Report by Bill Hooper at the Recreation Ground
Photos by Simon Bryant Iktis photo
On a glorious Cornish afternoon, roared on by one of the biggest crowds at Redruth for many years approximately some 3,500 plus, Cornwall overcame a 18-6 half-time deficit scoring 19 unanswered second half points to book a third successive tip to rugby’s headquarters.
There, they will once again meet Lancashire in the final next Sunday under the mid-day sun!
Can Cornwall finally conquer the red rose in a county final at the fifth time of asking?
It was a day also for Cornwall’s highly esteemed and much revered Team Secretary Ewart White, who has announced that after 20 years in the post he will be stepping down after next Sunday’s Bill Beaumont Cup final.
The game at Redruth looked likely to start late as Hertfordshire were caught up in the Bank Holiday traffic on the A30. However, they finally arrived at the ground with an hour to kick-off so the game was delayed by just 5 minutes.
There was a minute’s silence before the game for former Cornwall RFU President John Fry and stalwart Cornwall supporter and Trelawny’s Army member Richard Major.
Photo – centre Nielson Webber looks to break free with Sam Parsons and Lewis Webb in support
Cornwall elected to play up the slope first half and soon took the game to the visitors who may well having been feeling the effects of the coach trip!
However, it was Herts who carved open the first try-scoring opportunity as good play from their half backs Mark McCraith and Elliot Reeder was only thwarted by a great tackle from Cornish full-back Billy Searle.
Cornwall were awarded a penalty following a good forward drive from which fly-half Matt Shepherd opened the scoring to huge cheers.
Hertfordshire pressed hard and only were only denied by some superb Cornish defending, however a Cornish error from a kick out of defence presented the visitors with a try-scoring opportunity that they took clinically. Herts skipper Brett MacNamee took the ball on before centres Sam Winter, who was a handful all afternoon showing great skill and pace, and Dan Watt combined to put the latter in. The same player added the conversion.
Shepherd saw an immediate riposte sail by the posts but he was on target moments later with a penalty to narrow the deficit to just a single point.
Watt was on target with a good penalty kick as Cornwall were pinged for not releasing.
Photo – Skipper Kyle Marriott scored Cornwall’s vital first try
As half-time approached Hertfordshire sensed they need further scores and were rewarded when prop Ralph Adams-Hale finished off a great move initiated by full-back Henry Robinson.
Having surprisingly missed the easy conversion, Watt slotted a penalty just before half-time to leave Hertfordshire 18-6 up at the turn.
Playing down the slope second half, Cornwall needed a big 10 minutes to get their gander up and boy didn’t they just!
With big ball-carriers Damien Cook and Barrie-John Chapman on the field, Cornwall tore into Herts.
The visitors lost the ball in mid-field with Shepherd scooping up the ball before feeding skipper Kyle Marriott who, though tackled, made the line. Shepherd failed with the conversion but kicked a further two penalties to bring Cornwall back to within a point as the crowd’s fervour began to reach fever pitch!
From the re-start, Cornwall lock Ben Hilton was clumsily take out in the air by winger Michael Allan and shown a yellow card.
Photo- Jubilation, fly-half Lewis Webb savours a return to Twickenham
With the momentum now very much with the black and golds, a good backs move saw winger Robin Wedlake get away and despite having three men to beat dived into the Piggy Lane corner. Referee Veryan Boscawen consulted with touch judge Fred Spong before awarding the try as the crowd went berserk. Shepherd couldn’t add the conversion but he added a penalty with seven minutes to go for a seven point lead.
Hertfordshire put Cornwall under huge pressure in the closing stages but Cornwall’s defence, with one notable tackle from Jake Murphy, summed up Cornwall’s resolve not to be denied, nor were they.
The final whistle saw the Cornwall players jump for joy and Trelawny’s Army can once again begin to plot another crusade to rugby’s HQ.
Cornwall 25 pts
Tries – Marriott, Wedlake, Penalties – Shepherd (5)
Hertfordshire 18 pts
Tries – Watt, Adams-Hale, Conversion – Watt, Penalties – Watt (2)
Yellow Card – Allan (65)
Cornwall (Cornish All Blacks unless stated): B Searle, J Dawe, J Murphy, N Webber, R Wedlake (both Redruth), L Webb (Taunton), M Shepherd; R Freestone (Clifton), J Salter, C Williams (Redruth), T Whittle (Camborne), B Hilton, C Fuca (Redruth), G Jones (Penryn), K Marriott (Redruth, capt).
Replacements: C Judge for Williams (50), D Cook (Redruth) for Fuca (40), S Parsons (Redruth) for Searle (57), BJ Chapman for Whittle (ht), Fuca for Jones (63).
Replacements (not used): T Phillips (Redruth), J Goldsworthy, D Mankee (both Camborne).
Hertfordshire (Old Albanian unless stated): H Robinson (Darlington Mowden Park), G Elliott (Hertford), S Winter (Bishop’s Stortford), D Watt, M Allan, E Reeder (unattached), T Whiteley (Bishop’s Stortford), R Adams-Hale, B McNamee (capt), A Berry, L Bickle, R Hamilton, S Ball (Bishop’s Stortford), O Cooper-Millar, M McCraith (Bishop’s Stortford).
Replacements (all used): O Walliker (Hartpury College), W Roberts (Loughborough Students), R Conquest (Darlington MP), T MacDougall (Hertford), M Sargent (Hertford), T Coleman, N Hankin (both Bishop’s Stortford).
Referee: Veryan Boscawen (RFU).
Crowd: 3,500 +
Cornwall-man-of-the-match: Tough one on a day when so many stood out but a captain’s performance from skipper Kyle Marriott shone through.