Devon held off a determined Cornish fightback to win back the Tamar Cup 13-11 at a sunny Okehampton yesterday.
Devon dominated large parts of the first half after choosing to play uphill, and they had Cornwall going backwards in the scrums. The only mystery was they only managed one try before the break. That was partly due to some excellent Duchy defence, while they also gave away too many penalties deep in the visitors' 22.
Devon drew first blood in the tenth minute. They won a close-range line-out and, after a couple of drives, they tried the blind-side and captain and Plymouth Albion hooker Jack Yeandle got over in the corner. Mounts Bay full-back Dan Hawkes missed the touchline conversion.
Cornwall struck back almost immediately, with a 35-metre penalty from Camborne full-back David Mankee.
Hawkes slotted a simple penalty in the 40th minute to restore the gap to five points, only for Mankee to bang over a 25-metre effort soon after to leave his side trailing only 8-6 at the break.
Devon piled into Cornwall at the start of the second half, and were rewarded with a second try. The ball was spun wide, after several forward drives, to Cullompton loose-head prop Rob Hammett who is believed to be attracting interest from Plymouth Albion who popped a pass up for Hawkes to run in at the corner.
The latter's conversion from wide out missed, but Devon led 13-6 and looked in the driving seat. However, Cornwall sparked into life and they started to cause their opponents all sorts of problems.
Barnstaple's Neil Giddy produced two superb try-saving tackles in the space of five minutes to deny Karl Martin and Chris Morris respectively, while Mankee hit the upright with a fairly simple penalty attempt.
Cornwall wasted two more penalty opportunities when they opted to kick to the corner, only to lose possession at the subsequent line-outs, and it looked as if they were unbelievably going to fail to score in the second half, when they finally made another close-range line-out count, with replacement prop Dan Job forcing his way over in the 78th minute. Mankee missed the difficult touchline conversion to leave Cornwall 13-11 adrift, and was also off target with an injury-time drop goal attempt as Devon hung on to capture the Tamar Cup.
Devon scorers: tries Yeandle, Hawkes; penalty Hawke
Cornwall scorers: try Job; penalties Mankee (2)
Devon: D Hawkes (Mounts Bay), M Lee (Plymouth Albion), K Browne
(Devonport S), L Patterson (Cornish All Blacks), M Galliford (Barnstaple), N
Giddy (Barnstaple), C Moore (Plymouth Alb), R Hammett (Cullompton), J Yeandle
(Plymouth Alb, capt), P Dowrick (Newton Abbot), A Thomas (Brixham), J Tripcony
(Plymouth Alb), S Harris (Cullompton), J Childs (Plymouth Alb), N Hannay
Replacements: J Beardsmore (Paignton) for Giddy 75, D Lawson (Ivybridge) for Galliford 80+5, N Riley (Brixham) for Thomas 69, M Vandenbrouck (Paignton) for Hammett 80-83, B Crichton (Devonport S) for Harris 8-11, for Childs 80+5.
Not used: L Carey (Okehampton), N Martin (Okehampton).
Cornwall: D Mankee (Camborne), C Morris (Cornish All Blacks), S
Peters (Redruth), S Kenward (Redruth), R Vassell (Newquay Hornets), B Rule
(Redruth), K Martin (St Ives), N Endean (Camborne), B Taylor (St Ives), D
Clackworthy (Hayle), B Sidgwick (St Ives), B Hilton (Mounts Bay, capt), B
Collings (Cornish All Blacks), D Seymour (Mounts Bay), M Angwin (Wadebridge
Replacements: J Hawken (Cornish All Blacks) for Peters 70, S Harrison (Redruth) for Taylor 70, J Wilce (Wadebridge C) for Sidgwick 57, M Goldsworthy (Camborne) for B Collings 70, G Pooley (All Blacks) for Angwin 70, A Collings (All Blacks) for Vassell 70, D Job (Redruth) for Endean 46.
Sam Heard and Mark Bright stop Devon's Gareth Evans. Photo by John Beach.
Cornwall got their County Championship campaign for 2009 off to the best possible start, with a first Championship win over old rivals Devon since the victory at Beacon Park in 2002. It was a Cornish performance full of pride, passion, commitment and skill from each and every member of the squad who took the field in this pulsating encounter. Devon, who have appeared in the last five County Championship finals, winning three of them, were beaten far more comprehensively than the score line suggests.
As ever, Cornwall were cheered on by a large and vociferous following of their supporters who had crossed the Tamar to cheer on their team, as well as exiles who had ventured down, all united in the common cause.
There were a few raised eyebrows when the Cornwall side was announced in the press on Friday morning. Those doubts were quickly dispelled as Cornwall took charge of the match from the kick-off to steadily build a famous victory. Cornwall were never behind during the match.
It was once again the Cornwall pack -- led superbly by second row Richard Carroll -- that laid the foundations for this famous win. The backs looked sharp throughout, ably marshalled by the half-back pairing of Mark Richards and Lewis Webb, one of the players making his debut for Cornwall, whilst in mid-field the tackling of centres Paul Thirlby and skipper Ryan Westren, supported by a rampaging back row -- notably Tom Rawlings -- halted numerous Devon threats in their tracks. Allied to this, full back Malcolm Roberts kicked well from hand all afternoon, pinning Devon back deep into their 22 and forcing them to play from deep.
Cornwall kicked off playing towards the scoreboard end and soon began to impose their game on Devon. An early penalty was kicked to the corner by Roberts. Cornwall looked to set up a drive from the lineout, and Carroll was held up over the line as Cornwall earned a five metre scrum. Cornwall drove again and this time Luke Collins forced himself over the Devon line with barely five minutes on the clock. Roberts' conversion gave Cornwall a perfect start for a 7-0 lead.
From the restart, gathered by Sam Hocking, Richards launched a long kick down field which found touch in the Devon 22, maintaining pressure on their hosts. Further fine play from the Cornish backs -- notably Webb, Hanno Dirksen and Sean Hawkey -- caused panic in the Devon 22. With a penalty on offer, Webb dropped a neat goal to extend Cornwall's lead to 10-0 after 14 minutes. The Devon supporters went very quite.
Devon slowly came more into the game, winning a penalty on 16 minutes just to the right of the posts. However, fly-half Ross Laidlaw pushed his kick wide. Another Devon attacked was snuffed out by the Cornish defence only for Cornwall to infringe in front of the posts after 21 minutes. This time Laidlaw made no mistake in reducing the arrears.
This proved to be Devon's best period of the match, as three minutes later from a penalty kicked to the corner by Laidlaw Jamie Tripcony secured good line out ball, allowing the Devon pack to drive for the line with flanker Richard Jenkins scoring a fine try. Laidlaw added the conversion to tie the scores after 27 minutes.
Another fine kick down field by Roberts resulted in a Devon lineout in their own 22. With Luke Collins pinching the line out, Devon gave away another penalty, allowing Roberts to regain the lead for Cornwall just after the half-hour mark.
Devon suffered a further blow when their influential No.8 Kyle Marriott was injured after 35 minutes and forced to leave the field.
With half-time approaching Cornwall looked for another score. The forwards -- notably Carroll, Darren Jacques, who gave another accomplished all-round performance in the tight and loose, plus the ever-willing Rawlings -- put Cornwall on the front foot. A Devon line out near their own line was deemed crooked. From the resulting scrum a big drive from Redruth's Mark Bright, another making his debut for Cornwall, made ground before passing to Richards, who dived over for Cornwall's second try. Although Roberts couldn't add the extras Cornwall turned around with a useful and merited 18-10 lead.
Laidlaw kicked a penalty for Devon early in the second half. However, Cornwall were soon calling the tune once more. A lovely run from Roberts saw him almost ghost through the Devon defence. Cornwall quickly re-cycled the ball, with Webb powering on and getting over the line but held up. From the scrum Collins made a big drive for the line before Rawlings snaffled the ball and drove over to score Cornwall's third try after 47 minutes. Roberts kicked the conversion to stretch Cornwall's lead to 25-13.
Cornwall then endured a slack period as they seemed to fall foul of referee Mr. Tutty, giving away a string of penalties, which head coach "Benji" Thomas will be keen to eradicate before their next match. It allowed Devon to pull a score back as centre Pat Sykes was able to sneak in for Devon's second try after 60 minutes.
With time fast running out Cornwall secured the game with two quick scores. First Roberts kicked a second penalty following a late tackle by Devon, then Dirksen capped a fine debut with an individual score. Collecting a Devon kick ahead, he danced his way through the Devon defence to score near the posts. Although Roberts missed the conversion Cornwall were out of sight.
Devon grabbed a late consolation score as Jenkins claimed his second try of the afternoon following a chip ahead by Laidlaw, who added the conversion.
At the final whistle it was Cornwall's day and deservedly so. They will now look to build on this result when they tackle Somerset next Saturday at Redruth, hopefully in front of a large Cornish crowd. They certainly deserve one after this fine performance.
More pictures of the game are here.
Devon 25 pts: tries Jenkins (2), Sykes; conversions Laidlaw (2); penalties Laidlaw (2)
Cornwall 33 pts: tries Collins, Richards, Rawlings, Dirksen; conversions Roberts (2); penalties Roberts (2); drop-goal Webb
Devon: 15. Gary Kingdom (Exeter), 14. Mark Lee (Plymouth Albion),
13. Pat Sykes (Canterbury), 12. Ross Allan (Plymouth Albion, Capt.),11. Jason
Luff (Exeter),10. Ross Laidlaw (Plymouth Albion), 9. Matt Newman (Plymouth
Albion), 1. Danny Porte (Plymouth Albion), 2. Gareth Evans (Plymouth Albion),
3. Ryan Hopkins (Plymouth Albion), 4. Jamie Tripcony (Plymouth Albion), 5.
Nathan Hannay (Sidmouth), 6. Richard Jenkins (Dings Crusaders), 7. Rory
Watts-Jones (Plymouth Albion), 8. Kyle Marriott (Plymouth
Replacements used: J Yeandle (UWIC & Plymouth Albion) for Marriot 35. N. Riley (Brixham) for Hannay 80, M Dibble (Cornish All Blacks) for Lee 74, L Paterson (Cornish All Blacks) for Newman 80, S Johns (Plymouth Albion) for Sykes 74.
Not used: D Manns (Crediton), A Thomas (Brixham)
Cornwall: 15. Malcom Roberts (Cornish All Blacks & Army), 14.
Willem Dirksen (St. Ives), 13. Ryan Westren (Cornish All Blacks, Capt.), 12.
Paul Thirlby (Redruth), 11. Sean Hawkey (UWIC & Wadebridge Camels), 10.
Lewis Webb (Cornish All Blacks), 9. Mark Richards (Redruth), 1. Darren Jacques
(Redruth), 2. Owen Hambly (Redruth), 3. Sam Heard (unattached), 4. Luke Collins
(Cornish Pirates), 5. Richard Carroll (unattached), 6. Sam Hocking (Cornish All
Blacks), 7. Tom Rawlings (Cornish All Blacks), 8. Mark Bright
Replacements used: D Pascoe (Penryn & Royal Navy) for Richards 80, P Joyce (Redruth) for Heard 59, C Fuca (Redruth) for Rawlings 59, D Cook (Redruth) for Carroll 78, S Hobson (Bath) for Collins 80.
Not used: D Clackworthy (Hayle), B Rule (Redruth).
Referee: Mr. M Tutty (RFU)
Winger Hanno Dirksen in full flight. Photo by John Beach.
Three blistering tries from winger Sean Hawkey helped set Cornwall on their way to a second win in this season's County Championship at Redruth on Saturday. Whilst the score line may well look emphatic, this was a hard-earned win against a Somerset side that showed several changes to the team so badly mauled by Gloucestershire the previous weekend at Taunton. It was a win too that will have satisfied skipper Ryan Westren and replacement prop Danny Clackworthy: both were in the Cornwall side humiliated by Somerset two years ago in a County Shield match at Bridgewater by 60-14.
As last Saturday, Cornwall's success was based on two key elements -- a powerful forwards' display and a granite-like defence. Somerset enjoyed a fair share of possession and territory during the match but time and again they just couldn't pierce the Cornish defence, whilst Cornwall countered with devastating effect.
With Malcolm Roberts unavailable Adryan Winnan was drafted in at fullback. Cornwall were also obliged to make a late change: as Sam Heard was unavailable Redruth's Peter Joyce stepped up from the bench, whilst St. Ives' Ben Taylor came on to the bench.
After the balmy weather the previous week at the Brickfields, strong winds and heavy showers greeted the players at Redruth to make for tricky playing conditions. Somerset got the game under way playing up the slope and were soon pressing in the Cornwall 22. The Cornish defence was being tested at this early stage, but turnover ball saw the homeside counter. Prop Darren Jacques led a counter that saw the ball passed at pace through the hands of Winnan, Owen Hambly and then Hawkey, who, although slowed up by the Somerset cover, managed to recover and cross in the Piggy Lane corner to open the scoring after only 3 minutes -- sending the home crowd rapturous. Winnan's conversion attempt from wide out failed in the blustery wind.
It was just the start that Cornwall wanted and it got better just seven minutes later. Young Hano Dirksen carved his way through mid-field with flanker Sam Hocking in support to pass to the onrushing Hambly, who also crossed in the same corner. Winnan added the extras for a 12-0 lead.
Richard Carroll, once again heavily involved in the action, almost scored a third Cornish try after 25 minutes as the ball was lost in the tackle over the line following more fine interplay between forwards and backs.
In the run up to half-time it was mostly Somerset who dominated, laying siege to the Cornish line, denied by the meanest of defences.
Somerset's fly-half Luke Cozens, previously on loan to the Reds a couple of seasons back, almost scored up in the scoreboard corner. Referee Mr. Davies had been playing advantage to the visitors and elected to come back for the original offence, which saw Cornish lock Luke Collins sin binned for a professional foul. Somerset elected not to go for the points on offer from a simple penalty from in front of the posts, instead opting for a scrum. It looked like a good move as the Somerset forwards powered towards the line -- only to see prop Chris Rowland lose the ball over the line, allowing Cornwall to clear.
Moments later Cornwall rubbed salt into their visitors as they conjured up a third first half try, as from a scrum Cornwall broke away via Hambly and scrum-half Mark Richards before the ball found Westren and Paul Thirlby, the centres setting up Hawkey for his second of the afternoon, again in the Piggy Lane corner, to give Cornwall a useful half-time lead of 17-0.
With the wind behind them in the second half Cornwall looked to pin their opponents back in their own 22, with fly-half Lewis Webb kicking well. Dirksen and Webb were both almost in for a try as Cornwall pressed once more. Eventually the pressure told as Webb spotted a gap in the Somerset defence, darting through under the posts and allowing Winnan a simple conversion.
Cornwall again had to defend as Somerset looked to score and regain some pride.
Both sides brought on fresh legs as the game moved into the final quarter. An attacking scrum close to the Somerset line saw No. 8 Mark Bright pop up a pass to Richards, who fed replacement fly-half Brett Rule whose long pass found the uprushing Dirksen -- who took the ball at pace to calmly cut through the re-jigged Somerset backline to score in the Strawberry Lane corner. Winnan kicked another fine conversion.
Winnan then put in a fine covering tackle on Somerset winger Paul Spargue as he broke towards Hell Fire corner, forcing the winger into touch.
Fittingly Cornwall had the last word, with star performer Hawkey notching up his hat-trick of tries in time added on. Some fine inter-passing from props Jacques and Clackworthy ended with the Hayle man sending out a long pass to his winger. The pace of Hawkey took him clear to score Cornwall's sixth try of the afternoon, whilst Winnan's fourth conversion made it 38-0 at the final whistle.
Cornwall will travel to Cinderford in great heart, knowing that another Twickenham appearance is just a tantalising 80 minutes away. They will know more about what will be needed following Gloucestershire's match against Devon, which is due to be played on Sunday afternoon at Gloucester's Kingsholm ground.
After the match a very satisfied Cornwall head coach Dave Thomas gave his reactions. "I thought again following on from last week our defence was very, very good. We stopped them getting across the gain-line. This is something that all the coaches have been emphasising.
"Somerset really had a go at us in the first half going around the fringes, but I thought our boys kept them out very well.
"Our backs looked very strong again today. We scored two or three tries from attacks from our own half, with slick handling and pacy running. Also Adryan Winnan joining the line from full-back at pace made a huge difference. We said that attack comes from defence. We had one turnover on our own 22 and we scored in the corner at the other end of the field, and I thought that epitomised the way we wanted to play it: stop it at the gain line, try to win the ball and then move it wide."
Thomas was also pleased that Cornwall cut the penalty count from last week, though there is still some work to do to cut it further. "That was a big plus, having conceded so many against Devon."
Benji praised his pair of young wingers, Hawkey and Dirksen: "They were outstanding, very pacy and strong. They've come from nowhere really. Three or four months ago we wouldn't really have entertained them. Suddenly they are in the county side running in tries, which is brilliant."
Looking ahead to next week's game against Gloucestershire at Cinderford: "Well, it's like going into the lions' den. It is going to be difficult up there, they have always been strong over the years. We are going to work on the good things that we've done over the past couple of games. We'll hope for a fine day and put it all together again. There is a tremendous spirit and pride in the players wanting to play for Cornwall again. The players are now telling us they want to play, and with the crowd that we had today totally behind the county side that epitomises county rugby in Cornwall."
More pictures of the game are here.
CORNWALL 38 PTS: tries Hawkey (3), Hambly, Webb,
Dirksen; conversions Winnan (4)
Yellow Card - Collins 35
SOMERSET 0 PTS
15. Adryan Winnan (unattatched), 14. Willem Dirksen
(St. Ives), 13. Ryan Westren (Cornish All Blacks, Captain), 12. Paul Thirlby
(Redruth), 11. Sean Hawkey (UWIC & Wadebridge Camels), 10. Lewis Webb
(Cornish All Blacks), 9. Mark Richards (Redruth), 1. Darren Jacques (Redruth),
2. Owen Hambly (Redruth), 3. Peter Joyce (Redruth), 4. Luke Collins (Cornish
Pirates), 5. Richard Carroll (Redruth), 6. Sam Hocking (Cornish All Blacks), 7.
Tom Rawlings (Cornish All Blacks), 8. Mark Bright
Replacements: D Pascoe (Penryn & Royal Navy) for Richards 66, B Rule (Redruth) for Webb 66, B Taylor (St. Ives) for Hambly 77, D Cook (Redruth) for Carroll 56, C Fuca (Redruth) for Rawlings 56, D Clackworthy (Hayle) for Joyce 66, S Hobson (Bath Rugby) for Collins 58.
S Depledge (Leeds Carnegie), B Rudkin (Taunton), L
Messer, T Elisara (both Bridgwater & Albion), P Sprague (Weston-s-Mare), L
Cozens (Bath Rugby), M Rhodes (Taunton, Capt.), C Rowland (Clifton), C McGrath
(Bridgwater & Albion), C Meddick (Dings Crusaders), I Ashcroft-Leigh
(Newbury Blues), S Pape (Cornish All Blacks), B Purcell (Bridgwater &
Albion), J Miller (Coventry), G Sparkes (SL Benfica)
Replacements: N Trevena (Tor) for Rudkin 69, G Cooper (unattatched) for McGrath h/t, J Rudkin (Bridgewater & Albion) for Miller 69, W Stiling (Bridgwater & Albion) for Rowland h/t, W McMillan (Nailsea & Blackwell) for Ashcroft-Leigh 54, S Hunt (Bridgwater & Albion) for Purcell 56, C Creighton for Rhodes 69, C Rowland (Clifton) for Meddick 67
Referee: Mr. P Davies (RFU)
Richard Carroll takes on three Gloucestershire defenders. Photo by John Beach.
Jaike Carter scored a hat-trick of tries as Gloucestershire reached their first Twickenham final since 2004 with a deserved victory over Cornwall at Cinderford.
The Forest of Dean venue was bathed in glorious sunshine as the two previously unbeaten sides served up a hugely entertaining Bill Beaumont Cup encounter in this group decider.
But with Carter filling his boots in front of his home club fans, and classy fly-half Mark Woodrow and his half-back partner and skipper Paul Knight pulling the strings, Gloucestershire were triumphant to set up a final against Lancashire at English rugby headquarters next Saturday, with a 12 noon kick-off.
Woodrow, in fact, was a very important figure in the outcome, not just because of his fine all-round game but also his classy boot.
The Birmingham-Solihull number ten banged over six out of six kicks from all parts of the field, whereas Cornwall's Adryan Winnan, who is not a regular goalkicker, managed only two from five attempts, although he did his very best with the efforts he was presented with.
It was a very tight and tense opening, with most of the play in the opening 25 minutes confined to the area between the two 22-metre lines.
Cornwall showed their intentions from the off when they opted to kick an early 25-metre penalty to the corner, rather than go for the posts, only to be penalised at the subsequent ruck after new Cornish Pirates' signing Luke Collins won the line-out.
Winnan then missed a 30-metre penalty effort in the 19th minute after Gloucestershire flanker Dean Jenkins had been punished for coming in at the side of a ruck.
The hosts lost lock Royce Cadman to the sin-bin a minute later when Devon referee Luke Pearce lost patience with their repeated offending at the breakdown area, but it was Gloucestershire who opened the scoring soon after as Woodrow slotted a penalty given for Cornish hands in a ruck.
However, with Cadman itching to come back onto the field, Cornwall collected the first try, and it was worth waiting for. The visitors spun the ball out from a scrum close to the halfway line and found Dirksen in space, and the St Ives flyer roared towards the try line.
He was stopped just short by a superb covering tackle, but he managed to recycle possession for Wadebridge Camels' winger Sean Hawkey to pick up and dive over for his fourth try in two matches for the county. Winnan added a good conversion for a 7-3 lead.
But the advantage was very shortlived, with lovely hands by Gloucestershire creating an overlap for Carter to grab the first of his tries in the corner, with Woodrow contributing the extras for a 10-7 scoreline in favour of the hosts.
A superb piece of play by new Redruth signing Winnan put Cornwall back in front as the game reached the 40th minute, as he chased his own kick ahead, tapped the bouncing ball to Collins, and then watched the big man gallop in from 25 metres to score beneath the posts, giving Winnan a simple kick for a 14-10 lead.
Just as before, though, Cornwall went to sleep straight after scoring and more good hands sent Carter over after he had handed off Cornwall scrum-half Mark Richards, and Woodrow's conversion gave Gloucestershire a 17-14 interval lead.
Six minutes after the break, a lovely miss pass by Woodrow provided Hartpury College centre Jonny May with the space to shrug off a tackle and cross the line, and with Woodrow once again making it a seven-pointer, the hosts suddenly had a ten-point gap.
Back came Cornwall, with Exeter Chiefs' England Academy star Dirksen producing a sublime piece of skill three minutes later, chipping the ball over the defence down the right flank and winning the chase to the touchdown.
Winnan missed the tough touchline conversion, and a long-range penalty 11 minutes later, but in between those efforts Woodrow put over a 40-metre kick of his own to give Gloucestershire a 27-19 advantage.
Mark 'Pasty' Cornwell's men then all but wrapped up victory in the 66th minute as good work by centre Dewi Scourfield and Woodrow sent Carter in to complete his treble, and with Woodrow converting, Gloucestershire were on their way to Twickenham.
GLOUCESTERSHIRE 34 PTS: tries Carter (3), May; conversions Woodrow (4); penalties Woodrow (2)
CORNWALL 19 PTS: tries Hawkey, Collins, Dirksen; conversions Winnan (2)
(Cinderford unless stated): J Copsey; C Holder (Lydney), J May (Hartpury College), D Scourfield, J Carter, M Woodrow (Birmingham & Solihull), P Knight (capt.) (J Williams, Lydney, 80), P Price (Lydney), P Finkin (Newbury), R Davies (Birmingham & Solihull), W Waldron (Hartpury College) (D Bufton, Dings Crusaders, 63), R Cadman (Hartpury College), M Gilbert (Hartpury College), D Jenkins (Lydney) (C McNeil 68), M Panoho (Dings Crusaders).
Replacements not used: T Stevenson, C Hall, P Kennedy, S Edwards (Dings Crusaders).
(Redruth unless stated): A Winnan, H Dirksen (St Ives), R Westren (Cornish All Blacks, capt.), P Thirlby (R Thirlby, Moseley 61), S Hawkey (Wadebridge Camels, UWIC) (D Semmens, Cornish All Blacks, 73), L Webb (Cornish All Blacks) (B Rule 68), M Richards, D Jacques (D Clackworthy, Hayle, 75), O Hambly, S Heard (P Joyce 59), L Collins (Cornish Pirates), R Carroll (D Cook 63), S Hocking (Cornish All Blacks), T Rawlings (Cornish All Blacks) (C Fuca 68), M Bright.
Referee: Luke Pearce (RFU).
Yellow cards: Glos: Cadman 20.