bright (both Cornish All Blacks), Steve Johns (Coventry), Neilson Webber (Cornish All Blacks), Tom Notman; Paul Thirlby; Greg Goodfellow; Darren Jacques, Richard Brown, Craig Williams, Damian Cook (all Redruth), Ben Hilton, Capt, (Cornish All Blacks), Chris Fuca (Redruth), Sam Matavesi (Plymouth Albion), Sam Hocking (unattached).
Replacements: Neal Turner, Jon Drew (both Redruth), Barry Chapman, (both Cornish All Blacks), Ashley Lawton (Camborne), Matt Shepherd (St Austell), Lewis Paterson (Cornish All Blacks), Steve Perry (Barnstaple).
Referee: Tom Davis (RFU)