Photos by Simon Bryant Iktis photo, words Bill Hooper
Cornwall deservedly retained the Bill Beaumont Cup, adding a fifth county title to their palmarès with a 35-13 win against Cheshire at Twickenham.
The black and golds scored four tries through Billy Searle, Sam Matavesi, Herbie Stupple and Matt Shepherd, with Shepherd kicking fifteen points (three conversions and three penalties) for a personal tally of twenty points, as he enjoyed another stellar day on the hallowed turf. All Cornwall’s points were scored by Plymouth Albion players, but the cream was defiantly on top by the end of this encounter!
For scrum-half Greg Goodfellow, Cornwall’s favourite Scotsman, it was the fitting finale to his Cornwall career he had wished for, following the disappointments of missing out last season
Head coach Graham Dawe was thrilled to have retained the Bill Beaumont Cup and make a little bit of Cornish sporting history. He said: “It’s a special day for Cornish rugby. We were calculated and organised today which I think was the difference between the two sides.
“To win this competition two years in a row is fantastic and our team showed how good they are this afternoon. We came up against a very tough Cheshire side. We were very impressed by the quality of their players.
“This means a lot to the many supporters who are here and to all involved in Cornish rugby.”
Photo: Billy Searle scores Cornwall’s opening try
Cornwall got off to a blistering start with Billy Searle, as his fellow Albion team-mates Jake Murphy and Shepherd combined to put the young Bristol bound fly-half away. Shepherd added the extras, and the first strains of ‘Olé, Olé, Olé, Cornwall!’ could be heard around the steeple terraces of English rugby’s HQ.
Cornwall kept the pressure on Cheshire, forcing a succession of kicks to the corner, from which the pressure told, with none other than Sam Matavesi powering over for an unconverted try: with barely ten minutes on the clock, the Falmouth Marine Band were in full cry!
Photo: Sam Matavesi on the charge
Cheshire needed a score and they got it on the 20 minute mark, as fly-half Jack Lavin slotted a penalty.
It was just the fillip Cheshire needed. They began to turn the screw kicking to the corner and being held up near the Cornish line. They were not to be denied, as hooker Paul Millea drove over with Lavin adding the extras, to trail by just two points.
Cornwall began to make use of the rolling subs on the half hour mark as Lewis Webb and Damien Cook replaced Goodfellow and Tony Whittle.
Shepherd steadied Cornish nerves with a couple of penalties as Cheshire lost a player to the sin-bin. Cornwall went close to another score before the break but turned around with a useful 18-10 lead.
Photo: Another consummate performance from Matt Shepherd, with 20 points
Cheshire began the second half strongly, with Lavin kicking a penalty, and being unlucky not to cut the gap to two points as a long-range effort clipped the bottom of the bar.
Cornwall then got the decisive third try. Strong running from winger Robin Wedlake saw the Albion speedster tackled close to the Cheshire line. Prop Christian Judge, making his first appearance for Cornwall this season off the bench, was halted before the ball came to No.8 Herbie Stupple, who scored with some force. Shepherd’s conversion stretched Cornwall’s lead to 25-13 as the singing intensified.
Photo: Robin Wedlake in full flight
Goodfellow returned to the fray as the clock ran down.
Sam Parsons thought he had scored, but was called back by referee Lehay for an earlier Cornish infringement. With the decibels rising, the icing on the Cornish ‘Heavy Cake’ was provided by Shepherd, who scored and converted Cornwall’s final try, to create a little bit of Cornish sporting history with the first ever back-to-back titles.
The final whistle brought great scenes of Cornish joy, with ‘Trelawny’ once again resounding around the home of English rugby!
Cornwall (Plymouth Albion unless stated): M Shepherd, L Vinnicombe (Redruth), J , Webber (Redruth), R Wedlake, B Searle, G Goodfellow (Chinnor); T Cowan-Dickie (Redruth), R Freestone, C Williams (Redruth), B Hilton (Cornish All Blacks), T Whittle (Camborne), K Marriott (Redruth, capt), S Matavesi, H Stupple.
Replacements: L Webb (Taunton) for Goodfellow 30, D Cook (Camborne) for Whittle 30, S Parsons (Redruth) for Webber 45, C Judge for Williams 45, R Brown (Redruth) for Cowan-Dickie 49, C Fuca (Redruth) for Stupple 52, J Dawe for Vinnicombe 72, Goodfellow for Webb 72, Stupple for Marriott 73, Hilton for Cook 74, Webber for Murphy 79.
Cornwall scores: Tries: Searle, Matavesi, Stupple, Shepherd; Cons: Shepherd (3); Pens: Shepherd (3).
Cheshire: C Venables (Macclesfield), J Leech (Sandbach), F Edward (Caldy), R Hayes (Chester), A Baker (Wirral), J Lavin (Caldy), J Murray (Wirral); G Woods (Chester), P Millea (Macclesfield), E Millar-Mills (Macclesfield), D Marwick (Macclesfield, capt), T Sanders (Caldy), N Davidson (Caldy), H Broadbent (Rosslyn Park), R Parkinson (Macclesfield).
Replacements (used): C Roddy (Stourbridge) for Broadbent 34, M Craven (Chester) for Roddy ht, N Rushton (Caldy) for Woods 51, B Jones (Caldy) for Murray 51, T Oakes (Sandbach) for Millea 66, N Pearson (Sheffield Tigers) for Parkinson 66.
Cheshire scores: Try: Millea; Con: Lavin; Pen: Lavin (2).
Yellow card: Cheshire: Sanders 27.
Referee: Jamie Leahy (RFU).
Crowd: 3500 (of us!)