DEVON 13 – 28 CORNWALL
By Bill Hooper at the Brickfields
Three tries in the space of sixteen minutes at the beginning of the second half by mercurial Camborne winger Alex Ducker helped Cornwall retain the Tamar Cup, for an eighth year in succession, against old foes Devon at a balmy Brickfields yesterday evening.
Ducker a late call up, who ended his club season on Saturday by scoring four against Ivybridge to break David Weeks’ club record at Camborne, carried on his stellar form in the black and gold.
Apart from Ducker’s performance, there was plenty to enthuse about the Cornwall performance, ahead of more testing challenges in this season’s Bill Beaumont Cup, not least a return against Devon at Brixham on the 18th May.
Devon had the better of the early exchanges taking a deserved lead thanks to a penalty from fly-half Tom Putt.
Full-back Charlie Briant then coughed up a golden chance for the home side with the line begging.
Cornwall began to get their maul working with skipper Ben Hilton, flanker Tony Whittle and Ducker all going close, before they got it right from a catch-and-drive with hooker Tommy-Lee Southworth dotting down from the drive, fly-half Fraser Honey split the uprights on his home turf.
Leading up to half-time Devon pressure saw a clever chip over the top from centre Mitch Pinkus with scrum-half Ben Watts winning the race to the touchdown for Putt to make the half-time score 10-7 to Devon.
Cornwall made four changes at half-time and re-jigged the backline, which saw full-back Matt Shepherd move to outside centre and Harvey Bell from wing to full-back.
It didn’t take long for the re-shuffle to work as Ducker arched his way to the line for the first of his tries with barely a minute on the clock, Shepherd kicking a fine touchline conversion.
Although Putt pulled three points back for Devon with a penalty, Cornwall were soon deep in the Devon twenty-two with the ball moved wide for Shepherd to serve up Ducker for his second try, once more Shepherd banged over the extras for some daylight on the scoreboard.
The Cornish forwards continued to drive hard working an overlap for Ducker to get his third try, needless to say Shepherd slotted his third conversion to effectively seal the result.
Devon put Cornwall under pressure in the closing stages but the Cornish defence was top draw and kept Devon at bay, which was as equally satisfying as the result.
Cornwall’s head coach Graham Dawe was satisfied with the performance on the night. “We have had some good training sessions prior to tonight and looked at a number of players. Some of the lads have put their hands up for selection in the Championship.
“I thought Tony Whittle had a good game for us and I thought Rupert Edwards and Dan Sanderson gave us good options in the second row along with Hilts.
“Rightly a lot of praise will go to the backs but you have to get your foundations right up front to get them good ball and we showed that.
“We shall have to see who’s available for the Kent game, hopefully we will have some of the lads from Redruth, Launceston and St. Ives also in the mix.”
Devon: Charlie Briant, Billy Pinkus, Rhys Palmer, Mitch Pinkus, Kieran Lee, Tom Putt, Ben Watts; Matt Dowick, Dean Avery, Charlie Tribble, Tim Coats, Karl Pearce, Tom McGratton, Ben King, Caleb Sampson.
Replacements: Gaz Walker, Aiden Taylor, Olly Schuster-Wood, Tom Bottoms, Dean Abrams, Peli Vea, Jacob Nash, Ryan Lee, Lewis Paterson, Connor Bedwell, Jake Neville, Jordan Watson, Jake Prophett-O’Neill, Josh Luxon.
Devon scores: Try, Watts, Con, Putt, Pens, Putt 2
Cornwall: Matt Shepherd, Harvey Bell, Jon Dawe, Declan Matthews, Alex Ducker, Fraser Honey, Noah Nash; Dan Job, Tommy-Lee Southworth, Andrius Zacharovas, Ben Hilton (Capt), Rupert Edwards, Adam Hughes, Tony Whittle, Grant Randlesome.
Replacements: Hugh Noot, Miles Davey, Charlie Nicholson, Dan Sanderson, Lewis Wells, George Jones, Darren Livett, Taron Peacock, Fraser Nottle, Rhys Brownfield, Kyle Spear, Oliver Aggiss.
Cornwall scores: Tries, Southworth, Ducker 3, Cons, Honey, Shepherd 3
Referee: Astie Bolton (Gloucs RRS)
Trelawny’s Army, Paul Bawden Memorial, Cornwall man-of-the-match: Alex Ducker