Gritty Cornish win a thriller!




‘The Exiles’ remain top of London Two South-West with a 100% record following a great win over an impressive KCS Old Boys outfit, reports Ben Gilby

Both teams came into this game with bonus point wins in their opening matches of the season. Cornish made four changes to their starting line-up from last week’s 36-0 win over Weybridge Vandals with Rob Healey, Tom Lloyd, Chris Anstey and Ben Ievers coming in. Will Carew-Gibbs also returned and was on the bench.

The opening points of the afternoon were scored pretty much immediately. Cornish were penalised after just 11 seconds, and KCS centre Tom Dugarin kicked the penalty for the visitors. Kings’ good start could have got even better when they were awarded another penalty three minutes later as Cornish went off their feet. The penalty was advanced ten metres after a Cornish forward shook his head at the decision. This made it kickable, but Dugarin’s attempt missed.

What was notable throughout the first half was KCS’ excellent ability in launching long clearance kicks to touch which not only relieved some of the pressure they were under, but put the ‘Black and Golds’ on the back foot simultaneously. However, from one of these clearing kicks, Rob Healey passed to Joe Skinnard who fed Mark Osei-Tutu and the Cornish number eight burrowed over for the opening try. Spells’ conversion attempt was good and, somewhat against the run of play, Cornish led 7-3 after 11 minutes.

Harry Somers gathered the re-start and passed to Healey who launched a superb kick from one ‘22’ to the other, with the bal bouncing out of play. KCS hit back, and ‘The Exiles’ had to be on their mettle defensively as the visitors’ Nelson fed Williams who was met by a huge Black and Gold brick wall, who gained a penalty for their efforts. Four minutes later the pacey Kings full-back Will Nelson made a searing break, but the Cornish defence was too strong again.

This determination by ‘The Exiles’ paid dividends when, soon after, from a great break from Mark Osei-Tutu, a rolling maul was set up, and Ben Devonport grounded the ball with Spells once more adding the extras. Despite KCS having much of the territory and ball in the opening half an hour, it was Cornish who were 14-3 ahead – which served to highlight the importance of taking your chances when you get them!

lc V kcs 1 APhoto – Luke Spells looking to offload vs KCS OB’s

Just before half-time, Kings were denied by a series of huge defensive efforts from Cornish. They were also awarded another penalty, which Dugarin missed. It was the big Black & Gold defensive effort that sealed the eleven point half-time lead which was probably harsh on KCS.

There was no further scoring until six minutes from the final whistle – but this does not mean the second half was dull and turgid – it was anything but. Two very good teams were going at it hammer and tongs, with Cornish gaining more of the ball and getting increasingly on top in the forward battle. This, plus some excellent passing movements saw KCS more on the back foot as the game developed.

Cornish had a series of scrums within five metres of the Kings line, a number of re-sets and penalties against the visitors ended with a visiting forward sin-binned. Try as the Black & Golds might, they could not score during this period; something which the visitors deserve real credit for. Shortly after KCS returned to their full compliment, it was Cornish’s turn to receive a sin-binning, with a forward shown the yellow card for a rucking infringement.

LC V KCS 3 APhoto – Harry Somers ready for the lineout

KCS began to assert a period of pressure, and it was no surprise when, with seven minutes left, their captain Jonny Kiddle made an impressive break and offloaded to George Taylor who grounded the ball with ease. Dugarin’s conversion was successful and KCS were back in it at 14-10. At this point, with Cornish down to fourteen men, KCS could have been forgiven for thinking the points were heading their way. But they reckoned without a quite stunning last five minutes from Cornish.

Still down to fourteen men, The Black & Golds showed a seriously impressive determination to win. Just three minutes later, Cornish stole line-out ball just five metres out. The pack launched an earth-shattering drive and Mark Osei-Tutu grounded the ball. Spells’ conversion missed, but the lead was now out to nine points.

Cornish were not finished yet, and continually pummelled away at the KCS defence, who were finding it difficult to stem the black and gold tide, despite having a man advantage. Into stoppage time, Cornish won a penalty fifteen metres out. It was in an eminently kickable position, but the kick was turned down – thoughts were on a bonus point try. From the resulting line-out, another astonishingly powerful drive from the pack saw Cornish over the line, with Tim Homan grounding the ball. Spells’ conversion was good, and ‘The Exiles’ celebrated an excellent win, with that ‘last play of the game try’ sealing top spot in the table for another week.

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