Cornwall grind out vital win at Kent




Cornwall were made to work hard by hosts Kent, but in the end they pulled through to set up a pool decider against Hertfordshire, who defeated Gloucestershire 37-25 at Ware.

All Cornwall’s points came from Matt Shepherd with a try, conversion and five penalties as the scrum-half put in another storming performance for the black and golds to take the man-of-the-match plaudits.

Photo – Matt Shepherd scored all of Cornwall’s points against Kent

Cornwall will now hope for a big crowd at Redruth, to cheer the boys on to a third trip to Twickenham in as many years.

However, it was Kent who began the game the stronger enjoying both territory and possession in the Gravesend sunshine in the early stages.

Slowly Cornwall got a foot-hold on the game with Shepherd kicking the first of his penalties after 15 minutes.

Cornwall then piled on the pressure against Kent which saw the home-side reduced to fourteen as scrum-half Charlie Edwards was yellow-carded near his own line.

Quick thinking by Shepherd saw the scrum-half take a tap and go and dive over the line for what proved to be Cornwall’s sole try of the afternoon, his conversion making it 10-0 to the black and golds.

Almost immediately Cornwall were caught offside allowing fly-half Alex Gallagher to open Kent’s account with a penalty.

Billy Searle playing at full-back had another impressive game for Cornwall with some excellent touch kicking and elusive running, whilst in the pack the back row of skipper Kyle Marriott, Chris Fuca and George Jones enjoyed another big game in Cornish colours.

Photo – Cornwall’s George Jones and skipper Kyle Marriott drive on against Kent

Shepherd was on target twice more before half-time to put Cornwall 16-3 up at the break as Kent again found themselves down to fourteen as lock Royce Cadman became the latest player sent to the bin guilty of lazy running and impending a try scoring opportunity.

Despite being a man down, Kent showed their metal early in the second half, as they began to chip away at Cornwall’s lead thanks to a couple of Gallagher penalties before Shepherd calmed Cornish nerves both on and off the pitch to nudge his side further ahead with a two further penalties of his own with 10 minutes to play.

Photo – Cornwall centre Jake Murphy looks to off-load to full-back Billy Searle

Cornwall, who conceded far too many penalties throughout the match, then found themselves under the cosh as Kent looked to salvage something from the game. Cornwall lost Ben Hilton the sin-bin as the pressure mounted and eventually a powerful maul from the hosts saw them go over the line in time added on with the ball buried under a host of bodies, eventually referee Calum Howard awarded a try after consultation with his touch-judge. Gallagher added the conversion to leave Cornwall sweating on the final whistle greeted by a huge cheer from the Cornish support.

After the game Cornwall head coach Graham Dawe was pleased with the result: “I am delighted with the performance and our game management; once again our half-backs were superb and controlled the game well.

“We gave away a lot of penalties and I’ll have a chat with the referee to see what areas we fell foul. We feel a bit hard done by as we hardly won a turnover today compared to last week.

“We’ve won twice on the road and that’s always a special feeling, expectations will be high going into the game next week at Redruth but it’s a challenge we will relish.

Dawe also hopes that the fervent Cornish support will turn out in big numbers next Saturday: “The boys deserve a big crowd at Redruth on Saturday, there is no doubt that the Cornish crowd can be our 16th man and really lift the team in what will be a very tough game.”

Kent: K Leeper (Westcombe Park), R Fuller (Richmond), B Hough, D Bonner (both Westcombe Park), T Okenla (Gravesend), A Gallagher (Blackheath), C Edwards (O. Elthamians); J Green (Canterbury), J Bonner (O. Elthamians), T Read (Charlton Park), R Cadman (Canterbury), G Oram (Blackheath), T Bird (Gravesend), H Barton (Westcombe Park, capt), Z Stephens (Gravesend).

Replacements (all used): N Wakefield (Canterbury), R Nanson (Aylesford Bulls), N. Porter (O. Elthamians), D Bellinger (Westcombe Park), S Eydmann (Blackheath), G Montgomery (Gravesend), T Chapman (Blackheath).

Kent scores – Try –Bellinger, Con – Gallagher, Pens – Gallagher (3)

Yellow cards – Edwards (16), Cadman (38)

Cornwall: B Searle (Cornish All Blacks), M Venables (Saltash), J Murphy (Cornish All Blacks), N Webber, R Wedlake (both Redruth), L Webb (Taunton), M Shepherd (Cornish All Blacks); R Freestone (Clifton), J Salter (Cornish All Blacks), C Williams (Redruth), T Whittle (Camborne), B Hilton (Cornish All Blacks), C Fuca (Redruth), G Jones (Penryn), K Marriott (Redruth, capt).

Replacements (all used): M Grubb (Wadebridge Camels), T Phillips (Redruth), C Judge, BJ Chapman (both Cornish All Blacks), J Goldsworthy, (Camborne), R Friend (Cornish All Blacks), S Parsons (Redruth).

Cornwall scores – Try – Shepherd, Con – Shepherd, Pens – Shepherd (5)

Yellow card – Hilton (80)

Referee: Calum Osborne (RFU)

Crowd: 600

Posted in Bill's Blog

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