By Ben Gilby LCRFC Press Officer
The biggest game in the history of London Cornish RFC is getting nearer, as Cornish Exiles supporters and officials count down the hours for their London Two South promotion play-off clash at Medway RFC in Rochester this Saturday.
In this winner takes all clash, the victors will gain promotion to London One South – just one division below National League rugby – which would be the highest level that London Cornish have ever played at.
Photo Mark Osei-Tutu has been in sparkling form all season for Cornish
Whilst Medway are new opposition for ‘The Exiles’, their ground is very familiar, as it was the location for Cornwall’s Bill Beaumont Cup victory over Kent in May 2013 – a game that saw London Cornish’s Director of Rugby Dickon Moon patrolling the Rochester side’s touchline as part of the Cornwall County coaching staff. If Moon’s charges can pull off a result similar to the one that representatives from ‘God’s Country’ did on that day, then everyone in Black and Gold will be very happy indeed come 4:45pm on Saturday afternoon!
The Kent side will provide seriously tough opposition as they have won seventeen of their twenty league games in London Two South-East this season.
The only games lost were to eventual champions Maidstone (38-22) and Tunbridge Wells (24-23).
They also drew at home to Maidstone 14-14 – which was the only game that the league winners failed to win all campaign.
Medway boast an incredibly impressive attack, averaging 38 points a game during the league season, conceding an average of just 14. Like Cornish, they reached the Regional Quarter-Finals of the RFU Intermediate Cup, which they did so by beating Deal & Betteshanger (20-6) and Staines (48-7). Tellingly, they have not lost a league game at home all season.
DoR Dickon Moon looks to mastermind play-off success for Cornish
Cornish go into the game on the back of their best ever league season, having finished second in London Two South-West, winning 19 of their 22 matches, with the only losses coming to eventual champions Tottonians (19-6 at home, 26-14 away) and at fourth placed Warlingham (16-15). The ‘Black & Golds’ had the best defensive record in the division this season; only conceding an average of 13 points per game, and the second best scoring record, with an average of 28 points per game scored. One of the strong points about this London Cornish side is the high representation of Cornish born and bred players in the side – something which helps to provide a stubborn, never-say-die attitude as London Cornish Director of Rugby Dickon Moon proudly asserts: “With players from across the county from Penzance to Saltash in our ranks, we are truly a Cornish side with a Cornish coaching team in Tom Sincock, Marc Sweeney and myself. If we could win we would become one of the county’s top 5 ranked clubs, which would be some achievement given 13 years ago we were the lowest of the lot!”
Photo Ben Ievers has ruled the line-out this season
Looking ahead to the game, Moon believes that Medway go in as favourites: “Medway are the home side, and had a better playing record than us in the respective leagues, but we wouldn’t be here if we couldn’t play and I hope we can display the same relentless tenacity that has characterised our league season.”
Whatever happens, a memorable occasion is in store, with Medway RFC putting on a Cornish Pasty lunch for their guests, with a big barbecue promised. As Moon concludes: “It’s going to be a great occasion for both clubs, neither of which has played at the higher level, and I am sure Medway will be great hosts too.”
The club hope for a good turn-out of London and South-East based Cornish exiles to support them on Saturday – plenty of Black and Gold and St. Piran’s flags will be incredibly welcome! For those of you in Cornwall not able to get to the game, BBC Radio Cornwall will be providing regular live updates from Medway throughout Ross Ellis’ Saturday Sport Show.
Finally, as was posted on London Cornish RFC’s twitter feed earlier this week – Can the club with no ground of their own, no clubhouse and no money make it to London One? Well, given the pride and passion that the team have played with this season, there is no reason why not!