Final Cornish thoughts before Twickenham

Photo – Graham Dawe makes a point in training

By Bill Hooper at the Recreation Ground, REDRUTH

Photos Simon Bryant Iktis photo

Cornwall held their final training session at Redruth on Thursday evening with the side being put through their paces by the coaches and trainers.

I caught up with some of the players prior to the session starting and first spoke to centre Nielson Webber who will be playing in his third final for Cornwall.

Photo – Nielson Webber chats to the local press

Photo – Nielson Webber watches on as Chris Fuca looks to tackle Taron Peacock

Webber confirmed that he couldn’t wait for Sunday mid-day: “I can’t wait, it’s been a long week just waiting for Sunday, the Hertfordshire game which really felt like a semi-final was incredible, the work ethic from the boys was tremendous and that was from the old heads and the young guns. The second half performance we put in was one of the best I’ve played in, we knew playing down the slope would favour us second half.

“At half-time in the changing room no one was panicking, Ian Morgan just laid out what we needed to do and everyone was confident that we could turn it round, there was just a determination that we were not going to be beaten.

“Bringing on Cooky and BJ (Chapman) in the second row gave the pack a lot more beef, Damien (Cook) is a well proven performer who has had another outstanding season, and it must be disheartening for the opposition to see him coming on because of what he can offer.”

Nelly also had no doubts that the familiarity of the half-backs and centres has been a big plus for the team: “At some-time or other we have all played together in a side and our understanding has helped especially with our defensive patterns, we are all committed to working for each other and that has really shown in our performances to date.”

There are no illusions that Sunday’s game will be another big step up: “It will be a big step up but I can’t wait to get stuck in to them, I really feel that this squad can more than match them in all departments.

“It’s got to be our time now.”

I also spoke the Penryn’s skipper George Jones, the latest player from the Borough to feature in a county final following in the footsteps of players like Gordon Jago, Roger Hosen, Vic Roberts, Ken Plummer, Roger Harris, Graham Bate and Martyn Addinall to name but a few.

Photo – George Jones (with ball) at county training last evening

It will be the Borough’s skipper first game at rugby HQ.

“I am really looking forward to the final. I think everyone is really.

“I have had lots of good luck messages from people at Penryn it’s been overwhelming really the number of texts etc. I have had, it’s a real honour to play for both Penryn and Cornwall and to play for both this season is a dream come true.

“I came into the squad to see just how far I could go with no great illusions but as the weeks went by in training up in St. Austell on those cold Monday nights  I really felt I had a good chance and when I got the nod for the Tamar Cup I was over the moon.

“I have loved the whole county experience this season and I think the way we have been training and going about our game I feel we have a good chance against Lancashire, you can’t fault the commitment from everyone in the squad and involved with the squad.

“I am sure we are going to get some great backing on Sunday the crowds have been brilliant in all our previous games, the game at Redruth against Herts was pretty special and if we can re-create that atmosphere at Twickenham then it will be a game changer for sure, we don’t always get a big crowd at Penryn so to experience that kind of a crowd was a big lift.”

Finally I caught a few words with skipper Kyle Marriott. He too was impatient for Sunday to arrive: “I am really looking forward to it the build up has been a bit special this week but I think we all want to get this session done and then focus on the final.

Photo – Skipper Kyle Marriott in action against Herts

Although having been there and won it with Devon, Kyle knows that the game on Sunday will be a bit more special: “I think there is a greater passion in Cornwall for this. The build up both on and off the field is unparalleled, the whole of Cornwall, from Pendeen to Torpoint, are buzzing for this and that adds to it and it will be a momentous occasion for myself as captain and the team.

“We will prepare ourselves in the right way and then in the dressing room at Twickenham we will focus ourselves, there will be some motivational speeches, but I think the occasion will be motivation enough and I know when we step off the coach we will receive a fabulous welcome across the concourse to the changing rooms.

“A lot has been written and said about our record against Lancashire but really on the day it’s about the here and now and I think that if we prepare fight and are focused correctly then there is no reason why we cannot win, I am sure Lancashire will be saying the same thing it will all boil down to how you perform on the day itself.

“I am not worried about the kick-off time I have played at Twickenham at 9:30 am so it’s no big deal, in fact in some ways it’s better as you are not fretting away at the hotel before hand, just get out there and play some rugby.”

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