Cornwall ready for Lancashire challenge
By Bill Hooper, photos Simon Bryant Iktisphoto
Cornwall completed their preparations on a glorious Thursday evening at Redruth RFC with the players eagerly looking forward to Sunday’s game at Twickenham.
It’s familiar foes, the red rose of Lancashire that Cornwall meet for the fourth time in five years. Lancashire won the first two finals before Cornwall prevailed 18-13 in 2015.
Photo: Graham Dawe feeling apprehensive ahead of Sunday’s game
Once again Cornwall coach Graham Dawe will be up against Lancashire’s Mark Nelson on the sidelines, both men hold each other in high esteem.
“I am looking forward to it”, said Dawe. “I am apprehensive, we’ve won a lot of games in a row now, I hope it doesn’t end on Sunday. You go into a game fifty, fifty, somehow we’ve got to keep it going and get another win and enjoy the experience, we know we’ve got a good team with a good group of players, we will need that little bit of luck you get in a game the bounce of the ball and get the scores, but yes apprehension is always there ahead of a big game. This side has the ability to win, they are young and hungry, but as Cornishmen know it’s always hard to win on the road.
I asked Dawe about bringing in lock Dan Collier. “Well he’s eligible, he has been part of the squad he trained at Camborne last week he’s fit and available. It was a very tough call to leave out Brad Howe. We discussed it as a group with the selectors and we see Brad more as a backrower, that’s not to say he hasn’t done a good job for us this season. Collier is an outstanding lock and a good ball-carrier, so a good option to have in the squad.
“I fully understand how disappointed Brad must feel, he’s a young man and chances will come again and as the famous Scottish and Lions coach Jim Telfer used to say “You’ve just got to keep on improving day by day as a rugby player and you will get there in the end.”
Photo: Cornwall captain Jake Murphy being interviewed by BBC Spotlight and former Cornwall player Andy Birkett.
With both Ben Hilton and Damien Cook not playing this season Dawe has had to rebuild the boiler house and he was full of praise for his locks this season. “Both Bryn Jenkins and Tony Whittle have been outstanding this season, but if you lose one of those two early in a game then you have a player who is predominantly a back rower coming in, Brad can play in the second row but Dan brings that extra scrumaging.
Dawe has no worries about the mid-day kick-off time. “We are used to the format now and prepare accordingly, the biggest worry is the opposition. Mark Nelson will challenge his players he won’t be travelling down to Twickenham to come second. I get on very well with Mark he’s nice guy very endearing and I love him to death. He’s typical Lancastrian he expects nothing less than blood and sweat from his players.
The Lancashire side to face Cornwall on Sunday;
LANCASHIRE: 15 Lewis Allen (Preston G); 14 Scott Armstrong, 13 Chris Briers (both Fylde), 12 Scott Rawlings (Sale FC), 11 Anthony Bingham (Fylde); 10 Chris Johnson, 9 Sam Stelmaszek; 1 Dan Birchall (all Sale FC), 2 Tom Burtonwood (Fylde), 3 Adam Lewis (Fylde), 4 Bob Birtwell (Sedgley Tigers), 5 Reece Tomlinson (Rossendale) 6 Mark Goodman (Sedgley Tigers), 7 Evan Stewart (Fylde, capt), 8 Tom Ailes (Sale FC).
Reps: 16 Simon Griffiths (Fylde), 17 Rhys Davies (Sale FC), 18 Peter Althram (Preston G) 19 Jonathan Matthews (Sedgley Tigers), 20 Greg Smith (Fylde), 21 Steve Collins (Sedgley Tigers), 22 Connor Wilkinson (Fylde).
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