The Senior Leagues 2007-2008

A summary of the 2007-2008 league season

This page summarizes all the league games involving Cornish clubs in National League 1, National League 2, National League 3 South, SW1, and SW2 (W) that took place in the 2007 - 2008 season.




By Mark Stevens of the Western Morning News at Polson Bridge

A tough introduction it may have been for the Cornish All Blacks, but the National One new boys will have learnt plenty from their first official examination of the new rugby term. With local rivals the Cornish Pirates providing a taxing opening to the Launceston club's first taste of life in English rugby's second tier, the initial signs appear promising, this despite Saturday's 26-12 reverse.

At half-time -- and with the Pirates seemingly cruising at 19-0 up -- the initial diagnosis could well have been deemed more problematic. However, the encouraging showing from the home side in the second period not only ensured this opening day encounter ended a much closer affair than first thought, but it also served to show the All Blacks are not merely in the division to make up the numbers.

When reviewing the match footage this week, the positives will certainly outweigh the negatives for home coaches Chris Brown and Jon Hill. However, it's likely the duo will use training this week to remind their team that a game of rugby lasts 80 minutes, not just 40. Had the All Blacks displayed the same cut and thrust in the opening half as they showed after the interval, a bonus of some sort could certainly have been achieved.

Likewise, the Pirates will have plenty to ponder following this first excursion. With their imperious pack ruling the roost in the opening half -- and summer signing Gareth Steenson punishing any home indiscretion with his right boot, the visitors failed to show the same ruthless streak after the break. Sure, the upturn in the All Blacks' fortunes played some part in the second half switch, but a noticeable failure to convert some clear-cut openings was also highlighted by head coach Jim McKay in the immediate aftermath of the game.

For the first 40 minutes, however, McKay could have few complaints about the way his side, which included eight players making their league debuts for the club, went about their work. Having seen home fly-half Stuart Alred fail with a second-minute penalty chance, the Pirates opened their scoring account two minutes later with a try from newcomer Brian Tuohy. The Irishman was on hand to glide down the right flank after skipper Tim Cowley had collected a high, hanging kick from Andy Birkett before feeding full-back Adryan Winnan. With the ball in hand, Winnan made some useful yardage into enemy territory before shipping the ball to Tuohy who did the rest. Steenson, who like Tuohy made the summer switch from Rotherham to Cornwall, banged over the difficult touchline conversion, before punishing the home side with a sweetly-struck penalty on 17 minutes after Alred had been penalised for a late hit in midfield.

The simple difference between the two sides could be summed up in the roles played by the opposing number tens. Steenson was given an armchair ride as the visiting pack laid on clean and quick ball. Alred, on the other hand, looked nervy and was forced to live off scraps as the powerful play of Cowley, Bruce Cumming and Iva Motusaga in particular, caused no end of trouble to the home side. The pressure being created by the Pirates pack was forcing desperate measures within the home camp.

As the heat up front intensified, so came further chances for Steenson to punish the All Blacks. The Irish Under-21 international fired over three successive penalties to put the Pirates firmly in command at 19-0 at half-time. The somewhat shell-shocked All Blacks departed for the changing rooms knowing they needed to address a number of issues.

Whatever was said and what changes were made during the break, they clearly worked. The All Blacks re-emerged full of vigour and determined to make their mark. Taking control of the early exchanges, the home side capped a fine spell of pressure when, following a line-out on the left -- taken by Josh Lord, one of five former Pirates in the home ranks -- the All Blacks' pack combined to drive No.8 Dave Kimberley over for their opening score, which Alred converted.

With home spirits clearly lifted, the All Blacks continued their push forward. Alred failed with another long-distance penalty, before winger Matt Jess dazzled his former employers when he chipped over Nick Buckley and Winnan to collect the loose ball and dot down in the right corner to make it 19-12.

With just a converted score between the two, the Pirates quickly re-established their grip on proceedings on 69 minutes, when more strong running from the impressive Motusaga carved the opening for Cowley to cross under the posts, Steenson obliging with the extras. It sealed the win for the Pirates, but even then both sides had further chances; sadly they were not taken.

Cornish All Blacks 12 pts: Tries Kimberley, Jess; Conversion Alred

Cornish Pirates 26 pts: Tries Tuhoy, Cowley; Conversions- Steenson (2); Penalties- Steenson (4)

Launceston: A. Birkett, M. Jess, M. Sweeney (R. Westren 61), S Perry, J. Fabian (M. Dibble 70), S. Alred, S. Alford (B. Turner 70); J. Bolt (R. Liddington 51), O. Hambly, K. Brooking (capt, W. Reed 51), S. Pape, T. Parker (B. Jenkin 15-25, 80), J. Lord, T. Roques (T. Rawlings 70), D. Kimberley.

Cornish Pirates: A. Winnan, R. McAtee (A. Koko 61), P. Devlin, S. Whatling (N. Buckley 61), B. Tuhoy, G. Steenson, R. Bolt (J. Moore 79); P. Cook, R. Elloway, D. Seal (S. Heard 72), J. Beardshaw (S. Hobson 80), B. Cumming, C. Cracknell, I. Motusaga, T. Cowley (capt, S. Betty 79)
Replacement (not used) D. Dawiduik

Referee Mr. L. Apgeriant-Roberts (RFU)


By Mark Stevens of the Western Morning News

Cornish Pirates' coach Jim McKay will be looking for his side to re-discover their attacking edge ahead of this Sunday's home showdown with Northampton Saints. Despite seeing his side kick-off their National One campaign with a 26-12 derby win over the Cornish All Blacks on Saturday, McKay was somewhat disappointed that his side did not come away with a five-point haul.

Having led 19-0 at the break, the Pirates were unable to display the same kind of attacking threat in the second period.

"We'll take the win, but there is lots for us to work on," said the Australian. "Full credit to Launceston for the way they played, it was a great occasion for Cornish rugby, but we're disappointed with certain aspects of our play.

"We have four points, which is good, but we do feel we've perhaps dropped a point as well. Some of our lead up play was very good, but we didn't finish it off and that's something we will need to do, especially in tight games.

"We created lots of chances but probably blew away four or five really good scoring opportunities. They'll probably say they had chances as well, especially in the second half, but had we taken our chances it could have been a lot easier for us."

Although disappointed to start with a defeat, joint All Blacks' coach, Jon Hill, insisted there were plenty of positives to take from the game. He said: "Obviously we're gutted to have lost the game. We're disappointed because we felt we only played to our potential for 40 minutes. That said, we have shown that if we can play like we did in the second half for a full 80 minutes, we can more than hold our own in this division.

"The first half was tough for everyone. Gareth Steenson's boot was just awesome for them and he continually put us on the back foot. After the break I felt we were very effective and caused them quite a few problems. Perhaps our efforts deserved a bonus point of some kind, but overall we can take plenty from the game."

BILL HOOPER'S CORNISH ROUNDUP for 1st September 2007 (from BILL'S BLOG)




By Mark Stevens of the Western Morning News at Camborne Rec.

As Harlequins and Leeds Tykes have shown in recent years, it's not just home comforts which guarantee you a swift return to the Guinness Premiership, it's on the road where the hard work is really done.

Having started with a regulation opening day win over visiting London Welsh, Northampton did not have to wait long for their first acid test of life on the road in the ever-improving world of National League One.

Not only did the fixture compilers ensure the star-studded Saints had to face their longest trek of the season in their first away-day adventure, but it would be against a Cornish Pirates side who have lost just once in the league at their Camborne base.

Waiting for them in the rugby-loving Duchy yesterday were not only a pumped up Pirates outfit, but also a vociferous home faithful who dared to dream that their heroes could inflict an early season blow on the former top-flight club.

For an hour that dream was almost reality as the Cornishmen produced a display of true grit and determination - and one which will have made the hearty band of visiting Saints supporters sit up and take note.

In the end, however, elementary errors from the Pirates at crucial times, coupled with some exquisite moments of class from the visitors, ensured it was the Saints who headed back up the A30 with a vital 35-26 win under their belts.

It was certainly tough on Jim McKay's Pirates, who were denied a bonus point of their own when visiting fly-half Barry Everitt struck a decisive injury time penalty to rub salt into the already exposed home wounds.

The sense of disappointment within the home camp at the final whistle was clear to see, particularly as the Pirates had given so much in a pulsating encounter.

Skipper Tim Cowley summed up his side's frustration at the final whistle. He said: "It was pretty much there for us today and we're very disappointed not to have got anything from the game. They are a top team, but we really pushed them hard today and that's the most frustrating thing. I don't think they really won it, we lost it."

With the Pirates having established a superb 19-10 lead at the interval, Northampton upped the ante after the break and stung their hosts with a powerful second half display.

"At half-time we specifically talked about not letting them in early, but that's exactly what we did," added Cowley. "We got excited, it seems, they broke our line and after that we were playing catch-up."

In a rousing first half display, the Pirates took just five minutes to make their mark when fly-half Gareth Steenson netted the first of his 16-point haul.

The Saints - who included former All Blacks Bruce Reihana and Carlos Spencer in their line-up - responded immediately and hit back with the opening try of the game on ten minutes when hooker Dave Ward barged his way under the posts for Everitt to convert.

Everitt extended the visitors' lead moments later with a penalty, only for McKay's men to come roaring back with a succession of scoring chances.

Two more Steenson penalties cut the deficit to just a point, before the Rec exploded into life when the home side claimed their opening try of the game on 36 minutes.

Great turnover work by the home pack saw Richard Bolt feed Adryan Winnan on the blindside flank. With ball in hand, Winnan advanced before chipping the ball over the Saints defence. As Winnan hunted down his punt, he was impeded at least three times by winger Paul Diggin, before the ball fell invitingly for hooker Rob Elloway to dot down in the left-hand corner.

Steenson fired over the conversion and another penalty in first half injury time to leave the Pirates firmly in control at the turn.

On their re-emergence, however, it was the Saints who quickly stole a march on their rivals as a converted Everitt try on 42 minutes brought the score to 19-17.

What followed shortly afterwards was to prove pivotal. Strong forward pressure put the Pirates back into the Northampton 22 and following six minutes of pressure on the visiting line, the Pirates still had not added to their tally.

Kicks at goal were declined as the home side instead pushed for a second try. The move, however, backfired as Northampton turned the Cornish club over and swept down field to allow Diggin to add a third try.

Everitt converted that score via the upright, before on-loan winger Tim Visser finished off a pass from Spencer to claim a fourth score on 67 minutes.

As home hopes faded, Everitt administered another telling blow to make it 32-19, before the Pirates re-ignited their fire with a second converted try two minutes from time from James Moore.

With at least a bonus of some sort seemingly in the bag, the Pirates could feel some sort of reward for their hard graft. Sadly, the Saints had other ideas and in one final foray forward, Everitt punished some over exuberant defending with his last-gasp penalty.

BILL HOOPER'S CORNISH ROUNDUP for 8th/9th September 2007 (from BILL'S BLOG)




By Mark Stevens of the Western Morning News at the Butts Park Arena

Furious Cornish Pirates' coach Jim McKay pulled few punches as he let rip into his side following their last-gasp 17-16 victory away to Coventry.

A converted Chris Cracknell try five minutes into added-on time spared the Pirates from a second successive National League One defeat -- and condemned their hosts to a third successive loss of their own.

In truth, it was rough justice on the Midlanders, who not only led for large parts of the game, but offered significantly more in most departments than that of the below-par Pirates.

Sport, however, can be cruel. You only need ask the Pirates themselves after they were denied some much deserved booty following their Herculean display against Northampton Saints the week previous.

However, the difference between the Saints' display and that which was served up at the Butts Park Arena on Saturday was significantly different. Just how a side's standards could slip so much in less than a week is not just a concern, it's more problematic than that.

While rivals clubs such as Exeter, Northampton, and Doncaster have already stolen a march at the top of the table, McKay knows he and his coaching staff have plenty to work on ahead of Sunday's visit of Pertemps Bees to Camborne. For sure there is likely to be a response from the Pirates: if not, heads could well roll.

"We are very performance driven and I want our boys to do well and aspire to that next level," said McKay at the final whistle. "Playing like that is simply not good enough. I'm pretty furious because I want us to be the best and I want the boys to be the best, period. That's what we are about at the Cornish Pirates, that's what we want to do.

"Today our performance wasn't acceptable. We did too many silly things with guys going off on their own and not really playing to our systems. That really hurt us because we did create opportunities, but we didn't execute them as we would have liked."

McKay readily admitted his side had been fortunate to escape with a victory. He added: "Rugby's an amazing game, isn't it? Sometimes you lose games cruelly or you get nothing, a bit like us last week, and other times you get the bounce of the ball. That happens over the course of the season, so we'll take today and say that's our joker card used for the season.

"Obviously Coventry will be pretty disappointed because they had chances to win it, but one of the few positives for us to take was that we hung in there for the full 80 and we didn't capitulate."

Although the Pirates did well to dig deep for the whole game, the real rescue clause for the visitors came courtesy of two key factors. First was home skipper Ben Russell's failure to land two kickable penalty chances with his side 16-10 in front, the other was the two deserved yellow cards Cov received in the final five minutes. Had either one of those factors not materialised, it's unlikely the Pirates would have escaped with the spoils.

Coventry, however, had only themselves to blame. Having bossed the opening exchanges, the only real surprise was that they led 3-0, courtesy of an early Russell penalty.

But once home hooker Chris Whitehead was yellow-carded on 17 minutes, the Pirates finally sensed an opening. Using the resultant penalty, they kicked for the corner and although the initial attack faltered, Cov No.8 Lawrie McGlone handed the initiative back straight away with an unnecessary knock-on as he went to take a quick free kick.

With a scrum eight metres out, Richard Bolt and Gareth Steenson combined to set-up debutant Nick Buckley, who pumped his way to the line for the opening try, which Steenson was able to convert.

The joy of the vocal visiting support, however, was shortlived. Within three minutes Coventry hit back, stinging the Pirates with a deadly attack that saw fly-half Myles Dorrian ghost between Steenson and Iva Motusaga, before offering a simple offload to centre Donovan Sanders to score under the posts.

Russell netted the conversion, plus added the penalty which also saw Motusaga dispatched to the sin-bin, to put Coventry in control at 13-7 as half-time approached.

The fractious first period, though, was far from over and in the ninth minute of stoppage time, Steenson plundered a 40-metre penalty to cut the deficit to just three at the turn.

As the Pirates departed stage left, the hope was they would re-emerge for Act Two invigorated and ready to bring the house down. In the end, the only thing they brought down was their standard of play, which went from bad to worse.

Russell extended the home side's lead with a third penalty on the hour, but then crucially failed with two easier chances. Had just one of those efforts gone over, the Pirates would have been playing catch-up.

Instead, they were somehow still alive and kicking and when Cov lost Danny Hodge, then Michael Walls to yellow cards late on, it was the Pirates who finished with aplomb.

Bruce Cumming came within a whisker of a second score, before Cracknell finally prevailed when he picked up from the base of a scrum and drove to the whitewash, Steenson's conversion providing the perfect killer blow.



From the Western Morning News

Cornish All Blacks' joint coach Chris Brown hailed his side's character after they recorded their first-ever National League One win with a 34-31 success over visiting Sedgley Park.

A delighted Brown said: "This for us was all about the result. It's a difficult situation as a coach to say this is all about winning, but after two defeats it was very important - and our manner of winning was very good."

Securing victory, however, was a hair-raising, last-ditch business and had supporters on the edge of their seats. But full credit goes to the Cornish club.

Trailing 27-31 in injury time and back on their own 22, many sides would have despaired, but not the All Blacks.

With the third minute of added time ticking away out wing Matt Jess, who had already scored the try of the match, suddenly turned on the after-burners out wide and skinned a startled defence. He reached the visitors' 22, found Steve Perry coming up on his inside, and the centre gave the scoring pass to prop Richard Liddington to touchdown.

Fly-half Stuart Alred landed a soaring conversion, the referee blew for time, the Polson support were delirious, and a really vital, four-try, five-point win was in the bag.

For much of the match there was seldom more than one score separating the sides. The All Blacks had a dream start, the backs racing into the 22 where Perry released winger Jon Fabian to shoot through the gap to score, with Alred converting.

Sedgley soon realised that their juggernaut of a pack was their key weapon - three of their four tries coming from heavyweight drive-overs - and they hit back, kicking to the corner and lumbering over from the catch-and-drive to enable flanker Jimmy Ponton to score their opening points of the game.

Ten minutes on and the Blacks' back line went into fluent mode again, Jess taking a superb pass at terrific pace on halfway, burning down the wing, swerving gloriously inside and touching down under the posts. Alred again added the extras.

The visitors, though, hit back immediately with ther second pushover, courtesy of prop Petrus du Plessis. However, fly-half Stephen Nutt was unable to convert. This was one of Sedgley's weaknesses - they were to land only one of four conversion attempts all game.

Approaching half-time the All Blacks crossed for their third try, the backs attacking dangerously allowing scrum-half Sam Alford burst away from a scrum to split the Park defence and score under the posts for Alred's metronomic boot to add the extras again.

The Cornish side were now two scores ahead leading 21-10, but back came Sedgley driving over after two penalty awards through the experienced Tim Fourie, the All Blacks seemingly unable to cope with the sheer weight of their opponents.

Both sides enjoyed some successes, Alred and his opposite number, replacement Philip Jones, trading successful penalty goals within ten minutes of the re-start.

Just after the hour mark, though, the visitors went in front for the first time with a well-crafted try that caught the All Blacks on the back foot and saw centre Andy Craig race untouched through to score for Jones to convert and nudge Sedgley into a one-point lead.

A second Alred penalty momentarily snatched the advantage back, but their cause looked irretrievably lost when Jones landed two late penalties with injury time looming.

The visitors, however, had not bargained for Jess' pace and the All Blacks' sheer determination to win.

Brown added: "We let the game go with a few lapses in defence at the breakdown area, but our will to win and desire for success was everything.

"In attack we played some sublime rugby; but expect a big defensive week in training after this. We were lucky to have conceded 31 points and still win.

"There were some tremendous performaces, including Stuart Alred and Matt Jess. We're delighted. We're off the mark now with a five-point win".



By Alfie Davidson of the Western Morning News at the Mennaye Field

Mounts Bay skipper Nick Burnett hailed his side's showing after the National League Three South table-toppers made it three wins from three with a 47-17 victory over visiting Havant.

The all-action No.8 - signed in the summer from the Cornish All Blacks - led from the front as he claimed two of the Bay's seven tries at the Mennaye Field.

Saturday's success ensured another five-point maximum for the Penzance-based club, who in the opening weeks of the season have seen off Barking (63-10) and Bridgwater and Albion (42-18).

This latest victory, however, was certainly an impressive one, particularly as Havant finished third in the division last season.

"It was another good win for us," said Burnett afterwards. "We are very pleased with the way things have started. To get five points in each of our first three games, you can't ask for any more than that.

"This was a good test for us because Havant did pretty well in this division last year. They are a capable side with some good players, but again I felt we worked really hard for each other and we got our rewards with the tries we scored."

Havant's long trek to the far west did not begin well. With their coach breaking down en route to the ground, the game had to be delayed for half an hour while the visitors did their best to get themselves ready for action.

The Bay, on the other hand, were raring to go and it took the home side just two minutes to make their mark. Good early pressure put the Bay into the visitors' 22 and from a line-out move on the right, Burnett powered his way over for the opening try of the game, which fly-half Lee Jarvis was able to convert.

Havant, though, responded well and they hit back with a penalty from fly-half Nagapaka Ngapaka, before the same player added the extras to Matt Morgan's try on ten minutes.

That lead lasted until the 23rd minute when Bay centre Jon Marlin claimed try number two for the home side, the former Plymouth Albion and Barking back slicing through the visitors' defence to score under the posts.

Former Welsh international Jarvis sent over the easy conversion for that try and Burnett's second of the game on 29 minutes. With Havant a man down following a yellow card for Stephen Stapleton, the Bay's rampaging pack were back to their deadly best to assist their skipper over the line to make it 19-10.

Further tries flowed for the Bay as winger Tom Edyvean claimed a quickfire double, both of which were converted by the trusty right boot of Jarvis to make it 33-10.

With the half all but up, Ngapaka could have reduced the deficit with a penalty shot, but his effort flew wide of the posts and it was the Bay who departed for the changing rooms riding high.

The home dominance continued just four minutes after the break as flanker Tom Outram's try, converted by Jarvis, extended the Bay's grip on proceedings to 40-10.

Although the Bay lost Adam Flide and John Griffiths to the sin-bin in the second period, Havant's only joy of the half was a converted try from right winger Richard Buck.

With playing parity restored late on, the Bay wrapped up their win when impressive Aussie centre Tim Mosey applied the finishing touches to a sniping break down the blind-side from player-coach Ricky Pellow.

As is the norm, Jarvis dispatched the conversion to put the shine on another polished performance from the League newcomers.

Next up is Saturday's trip to Dings Crusaders, a side skipper Burnett expects to be tough on home soil.

"It's not an easy place to go to," he said. "They ran Canterbury pretty close the other day, so I'm expecting this to be probably our toughest fixture to date. That said, if we can keep playing like we have, then we'll go up there with plenty of confidence and hopefully get another win. That would be nice."




By Mark Stevens of the Western Morning News at Camborne

It may still be a case of "work in progress" but the Cornish Pirates finally showed that the foundations for this season's divisional assault are at last beginning to take shape.

In what has been a somewhat mixed showing from Jim McKay's side so far this season, normal service returned with aplomb in yesterday's 43-20 defeat of lowly Pertemps Bees at the Recreation Ground.

A puissant second-half performance -- which included the Cornish club landing four tries inside eight action-packed minutes -- not only enabled McKay's men to notch up their third win from four starts but, more importantly, their first five-point success of the campaign.

For the Pirates, yesterday's six-try victory was just the pick-me-up they needed after their phlegmatic display at Coventry the week previous. Clearly the final whistle dressing down McKay delivered to his troops had registered loud and clear.

With the words of their Aussie leader no doubt still ringing in their ears, it was little surprise to see the Pirates fly out of the blocks. Good early pressure soon brought its first reward when a march down the left flank saw flanker Iva Motusaga pick up from the base of a ruck, before darting his way to the line for the opening try on five minutes, which skipper Gareth Steenson duly converted.

It was the ideal start for the Pirates, who briefly survived a missed penalty chance by former Redruth fly-half Mike Hook, before Steenson stretched their lead with two quickfire penalties.

The response, however, from the visiting Bees was encouraging and they reduced the deficit on 24 minutes when Hook atoned for his earlier miss by landing a penalty after flanker Eniola Gesinde had strayed offside.

The Welshman then repeated the dose five minutes later, this time punishing Motusaga after he had been penalised for breaking off a scrum too early.

Despite this, it was the Pirates who still held the upper hand. As the half drew towards a close, twice the home side threatened. First, winger Rhodri McAtee made good yardage with a blistering run through the middle, then lock Bruce Cumming was held just short as he looked to pick and go from close range.

The pressure, however, finally told and when the Bees were penalised for collapsing a scrum in front of their own posts, Steenson landed the resultant penalty to make it 16-6 at the turn.

That would be as close as the Bees would get to their Duchy rivals, who returned for the second period not only refreshed, but determined to make their mark.

In the end it took just four minutes for the Pirates to make the breakthrough. A powerful opening blast put them within strike range -- and when the quick ball was worked left to create a four-man overlap, No.8 Chris Cracknell was on hand to add converted try number two.

The score, it seems, opened the floodgates and in eight devastating minutes, the Pirates not only wrapped up victory, but they showed the first real glimpse of what potentially lies ahead.

Hooker Nathan Kemp was first over, the Kiwi burrowing his way over in the left-hand corner, and he was soon followed over the whitewash by Cracknell, who applied the finish to a free-flowing move that was worked from the left flank to the right. Steenson converted both.

Winger Paul Devlin's double effort in as many minutes followed soon after to put the Pirates out of sight at 43-6, but still there was time for a spirited last hurrah from the visitors.

Late scores from Nick Griffiths and Jimmy Aston, both converted by Paul Knight, at least gave the visitors something to write home about, but even then it was still not enough.

On this display, the Midlanders face a testing season ahead. The Pirates, on the other hand, appear to be finally getting their act together.

"I'm not going to get too carried away just yet, but that was a much better performance from the previous week," said McKay. "It shows we are moving in the right direction, but we know there is still plenty of work to do.

"To win and to get the five points was the important thing. You can't get anymore points than that, so in that respect it's job done. We'll take this and we'll look to build a bit more. It's tough at the moment because we are missing a few blokes, but it's also an opportunity for others.

"The squad is getting tested, but all squads will be tested throughout the season. It just so happens ours is getting tested at the start, but that's OK, we'll cope with that and we'll move on. We know we are not performing fully to our aspirations at the moment, but we are working towards that and today was another step in the right direction."

Next up for the Pirates is Saturday's trip to Newbury, a game McKay knows will be another tough encounter. "We've had some good arm wrestles, a couple of one-pointers with them in recent years, so it will be tough," he said. "We are aware we will need to play better than today and that will be our aim for this week and for that game."



From the Western Morning News

"Rubbish, diabolical, unacceptable" was how an angry Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly summed up his side's 48-27 reverse at Southend that brought the Reds nine-month unbeaten run to an emphatic end.

"The biggest thing for me today was that the boys did not show too much pride in the shirt," he said. "What I want is people who want to play for Redruth and because they are proud to play for Redruth. I want to make Redruth a better team and today we did not show much of that.

"We did not front up, we missed too many tackles, we tried to score from first phase every time. We only put together three phases twice and scored both times. From some of our senior players there was no shape or pattern.

"We lacked any cohesion between backs and forwards, the forwards did not front up and the backs did not help them out. It was a terrible performance.

"We did everything we said we were not going to do, We wanted to win the territory battle but in the first half instead of using the wind we kept trying to play from our 40-metre area. We've enjoyed a good spell, but I think we have read our own press and believed it. Life has a habit of biting you on the bottom and today we got bitten"

Redruth had looked to be in for a good afternoon when Paul Thirlby raced 65 metres to touch down Redruth's first try after nine minutes which Gareth Griffiths converted.

However, the Southend forwards - spearheaded by their captain Keith McLintock - were too streetwise on the day for the Reds. They pushed their luck on the offside line around the rucks and mauls before winger Andy Frost ran strongly to touch down an unconverted try in the 16th minute.

When Redruth's passing moves broke down they persisted in kicking the ball down field to give giant full-back Chris Green space to launch counter-attacks as Southend dominated the second quarter with Griffiths and Frost exchanging penalties.

Redruth looked to be taking a two-point lead into the interval before Southend's Chris Vaughn touched down in the final move of the first half. Frost converted from the touchline for the Essex boys to go in 15-10 ahead.

Then, in the third minute of the second half, Redruth committed the cardinal sin of stopping, waiting for the referee's whistle following a knock-on and Southend's powerful centre Faapoloo Soolefai, after an embarrassed look behind, cantered unopposed to the posts for Frost to convert.

Some inventive back play by the home side then cut the Redruth defence to ribbons as hooker Nick Pay and Soolefai added further tries, one converted by Frost, to open up a 24-point lead after 53 minutes.

The final quarter was a Barbarians style affair with Redruth taking tries by Paul Thirlby, Rob Thirlby and Lewis Vinnicombe to gain a bonus point.

The home side grabbed chances for Jamie Connors from a catch-and-drive and replacement Simon Holut to touch down to make the game safe.

England Counties' prop Peter Joyce and second-half replacement Nathan Pascoe gave wholehearted performances and may escape Hambly's wrath.

In the closing stages Southend conceded six penalties. but Redruth's unbeaten run was shattered.




By Mark Stevens of the Western Morning News at Monks Lane

Having somewhat coughed and spluttered their way through the opening weeks of the season, it appears at long last the Cornish Pirates are finally beginning to click into gear.

Saturday's 48-28 success at Newbury ensured a third successive win for Jim McKay's side, who at times this season have resembled either a state-of-the-art Ferrari or one of Arthur Daly's clapped out classics.

Not for the first time, the offering served up on the Monks Lane menu was a mixed platter to divulge. The starter was varied, the main course was sublime, while the end dessert was somewhat beastly.

However, when the reviews were collected at the final whistle, the general consensus agreed the Pirates were slowly edging back towards their award-winning masterclass.

"It's another step up from last week," commented McKay. "If we put today's result into perspective - the last two years we've come here, we've won by a single point in the last minute of the match. I know history is history, but today we showed we were the dominant side for all but the last 10 minutes. Even then we bombed two certain tries.

"This is a tricky place to come and they are a dangerous side, but we shut them out for long periods and we had really good shape to our play. We created many, many opportunities, so to score 48 points was very pleasing."

The only blot on what was a much improved showing from the Cornishmen was a disappointing final ten minutes in which the Pirates shipped three tries. That statistic ensured Newbury of a crucial bonus point, one they would only have dreamed about when they trailed 48-11 with ten minutes of the match remaining.

"We know the last ten minutes wasn't great," added McKay. "But I'd much rather concentrate on the positives and there were quite a few of those today. As I said, it's another step up from the previous week and that's what we need to keep doing. Next week against Exeter we'll need to raise it again because they're a very dangerous side and they'll come with plenty of emotion and all that."

With the unbeaten Chiefs next on the agenda for the Pirates, the Aussie coach felt it was vital his side maintained their own run of form, which has seen them lose just once in five league games.

Showing a number of changes to the side that beat the Pertemps Bees the week previous, the Pirates started slowly and it was Newbury who took a second-minute lead courtesy of a drop-goal from skipper Tim Walsh.

The home lead lasted merely five minutes as the visitors hit back with the first of their six tries on the day. A good break by centre Paul Devlin saw him combine with fly-half Gareth Steenson, who in turn offloaded the ball to hooker Nathan Kemp, who inched his way down the left flank before dotting down by the posts for Steenson to convert.

As play switched from end-to-end, Walsh and Steenson traded penalties before Richard Bolt claimed his maiden score for the Pirates when he finished off more good build-up play involving Steenson and the impressive Ollie Thomas, who shone on his debut.

Steenson converted that score, plus added an injury-time penalty, as the Pirates headed for the break 20-6 up. On the resumption, Walsh failed with an early penalty chance, before the Pirates wasted little time in picking up from where they left off. Former Newbury favourite Chris Cracknell was next over for converted try number three.

Again the home side countered with a Paul Finckner try in the left-hand corner. However, this merely acted as the catalyst for the Pirates to up the ante with some powerful running rugby.

With the hour mark fast approaching, another strong burst from Thomas created the opening for replacement Eniola Gesinde to crash over, quickly followed by Devlin, whose two tries in three minutes effectively sealed the match. Steenson obliged with all three conversions to put the Pirates seemingly home and dry.

Newbury, on the other hand, had other ideas and in a spirited last throw of the dice, the home side made the most of the Pirates' cooling down period to run in a try treble.

Replacement Matt Styles crossed for two of them, before former Pirate Jonny Hylton claimed the all-important fourth when he intercepted a pass just on halfway to race clear and score.

Walsh's conversion signalled the end of the action, but by then the Pirates were already on prep for this weekend's derby encounter with Exeter.

One can only wait to see what's on offer on the specials board this Sunday.



From the Western Morning News

Referees at this level should know what they're doing because results in the Leagues' top flight can have major repercussions for clubs.

I may be doing an injustice to Adrian Hartwell - the man officiating in this National One match between the Cornish All Blacks and Moseley at Polson Bridge - but some key decisions mystified well-informed spectators in the stand, and probably the home players too, and turned the game.

Going into first-half injury time the visitors were ahead 5-3. They had had an ideal start when their wing Charlie Sharples scored in the corner after a kick to touch from his astute fly-half Matt Jones, a line-out and a handling move.

Five minutes on, his opposite number, Stuart Alred, who bagged all the All Blacks' points, missed a penalty shot by a whisker.

The game went back and forth with sweeping attacks from both sides until the 39th minute when Alred landed a simple penalty after Moseley handled in a ruck.

An intimation of what was soon to come had been seen ten minutes earlier when Moseley drove towards the home line and dropped the ball in a maul. All Blacks' openside flanker Tony Roques dived in on what was a loose ball and was promptly yellow-carded for collapsing a maul.

After Alred's successful goal All Black wing Matt Jess set off on a piercing diagonal run. Moseley went offside yet inexplicably were awarded the penalty, which Jones landed.

Nevertheless the All Blacks looked set to go in at the interval only 8-3 down with the prospect of an exciting, evenly matched second half. Then came the debacle. Two minutes into injury time All Blacks' skipper, blindside flanker Josh Lord, was also carded, this time for preventing release of the ball. However, it was pretty clear that he was away from both ruck and ball at the time.

In the 46th minute the All Blacks seemed to be succeeding in stopping Moseley from scoring from a driving maul, when, with no warning, a penalty try was awarded against them for coming in at the side, which they hadn't. Jones added the easy extras and at the interval the All Blacks were suddenly 15-3 down.

Their joint head coach Chris Brown was philosophical about it all but, reading between the lines, you could sense his frustration and annoyance. He said: "It was very disappointing not to take the result. However, that sort of performance from us was very pleasing. The manner of our play and our style was very exciting and we couldn't wait to get the ball over the line.

"I felt that we had more opportunities than they did but we didn't quite take full advantage at the crucial moments.

"We can't control decisions from the officials on the field, but ultimately we had chances to win the match but didn't take them. But there's a long way to go in the season and not for one moment did anyone say that this League wouldn't be tough. Collectively we were pleased with the team performance but disappointed with the result."

The All Blacks came out for the re-start raring to go and Alred, centre Steve Perry and full-back Andy Birkett kept up their well-directed, booming territorial kicks of the first half to keep Moseley on the back foot. The backs ran the ball with a will and intelligently, while the home forwards fought manfully against a juggernaut of an opposing pack.

Attack after attack swept towards the visitors' line and Jess and left wing Jon Fabian were both stopped agonisingly inches short of the line.

Moseley spent much of their time in their own half, but on a rare foray into home territory were awarded a penalty for handling on the ground, and Jones obliged with the three points to stretch his side's lead ominously to 18-3.

The spirited All Blacks, however, kept coming and in the 66th minute were finally rewarded when Alred blitzed away from a midfield backs move, split the defence wide open and shot through to score and convert.

The match was lost for the All Blacks in a moment of inexplicably weak defence, when Moseley's giant lock Oliver Atkinson picked up from a scrum on the home 22, brushed off tackles and trundled through to the posts for Jones to add the extras and seal a victory which was much more of a battle than the final scoreline might suggest.



By Mike Barlow of the Western Morning News at the Mennaye Field

Mounts Bay unearthed a dazzling new talent and bagged another maximum-points haul in their splendid 29-19 win over visiting Rosslyn Park at the Mennaye Field.

Teenage winger Billy Harris scored three tries on debut, revealing a combination of pace and power packed into a slight frame that left the visitors' cover in a permanent state of panic down the left flank.

Truro College student Harris, 17, was playing for Perranporth Colts last season and on Saturday benefited from the authority of Bay fly-half Lee Jarvis, who directed affairs in midfield behind a dominant pack.

The home team won turnover ball at key moments but went off the boil in the second half when, too often, they failed to build beyond first phase rugby and on occasions chose the wrong option.

A massive overlap on the right midway through the second period was ignored as the home forwards bossed a maul close to the visitors' line and the chance of an easy score went begging. Rosslyn Park capitalised, winning a turnover of their own and sending in lock Mike Poppmeier down the left for their sole try, their remaining points coming off the boot of fly-half Richard Mahoney, who converted the try and kicked four penalties.

Mounts Bay scrum-half and player-coach Ricky Pellow was frustrated by his team's inability to run up a bigger score after the break but was satisfied with the performance of the team, and especially that of his potent new winger. Pellow said: "We identified him as a quality player in pre-season but what you can't coach in a player is gas and he's got plenty of that. With the backline we've got he's going to get into space and I think we saw today that even when he wasn't in space he used his footwork to get himself out of trouble. He's got a big future if he keeps working hard and listens to the coaches and the players around him."

However, Pellow knows the London side were pushing his team hard in the final stages and individual brilliance will not always carry the day. He said: "They're a dangerous side, they came back at us and we went in at half-time heads up but thinking we had a lot of things to work on.

"We came off at the end feeling disappointed and that's good because we're pushing our standards further each week and to come off 29-19 and in Division Three (South) is good. But if we had used our forwards a bit more to move it upfield we would have broken them better. They stuck at it and defended well and the fact that they turned us over shows that they're a good side. When we go up there it's going to be tough."

Harris opened the scoring with Bay's first meaningful attack, finishing off a slick handling movement that started with a turnover on the right and ended in the left corner. Jarvis missed the conversion and Rosslyn Park - one of rugby's most illustrious clubs - hit back with a penalty ten minutes later, Mahoney converting from 20 metres out.

The Cornishmen hit back immediately when their opponents were penalised for failing to roll away and Jarvis converted the penalty. With big Kiwi lock John Griffiths doing all sorts of damage in the line-out and the home backs a pace quicker than their counterparts, another converted try soon followed for Harris and by the 22nd minute the Bay were 15-3 up.

Bay quickly won a line-out after a Jarvis kick to the corner and although the ball was lost in front of the Park posts, the home side's outstanding back row were there to tidy up. Duke Seymour was highly impressive on the flank in the absence of the injured Steve Dyer, and possession was spread left for Kiwi centre Andrew Cheung-Fook to power over the line. Jarvis converted.

Mahoney kicked two more penalties before the half-time whistle sounded but Pellow's men were denied what appeared to be a magnificent try down the right when winger Tom Edyvean was called back for a forward pass earlier in the movement. The crowd of 600 hooted with derision but the decision was probably marginally justified.

The home side emerged after the break with a 22-9 advantage knowing the game was far from won. Playing with pace and width they applied early pressure and Park's defence had to be resolute to keep them out. Play became scrappy as the midfield battled raged and it was the London side which broke the deadlock, closing the gap to 22-12 when Richard Carroll was penalised in the loose and Mahoney slotted the kick.

Bay were beginning to show signs of frustration as they felt the game slipping away from them and the mistakes began to creep in and wrong options taken. However, they finally turned their massive territorial advantage into points when Harris got his hand on the ball again after 65 minutes, Jarvis converting to make the game safe.

However, the visitors were determined to go down fighting and Poppmeier was able to canter in as the home concentration lapsed and a massive opening presented itself on the left.

Mahoney converted to give Park the final word but the day belonged to Harris. "I really enjoyed it, it was a great game," he said. I was just happy to be in the starting line-up and obviously delighted to score three tries. It was a real step for me."

Next up: Clifton, and a return to the club where Pellow honed his skills as a colt.


The National League 2 match between Cambridge and Redruth was abandoned at half-time, with the Reds 30 - 0 down, after the Redruth players found that their dressing room had been ransacked and valuables stolen.

The Reds returned to their dressing room at the interval 30 points down to find that an intruder had stolen a number of players' valuables. It is understood that the Redruth players were upset over the loss of personal items such as wedding rings and refused to take the field for the second half.

The Cambridge dressing room was also thought to have been raided.

Referee Terry Hall empathised with the players and took advice from RFU officals present, David Ford (Referee Assessor), Peter Wakefield (Referee Coach) and Murray Felstead (Touch Judge Coach) during the interval.

There were also discussions between officials of both teams and after a delay of 20 minutes the Cambridge team with the match officials took the pitch for the second half and after a 5 minute wait Hall was forced to abandon the game.

In a brief statement on behalf of the club, Redruth Director of Rugby David Penberthy said "We left the field at half time, we went into the changing room, our physio (Guy Bonham) was the first to say to me that he thought his bag had been interfered with.

"I went into the dressing room and there were clothes all over the floor. Our 4th official (Dave Ricketts) said his bag had been interfered with then the players came in and found their bags had also been interfered with. This did not bode well for a half time team talk when you are 30 points down.

"The general feeling was one of upset and concern. A number of the guys had left personal possessions such as wedding rings in their bags that had gone. We do hand valuables in before a game but there are certain items the players keep with them until the last minute and unfortunately someone has gone in there and invaded on our privacy.

"The general feeling around the squad was that we were not too happy with the situation, we were given the option to take the pitch for the second half, but feelings were high and the best thing was for us not to take the field in the second half. The Referee fully understood our feelings.

"I cannot say any more until we go through an internal investigation to find out exactly what is missing. To be fair the Cambridge officials have been very understanding and their players although upset were very understanding and I hope we can move forward. Until we hear if there will be any repercussions from the RFU that is all I have to say”.

Cambridge Chairman Jerry Otter gave a sincere apology to Redruth President Derek Collins and Penberthy for what had happened.




By Mark Stevens of the Western Morning News at Camborne Recreation Ground

Ironic or not, Camborne Youth Band clearly knew what was on the agenda as they blasted out the theme from Rocky ahead of yesterday's latest bout between the Cornish Pirates and Exeter Chiefs.

Just like the Hollywood classic, the head-to-head between two of Westcountry rugby's leading contenders once again lived up to all the pre-match hype.

In a ferocious encounter at the Recreation Ground, neither side were willing to give an inch in their quest for a crucial points victory. In the end, however, it was the visiting Chiefs who were delivered a knockout slap in the face by one of their main rivals, the Pirates emerging victorious 30-23.

Having already come unstuck by one of the division's other prize fighters, Northampton Saints, the Pirates knew they can ill afford a second decking so early in the season.

Not surprisingly, Jim McKay's side - which showed three changes from that which won at Newbury the previous week - came out like a 'Raging Bull'. Just 35 seconds had been played when a crucial turnover on former Pirate Dan Parkes resulted in the game's opening score.

A bruising hit on Parkes saw debutant Ed Fairhurst skilfully slip the loose ball between his legs to home winger Ali Koko, who in turn thrust for the line. Although the Samoan powerhouse was felled just short of the whitewash, compatriot Iva Motusaga was hot on his heels and he gratefully accepted the pass to dive over, fly-half Gareth Steenson obliging with the resultant conversion.

If that opening hit on Parkes set the tone for the match, then Pirates' skipper Tim Cowley upped the ante just moments later with a thunderous sacking of Exeter centre Junior Fatialofa in midfield.

The collision was immense and was the first of several brutal and hard-hitting exchanges between the opposing camps. Even this morning, some observers could well be reviewing the shuddering flashbacks.

The action continued apace and Exeter were able to reduce the arrears on eight minutes through fly-half Danny Gray when home prop Alan Paver was penalised for handling on the floor.

However, no sooner had the Chiefs brought themselves back within range, they shot themselves in the foot with a string of unnecessary errors.

First, sloppy play from the pack gifted Steenson a 12th-minute penalty, before Junior Fatialofa then decided to seek his own spot of retribution on Cowley. Sadly for the Chief, his ugly 'clothes-line' on the home captain not only enabled Steenson to add a second kick, but also earnt him a ten-minute spell in the cooler from referee Mark Wilson.

With the man advantage, the Pirates looked to press on and they stretched their buffer to 13 points when the trusty right boot of Steenson once more administered another telling blow on 23 minutes.

The battle up front, however, remained red-hot and when Pirates' lock Bruce Cumming was later than a Camborne train that don't stop on a Wednesday, he too was dispatched to the sidelines for ten minutes following his high tackle on Chad Slade.

Like the Pirates, the Chiefs made the most of the yellow card as they worked a clever move up the blind-side and winger Josh Drauniniu did the rest as he brushed aside the attentions of both Brian Tuohy and Paul Devlin to cross in the left-hand corner.

Gray fired over the difficult touchline conversion to make it 16-10 and once more it was game on between the neighbouring rivals.

With the play not only pulsating, but end-to-end, the Pirates blew a golden opportunity of a second try just before the interval when a series of drives created the space for Steenson to drive for the line. Unfortunately, the former Rotherham back was tagged just short and his subsequent knock-on briefly relieved the pressure on the Chiefs, who were lucky Junior Fatialofa did not see yellow for a second time following a crude late hit on Chris Cracknell.

Although Fatialofa's indiscretion went unpunished, the Pirates were able to add a fourth Steenson penalty in first half stoppage time, referee Wilson stinging the visitors for handling on the floor once more.

The kicking duel continued after the break as Gray landed a superb 45-metre effort on 48 minutes to make it 19-13. But once more the indiscipline of a Fatialofa, this time older brother Mark, resulted in him being sin-binned for an off-the-ball incident on Cowley. As before, Steenson again plundered the resultant penalty to stretch the home side's lead to nine points.

Again, though, another moment of madness, this time from Motusaga, saw him carded for coming in from the side. Unlike the Pirates, the visitors instead opted for the corner with their penalty - and it was a decision which was to bring rich rewards.

A well-worked line-out to the back found No.8 Richard Baxter, who created the platform from which the Exeter eight grouped together to send Slade over for their second try of the afternoon.

Whereas Gray could not convert, Steenson - on the other hand - was in sublime form as he landed his sixth penalty, via the upright, just past the hour mark after replacement prop John Andress had been penalised at a scrum.

Suddenly the Chiefs needed a way back into the game. It duly arrived in the shape of Fijian flyer Drauniniu. A loose kick from Pirate Ollie Thomas was gathered by Jason Luff, who combined with Junior Fatialofa to release the Exeter speedster. Even then, Draunininu had plenty to do against the covering defence of the Pirates.

However, having slid past the flaying arms of Joe Beardshaw, Draunininu was temporarily felled by an excellent tap-tackle from Dan Seal, before rising to his feet and sliding over the line for a try, which Gray was again unable to convert.

Up by two, the Pirates knew they needed to play territory and keep their counterparts on the back foot. With Steenson and Thomas delivering a series of long-range punts into the enemy zone, the Chiefs were unable to clear their lines sufficiently.

Sensing the opportunity, the Pirates crucially turned over an Exeter scrum, the ball squirted out to James Moore who, having given Clive Stuart-Smith a head start, chipped over the top before winning the race to the line. Steenson failed with the touchline kick, but for the Cornishmen it didn't matter.

"Today was very important for us," said Pirates' coach McKay at the final whistle. "I have said it for five weeks and I'm not going to change my tune, we needed a performance and we needed a breakthrough and we got that today.

"We showed that we can raise the bar and step things up. It was a high intensity game and full credit to Exeter for the part they played. They pushed us all the way, as we knew they would, but our guys dug deep and they managed to do enough in the end."

Whilst McKay celebrated, opposite number Pete Drewett was left to reflect on a first defeat of the season for his team. He said: "We created our own problems by making quite a few errors which gave the ball to the Pirates and allowed them to create some pressure.

"We've got top players who know they have let themselves down and there's a real twinkle in their eyes about getting back to work on Tuesday. The great thing about this league is you don't have a great deal of time to dwell on things and we have got a chance to put everything right next Saturday."



By Mark Stevens of the Western Morning News at the Brickfields

Life with the big-boys was never going to be easy, but the opening weeks of the new rugby term have been quite a learning curve for the Cornish All Blacks.

Having eased their way into the classroom of National League One, their latest lesson was probably their toughest to date as Plymouth Albion handed out an eight-try schooling to their local rivals from across the water.

The gulf in class was clearly evident from the outset and Albion wasted little time in bullying their rivals into submission. By half-time, the Devon club had already secured the bonus point and were sitting pretty 31-0 up. By the final whistle, the end report was just as damming, Albion victorious 50-7.

With Albion looking to bounce back from their defeat at league leaders Northampton the week previous, Graham Dawe's side flew out of the traps to create an early buffer.

Full-back Emyr Lewis was the architect of the home side's opening score on 11 minutes, the former Bedford back breaking through the heart of the visitors' rearguard before offloading to scrum-half Ed Lewsey who, despite being temporarily halted, was aided over the whitewash by the home pack.

Ross Laidlaw slotted the extras to that score and Albion's second, which followed four minutes later, Lewis again heavily involved when he raced down the right flank, before slipping the ball back inside for centre Brad Davies to claim his maiden Albion score.

The onslaught continued apace as Albion stretched their lead to 19-0 on 18 minutes. This time a good move in midfield released winger Liam Gibson to turn on the afterburners and scorch his way to the corner.

The shell-shocked All Blacks were clearly in need of a respite, but ruthless Albion had other ideas. Using a series of pick-and-go moves down the left, the home side were once more within striking range. Although the initial thrust was halted, once the rampaging Plymouth pack ganged together just short of the line there was only ever going to be one outcome.

Indeed, when the assembled mass of bodies emerged from the resultant drive, it was hardly any surprise to see Frenchman Nic Sestaret proudly clutching the ball. With the bonus point already in the bag, Laidlaw's touchline conversion merely added to the visitors' misery.

Even then, Dawe's side had not finished their first-half rout as Gibson was on hand to net his second of the afternoon, the former Newbury flyer this time collecting a pass from skipper Jannie Bornman before racing to the corner to make it 31-0.

As cheers reverberated around the Brickfields, some for Gibson's double salvo, others for England's heroics across the Channel, the All Blacks could quite easily have packed up there and headed for home. The fact they didn't was a credit as they held firm for a large proportion of the second half, before shipping three tries in the final quarter of the game.

In between they did have a moment of magic to savour, former Albion favourite Wayne Reed sneaking over in the left-hand corner for a converted score that was celebrated just as much by the home faithful as those who had made the short trek across from Polson Bridge.

The popular prop - who in previous campaigns played a key role in helping Albion rise to their current status - is still held in high regard by the Plymouth public, many of whom were happy to show their appreciation at his latest touchdown.

Reed's effort, though, was the only bright spot on a dark afternoon for the All Blacks. Ahead of his score, Albion No.8 Adam Kettle had already crossed for try number six, the Scouse back-row forward finishing off some neat approach play involving Lewsey and replacement Tom Hayes. Laidlaw once more obliged with the added extras.

With time fast running out, Albion gift-wrapped their performance with two more tries. First, South African Wihan Neethling capped a free-flowing move which had started on the right and was finished on the left. Then, Sestaret grabbed his second score, converted by Davies, this time ghosting through from close range after Lewis had been halted by a double hit in midfield.

It was rich rewards for Albion, who it must be noted scored seven of their eight tries from their backs. Was this merely a coincidence, or has the penny finally dropped that the Devon club have a back division who can cause rivals a heap of problems?

For the All Blacks there is plenty to ponder. The end report for Albion would read something along the likes of "continues to show signs of improvement" - while for the visitors a simple "must do better" would suffice.



From the Western Morning News

Redruth went into this game hoping to put the frustrations of a horrible week behind them, but instead their problems continued to mount after a 34-14 defeat to Blackheath.

This was meant to be the start of their fightback after their ten-point deduction for failing to come out for the second half at Cambridge after a dressing-room raid by thieves.

The Reds seem unlikely to appeal against that decision and were keen to do their talking on the pitch as they embarked on their first home league game of the season, boosted by the return of inspirational Kiwi No.8 Mark Bright.

However, after a bright start, they capitulated against a very good Blackheath side, and also saw debutant lock Keith Larrard added to their ever-growing injury list with a broken collarbone.

Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly said: "It's been a pretty tough week and this game hasn't done too much to put things right and give us too much cheer.

"We've got 23 league games to go and the boys have got to stick in there and fight for each other, train harder, play harder and make sure we make less mistakes.

"At the moment we are not so much shooting ourselves in the foot as blowing our legs off.

"We showed what we could do early in the game when we get our basics right, but we just became very predictable.

"Blackheath were a decent side and competed well at the break-down, but we have got to front up and be a bit smarter.

"The scoreline is a fair reflection of the performance, but if we play at the top of our game we can match the likes of Blackheath, but we are just playing nowhere near that at the moment."

One of the biggest concerns for Redruth is their defence, as they have shipped 112 points in their last two-and-a-half games, if you include the Cambridge scoreline.

After 15 minutes on Saturday, everything appeared rosy in the Redruth camp, with the anger and frustration of the previous few days purged with a devastating spell that produced two tries.

The first came from winger Rob Thirlby after a sweet exchange of passes with back row forward James Mann down the left flank; while the second was finished off by brother Paul Thirlby after a catch-and-drive line-out move took the Reds close to the Blackheath line.

Fly-half Gareth Griffiths converted both, and although Blackheath full-back Frankie Neale slotted a 40-metre penalty, Redruth were 14-3 up and seemingly on their way to a five-point win.

But that was amazingly the last time they troubled the scorers, and Blackheath were totally dominant in the lead-up to half-time.

They grabbed three tries, and if Neale and fly-half Matt Leek had not squandered the possibility of a further 13 points with the boot, they would have been out of sight by the break.

Instead they had to settle for a 20-14 interval lead, with tries by lock Neil Dewale, hooker Alex Natera and centre Rory Binder, with Leek adding one conversion.

The last of those tries came late in the first half after Redruth flanker Fale Seve had been sin-binned for repeated infringements by his team-mates, but despite being down to 14 men early in the second period, Redruth were awarded two very kickable penalties to get on level terms, only for Griffiths to miss both chances.

It stayed 20-14 until the 73rd minute, when Blackheath flanker Richard Pike delivered the killer blow with a try that stemmed from Rob Thirlby dropping a shoulder-high pass in midfield.

With Larrard then coming off injured, and Redruth having used all of their replacements, they once again had to endure a one-man disadvantage, and it was no surprise when former Launceston winger Martin Olima scored deep into injury time after Simon Peters lost possession in the tackle, and Leek booted over the conversion to round off a miserable week for Redruth.

With the points deduction, the Reds are now 11 points adrift of safety in National Two.



From the Western Morning News

Mounts Bay returned to the top of National Division Three South after a 55-19 bonus-point victory in Bristol over Clifton, delighting player-coach Ricky Pellow with their improvement over last week's narrow home win over Rosslyn Park.

Pellow said: "We looked at last week and in the second half we let ourselves down really. We tried to go wide too early and we were disjointed. All week the forwards have been getting on to the backs saying 'get us in the game early and give us some platform so we can play and build a lead'. And that's what we did today, we kept it tight and Lee Jarvis controlled it well with the backs.

"We built a lead by half-time and we went in with the bonus point. It was a bit scrappy after that, but fair play to them, they came back and played some good rugby. But we kept building and scoring tries as we went along so it was good."

While their rivals for the top spot London Scottish stumbled on their travels to Canterbury, the Cornishmen cruised to a comfortable eight-try victory to move two points clear at the summit.

The visitors were simply too hot for their hosts to handle in the opening half and moved 15 points clear within ten minutes. Fly-half Jarvis scored the first of his personal 20-point tally from a third-minute penalty before creating a try for Tim Mosey on the left with a piercing run and pass through midfield.

Last weekend's hat-trick hero Billy Harris then added a second with a determined run and finish to the left corner flag. Unfortunately the angle proved too acute for Jarvis, but the Welshman made amends with a much easier conversion score after Andrew Cheung-Fook crashed over the line just under the posts on 26 minutes.

Skipper Nick Burnett opened the gap to 27 points eight minutes before the interval with a touchdown on the right after a successful Bay line-out. Jarvis then stuck the left post with his conversion attempt.

Clifton took advantage of a momentary drop in intensity from Mounts Bay at the beginning of the second half to get themselves on the scoreboard. Winger Rob Trinick brilliantly fielded a mis-kicked clearance inside his own half and ran the ball the full distance to the try-line, leaving half the Mounts Bay XV in his wake, before Kent added the extras with a conversion from the left.

Bay responded within three minutes when Adam Flide carried the ball with Jarvis adding a sweetly struck conversion, but Clifton found more gaps in the visitors' line with two tries in five minutes leading up to the hour mark.

Skipper Tom Lambert ran an unconverted try from deep, angling his run toward the left corner away from Edyvean in pursuit and Rob Viol completed a well-executed chip and run under the posts to set up another Kent conversion.

However, Mounts Bay maintained their winning margin with Harris' second try and a Jarvis conversion sandwiched between Clifton's quick-fire double.

The Cornishmen finished the game strongly with Jarvis scoring a try and two conversions to cap another commanding display. His 66th-minute try mimicked Viol's chip and run sixth minutes earlier, but the Bay fly-half left rather less margin for error with his kick as he reached the ball inches before it ran out of play behind the try-line.

Replacement Paul Andrew completed the try scoring seven minutes from time when he was driven over by the pack to the left of the posts to set up Jarvis for the final points of the game.

Andrew's performance was one of several that impressed Pellow, who also had plenty of praise for another young star, Harris. "I thought Billy Harris was outstanding again," said Pellow. "Not just in attack, but in defence as well. He scored two tries again as well. I thought Paul Andrew came on and did really well. The older boys like Nick Burnett, Richard Carroll also did well, and I thought Cheung-Fook and Jarvis controlled it well in midfield.

"Clinically, we probably played better in that first half, and I think they played better in the second half. They were trying to play a bit and we ran a couple of tries in as they went on the attack.

"When they scored first in the second half we all got under the posts and said 'we've got to put this right now'. We kept coming back and scoring, and so did they. Last week we struggled in the second half but this time we scored some tries.

"Overall, the boys' heads are high and we're moving on to next week."




From the Western Morning News

After their massive battle against the Exeter Chiefs a week ago, Jim McKay's Cornish Pirates were again forced to dig deep in another bruising encounter before Ollie Thomas' late penalty finally killed off Esher 24-14 at Molesey Road.

With their sick bay resembling a scene from Casualty, McKay was forced into several changes for the trip to Surrey, which included a surprise appearance for long-term injury victim, Matt Evans, on the bench.

Despite the obvious difficulties faced in preparing for the game, the popular Australian was pleased with the final score.

McKay said: "We knew they were going to be tough opponents, but we are in the business of winning and that is what we got today. We defended really well and you must remember that we came into this game with only 21 fit players. Six wins out of seven in this league speaks for itself."

Despite the victory, the crucial loss of another winning bonus point disappointed skipper Tim Cowley. He said: "It was a real battle out there and we never underestimated these guys. The intensity was not there like last week, but I think we are to blame for a lot of that. We are happy to take the four points, but a bonus point would have been welcome. It was not to be."

The Pirates began positively and urged on by their regular travelling army of support, the Cornish club dominated the early exchanges with Nick Buckley and Bruce Cumming driving hard through midfield. Hampered, however, by handling errors in contact it took the Pirates until the tenth minute to open the scoring when Jimmy Moore, deputising for Gareth Steenson at fly-half, slotted a 30-metre penalty after Esher had been penalised for offside.

With a solid platform at the set-piece the Pirates slowly began to turn the screw. The accurate territorial kicking of Thomas, Moore and Ed Fairhurst pegged the home side back into their own territory, but Esher held their nerve and as they worked to stifle the Pirates' offensive moves, the contest became a territorial game of cat and mouse.

When Pirates hooker Nathan Kemp strolled offside in the 19th minute, Esher full-back Neil Hallett struck with the first of his three penalties to level the scores.

Parity, though, lasted just three minutes. A forceful drive up the middle deep into Esher territory resulted in an attacking scrum for the Pirates. Quick ball and an incisive attack from the backs ended with a delightful flip from Paul Devlin that fed Thomas on the touchline. His outrageous dummy on Dougie Flockhart and a decoy run from Brian Tuohy allowed Thomas space to skip along the line to score in the corner.

The Pirates looked to raise the intensity of the contest at this point with Fairhurst very much to the fore. Indiscipline, however, cost them another three points on the half-hour as referee MacPherson penalised the Pirates for pulling down a driving maul, Hallett's clean strike reducing the lead to 6-11.

Despite a sustained assault on the Esher line the Pirates were unable to extend their first-half lead. A try should have resulted from a five-metre scrum on the interval, but as Esher struggled to resist a seemingly certain score Dan Seal was inexplicably penalised for collapsing the scrum.

Having replaced the injured Nathan Kemp with Rob Elloway at the break, the Pirates found Esher a much sterner proposition after the break. Clearly encouraged by their first-half resolve the Surrey side opted for a more expansive game as they sought to stretch the jaded Pirates. Former Ireland and Lions centre Rob Henderson played a pivotal role in linking the strong running back row with the electric pace out wide of Matt Moore and Flockhart.

James Moore and Hallett traded penalties before Esher suddenly fell asleep in defence. They spilled possession just short of their own line, allowing the Pirates to pounce. Tuohy and James Moore diving on the loose ball with the score eventually credited to Moore, who converted his own try.

What should have been the catalyst for further Pirates points went unfulfilled. A well-worked driving maul resulted in a late Esher try for Duncan Cormack and though unconverted the home side refused to capitulate. A nervy finale was settled in favour of the Pirates two minutes from time as Thomas sealed the win with his long-range effort.



From the Western Morning News

The Cornish All Blacks need to get streetwise if they are to avoid a swift return to National League Two, club captain Keith Brooking remarked after this damaging 32-8 defeat to Pertemps Bees at Sharmans Cross Road.

The All Blacks slumped to the bottom of the table and traded places with their hosts after they were outsmarted by the Bees. Though the All Blacks looked dangerous when they had the ball in hand, they played too much of their clever rugby in the wrong parts of the pitch, which played into the hands of the Bees' well-marshalled defence.

A succession of errors under pressure allowed the Bees' half-backs, Joe Carlisle and Paul Knight, to kick to the corners, then to pick off the All Blacks' shaky line-out and use their young backs to stretch the visitors' defence.

"We knew that this league was going to be a learning curve for us but we need to learn quickly," said Brooking. "We need to be more streetwise and to be able to adapt more during matches. The Bees played a tight, basic game, putting the ball into the corners and then waiting for us to make our mistakes. Their out-to-in blitz defence also caused problems. We need to be able to adjust. If we find that the way we have decided we are going to try to play on a Tuesday or Thursday isn't working we need to be able to change things around."

With barely two months of the season gone it is too early for Jon Hill and Chris Brown to start panicking, but the ease with which the Bees claimed a bonus-point win must concern the All Blacks' coaching team.

The line-out, usually an All Blacks strength, was shambolic for much of the first half. Lock Gareth McComb regularly picked off All Blacks' ball or Owen Hambly over-threw his jumpers and fed home scrum-half Knight at the back of the line.

"That's something we will have to look at this week," added Brooking. "I'm not sure what went on, whether there was some miscommunication and missed calls, but the line-outs have been a strength and an area we have cleaned up in during the last few weeks."

The line-out improved in the second half and the All Blacks also appeared to get stronger in the scrums which suggested that they may have been guilty of showing the Bees' pack too much respect to start with.

The Bees certainly did treat the All Blacks with sufficient respect when they met in a National Trophy game here in January and they stumbled to a 19-12 win. Having narrowly avoided embarrassment on that occasion there was no chance of the Bees under-estimating their visitors on this occasion.

Carlisle, one of six players on dual registrations from Worcester's academy in the Bees' squad, played a mature kicking game to keep the All Blacks pinned in their own half and the pressure produced points.

Winger Miles Benjamin, another Worcester loanee, powered over after McComb stole an All Blacks' line-out and Carlisle tagged on two penalties for infringements in the loose.

Hambly provided brief relief for the All Blacks when he hacked on a stray pass from Reece Spee to James Aston and beat Aston to the touch down.

But that proved a rare defensive lapse for the Bees, who quickly reasserted themselves when Carlisle ghosted through some flimsy tackling for a soft try which he also converted.

A Stuart Alred penalty in first-half injury time hinted at an All Blacks fight back that did not materialise after the break.

Benjamin came off his wing and clattered through the midfield defence for the try of the match and was only denied his hat-trick by a brave smothering tackle from Westren four minutes later.

The All Blacks played their best rugby when the match was lost but the Bees were not to be denied their bonus point. An attempted clearance from Alred was charged down by former England sevens flanker Will Matthews, who followed up the rebound.



From the Western Morning News

Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly was in good spirits about his side's progress, despite a disappointing 25-19 defeat at Waterloo.

"It was probably our best performance of the season for commitment and togetherness," he said. "More things went right today than wrong. Obviously we are very disappointed with the result. I think [Waterloo] will be considering they were a bit lucky".

Hambly reflected on two crucial errors that gifted Waterloo 14 points "We gave them two converted tries and we lost by six. When you are down these things hurt you. We have got to stick at it. I do not think a win is too far away.

"There has been a big turnaround in attitude at training this week, it has been much better. Coaches can do so much but I cannot coach enthusiasm or pride. I think anyone who watched the game today was in no doubt that we played with plenty of pride and enthusiasm, all that's missing at the minute is a bit of luck. We have got to stick in there. I was pleased with the way the boys played today away from home. They fronted up, we competed, but I am real disappointed with the result."

Waterloo half-backs Luke Stringer and Alex Davies tested the Reds with their kicking game and a 30-metre dropped goal by Davies opened the scoring after 16 minutes.

Redruth half-backs Mark Richards and Gareth Griffiths then controlled the game as Redruth ran in two converted tries in the next ten minutes.

First a break from Richards, carried on by Craig Bonds and Rob Thirlby, led to Lewis Vinnicombe touching down in the right hand corner. Four minutes later, after a 20-metre driving maul Fale Seve dived over close to the posts, Griffiths converting both tries.

However, from the restart Redruth shot themselves in the foot - a bad pass presented a try to Dan Hall that Davies converted.

Two incidents either side of half-time had a big impact on the outcome. First a touchdown by Vinnicombe was ruled out for some shirt pulling in the build up to the try. Then, early in the second half, Griffiths, who was having his best game in a red shirt, broke his thumb to leave Hambly ruing his luck: "That is four breaks we have had in four weeks now. When you are down you are down."

After Griffiths went off Waterloo scored immediately, Arno De Jager diving over in the right-hand corner for an unconverted try.

Paul Thirlby moved to fly-half and, with Luke Collins getting through a lot of work, Redruth had a good spell of pressure, culminating in a first try of the season for Mark Bright in the 59th minute to put the Reds ahead 19-15.

Redruth had the opportunity to strike the killer blow in the closing stages with a catch-and-drive move from a line-out close to the Waterloo line but John Nugent ripped the ball away and the hosts started a spectacular breakout which ended with winger Pablo Freijoo just beating Rob Thirlby to be awarded a touchdown near the posts, Davies converting.

In injury time Redruth desperately tried to run out of defence to find a score to save the game, but they conceded a penalty for not releasing in the tackle. Davies took the three points and ran the clock down to see the home side to victory.

BILL HOOPER'S CORNISH ROUNDUP for 13th October 2007 (from BILL'S BLOG)


BILL HOOPER'S CORNISH ROUNDUP for 20th October 2007 (from BILL'S BLOG)




National League 1. From the Western Morning News.

Having fought their way back into a slender six point lead the Pirates were forced to defend their own line for the final 10 minutes of the contest, as the determined visitors relentlessly battered home their territorial advantage.

Repeatedly penalised for a series of desperate indiscretions, there was no escape for the Pirates until they finally capitulated under the weight of a 13-man driving maul which marched directly under their goal posts. Greig Tonks' routine conversion sealed the win with the final kick of the match.

It was a deserved victory for the men from Meadow Lane but once again the Pirates were left to rue a string of first half chances during which the match, as a contest, should have been sealed. Once again poor decision making, individual handling errors, and some woefully flat back play allowed the visitors to weather the initial storm and remain in contention. When Nottingham took the game to the Pirates, the home side struggled against a disciplined and effective driving maul.

The Pirates began brightly and after early pressure were ahead with a try from full-back Ollie Thomas after just three minutes. His scything break down the left flank left the Nottingham defence in his wake. Steenson converted the score but the Pirates were pegged back immediately.

From the restart the Pirates failed to clear their lines. Rohaan Nirmalendran, the pacey Nottingham full-back, suddenly joined their line and turned a lateral move into a try scoring one as he straightened the attack and then flipped a pass to Dodge, who touched down in the clubhouse corner.

Steenson and Barlow traded further penalties as the Pirates repeatedly attacked, only to be thwarted time and time again just yards from the try line. Nick Buckley will have nightmares about ignoring a three man overlap with a certain try there for the taking. Instead he turned back into heavy traffic and was overwhelmed by the hungry defence.

Thomas then narrowly lost the race to score after an incisive chip ahead from Moore had been partially cleared. So it was left to the dependable Steenson to slot a 45 metre penalty on the stroke of half-time to make it 13-8 at the break.

After a ponderous restart from the Pirates, Nottingham cranked up their driving maul and marched home to score after just five minutes. Barlow then converted Hall's try. The Pirates responded to the shock with some good phases of play, leading to a score for Chris Cracknell as the flanker crashed home for his fifth try of the season. Despite missing the conversion Steenson extended the home lead with a 65th minute penalty to set up a tense finale.

Time and again Nottingham attacked. The Pirates, defending with increasing desperation, held firm but when they did get the ball kicked away possession too easily. It gave the visitors the platform they needed - and when their chance finally came, they took it.



National League 1. From the Western Morning News.

The Cornish All Blacks produced arguably their best performance of the season but still came away from the Butts Park Arena with nothing to show for their efforts.

Two late penalty misses by new signing Scott Ireland denied them even a bonus point to take back to Cornwall with them, and results elsewhere saw them drop back into the relegation zone.

However, Ireland enjoyed a good away debut for the All Blacks with a personal 17-point haul, while winger Matt Jess weighed in with two tries against a side who had won 28-19 at Plymouth Albion only seven days before.

"It was a big ask of the players to go away to somewhere like Coventry on the back of their victory over Plymouth, but ultimately we gave an outstanding performance," said All Blacks' joint head coach Jon Hill.

"We were very, very pleased with all of our attacking play. Perhaps we let them in for two soft scores that really cost us in the end, but it was a massive progression for us.

"Most pleasing were the full debuts of 'Ron' Ireland and Tinus Du Plessis, who really made a massive impact, and the return of Mike Myerscough, and their performances have really filled us with confidence going into the Exeter game this weekend."

Kiwi fly half Ireland gave the All Blacks the lead after only a minute with a penalty, and he added another soon after, following Jon Fabian's miss from inside his own half.

However, the lead was shortlived as Coventry fly half Myles Dorrian skipped through the defensive line to score a try that he converted for a 7-6 lead.

The hosts added another touchdown only three minutes later when Kurt Johnson sent flanker James Miller free down the right for a second score, and although Dorrian squandered the conversion chance, he added a penalty to make it 15-6.

The visitors, though, struck back when man of the match Ryan Westren broke in midfield and fed skipper Andy Birkett, who put Jess in at the corner, and Ireland converted to close the gap to only two points.

They regained the lead after a thrilling opening 25 minutes when Fabian capitalised on a mistake by the home side and sent in Jess for his second try under the posts, which Ireland converted.

But the All Blacks suffered a blow when lock Steve Pape was yellow-carded for pulling down a maul, and Coventry made the most of their one-man advantage to score through flanker Darren Clayton, though Dorrian hit the upright with his conversion attempt to leave the scores tied at 20-20 at the break.

Coventry exploded out of the blocks in the second half and claimed their fourth try through skipper Laurence McGlone, with Dorrian adding the extras, but they then had hooker Chris Whitehead yellow carded.

The All Blacks though, try as they might, were crucially unable to score while their hosts were one man down, and when Whitehead returned, winger George Dixon crossed to put Coventry 12 points clear.

The Cornishmen refused to give up the fight and the impressive Ireland grabbed his first try for the club, slotting the conversion for good measure to put the visitors within a score of victory.

But Dorrian sealed it for Coventry with another penalty to leave the All Blacks still seeking their first away point of the campaign.

BILL HOOPER'S CORNISH ROUNDUP for 27th/28th October 2007 (from BILL'S BLOG)




National League 1. From the Western Morning News.

The Tigers, labelled the survivors in National 1, having finished 10th, 13th and 13th again in their three seasons at this level, had confirmed in the past that they are a dangerous outfit not to be underestimated. Indeed, the Pirates had lost two of their three previous visits to Sedgley Park's ground, in Whitefield, Manchester.

The Pirates made four changes to the line-up from the one that had started the previous week against Nottingham, with recalls on the wing and at scrum-half respectively for Ali Koko and Richard Bolt, in place of Rhodri McAtee and Ed Fairhurst.

In the forwards, Heino Senekal was about to make his first appearance since returning from World Cup duty with Namibia, taking the place of Bruce Cumming, and Matt Evans, who has made a welcome return back to full fitness following injuries suffered away to Coventry at the end of last season, replaced Chris Cracknell on the blind-side flank.

Showing early domination at the line-out, the Cornish Pirates put sufficient pressure upon their opponents for them to concede a penalty, which enabled the fly-half Gareth Steenson to put the visitors 3-0 up with only five minutes on the clock. It was just as needed, but what followed proved to be more balanced, as both sides tested each other without either making any serious impression.

Right on the half-hour mark the first try of the game was scored, full-back Ollie Thomas once again playing the telling role for the Pirates as he casually took to hand a wayward Park clearance before setting off on a meandering, tackle avoiding run which took him to the line. Steenson added the extras.

It looked likely that the Pirates would arrive at the break 10-0 up, but to their credit, there was still time for Sedgley Park to secure some points of their own. Influential fly-half Phil Jones slotting a penalty just after his half-back partner Jamie Albinson, who had made a number of danger-sign darting runs in the half, had to depart proceedings with a neck injury.

A second penalty kicked by Jones brought Sedgley Park back into contention early into the second period, a time when further changes in personnel were made to add to a number of others forced earlier for both sides due to injuries.

The Cornish Pirates have had to cope with their fair share of pressure on the field in recent weeks, a quick response now asked for and delivered when an opportunist response by Steenson saw him run in a try at the posts, which he also converted.

On certain occasions such a score might have broken the opposition team's will, but player-coach Tim Fourie's Tigers were still more than up for a scrap.

Jones almost created a try-scoring chance for replacement centre Freeman Payne who, though not able to take advantage, didn't waste a second opportunity which soon came his way after good play from his midfield partner Andy Craig, a former Scotland international. Payne's try by the sticks was converted by Jones and it was now tension time once more.

With only a few minutes left, victory was still in either side's grasp. Both teams had their chances, the Pirates ultimately relieved when a second Steenson penalty of the match proved the last score of the game.

It secured a hard-fought win, one which everyone knew would be difficult to attain, with the home side also fully deserving of their bonus point acquired.

Cornish Pirates head coach, Jim McKay, commented: "Sedgley Park are a good side who made things difficult for us. It wasn't pretty, but we didn't give up and we got four points."

BILL HOOPER'S CORNISH ROUNDUP for 3rd November 2007 (from BILL'S BLOG)




National League 1. At Castle Park. From the Western Morning News.

On a chilly afternoon in Yorkshire that was a performance to warm the heart of any Pirates fan - and made for a thoroughly painless, though long, journey home.

There was something about the resolve, the sheer grit, and never-say-die attitude about the Pirates at Castle Park that reminded me of that cup run last season. It was never going to be a classic match and any thoughts of running rugby were dismissed by most long before the teams took the field. Yet there was a togetherness in the Pirates ranks missing for much of the season so far. Fifteen individuals became a true cohesive fighting unit in Doncaster on Saturday.

So the question is now, can they do it again? Well, why not? Next up come the misfiring and under-performing Rotherham Titans to the Camborne Rec. There are no walkovers in this league but the Pirates must surely fancy themselves here. It is time to lay the ghost of that dreadful afternoon against Nottingham and put on a show for the home faithful. Not everyone was lucky enough to be at Castle Park.

Doncaster is a welcoming club boasting fantastic facilities yet to be seen at a club ground in the Duchy. They will come for sure, but in the mean time we just have to appreciate what others can offer.

As a club they also boast something that must surely worry their die-hard fans, players and club officials. With 10 minutes remaining and the Pirates clinging on by a single point, people were leaving the ground. There was a queue of cars slowly exiting the car park. The Knights were camped on the Pirates line - they desperately needed their supporters during this crucial phase of the game, yet for a good few it was clearly just too much effort. The only noise you could clearly hear came from the army of Pirates on the East Terrace.

We do not have this fickleness at Camborne. I hope we never do. It is a by-product of the soccer-age and an unwanted spectacle in rugby union, but I have seen it before, at Henley Hawks, and just as here it saddened me.

From the confines of a raucous team bus bound for Cornwall, Robin Turner later told me how grateful and proud he and the squad were for the commitment and effort shown by the Pirates fans for travelling en masse to Doncaster. The compliment was genuine and heartfelt. The victory at Castle Park truly had been a team effort and the fans, the 16th man, had done just as much as anyone else to bring it about.

That special relationship, that kind of loyalty, is to my mind simply priceless.



National League 2. From the Western Morning News.

Redruth Coach Nigel Hambly had a smile for the first time this season after Saturday's win. "We got back to doing what we do well, working hard and working for each other," was his view on the teams performance.

But he was keeping his feet on the ground.

"It has been a tough couple of months for us and we have contributed to that massively. We had a clear the air talk after the Blaydon performance and we have turned things around a little bit. I'm not getting carried away, we're still two off the bottom, the picture is by no means rosy but there are a lot of positives to take out of today's game.

"I thought for large parts of the game we played some nice rugby in the right areas which we have not done for a while.

"We kept pressure on them (Halifax), when they made mistakes we turned them over and scored."

Hambly recognised the efforts of the tight forwards. He said: "The front five in the last two games have been pretty good, made lots of tackles and forced some turnovers, The guys are working for each other."

Another factor in the Reds' win was the play at scrum half of David Pascoe. Hambly recognised the former Penryn player's contribution. "MR (Mark Richards) is a quality player but sometimes you need a change, Dave Pascoe has been a catalyst in us playing better, he had a chance and he has taken it.

"We have copped some flack, we are turning it around slowly, we are taking one game at a time, we've got three tough games coming up but we have got a bit of confidence now.

"We will work hard this week and prepare for Stourbridge on Saturday. The boys deserve a drink tonight. We are slowly putting some pride back in the red shirt."


National League 1. At Polson Bridge. Report by John Prowse. Pictures by Marian Prowse.

The Cornish All Blacks were unlucky not to get at least a bonus point from this match. Having scored a try in the last minute of injury time to close the points gap to 23 - 31, fly-half Scott Ireland needed to land the difficult conversion to put the home side to within 7 points of the winners. Unfortunately, he missed. Yet, some minutes earlier, he had missed a much easier conversion from in front of the posts which, as it turned out, would also have secured the bonus point. On that occasion, with the Blacks then only one score behind and anxious to get more points on the board, he hurried his kick -- and missed.

There were a lot of positives for the All Blacks to take from this match. In particular, Matt Jess had a fine game and looked threatening every time he touched the ball. The forwards pick-and-drive game worked well, particularly in the second half. The Cornish team played most of the attacking rugby.

The Blacks' undoing was that they had no answer to the Nottingham rolling maul. The writing was on the wall after only 7 minutes when the Notts' fly-half kicked a penalty towards the corner. From the ensuing catch-and-drive, the huge Notts' pack started their march towards the Blacks' line, and there was no legal way in which the home side could stop them. The successful conversion made it 7 - 0 to the visitors.

This was a tactic that Nottingham were to use again and again during the match, and it helped them run in five tries.

Ireland pulled a penalty back for the Blacks, but another rolling maul soon made it 14-3 to the visitors.

The Blacks came out fired up for the second half, and put pressure on the visitors with some strong pick-and-drives, forward and back combinations, and loose play. Alas, it was not enough.

BILL HOOPER'S CORNISH ROUNDUP for 10th November 2007 (from BILL'S BLOG)




National League 1. At Camborne. From the Western Morning News.

Having lost their previous three games, scoring just three points in the process, and parted company with their head coach, Phil Werahiko, Rotherham were desperate to put in a good performance for the new man at the helm - Craig West. They did just that and after 25 minutes had stifled the Pirates, silenced the home crowd and led 10-0. A grim afternoon at the Rec was developing fast.

The Pirates only had themselves to blame for their problems. Rotherham had come with a simple game plan, centred on their strong pack and concentrated on slow ball driven up the middle. The Pirates allowed themselves to be dictated to at the set piece, which resulted in several lost line-outs and a scrummage shunted backwards too often for comfort as Rotherham capitalised on Pirates hesitancy.

Denied a try in the ninth minute only by a forward pass, Jamie Blackwood kicked the visitors ahead a minute later following a 25-metre penalty. With the Pirates all too eager to kick away hard won possession, Rotherham were able to keep the home side firmly on the back foot. They were denied a try again from a close range driving maul by a handling error, only to finally cross the whitewash moments later.

Rotherham scrum-half and former Pirate, Neil Chivers, seized the ball from an attacking scrum 10 metres out. His blindside break and Tuohy's missed tackle allowing him to scamper over in the clubhouse corner. Blackwood slotted the conversion and the Pirates were in trouble.

After half an hour, the Pirates finally put some pace on the game and immediately Rotherham were shaken. Steenson, Motusaga and Cowley were all prominent as the Yorkshiremen were at last forced to retreat.

Rotherham flanker Neil Cochrane was incredibly fortunate to stay on the field after a cynical trip on Motusaga, but two minutes later the Pirates struck as lock Joe Beardshaw was driven over in the town corner, following an incisive break from Buckley. Steenson converted with a monster of a kick from the touchline. That was as good as it got in a turgid first half, mercifully ended early by the whistle of Mr Doyle. Whatever was said in the Pirates' dressing room at the break had an effect as they were out of the blocks quickly at the restart. Five minutes of Pirates' pressure resulted in a try for Nathan Kemp after a bulldozing drive from Bruce Cumming.

Steenson again converted but a minute later Blackwood replied with a penalty for Rotherham, as the Pirates were penalised for holding on.

The introduction of Fairhurst at scrum-half breathed new life into the Pirates, and he scored his second try in two weeks after 55 minutes as he danced through a gap in heavy traffic to touch down by the posts.

Vunga Lilo almost crowned his home debut with a score after 62 minutes when his blistering 60-metre break was ended only by a flailing last ditch tackle. The Pirates then opted for route one and claimed a try scoring bonus point as Motusaga crashed over after excellent work by Cowley and Dawiduik.

Steenson's fourth conversion sealed a five-point win.

There was still time for McAtee to be yellow carded for an offence in the loose as he went looking for work, while Rotherham's Connolly unbelievably escaped punishment following a late tackle on Lilo.

Then with the Pirates unable to clear their lines and forced to defend at length, the rumbling Rotherham maul struck as Wade was driven over deep in stoppage time.

BILL HOOPER'S CORNISH ROUNDUP for 17th/18th November 2007 (from BILL'S BLOG)




National League 2. Report by Bill Hooper at the Recreation Ground.

On a cold damp November afternoon the Yorkshire side just about deserved the four points from this dour, forward-oriented encounter to maintain their promotion push for a swift return to National League 1.

It wasn't a game for the purist: when both sides weren't engaged in an ariel bombardment exchange, then it was trench warfare of the pick-and-go variety. But Otley also brought with them their savoir faire and nous from last season in National League 1 and it showed!

In fairness, the visitors did have the majority of the territorial advantage throughout the match, though credit to the Redruth defence, whichheld out under considerable pressure. Otley too were manful in defence, both sides only conceding tries when they had a man in the bin.

Both packs should take a big bow for their huge effort and commitment today.

The opening score didn't arrive until the 22 minute, through a penalty kicked by Otley full back and skipper Ian Shuttleworth. Just prior to the opening score the Reds lost their full back Rob Thirlby with a thigh injury.

Reds' scrum half Mark Richards was a the centre of much that the Reds attempted, mixing up the play with clever box kicks and ground-making grubber kicks. He was also quick to spot any gaps in the pretty mean Otley defence.

The Reds enjoyed their best periods of the game either side of half-time. Running up to the break they had a long period of possession in the Otley 22. The visitors were reduced to 14 men when flanker Nathan Bland was guilty of a professional foul. From the resultant penalty and catch-and-drive the Reds went through various phases of play before the lively Richards crashed over for a try which Gareth Griffiths converted for a 7-3 half-time lead.

Otley managed to pull back three points early on with a second Shuttleworth penalty kick, before the Reds looked like continuing where they had left off. A long period of possession saw them encamped down in the Strawberry Lane corner, but unlike the first half this time they could find no way through the stern Yorkshire defence. In the context of this match it was to prove a seminal moment.

There were long periods of stalemate during the second half. Eventually the breakthrough came through Redruth hesitation allowing Otley to mount a big assault down in Hell Fire corner. Numerous phases of play eventually led to the Reds conceding a penalty which resulted in flanker Nathan Pascoe seeing a yellow card. The Reds infringed once more on their line and Mr. Sainsbury had no hesitation in running under the posts to award a penalty try on 72 minutes, Shuttleworth adding the extras for a six point lead.

Redruth threw everything at Otley in an attempt to wrest the game back, though to no avail. Thankfully for the Reds supporters, Shuttleworth missed with a couple of late penalty attempts which would have denied the Reds a losing bonus point.

The result was as dreary as the weather. Both David Penberthy and Nigel Hambly were philosophical after the final whistle as they prepare the Reds for another tough assignment next Saturday at leaders Manchester.

REDRUTH 7 pts: Try Richards; Conversion Griffiths; Yellow Card, Pascoe

OTLEY 13 pts: Penalty Try; Conversion, Penalties (2) Shuttleworth; Yellow Card, Bland

Redruth: Thirlby (Peters 20), Vinnicombe, Meredith, PJ Gidlow, Bonds (capt), Griffiths, Richards; Jacques, Cooper (M. Gidlow 76), Joyce (Morcom 65), Cook, Collins, Pascoe, Fuca (Betty 58), Bright. Otley; Shuttleworth (capt), Parsons, Whatmuff, Mooney, Smith, Monks, Easterby;Trethewey (McCormack 65), Steele (Plevey 47), Fullman, Snowball, Williams, Tiffany, Bland, Stockdale.
Reps not used, Wenderell, Andre

Ref Mr. D. Sainsbury (RFU)

BILL HOOPER'S CORNISH ROUNDUP for 24th November 2007 (from BILL'S BLOG)


BILL HOOPER'S CORNISH ROUNDUP for 1st/2nd December 2007 (from BILL'S BLOG)




EDF Energy National Trophy Round 3. By Bill Hooper at the Redruth Recreation Ground.

Despite the difficult playing conditions following the heavy rain during the morning, Redruth served up a ten-try feast to advance into the fourth round draw of the EDF-Energy Trophy, one of four Cornish clubs in Monday's draw at Twickenham.

Redruth will be only too aware that the Stourbridge side they defeated this afternoon will bear little resemblance to the side they will face in two weeks time when the Reds travel to Stourton Park in a league encounter. Stourbridge had thirteen changes in their line up from the side that started their last National League 2 encounter at Henley. Victory came at a price though, with Redruth's winger Lewis Vinnicombe suffering a dislocated shoulder in the dying minutes of this cup-tie.

It was the visitors who kicked off, playing down the slope. Before long, Redruth were taking the game to Stourbridge in a lively opening. Redruth's No 8 Mark Bright was soon making ground with his powerful runs, as was centre PJ Gidlow in the midfield. The home side were perhaps guilty of pressing a touch too hard during the opening stages, making a number of mistakes. Stourbridge looked comfortable at this stage, popping up passes with their young England U. 18 scrum-half Daniel Pointon confidentially spreading the ball to his backs and looking sharp. However, a loose kick by the visitors towards the Redruth 22 was seized upon by Vinnicombe on 12 minutes. Chipping ahead into space, he gathered his own kick before easily out sprinting the cover to score under the posts. Fly-half Gareth Griffiths kicked the first of his successful seven conversions of the afternoon as the scoreboard began to tick over.

From the re-start Vinnicombe was at it again with another strong run up the touchline. Bright and fellow back row forward Chris Fuca were up in support as Redruth earned a penalty in the Stourbridge 22, which Griffiths kicked towards the scoreboard corner. Redruth set up a catch-and-drive, only to be held up over the line. Mr Turnill had already signalled a penalty to the Reds, so Griffiths kicked again into the same corner and this time the catch-and-drive paid off as hooker Glen Cooper scored the second converted try of the game on 16 minutes.

These two quick scores settled any Redruth nerves, at the same time knocking Stourbridge's confidence. The visitors were now conceding penalties at regular intervals and, with the wind at his back, Griffiths pinned the visitors back in their own half for long periods. Following a lineout near the half-way line, Gidlow made another telling break into the 22, finding support in the form of Bright, who romped in under the posts to effectively seal the tie after only 19 minutes as Griffiths put the home side 21-0 up. Redruth continued to hold the upper-hand to the break, running in a further three tries, with winger Paul Thirlby grabbing two on 23 and 27 minutes and Bright another on 30 minutes, Griffiths adding the conversion to the latter score for a 38-0 half-time score.

Early into the second half the Redruth try machine was soon at work with Paul Thirlby completing his hat-trick of tries in the Piggy Lane corner of the ground, rounding off arguably the classiest backline move of the match, which involved Vinnicombe, skipper Craig Bonds and Thirlby. Never one to be out done, Reds' scrum-half Mark Richards was the next in on the act, with a breakaway try after 56 minutes under the posts. Griffiths' straight forward conversion brought up the fifty point mark.

Both sides were now making regular replacements, with a big cheer from the Redruth crowd for veteran prop Neil Douch as he came off after a job well done, as there was for flanker James Mann when he came on, making a welcome return from injury. Stourbridge pulled a try back on 61 minutes when fly-half Sam Robinson got amongst his forwards and was driven over near the scoreboard corner. Replacement Chris Rowley kicked the extras.

Fittingly, in the gathering gloom as the rain began to fall once more, Redruth had the final say in this cup-tie. Firstly man-of-the-match Vinnicombe pounced on a Stourbridge mistake as they tried to play their way out of their own 22. He won the race to his grubber kick ahead deep into Hell Fire corner to score his third try of the afternoon. Unfortunately, in the act of so doing he slid into an advertising board, sustaining his injury. In the same incident PJ Gidlow picked up a knock, having to hobble off, Redruth thus having to re-jig their line up with Messrs Bright and Richards playing on the wings with Thirlby moving into the centre. It will not come as much surprise that "winger" Bright scored the final try of the afternoon, gleefully sliding into Hell Fire corner after 74 minutes to wrap up his own three-try haul.

Speaking after the game flanker Nathan Pascoe said, "The players were glad to get back to winning ways after two defeats in the league. Scoring points like today lifts the players confidence, which they will look to take into the league encounter next Saturday against Henley Hawks."

Coach Nigel Hambly added, "I am delighted to be in the hat for the next round of the trophy. Naturally I hope for a home draw. I will look to build on today's performance and create some continuity. I am very pleased with Redruth's defence and the way we took our chances throughout the game. Naturally I am disappointed with Lewis' (Vinnicombe) injury, which looks likely to keep him out for a few weeks. I am hoping for a big crowd next Saturday to get behind the boys in what is a massive game for Redruth as they look to climb the league".

Redruth 64 pts: Tries Vinnicombe (2), Cooper, Bright (3), Thirlby (3), Richards; Conversions Griffiths (7).

Stourbridge 7 pts: Try Robinson; Conversion Rowley.

REDRUTH: C. Bonds (capt), L. Vinnicombe (P. Joyce 68), R. Meredith (N. Simmons 60), P. Gidlow (S. Peters 47), P. Thirlby, G. Griffiths, M. Richards; N. Douch (D. Jacques 64), G. Cooper (M. Gidlow 63), A. Morcom, D. Cook, L. Collins, N. Pascoe (J. Mann 60), C. Fuca (S. Wood 47, J. Mann 56-60), M. Bright.

STOURBRIDGE: G. Summers, B. Barkley, L. Porteous (S. Price 49), S. Morris, M. Freeman (D. Pitt 41), S. Robinson, D. Pointon (C. Rowley 54); M. Samra (R. White 64), M. Able (C. Rowlands 63), C. Taylor, O. Ward (S. Homer 54, J. Jenner 60), D. Kelly, J. Abbott, S. Davis (capt), R. Cooper

Referee Mr. E. Turnill (RFU).

BILL HOOPER'S CORNISH ROUNDUP for 8th December 2007 (from BILL'S BLOG)




National League 2. By Bill Hooper at the Redruth Recreation Ground.

The Reds produced a sparkling second half performance, running in five tries to add to the one they scored during the opening period to claim all five league points on offer, aiding their quest to climb away from the relegation zone and at the same time drag the Hawks into the relegation dog-fight. Coach Nigel Hambly was keen to build on their fine performance the previous week in the National Trophy and he wasn't disappointed by his charges' performance today. This result will certainly raise a few eyebrows around the league.

Redruth welcomed back Rob Thirlby following his injury and the former England 7s star put in a fine all-round performance, probably his best so far this season.

Fly-half Gareth Griffiths kicked an early penalty for Redruth, which was cancelled out after 7 minutes when Henley's full-back Nathan Lumbden kicked a penalty from 35 meters, tying the scores. Play was at times scrappy as both sides tried to get the upper hand. Indeed, Henley enjoyed a fair amount of territorial advantage during the first half, with forwards Robbie Hurrell and Stean Williams prominent.

However it was the home side who broke the stalemate. A messy lineout was cleaned up by prop Peter Joyce, with Rob Thirlby coming off his wing as he spotted a gap in the Henley defence, his raw pace taking him through the gap. Although tackled deep in the Hawks' 22, support was on hand in the form of No8 Mark Bright, who in turn found skipper Craig Bonds, who scored in the Piggy Lane corner after 13 minutes. Griffiths kicked a fine conversion for a 10-3 lead. That's how it stayed until half-time, though the Reds had other opportunities to add to their lead. Conversely, the Hawks also created opportunities down in the Strawberry Lane corner but the Reds defence held firm. The Hawks were also disrupted in losing centre Luke Burns and flanker Gareth Chamberlain before the half-hour mark.

Turning around at half-time Redruth, now playing up the slope, had the wind behind them and looked to set up field position to build on their advantage. After 48 minutes Griffiths kicked a delightfully weighted kick towards the scoreboard corner, forcing Henley to play the ball. The clearance kick was charged down, forcing the Hawks to concede a 5 metre scrum. Bright picked up from the tail of the scrum and was just short of the whitewash; the ball was spun out to centre PJ Gidlow who forced his way over the line under the posts for the Reds' second try of the afternoon, Griffiths adding the extras for a 17-3 lead.

From the re-start flanker Sam Betty, on-loan from the Cornish Pirates, who had a man-of-the match performance, made a powerful break up-field. The ball was moved left to Paul Thirlby before the move broke down. However, referee Mr. Gammage had being playing advantage for off-side. Griffiths kicked the penalty after 52 minutes to stretch the Reds' lead to 20-3.

Both sides brought on their remaining bench replacements, with Henley introducing at hooker Dinos Alexipoulos, a former mini and junior player at Penryn.

Henley, desperately looking for a way back into the game, were undone by two quick scores. Firstly, from a good position in the Reds' 22 they contrived to lose the ball, and Rob Thirlby hacked the ball up-field. Collecting his own kick, he was caught short of the Henley line but was able to pop the ball up to the supporting player, hooker Glenn Cooper, to complete the score, Griffiths once again converting for 27-3.

Moments later a speculative kick into the Hawks' 22 by Bonds bounced awkwardly, allowing Redruth to regain possession and release replacement back Sam Parsons to score the important bonus-point try in the Strawberry Lane corner. Griffiths couldn't add the extras on this occasion, but the score knocked the stuffing out of the visitors as the Reds led 32-3.

With the bonus point secured Redruth were able to seal their win with a couple more tries, Bright crashing over near the posts from a scrum near the Hawks' line, following a powerful run up-field by lock Damien Cook. Griffiths kicked his fourth conversion of the afternoon. Finally, with Henley looking for a consolation score deep in the Reds' 22, centre Rudolf Meredith made a storming run up-field before off-loading to Rob Thirlby, who scored in the score board corner of the ground. Griffiths capped a fine performance with his fourth conversion of the afternoon.

The Redruth faithful roared their approval on no side as their side gave them the best possible Christmas present -- five points and another six tries to boot. Redruth will travel in good heart to Stourton Park next Saturday to take on Stourbridge, and on this form who's to say what they may end up with.

Redruth- 44 pts: Tries Bonds, Gidlow, Cooper, Parsons, Bright R. Thirlby; penalties (2), conversions (4) Griffiths

Henley Hawks 3 pts: Penalty Lambden

Redruth: C. Bonds (capt), R. Thirlby, R. Meredith, PJ Gidlow (S. Parsons 58), P. Thirlby, G. Griffiths, M. Richards; D. Jacques (A. Morcom 63), G. Cooper (S. Wood 69), P. Joyce, D. Cook, L. Collins (J. Mann 65), N. Pascoe, S. Betty, M. Bright.

Henley Hawks: N. Lambden, F. Ah-Ling, L. Burns (T. Burns 23), J. Chapman, C. Simmons, B. Reeves, C. Grant,; A. Le Chevalier, T. Muggeridge (D. Alexipoulos 59), S. Robinson (R. Fuller 59), J. Winterbottom, R. Hurrell, G. Chamberlain (S. Green 27), S. Williams (capt), D. Archer.

Referee: Mr. D. Gammage (RFU)



National League 1. By Bill Hooper at the Camborne Recreation Ground.

Not a reference on this occasion to the Cornish Pirates' flanker Chris Cracknell, as all roads led to Camborne on Sunday for part two of this season's Cornish derby in National League 1, with the Cornish Pirates entertaining the Cornish All Blacks. As befitting the festive spirit off the field, both sides served up a yuletide cracker with nine tries, seven to the Cornish Pirates, along with generous helpings of passion and physical play. There was also lashings of guile, variety, and flair -- especially from Pirates fly-half Ollie Thomas, who pulled the strings, especially during the second half, in a man-of-the-match display. At the end the scoreboard read 43-12 to the home side. However, the visitors must take a bow for never giving up and contributing greatly to a very entertaining game of rugby, far better than the last Pirates' game seen at Camborne!

The opening period was a tense affair as both sides got to know each other, the All Blacks keen to make a mark. Eventually the Pirates broke the deadlock after 9 minutes. Following a catch-and-drive in the All Blacks' 22, a powerful forward surge took prop Peter Cook to the line. Thomas failed with the conversion attempt.

The Pirates now upped the pressure and were camped in the All Blacks' 22. Further penalties saw the Pirates try to replicate the opening try, whilst the All Blacks were intent to deny them anyway they could. This led to All Blacks No 8 Tinus Du Plessis receiving a yellow card on 26 minutes. The Pirates immediately took advantage to score a second try from a catch-and-drive, this time through hooker Nathan Kemp, Thomas obliging with the extras.

Disaster struck the All Blacks for a third time shortly after as full back Andy Birkett's kick out of his own 22 was fielded by Ed Fairhurst, who fed the fast moving Brian Tuhoy off his wing. He cut a great line through the All Blacks' cover to score a fine try on 30 minutes; 17-0 as Thomas once again failed to better the score.

The Cornish All Blacks came back into the game just before half-time as winger Jon Fabian scored a fine try in the club house corner of the ground, which he also converted to leave the Pirates 17-7 up at the break.

Bonus points, or the lack of them, have been a bone of contention in some quarters with the Cornish Pirates this season, so it was with some relief that it was secured early on during the second period as lock Heino Senekal powered over from a ruck near the Cornish All Blacks' line following powerful surges by new boy Mark Ireland, Kemp, and McAtee. This time Thomas had no trouble adding the conversion.

As the game became more fractured, Thomas' vision came into play as he orchestrated some fine play. A break into the visitors' 22 saw him find centre Steve Winn, before the ball got to winger Rhodri McAtee, who was bundled into touch close to the line. The play of the match soon followed, with Thomas again causing mayhem in the CABs' defence before angling a grubber kick out wide towards the scoreboard corner, which full back Addy Winnan happily latched on to for the Pirates' fifth try. From the touch line Thomas kicked a fine conversion for 31-7.

McAtee claimed the sixth try, finding himself at the bottom of a pile of bodies on the CABs' line in the clubhouse corner, another attack instigated by Thomas who missed with the conversion.

The visitors were not finished and replied with a good period of play which was rounded off with a try, the eighth of the season for Matt Jess, with another former Pirate Ryan Westren involved. This received a resounding cheer from the whole ground.

Fittingly it was the Pirates who had the final say as another powerful forward surge to the line saw replacement prop Alan Paver emerge with the ball and a big smile on his face! Thomas kicked a fourth conversion to seal a fine win.

The Pirates are now up to third in the table and will travel in good heart for Saturday's encounter with leaders Northampton Saints at Franklins Gardens.

If the Cornish All Blacks continue to play with such spirit then I am sure that they will start to pick up the wins they need in their attempt to stave off a quick return to National League 2.

Cornish Pirates 43 pts: Tries Cook, Kemp, Tuhoy, Senekal, Winnan, McAtee; conversions Thomas (4)

Cornish All Blacks 12 pts: Tries Fabian, Jess; conversion Fabian

Cornish Pirates: A. Winnan, R. McAtee, M. Ireland, S. Winn (P. Devlin 66), B. Tuhoy, O. Thomas, E. Fairhurst (J. Moore 79); P. Cook (A. Paver 55), N. Kemp (D. Dawiduik 51), S. Heard (D. Seal 51), H. Senekal, J. Beardshaw (S. Hobson 21), T. Cowley (capt), C. Cracknell, M. Evans (I. Motusaga 61)

Cornish All Blacks: A. Birkett (M. Dibble 40), M. Jess, R. Westren, S. Perry, J. Fabian, M. Scrivener (P. Fisher 58), S. Alford; J. Bolt (L. Ovens 48), N. Clark (O. Hambly 66), R. Liddington (D. Manns 48), S. Pape, T. Parker (S. Hocking 66), J. Lord (capt), T. Rawlings (M. Myerscough 55), T. du Plessis.
Yellow Card; du Plessis

Referee Mr. R. Kitt (RFU)

BILL HOOPER'S CORNISH ROUNDUP for 15th/16th December 2007 (from BILL'S BLOG)


BILL HOOPER'S CORNISH ROUNDUP for 22nd December 2007 (from BILL'S BLOG)


BILL HOOPER'S CORNISH ROUNDUP for 29th/30th December 2007 (from BILL'S BLOG)


REDRUTH 40 SOUTHEND 17 (HT: 20 – 17)

National League 2. By Roger Watson at the Recreation Ground.

A disastrous opening eleven minutes saw the Reds concede seventeen points with just a single Gareth Griffiths penalty to show for their efforts. A real show of character and determination then saw the home side dig in and go on to score thirty-seven unanswered points to earn the bonus point and haul themselves clear of the relegation zone for the first time since the end of September.

Southend were on the scoreboard after one minute when some sloppy tackling allowed the visitors to pass the ball wide for a simple touch down by winger Tyson Lewis, Andrew Frost converting.

The home side, playing up the slope, were awarded a penalty following a high tackle on Man of the Match, Mark Bright, when he seemed certain to score. Although Griffiths took the points the home supporters were left bemused as to why the referee had not awarded a penalty try.

Southend replied with two more tries in the space of two minutes, each from charged down kicks. First Faapulou Soolefai crossed the line, followed by Lewis scoring his second of the afternoon.

The Reds gathered behind the posts and when play resumed it was clear that they were determined to make amends as they took control of territory and possession. Southend could only withstand the onslaught by conceding a string of penalties that could easily have led to the awarding of a penalty try but did lead to two of the visiting forwards being sent to the sin bin in the first half.

It seemed inevitable that Redruth would break the visiting defence down and after twenty-two minutes Rudolph Meredith did just that when he wrong footed the tacklers and touched down for an excellent try, converted by Griffiths.

Griffiths added another penalty before Bright crashed over by the posts to give Griffiths a simple conversion and a half time lead to the Reds.

The second half saw Paul Thirlby score in the corner and then the best try of the afternoon courtesy of P J Gidlow. Gidlow burst through the defence, cleverly flipping the ball to Bright, who offloaded in contact allowing a quick recycling of the ball back to Gidlow to touch down.

Griffiths added another penalty before referee, Mr Turnbull, finally did award a penalty try following a clear obstruction prevented Paul Thirlby from scoring from a kick ahead. Griffiths slotted the conversion from in front of the posts.

Redruth Head Coach, Nigel Hambly, was happy to praise the courage and commitment shown by his charges to turn the game around the way they did after the mistakes made in the first quarter had been punished by Southend. Although his priority is to ensure that the Reds secure continued Division Two status for next season, Hambly’s thoughts now turn to next Sunday’s visit of Division One side London Welsh in Round 4 of the EDF Energy National Trophy. Hambly hopes for a big crowd to turn out to ensure that the visitors are given a warm Cornish welcome!

Redruth scores: Tries: R. Meredith, M. Bright, P. Thirlby, P. J. Gidlow, Penalty; Conversions: G. Griffiths (3); Penalties: G. Griffiths (3).

Southend scores: Tries: T. Lewis (2), F. Soolefai; Conversion: A. Frost.

Redruth: C. Bonds (Capt.), S. Parsons, R. Meredith, P.J. Gidlow, P. Thirlby (S. Peters 72), G. Griffiths (G. Thirlby 72), M. Richards, D. Jacques, G. Cooper, P. Joyce (N. Douch 74), D. Cook , L. Collins, N. Pascoe, C. Fuca (S. Wood 64), M. Bright.

Southend: C. Green, T. Lewis, F. Soolefai, E. Harvey (S. Hoult 62), A. Frost, B. Mckeith, R. Powell, M. Williams (S. North58), N. Pay, I. Cook (M. Guess 68), A. Mcclintock (Capt.), C. Waring, D. Meslane (J. Fisk 58), R. Gill, J. Connors.

Referee: Mr E. Turnill (RFU)

Yellow Cards: I. Cook (Southend), A. Frost (Southend).

Attendance: 946





National League 2. By Bill Hooper at the Recreation Ground.

Redruth booted the early season events at Cambridge's Grantchester Road ground firmly into touch as they went about ensuring a fine win in their battle to pull away from the relegation area.

The Redruth pitch was in good condition, bearing in mind the pounding it had taken last Sunday during Redruth's National Trophy defeat to London Welsh. The Reds gave a debut at fly-half to Luke Cozens, currently on loan, initially for a month, from Bath, who has recently being plying his trade with the famous Lansdowne club in Dublin.

The visitors kicked off playing up the slope with the breeze at their backs. Cambridge, who boasted a formidable pack, looked to gain early territorial advantage. But Redruth were in no mood to be dictated to, taking the game to the visitors with a series of powerful drives through centres PJ Gidlow and Rudolf Meredith.

Eventually Redruth had their first opportunity for points as Cambridge were caught off side at a ruck in their own 22. Petulant back chat from the visitors saw referee Nick Williams advance the penalty award a further 10 meters, allowing Cozens to comfortably open the scoring on 6 minutes.

Almost from the re-start Redruth scored again. Good foraging by hooker Glenn Cooper saw the ball moved wide at pace, Cozens showing fine passing skills to allow skipper Craig Bonds, who had come into the line to break the cover, running strongly into the visitors 22. He found his winger Sam Parsons on the outside, the youngster scoring in the Piggy Lane corner to the delight of the home crowd. Cozens kicked a fine conversion to extend the Reds' lead further.

Cambridge, despite trailing by ten points, were still very much a threat, never more so than when the ball was in the hands of their leading try scorer Chris Lombaard. The visitors eventually got some reward with a penalty after 19 minutes kicked by fly-half Gareth Cull as Redruth were penalised at the ruck.

Lombaard again looked dangerous for the visitors as he ran through some indifferent tackling, eventually being hauled down. Play continued to flow one way then the other. Both sides spurned chances, Redruth after 25 minutes, Gidlow once more making a break only for winger Tim McBride to lose the ball with the line begging. Then moments later Lombaard managed the same for Cambridge.

Cozens missed with a snap drop goal attempt as half-time approached. Redruth continued to look for the second try. Lock Luke Collins, winner of the man-of-the-match award, charged down a clearance kick by former Pirate James Shanahan, forcing 5 metre lineout. Redruth stole the lineout and drove for the line. After a few drives, Pascoe forced his way over for the try to lead 15-3 at the break.

Reduth got the second half off to a fine start with Cozens kicking his second penalty after 45 minutes. The home side used the breeze to kick the ball downfield to pin the visitors back in their 22.

Redruth wanted tries and a third score almost came as Collins once again charged down a clearance on the Cambridge line, but the ball was kicked away from him as he attempted to touch it down.

As the game moved into the final quarter play became scrappy due to over eagerness by both sides. Referee Nick Williams relieved the tension by showing a mock yellow card to a Cambridge water carrier who lost his footing, spilling all his water bottles, much to the amusement of the grandstand.

Once the action resumed Redruth were once again guilty of some poor tackling, allowing Lombaard to score his 13th try of the season down in the Piggy Lane corner following a break from full back Adam Barnard. Cull couldn't improve the score with his touchline conversion attempt.

A third try eventually did come Redruth's way after 73 minutes. A powerful surge took the Reds' pack up to the visitors' 22 and quick ball saw Cozens feed Meredith, who burst through under the posts. Cozens conversion took the score to 25-8.

Although Redruth had further chances they couldn't turn the pressure into points.

Speaking after the match, Redruth coach Nigel Hambly was pleased with the win -- four points is always pleasing, but naturally disappointed that the fourth try didn't materialise for that bonus point. He felt that his side at times lacked a little directness and cohesion, something to work on before the visit to Blackheath next Saturday. He was very pleased with the debut of Luke Cozens, who he thought gave a polished performance despite him only being with the club for a few days, and very grateful to Frank Butler at Bath for allowing Luke to come down to Redruth, with hopefully more to come as he settles in.

Redruth 25 pts: Tries Parsons, Pascoe, Meredith; Penalties Cozens (2), Conversions Cozens (2)

Cambridge 8 pts: Try Lombaard, Penalty Cull

Redruth: C. Bonds (capt), T. McBride, R. Meredith, PJ. Gidlow, S. Parsons (S. Peters 77), L. Cozens, M. Richards; D. Jacques (N. Douch 77) , G. Cooper, P. Joyce, D. Cook (N. Corin 12-13), L. Collins, N. Pascoe, C. Fuca (Wood 64-68, N. Corin 71), M. Bright.

Cambridge: A. Barnard, P. Reed (P. Kendall 56), L. Fielden (P. Kendall 49-56, Reed 68), J. Shanahan, C. Lombaard, G. Cull, T. Ferrari; J. Ross (capt, T. Laws 59), S. Hoad (M. Otter 64), T. Kirkman, P. Kolakowski, J. Harlock (T. Powell 59), A. Phillips, C. Humphry, G. Remnant.

Referee: Mr. N. Williams (RFU)

Crowd: 859

BILL HOOPER'S CORNISH ROUNDUP for 19th/20th January 2008 (from BILL'S BLOG)




National League 1. From the Western Morning News.

Just as it appeared the Cornish All Blacks would once again have to settle for plaudits instead of league points, they bravely summoned the means to stun Plymouth Albion late on for a 17-16 victory at Polson Bridge.

The Launceston side fully deserved the four National Division One points after a valiant display kept them within four points of Albion as the game headed into stoppage time. The All Blacks, having appeared to wilt midway through the second half, recovered to mount a strong challenge in the final ten minutes. They searched up and down the Albion line, trying to find a gap to exploit. But the Devon men stood firm on their own tryline with referee JP Doyle allowing advantage for the All Blacks as the Albion defence's desperation grew.

But with two minutes of injury time played, Albion's resolve finally broke and hooker Neil Clark forced his way over on the left to set up a nervy few minutes to the final whistle and wild celebrations at the end.

This eventual victory was no smash-and-grab, however. After a bright start from the visitors, the All Blacks showed how far they have come since their 50-7 defeat in the corresponding fixture in October. In the fourth minute they took the lead through No.8 Tinus du Plessis, who gathered Clark's line-out and made his way to the right corner before the Albion defence could reorganise. The score was then converted by former Albion full-back Jon Fabian from close to the right touchline.

Albion regrouped well and once again became a threat, gaining the yards through midfield before piling on the pressure inside the All Blacks' 22. That pressure finally told and Albion were awarded a penalty which fly-half Ross Laidlaw struck between the posts to get his side back within four points.

Albion's territorial dominance continued and All Black fly-half Scott Ireland gave away another kickable penalty for coming in from the side. Ireland's opposite number Laidlaw again stepped up with a well-measured kick to leave the home side just one point ahead at the interval.

The Plymouthians returned from the break with a point to prove and took the lead with another Laidlaw penalty after the All Blacks were reprimanded for failing to roll away.

Then, on 52 minutes, the game appeared to have been settled when Albion winger Emyr Lewis ran a try over on the left. The score arrived after another sustained period of pressure that began with a superb Laidlaw kick for touch deep inside his own half. The ball trickled over ten yards from the right corner flag, and although the All Blacks initially cleared the danger, Albion winger Nic Sestaret ran the ball back into the danger zone. The ball eventually made its way over to Lewis and he rounded the stretched All Blacks' defence before touching down around the back of the posts to set up an easier conversion for Laidlaw. And although the Albion number ten made the conversion, he botched a later attempt with the boot after du Plessis again failed to roll away deep in his own half for a penalty.

Three replacements just short of the hour mark appeared to rejuvenate the home side. Club captain Keith Brooking, Mike Myerscough and Ryan Westren entered the fray and within minutes they helped their side to a second try. Westren, du Plessis and Brooking battered their way through midfield, and by the time Ireland had picked the ball up and fallen just short of the line, Westren had rejoined in support to get the touchdown to the right of the posts.

Fabian saw his conversion blocked by Ed Lewsey, but the All Blacks were in the ascendency. The home side knew a famous victory was within sight but even after Clark's match-winning score, and a near miss from the conversion by Fabian, they then had to endure a six-minute Albion fightback. The weight finally lifted when Albion scrum-half Lewsey's ill-advised cross-field kick was fielded by Fabian who had the presence of mind to call a mark. He then kicked for touch and a stunning victory was complete.



National League 1. From the Western Morning News.

Having gift-wrapped visiting Cornish Pirates a series of first-half presents, Exeter Chiefs used the second period to then rip into their Westcountry rivals and claim a precious 39-29 victory at Sandy Park.

For the Chiefs - beaten by Bedford the week previous - the win not only helped re-establish their pursuit of National One leaders Northampton Saints, but it also helped finally end the torment of two successive defeats to the Pirates.

Undone at Twickenham last April in the EDF Energy National Trophy, then again at Camborne back in October, the Chiefs stated pre-match that they would not be keen on licking their wounds for a third time.

However, for the opening exchanges of this latest duel, Pete Drewett's side clearly did not want to practice what they preached. Inside five minutes they were already 8-0 adrift, fly-half Gareth Steenson stroking over a third-minute penalty for the visitors, before Tongan winger Vunga Lilo dotted down in the right-hand corner following a howler from opposite number Josh Drauniniu, who spilt Steenson's hanging kick just outside his own 22.

The shell-shocked home faithful appeared distressed, while the healthy flotilla of Pirates folk who had sailed up the nearby A30 were in an early state of ecstasy. That initial joy, however, would prove shortlived as within three minutes the Chiefs launched their opening raid of the afternoon and with it came their first reward of the day. Fly-half Tony Yapp spiralled a superb penalty kick to the right corner and, from the subsequent line-out, the home side unpicked the Pirates' defence with relative ease. Skipper Richard Baxter, celebrating his 250th league start for the Chiefs, claimed the ball at the back of the line, before shipping a simple pop pass to lock Chris Bentley, who needed little invitation to barge his way over the whitewash.

It was certainly a storming opening to the match, but this was only the appetiser to what would later prove a sumptuous main course. With little to choose between either side - particularly in the exchanges up front - the need to get points on the board was clearly evident and Steenson tried his best to oblige with an ambitious drop-goal attempt on 16 minutes.

Seven minutes later and the Pirates, playing their first game since the official departure of head coach Jim McKay, were soon troubling the scoreboard operators once more. But, just as it was earlier in the game, the Chiefs handed their Cornish counterparts a spoon-fed score when Steenson intercepted a telegraphed pass from flanker Tom Johnson to race unopposed to the sticks and then convert to make it 15-5.

Again the response from the home side was immediate. This time Pirates' lock Heino Senekal infringed from the resultant restart and up stepped Yapp to fire over a penalty. The experienced No.10 gave a repeat performance five minutes later to cut the deficit to four - and that's how it stayed until the break even though both teams did their best to add to their tally.

What followed on the resumption, however, was to be the defining moment of the match. No sooner had the Pirates set themselves for action, then they were hit with a devastating "one-two" from the Chiefs. Drauniniu was first over, the Fijian flyer making up for his earlier error when he plucked Tim Cowley's loose pass out of the air to scorch under the posts. Then, just a minute later, quick thinking from Clive Stuart-Smith following a penalty at the restart released former Pirate Junior Fatialofa, whose electric burst brought him to within touching distance of the line, before he offloaded to Baxter who crowned his special day with a simple touchdown.

Yapp converted both scores with his deadly right boot, before the former England A international strengthened Exeter's advantage on 54 minutes when he shrugged off a heavy hit from Cowley to find his way over for the all-important fourth try, which he again duly converted.

The Pirates, however, were far from sunk and, throwing caution to the wind, they struck back with a score of their own three minutes later. Good inter-passing created the opening from which Steenson linked superbly with centre Mark Ireland to cross for his second converted effort of the game.

It was just the lift the visitors needed. However, no sooner had they got themselves back into contention, they once again shot themselves in the foot. Not for the first time in the game, they made a hash of the restart, Fatialofa latched onto the loose ball before releasing the impressive Johnson, who sprinted his way past the Pirates' cover to score try number five, again converted by Yapp.

The scoring frenzy was certainly pleasing for the sell-out Sandy Park crowd, but for the respective coaches it will no doubt have highlighted a number of defensive concerns, ones which will need to be addressed as the season enters into the final stretch.

Even then the action - and the tries for that matter - continued to flow. Welshman Rhodri McAtee ensured at least a bonus point for the visitors when he glided his way over from a ruck on the 22, Ollie Thomas converting.

Although the Pirates searched for further reward in the dying moments of the match, the Chiefs were unwilling to oblige. Afterwards Drewett, Exeter's director of rugby, remarked: "To score 39 points against the Pirates is a great achievement by the lads. The games between us are always exciting and for the 6,000 people to see so much rugby, it must have been fantastic for them.

"Everybody watching today will know that was as close to Premiership rugby as you're going to get. The intensity, the passion, the skill levels, the pace, it's tremendous for Devon and Cornwall that two sides can put on a performance like that. It just shows there is so much good rugby here in the South West."

Both Drewett and Pirates' coach Mark Hewitt admitted the two-try burst just minutes into the second period was crucial in terms of the end result.

"We're disappointed," said Hewitt, who has been placed in charge of the side following the resignation of McKay. "We went out with aims and objectives on what we wanted to do and I felt, certainly early on, it was all going to script. However, we then had a ten-minute spell in the middle where we lost our way and that cost us.

"That said, the boys were fantastic and we played a brand of rugby which we have tried to aspire to all year. We showed today that if we play with width and pace that we can cause sides problems. I'm sure next time, if we play like that again, we will be in a winning position come the end."

Next up for the Chiefs will be this Saturday's Trophy encounter at home to league rivals Coventry, while for the Pirates it's a week off and a chance to recharge the batteries after a testing fortnight both on and off the field for the club. Interestingly, former player Martin Haag - who has been linked with the vacant post at the Pirates - was among Saturday's Sandy Park crowd.



National League 3 South. From the Western Morning News.

Mounts Bay overcame disruptions in their pack and awkward opponents at Priory Lane to maintain their slender advantage at the top of National Three South. The Cornish side beat Rosslyn Park 27-17 with winger Jamie Semmens claiming a try-hat-trick to ensure the all-important bonus point was bagged.

Mounts Bay travelled without regular locks Richard Carroll - still suffering from the back injury he picked up against Dings Crusaders last week - and John Griffiths, who is struggling to overcome a knee injury. And although deprived of their customary power in the middle of the scrum, the Bay more than held their own against a combative Rosslyn Park unit and with skipper Nick Burnett moving to the second row, were mobile in heavy conditions.

"We were pleased to come away with the win and the bonus point,'' said coach Adrian Bick. "Rosslyn Park haven't been beaten by more than 12 points all season and ran Cinderford close, so they're quite a decent side, especially at home. They asked a lot of questions of our defence and never gave up.

"We played some outstanding rugby at times although we were not consistent through the 80 minutes and maybe gave the ball away too easily."

The visitors struck first, fly-half Lee Jarvis booting a penalty on 25 minutes as Park strayed offside, but the Londoners swept into the lead six minutes later as second row Graham Corin crashed over in the corner for a try that fly-half Richard Mahony converted.

The Bay, however, responded with a multi-phase movement from deep inside home territory, winger Jon Marlin applying the final touch and Jarvis converting for a 10-7 half-time lead.

Rosslyn Park had been coming under increasing pressure in the forward exchanges early on and needed a quick score after the break to halt the Bay's momentum. However, they were denied by the upright as a 45-metre penalty attempt by Mahony drifted marginally off target, and it was the Cornish side who again scored first. Scrum-half Ricky Pellow initiated a move on 50 minutes that passed through forwards and backs before the powerful Semmens scored his first try, again converted by Jarvis.

The Cornish winger staged a repeat action eight minutes later, but Rosslyn Park were now showing their fighting qualities and matched their opponents blow for blow in the final quarter, adding a Mahony penalty, and a converted try by full-back John Swords to stay in contention.

Semmens bagged his third try in the 80th minute and Bick's players could breathe easier with the bonus point won and the clock ticking down.

There were two late substitutions: Matt Rashleigh made a brief league debut on the flank for the hardworking Steve Dyer, while Marek Churcher enjoyed a few minutes of action at scrum-half following the departure of Pellow.

The Bay now have a break from the league until February 9, when Clifton visit the Mennaye Field, but will be in action this Saturday in the Cornwall Super Cup at Launceston. That will allow time for injuries to heal ahead of a testing month for the club. Bick said: "It's a massive period for us. Clifton is an absolute must-win for us and we have to win the bonus point. After that we're away at Canterbury and London Scottish."

Mounts Bay are currently four points ahead of Cinderford, with third-placed Scottish a distant seven points further back, and Bick knows there can be no slips in the final weeks of the season in the quest for promotion. He said: "Cinderford have the easier run-in and although I hope it doesn't get that far, it could come down to the final game of the season."

BILL HOOPER'S CORNISH ROUNDUP for 26th January 2008 (from BILL'S BLOG)




National League 1, at Polson Bridge. From the Western Morning News.

The revival in the All Blacks' fortunes continued apace with an exuberant 24-15 dismissal of Pertemps Bees.

After Christmas the Cornish side knew there was a mountain to climb in the New Year to escape relegation from National Division Two, and the Launceston side have set about the challenge with an exhilarating determination.

They are unbeaten in 2008 with National One wins at Polson over Rotherham, Plymouth Albion and now Pertemps Bees, as well as National Trophy successes against Nuneaton and Blackheath.

The Bees must have thought that even if they had an off-day at Polson, they would scrape a win, but what a shock they got.

Yes, the try-count was even - three apiece - but the All Blacks latched on to their chances lightning-fast and finished them off with pace and panache, while their defence just gets better and better with each succeeding week.

The Bees had a real paceman in their Namibian International right wing, Marika Vecacegu, plus a dangerously elusive attacking weapon in full-back Reece Spee, big, straight-running centres, and a formidable pack. But they lacked the All Blacks' quick-thinking and ability suddenly to turn unlikely positions into breathtaking scores.

The visitors had pace, bulk, drive and commitment, but the All Blacks are developing that sort of vision and imagination which thrills spectators, creates unexpected openings and leads to tries. Throughout the game there was both wit and wisdom in their play and it was a delight to watch.

Joint head coach Chris Brown said: "Only a win would have done and we need to use this match as a platform to move up the league.

"Now's the time to keep our feet firmly on the floor. Hard work will be the key in the coming weeks. But it was very, very pleasing. I thought we kept possession for long periods and I always felt we could create chances, and now some of our attacking on the firmer grounds is beginning to look dangerous.

"When our chances came we took and executed them well. However, I'm a bit frustrated in our inability to keep the ball in the middle third, and certainly Pertemps spoiled our ball in the ruck area. But overall there were some very pleasing aspects to our performance, and our defence was good. We stopped them going home with a bonus point."

So, with the line-out functioning much better - lock Tom Skelding and No.8 Mike Myerscough were impressive - and the forwards driving confidently the scores were not long in coming.

The All Blacks were soon ten points up in as many minutes via the boot of full-back Jon Fabian with a soaring penalty from the ten-metre line. And then, after some powerful rucking, the ball sped along the line and fly-half Scott Ireland linked with Fabian who delivered a perfectly judged pass fot Matt Jess who sprinted 30 metres to the line for Fabian to add the extras.

The Bees, meanwhile, refused to be fazed and kept banging away powerfully on the fringes and running with a formidable directness behind. Their efforts more than once brought them dangerously close and in the 18th minute Vecacegu, on the end of a threequarter move, shot away, chipped long and scorched through to win the race to the touchdown wide out. The conversion failed and at the break the All Blacks had a narrow, 10-5 lead.

Despite some dangerous countering by the visitors, the All Blacks went further ahead soon after the restart when they stole a Bees line-out and from a midfield maul on the 22, centre Steve Perry released the lurking Jess, who took off, swerving around and though the defence, to score at the posts for Fabian to convert.

At 17-5 the All Blacks were almost clear, but not quite. The Bees surged back and when fly-half Jon Higgins lofted a superbly weighted diagonal kick to the corner flag, centre Dave Knight raced up to take a perfect catch and score. The conversion was miscued but the gap had narrowed again.

Two minutes on and the Blacks were pulling away again. Myerscough took a clean line-out and then scrum-half Sam Alford slipped a midfield pass to Ireland, who ghosted beautifully through at pace to score untouched at the posts, Fabian again adding two more points.

The Bees were far from finished and they scored again on the hour, Knight perfectly positioned on the wing. He linked neatly with Spee on his shoulder and the full-back scored to make it 24-15. In the final quarter the desperate men from the Midlands kept coming, but the home defence was solid.



National League 2, at Redruth Recreation Ground. Report by Bill Hooper, from the Western Morning News.

Redruth continued their winning run in National League Two since the beginning of the year with a fourth consecutive victory, this time a 22-10 success over visiting Waterloo.

However, such has been the turnaround in fortunes at the Recreation Ground that the home crowd went home bemoaning the failure to secure the try-scoring bonus point, rather than celebrating the vital four points earned on the day.

Redruth should have been out of sight by half-time such was their dominance during the opening period. They kicked off playing down the slope and soon set about their visitors.

During a bright opening period the Reds threw the ball around, almost like the French, to go 12 points up in the opening seven minutes. First skipper Craig Bonds pounced on a deep kick from fly-half Luke Cozens to claim the opening try, then centre Rudi Meredith finished off a move in Hell Fire corner, which Cozens converted from the touchline to the deafening cheers from the grandstand.

The Redruth pack looked menacing with some impressive mauling throughout the game. The front row were always in the thick of the action, with England Counties prop Peter Joyce catching the eye with the ball in hand.

Redruth continued during the opening half to enjoy territorial advantage and the lion's share of possession, however through a combination of over-eagerness and dogged defence from Waterloo the only other score they could muster before the interval was a Cozens' penalty after 22 minutes from in front of the posts.

It looked as though Reds' man-of- the-match, scrum-half Mark Richards had added a third try after 30 minutes as he broke on the blind side following a scrum beating the Waterloo cover to canter into the Piggy Lane corner only to turn and see touch judge Debbie Innes' flag chalking off the score for a foot in touch.

Redruth's pressure was telling as Waterloo's lock Jon Nugent was binned after 36 minutes for a professional foul, yet instead of capitalising, Redruth ended up conceding a try just before half-time as a penalty award was advanced an extra ten metres after some silly back chatting by the hosts.

From the line-out in the scoreboard corner, Waterloo eventually crossed the line for a try scored by scrum-half Luke Stringer on their only serious attack of the half.

The 15-5 half-time advantage seemed scant reward for Redruth's first-half endeavours.

Play at the beginning of the second half was scrappy from both sides. Skipper Bonds kicked long looking to pin Waterloo back in their own 22, while Richards made a strong break following a planned move from the line-out, which saw the scrum-half take play into the visitors 22, but not for the first time support was lacking at a crucial time.

Redruth continued to have the advantage but they couldn't turn it into points and as the second half wore on Waterloo sensed that they could salvage something from the game.

The breakthrough came after 67 minutes with Waterloo pressing in the Redruth 22, Richards intercepted the ball and countered, taking play up to the visitors' 22 and although tackled, support was on hand from winger Tim McBride who used his pace to score in the scoreboard corner. Cozens' fine conversion took the Reds to 22-5.

Redruth went in search of the bonus point try, but Waterloo scored a second try through replacement flanker Dave York on 72 minutes.

Speaking after the game, Redruth's head coach Nigel Hambly said that he was "frustrated" that the bonus point went begging, especially with the domination his side had during the first half. "Still a win is a win, credit to Waterloo for defending well and frustrating us," he said.

He added that his players will work on the positives during the week and look to build for next weekend's vital match up at Wharfedale.



National League 1. Camborne.

BILL HOOPER'S CORNISH ROUNDUP for 9th/10th February 2008 (from BILL'S BLOG)




National League 1, at Goldington Road. From the Western Morning News.

For some reason there are a select band of supporters who love to leave a game a few minutes early. Maybe it's to beat the five o'clock rush, then again maybe the dinner is on the table and the other half doesn't want it to get cold.

Whatever the case, it seems those folk who love to follow the fortunes of the Cornish Pirates know departing the scene early doors is like going to the cinema and shuffling out prior to the film's grand finale.

Not for the first time, the Pirates ensured it was thrills and spills all the way to the whistle as they claimed a dramatic 17-15 success at National One rivals Bedford, courtesy of Steve Winn's converted try four minutes into injury time.

Winn's late touchdown, converted majestically from the right touchline by replacement Ollie Thomas, not only ensured Mark Hewitt's side picked up their second win in three games under his stewardship, but also crowned only a second-ever league win for the Pirates at Goldington Road.

It was, however, just reward for a combative display from the Pirates, who refused to buckle even when they were briefly reduced to 13 men following yellow cards for back-row forwards Iva Motusaga and Chris Cracknell.

With time fast running out, the Duchy visitors dug deep into their reserves to rescue a win that was looking increasingly unlikely when former Plymouth Albion ace James Pritchard sent over his fifth penalty of the game.

Pritchard - as always - was a constant threat for the home side and he ensured the Blues held the early edge as he fired his side in front with a penalty on seven minutes.

With play then restricted largely to a grunt-fest between the two rival packs, it took an indiscretion from Pirates' prop Alan Paver to allow Pritchard to double his tally on 36 minutes.

Bedford's slender advantage, however, would prove shortlived as the Pirates struck back inside two minutes to claim the opening try of the game from Motusaga.

Good approach work down the right by the Pirate forwards saw Winn collect the ball just outside the home 22. He dropped his shoulder before leaving a trail of home defenders in his wake. Then, as the final cover closed in, the former Gwent Dragon simply offloaded to the waiting Motusaga, who had the simple task of dotting down under the sticks.

Fly-half Gareth Steenson obliged with the extras two points, before adding a penalty in injury time following an incident which saw Cracknell and Bedford's Karl Dickson dispatched to the cooler for ten minutes.

On the resumption, try-scorer Motusaga was joining the duo on the sidelines when he needlessly came in from the side. His actions gifted Pritchard his third successful kick of the game to make the score 10-9 to the visitors.

With the numerical advantage, the Blues upped the tempo and went in search of further reward against their Cornish counterparts. Replacement fly-half Ben Patston sailed a drop-goal chance just wide of the right post, while some desperate defence from the visitors helped to stem what was a growing tide of pressure from the home side.

In the end, referee Dale Newitt lost patience with some of the Pirate tactics. Two penalties in the final ten minutes - both slotted by Pritchard - put the Blues back in front and on course for a sixth successive league victory.

The Pirates, however, had one trick left up their sleeve and with the game deep into added on time, winger James Moore scampered down the left flank before the ball was worked back across the field through Messrs Kemp, McAtee and Winnan, the latter of whom somehow squeezed a pass out to Winn, who barged his way over from close range to level the game at 15-15.

Winn's touchdown in the right corner was well received by the travelling faithful, but still there was the small matter of the conversion to follow. With Steenson having departed the scene, it was left to Thomas to stroke over the winning effort.

Naturally, Hewitt was delighted with his side's outcome. He said: "Everyone knows this is a really tough place to come and play rugby, so to get a win up here is a fantastic effort from all the boys.

"It was a tough old battle out there. Having two guys in the bin didn't make it easy for us, plus we made one or two errors in the second half that allowed them to keep the pressure on us, but we stuck in there and perhaps rode our luck at times.

"That said, we outscored them two tries to nil and we looked to play rugby when we could. I thought when we got some go forward in our game we got in behind them a number of times and caused them a few problems.

"Of course there were one or two things that didn't come off, but you have to give them a bit of credit as well. We know they are a tough side who won't make it easy for you, especially on their own pitch."

With the Pirates now set for another week off following their early exit from the National Trophy, Hewitt is hopeful his side can take their current form into the forthcoming clash at Nottingham in two weeks time.

"Nottingham away won't be easy, we know that, but on this form and the way we are playing, I think we can go up there and get a result," added Hewitt. "We showed today what we are capable of. We spoke about fronting up, putting our bodies on the line and working for each other. I think we did all that and it showed in the final result."



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Lack of discipline was a problem for Redruth on their travels to Yorkshire. Some lax play meant that they lost their National League Two match with Wharfedale 17-10, and they also had scrum-half Mark Richards shown a red card for his part in a fracas as injury time beckoned.

"I'm disappointed with the result," said Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly. "I thought we were good enough to come to Wharfedale and win, given the form we've been in.

"We shot ourselves in the foot. Wharfedale probably deserved it because they took their chances and we didn't.

"It is the discipline that has cost us today. Discipline all round: discipline not to give away penalties, discipline to play to the pattern. We gave away numerous penalties around the red zone and they have kicked us to death.

"We know when you go away from home you are not going to get too many calls: we get them when we are at home so it's swings and roundabouts. You have got to be a bit smarter when you are away from home.

"A couple of times we tried to run from our own 22 when we have got a guy who can kick it 60 metres. We try and run, get turned over, and we are back in our 22 under pressure."

After a Lewis Vinnicombe try in the 58th minute converted, from the touchline by Luke Cozens, Redruth were just a point behind, at 11-10, going into the final quarter.

Wharfedale skipper Andy Baggett kicked a third penalty to open up a four-point lead with ten minutes to go. The Reds, however, were still in with a chance of victory as they twice turned over possession in the Wharfedale 22.

"At 14-10 I thought we were on the front foot and had lots of field position, but then we would go and do something silly like pick up and go on our own and get turned over," said Hambly. "We practice this week in week out at training and it disappoints me when we do not do it."

Wharfedale came out the of traps at breakneck speed with some adventurous rugby, full-back Adam Whaites and Chris Malherbe prominent in several attacks as Simon Horsfall went in for an unconverted try in the left-hand corner after five minutes.

For most of the opening quarter the Redruth defence was tested by the running and passing of the home backs. But in a rare Redruth attack Cozens was just wide with a penalty attempt to the left of the posts.

Baggett, however, three minutes before the break, nudged the home side into an eight-point lead with a penalty in front of the posts for a back foot offside.

At the start of the second half Vinnicombe, making a welcome return to the Redruth side, was pushed into touch at the corner flag.

A penalty against Damien Cook for coming through the middle of a ruck in front of the posts after 50 minutes gave Baggett another penalty chance from in front of the posts and saw the Redruth vice captain receive a yellow card from Nigel Higginson.

From the restart, Glen Cooper gathered the ball and looked to be in for a try before a deliberate knock down by Dave Muckalt brought a yellow card for the Wharfedale flanker. Cozens kicked the penalty from close to the posts to get the Reds on the scoreboard.

The home side tried bold passing moves to try and crack the hard-working Redruth defence, but when one move broke down in midfield PJ Gidlow hacked on for Vinnicombe to touch down in the corner.

With everything to play for, the home side went into their shell and played through their forwards, raising hopes that Redruth could steal the result.

In injury time, though, Richards appeared to disrupt a heel by Wharfedale at the back of a scrum. Then in the disturbance that followed, he was singled out by touch judge Steve Bradford as the culprit and Higginson had little option but to show the Redruth scrum-half the red card.

Baggett kicked his fourth penalty from in front of the posts with the last kick of the game.

With Henley winning at Halifax and Blaydon upsetting Stourbridge in the north east, Redruth are now back into the relegation battle and the pressure is on for their game with Blaydon at the Recreation Ground on Saturday.



National League 3 (South). Report from the Western Morning News.

Mounts Bay came within inches of sustaining their second defeat of the season before clinching a 16-15 Division Three South victory at Canterbury.

An injury-time penalty attempt by Canterbury fly-half Gert de Kock sailed just wide of the upright to provide an appropriately tense finish to a top-of- the-table match marred by controversy.

The final 20 minutes featured uncontested scrums after Canterbury contrived to lose their entire front row to injury at regular intervals, but still finished with one replacement unused. It left the Cornishmen clearly frustrated by their opponents' apparent inability to field a front row through the full 80 minutes.

"I'm not sure what we're going to do about it, but it's definitely something we'll be looking at," said Mounts Bay coach Adrian Bick.

"Going to uncontested scrums is a farce to be honest and didn't suit us at all. We were looking to put a bit of momentum on the game and it's a situation that needs clarifying. They should have had front-row cover and didn't use one of their replacements.

"The fourth official and their coaching staff weren't particularly helpful, but it took the intensity out of the game and rattled our players and we lost our way a bit. It's something we may not get to the bottom of."

Given the circumstances, Mounts Bay were happy to leave Kent with a hard-fought victory over the fourth-placed team, which preserves their five-point lead at the top going into next week's match at London Scottish, currently in fifth place.

Bick said: "We were delighted with the win. We were angry enough to have lost the game in the last minute, so that would have been very difficult to take. Now we can take some momentum into the game at London Scottish next week."

Bick was also perplexed that young prop Paul Andrew was yellow-carded, supposedly for a professional foul early in proceedings. He added: "He was penalised for not retreating ten metres, but there was no threat to their possession and no offence up until then.

"That's something you've to live with but apart from that, Paul had a good game. He scrummaged well against a bigger, more experienced forward and he did everything that was required of him in the line-out, he put in some tackles, and carried the ball."

Mounts Bay winger Jon Marlin scored the first points of the match early on with an unconverted try before the home side hit back with a penalty by de Kock, and they took the lead on the half-hour mark with a try by Theo Rhodes, the conversion attempt by de Kock again going wide.

By now, Canterbury had lost loosehead Jamie Forsyth to injury, replaced by Steve Goode, but the visitors were unfazed and were ahead at the interval, Kiwi centre Tyron Child touching down for a 10-8 lead going into the second half.

Mounts Bay full-back Tim Mosey then booted two penalties in the first quarter of the second period to complete his side's scoring, before Canterbury tighthead Matt Pinnock and hooker Tom Rogers trudged off to be replaced respectively by Barry Chapman and Jack Tomlinson.

With former Launceston back Keiron Lewitt still on the Canterbury bench, but the scrums now uncontested, the Bay looked slightly vulnerable under renewed pressure exerted by Canterbury, who closed the gap to one point through a converted try from former Plymouth Albion back Pat Sykes.

There was, however, to be one last chance for the home side, but de Kock was unable to capitalise with his late kick.

The Cornishmen can concentrate on increasing that narrow lead at the top, following Cinderford's failure to bag the bonus point from their 23-9 triumph at Bridgwater and Albion on Saturday.

The Gloucestershire side will fancy their chances of narrowing the gap on Saturday, when they welcome third-from bottom Havant.

Meanwhile, the league leaders face a tougher task in Richmond, where London Scottish will be highly motivated to maintain their place in the top six following the 34-5 setback against Barking on Saturday.

BILL HOOPER'S CORNISH ROUNDUP for 16th February 2008 (from BILL'S BLOG)




National League 2, at the Recreation Ground. From the Western Morning News.

Redruth received a double boost to their National Two survival campaign with this 25-14 triumph over Blaydon.

The game was seen as an eight-pointer by clubs lying in ninth and 10th place and the result may prove pivotal in the closing weeks of the campaign.

In addition, former Pirates' coach Jim McKay sat side by side with Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly in the stand and is to assist at the Recreation Ground on a consultancy basis until the end of the season.

Both men expressed their delight at working with each other, while Redruth supporters were cockahoop at the turn of events. Hambly and his men have clawed their way out of the basement with a series of impressive results and the presence at the Rec of the highly-respected former Pirates' chief can only add impetus to that effort.

McKay said: "It's an honour to be involved at a club that is one of the heartbeats of Cornish rugby. I'm very fond of Cornwall and the South West; I'll enjoy it and try to do the best I can.

"If I can help Nigel make the team perform a little bit better, that's a pleasure. I believe 100 per cent Redruth can stay up and if I can pass on my knowledge to help, that's great. There are a lot of Cornish players at the club and I think that's important. The team spirit is very strong."

It is thought that McKay will assist both on match days and off the field, where his hard-nosed approach to training and acumen in club organisation were so valued at the Pirates and which are likely to be sorely missed by the Division One high-flyers in the future. Pirates' loss is Redruth's gain.

However, both coaches admitted that Saturday's error-strewn victory was not the finished article. Blaydon were powerful and abrasive and the Reds often looked a side under pressure. Their possession behind the ruck was frequently spoiled and there were numerous handling errors. In addition, their lineout was not always cohesive.

For all that, Redruth could have won by more: they had a try disallowed and fly-half Luke Cozens was off-target with several kicks at goal.

Redruth opened the scoring on 20 minutes following a powerful break down the left wing by Rob Thirlby. The England Sevens player scorched past the visitors' defence before offloading to Rudolf Meredith steaming up on the inside and the Kiwi centre finished off flamboyantly. Cozens, who had missed an early penalty attempt, was off-target with the conversion attempt but booted a penalty 11 minutes later.

The Reds then endured two ten-minute periods either side of half-time which brought out the best and worst in them. They went into the break only one point ahead, 8-7, after allowing Blaydon to cross under the posts, winger Andy Fenby touching down and number 10 Michael Gandy converting.

That late lapse was a massive blow for the home team and their resilience was tested further at the start of the second period as Blaydon laid siege to their line, giant flankers Selwyn St Bernard and Eniola Gesinde the cause of all sorts of problems in the loose.

However, Redruth weathered the storm as Blaydon's error count began to exceed that of the home side and Cozens opened the gap with a penalty from 30 metres. The crowd - peppered with a mix of highly vocal Blaydon supporters - breathed easier following the Reds' best try of the match, scrum-half Mark Richards sprinting 30 metres into hostile territory before Lewis Vinnicombe's superior pace saw the move finished off in the right corner, Cozens converting off the upright.

The Cornishmen were rampant and Thirlby charged 40 metres up the left wing to touch down with a try that would have sealed proceedings, but he was judged to have knocked on at the line.

No matter, hooker Glenn Cooper was mauled over the line by his fellow forwards on 65 minutes for Redruth's third try, converted by Cozens and although Blaydon had the last word with a converted try of their own, Adam Dehaty crossing, it was Redruth's day.

Hambly pointed to those two crucial periods either side of half-time that saw the game both slip away and then seesaw back in the Reds' favour.

He said: "We looked jittery going in at half-time 8-7, there were a few harsh words and then Blaydon were camped on our line at the start of the second half. It would have been easy to fold and give them the score they needed but that's we're all about. The guys dug in, fought for each other and put in some big tackles.

"We tend to panic a bit when we're close to our line and we did that today, but whether we're playing 20 yards or 60 yards from our line we need to keep cool, be patient and keep discipline. Blaydon were fairly strong around the rucks and mauls and we didn't really run with too much conviction, but you can't be too disappointed with a win."



National League 3 (South). From the Western Morning News.

Mounts Bay passed another stern test of their promotion credentials with this 35-18 victory at London Scottish.

The Division Three South leaders had to come from behind following a poor first half performance, but two late Richard Carroll tries secured the bonus point and resulted in a scoreline that did little justice to the Exiles' efforts.

"They were really up for it and played the better rugby at times," conceded Mounts Bay coach Adrian Bick. "They were well-drilled and had good patterns of play and I think that's what kept them in the game.

"We were struggling in the first half to get any rhythm going, but in the second half we started to get some go-forward and everything started to click. At half-time we would have been happy just to take the win, so we were delighted to get the bonus point."

Carroll crossed for that vital fourth try on 80 minutes but the architect behind the move was fly-half Lee Jarvis, whose inch-perfect kick for touch set up the five-metre lineout from which the touchdown resulted. Hooker Jamie Salter's throw was equally accurate and Carroll was able to cross unopposed as the Londoners' cover chose that moment to become invisible.

The fiery lock's first try eight minutes earlier was a more robust affair as he was driven over by his fellow forwards against a rapidly tiring home defence and Bick paid tribute to the veteran second row's influence overall on the Bay's success this season.

The coach said: "He's got the experience and more often than not he's in the right place at the right time, which is what you need at times. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, he always make a big contribution."

The Bay's other tries were scored by Adam Nicholls and Jamie Semmens, who put the first points on the board on 31 minutes with a touchdown that Jarvis converted.

The home side responded with a try from No.8 Matt Fitzgerald and although Duncan Hayward missed the conversion, he booted a penalty on 40 minutes to send the home side in 8-7 ahead at the interval. They went further ahead on 43 minutes with a try by flanker Alex Alesbrook but Jarvis reduced the arrears with a sweetly-struck penalty. The visitors then took the lead after the Scottish defence cracked, Nicholls crossing for an unconverted try and a 15-13 advantage.

Both sides were giving as good as they got, but the Scottish backs could make no progress in midfield and more often than not their wide ball ended up back in the forward mix, where the Bay were beginning to show their power.

Jarvis booted penalties on 54 and 58 minutes before Scottish centre Rory Greenslade-Jones went over to narrow the gap to three points. So, with all to play for, it was Carroll that finally decided the outcome.

"The boys were putting a lot of pressure on themselves to get the bonus point and that last try finally released the tension, we were delighted " said Bick.

Mounts Bay remain five points ahead of second-placed Cinderford, who continue to match their promotion rivals point for point, but the Cornishmen are now in buoyant mood ahead of next Saturday's tough home clash with fourth-placed Ealing.

And all the while the grudge showdown with Cinderford on April 12 at The Mennaye draws ever closer. The Division Three title race may not be decided until that eagerly-awaited fixture.

BILL HOOPER'S CORNISH ROUNDUP for 23rd February 2008 (from BILL'S BLOG)

SATURDAY 1st March



National League 1. By Mark Stevens at Meadow Lane. From the Western Morning News.

Cornish Pirates' head coach Mark Hewitt refused to be too downbeat despite seeing his side slip to a 24-17 National League One defeat at Nottingham yesterday.

Hewitt, who earlier in the week was confirmed as the permanent successor to Jim McKay on a two-year deal, bemoaned a disappointing first-half display and an ineffective line-out as key factors in his side crashing to a league double against the Midlanders.

"We knew it would be a real tough game up here," said Hewitt at the final whistle. "We are a little bit disappointed as our line-out didn't function that well in the first half and we couldn't quite find field position. We probably played 80 per cent of the first half without the ball and that's not going to win you a rugby match. That said, the positives we can take are that we played right until the end and we might have sneaked something later on."

The Pirates were handed the dream start when scrum-half Ed Fairhurst crossed for the opening try of the game, the Canadian international bursting through under the posts following good approach work involving Mark Ireland, Steve Winn and Bruce Cumming. Fly-half Gareth Steenson notched the conversion to put the visitors 7-0 up.

Nottingham's response was almost immediate as they soon reduced the arrears with full-back David Jackson netting two quickfire penalties after the visitors had been penalised for straying offside in midfield.

The home side continued to carry the greater threat but, unlike the Cornish All Blacks the week previous, the Pirates soaked up large periods of home pressure with some resolute defence. That rearguard action, though, eventually buckled five minutes before the break when former Exeter Chiefs' back Ben Thompson exposed a yawning gap to cross by the sticks.

Jackson converted that score, before adding an injury-time penalty to put Nottingham firmly in command at 16-7 at the break.

The second half began as the first finished with Nottingham -- who have been the surprise package of National League One this season -- carrying the greater attacking edge. However, despite dominating both territory and possession, the Pirates held firm and hit back with a superb counter-attack of their own that saw Nottingham stray offside and Steenson punish them with a penalty from just outside the 22.

The kick clearly lifted the visitors who were then given extra impetus when Thompson was sin-binned for cynically tackling Brian Tuohy off the ball as the Irishman looked to latch onto a pass from Chris Cracknell.

Despite the man advantage, the Pirates were unable to capitalise and it was Nottingham who regrouped to add a second try five minutes from time. Using their pack to punch their way into enemy territory, Nottingham sliced open Hewitt's charges with a razor sharp attack that saw Alex Dodge cross in the left-hand corner.

Jackson administered the last rites to the Pirates when he slotted a penalty four minutes later to make it 24-10.

Even then, the Pirates refused to throw in the towel and in a spirited last throw of the dice, they rewarded themselves with a losing bonus point when Tuohy finished off under the posts after Steenson had robbed Nottingham of the ball to release team-mates Vunga Lilo, Adryan Winnan and Fairhurst, the latter of whom provided the decisive pass to the Irish winger.

Steenson sent over the resultant conversion, but that was as good as it got for the visitors who were unable to find any more late heroics.

"We didn't build off the good start and with the line-out not functioning and our lack of field position, we were always going to be on the back foot," added Hewitt. "That is an area we will have to go away and work on this week. Nottingham, though, are a good side and they mix the game up very well.

"If you look at them, they have a good forward pack, they have a good drive game, they keep the ball for long periods of time and they play off the back of it. It's a bit like the way Plymouth play when they are really going well. But they (Nottingham) probably play more rugby than Plymouth."

Hewitt, however, still has his sights set on a top-three finish and is determined to get his team back on track against Sedgley Park this coming Sunday. He added: "We talked about going undefeated, but that's gone now. We have to move on and try and finish as tough as we can. Out of the top teams we have probably the best run in, so third place is still there for us.

"The way we are playing we are relishing every game and there is a good spirit within the camp. The boys are disappointed, of course, but we played a lot of good rugby."



National League 3 (South). By Bill Sobey at the Mennaye Field. From the Western Morning News.

Mounts Bay were left stunned after Ealing inflicted their first National Division Three South home defeat of the season at the Mennaye Field this weekend.The visitors came to Cornwall with a thorough game plan and executed it impressively to rock Mounts Bay's title challenge with a 15-13 defeat.

The league leaders could have levelled the game deep into stoppage time, but fly-half Lee Jarvis was unable to earn a late reprieve, missing a conversion kick to leave his side with just a losing bonus point for consolation.

The real bonus for Bay, however, was second-placed Cinderford's draw at Dings Crusaders, leaving the Penzance club's lead at the top of the table reduced by merely one point to four.

Forwards coach Adrian Bick praised the visitors for their performance but was frustrated his team failed to take more from the game. He said: "I'm blown away really. We're so unused to being in this situation, but we have to give credit where credit is due, you could see from the first five minutes that we were in a game.

"They were up for it today, big time, maybe if Jarvis had made the kick at the end, a draw would have been a fair result but it was a pressure kick."

Bay have so often hit teams hard in the opening minutes this season, but on this occasion it was Ealing who set the early pace with prop Steve Neville and flanker David Essien both coming close to scoring in the opening minutes.

Bay, to their credit held out well, and scored the opening try with their first break forward following a measured kick for touch from Jarvis. Bay won the line-out and lock Richard Carroll drove through to the line on the left in the 12th minute. Jarvis was unable to make the conversion in windy conditions, the ball swirling away to the right of the posts.

In the 18th minute Jarvis tried to extend the lead with a penalty attempt from ten metres inside his own half with the wind at his back, but although his kick made the distance, the ball drifted marginally wide to the right of the posts.

The visitors levelled the scores in the 33rd minute following a kick for touch into the left corner from fly-half Ben Ward. The line-out was missed by Bay and Essien was on hand to take the ball forward before prop Johnny Marsters made the final few yards to cross the line for an Ealing try.

Ealing gained the lead when winger Owen Bruynseels collected a cross-field kick from Ward and was awarded the try despite appearing to drop the ball before completing the touchdown in the left corner. Fortunately for Bay, Ward missed the conversion attempt to keep the scores tight.

A strong finish to the half failed to prevent Bay going into the break behind as they tried in vain to turn pressure into points. A missed Jarvis penalty was as close they came before the half-time whistle as a well-schooled Ealing defence anticipated their every move.

Jarvis brought the scores back to within two points with another penalty attempt three minutes into the second half, but still Ealing pushed forward, eventually giving Ward the chance to respond with a penalty of his own. However, he dragged his kick short to the left and the danger passed.

It took Bay the best part of 20 minutes to get a foothold in the second half with Carroll leading the charge on a rampaging run through the middle. The ball found its way to Tyron Child on the right but his run fell just short of the line and Bay again failed to capitalise on possession in front of the try-line.

As Bay forced the issue, so mistakes were made. And when replacement Johnny Griffiths' offload fell into Ealing hands the home side did not see the ball again until the visitors' second try had been scored through winger Kiba Richards, who squeezed through on the right for an unconverted try.

A late surge brought Bay close to the Ealing try-line, but after the home side won a penalty and kicked for touch they failed to gather the line-out and possession was lost. Again Bay poured forward, and this time after winning the penalty and kicking for touch, the ball was safely gathered from the line-out and Hilton piled over the line to set up a tricky game-levelling conversion for Jarvis.

The Mennaye Field fell completely silent but the Welshman, due to depart the club in the summer, just scraped his kick wide to the left, leaving Bay to settle for the losing bonus point.

Bick was pleased that his side kept fighting until the end.

He said: "We played right up until the last minute; we were dogging it out and trying to get a result. It just wasn't going to come. The only bonus is that Cinderford drew, we got a bonus point for a narrow margin of defeat as well, but seasons are made of this. We've got to look back at this, take this feeling into Lydney next week and the remaining games of the season."





National League 1. From the Western Morning News.

The big storm may be heading for the Cornish coastline later today, but the Pirates are safely back in port and reflecting on another job well done.

Although Mark Hewitt's side were some way short of their free-flowing best, they still had too much for lowly Sedgley Park, who headed home from the Duchy last night still in the National One relegation dogfight following their 36-10 reverse at Camborne.

The Pirates' success -- one which will have been warmly received just up the A30 at Polson Bridge -- not only ensured normal service was resumed at the first attempt following last week's defeat at Nottingham, but it also kept alive the Cornish club's hopes of a top- four finish.

For Hewitt and his squad, that is the key objective between now and the end of the season. They will, however, face much tougher challenges than that which Sedgley Park threw at them.

After a sluggish opening to the match in which Park fly-half Phil Jones fired his side into a fifth-minute lead with a penalty, the home side at last awoke from their slumber and began to make some inroads into the visiting defence.

Flexing their muscles in the right areas of the field, the Pirates threatened the Park line twice through Ed Fairhurst and Chris Cracknell, before Vunga Lilo finally found his way over.

The Tongan winger applied the finish after a poor clearance from Chris Hall had been gathered by James Moore, whose burst through the middle enabled him to link with Bruce Cumming, the latter offloading to Lilo, who did the rest on 19 minutes.

Four minutes later and the home side doubled their tally when, following a good advantage from referee Nick Williams, the Pirates worked a crafty opening down the left that enabled recalled prop Peter Cook to send full-back Adryan Winnan over in the corner for the second try of the game.

Up against it, Park's cause was further hampered when they lost Luther Burrell to a serious neck injury. The unfortunate centre felt the full force of Welshman Steve Winn and departed the scene not only on a stretcher, but also in a nearby ambulance.

Despite the lengthy hold-up, the Pirates soon clicked back into top gear and on 34 minutes added a third touchdown when Winn dived over following a sustained spell of pressure from the home side.

Although the Pirates looked to wrap up the all-important bonus point before the break, a combination of over exuberance from the home side in attack, plus some tidy Park defence, ensured the scorers were not troubled anymore in the first period.

Then, just as they had done in the opening half, Park quickly set the early tone on the resumption and it took a last-ditch tackle from skipper Cracknell to prevent flanker Adam Newton from landing an early blow.

Minutes later and Cracknell was showing he was equally effective at the other end, this time providing the finish to a slick attacking move which had involved Olly Thomas, Sam Betty and Winn.

Fly-half Thomas slotted the conversion to that score, plus Darren Dawiduik's maiden touchdown which duly arrived on the hour mark. The young hooker had been on the field barely five minutes, but he wasted little time in making his mark as he timed his run to perfection, hitting the line at pace to run unopposed to the sticks.

Now cruising at 29-3, the Pirates looked to heap further misery on their Manchester-based counterparts. They did, however, have to wait until the 68th minute before claiming their sixth try of the afternoon.

Turnover ball just inside the Park half saw Lilo, Moore and Rhodri McAtee create an opening down the right flank -- from which McAtee was able to slip the ball back inside to Moore, who darted his way to the line for Thomas to convert once more.

To their credit, Park kept plugging away and their efforts were rewarded with a late converted try from winger Chris Briers. The score disappointed coach Hewitt at the final whistle, as did some of the "fancy-dan" rugby his team decided to adopt in the dying stages.

"We got a bit sloppy at times," said Hewitt. "We needed to be a bit more direct and had we done that, I think we would have run up a cricket score. We got a bit carried away at times and we started playing some fancy-dan rugby, which is a little disappointing.

"That said, the boys played with a smile on their faces and I think everyone got their money's worth again. It could have been a lot more, I know, but we've scored six tries and got a bonus point, so we're pretty pleased with that."

Meanwhile, Pirates No.8 Tim Cowley has expressed his disappointment at an article in a national rugby magazine which has said he has joined French club side Bourgoin next season.

Cowley, who has been linked with a series of clubs across the country, said: "I'm a bit disappointed with the story about me moving to Bourgoin as I can't say that; it's not official yet.

"I would have liked to have been the one to announce it officially when it was official, but sadly it's been leaked and it is not entirely true.

"I've been linked to a few clubs in the UK, but through visa difficulties I can no longer stay in the UK after next season. I've dreamed of playing in France for a long time and, with the right opportunity, I feel at this stage of my life I must take it. I need a new challenge and to experience rugby at the top.

"I would like to say thanks again to the Pirates' fans for the support through my time at the club. I've loved the last four years and will never forget it."



National League 3 (South). By David Wilcock at Regentsholme. From the Western Morning News.

Mounts bay proved their shock home defeat to Ealing last weekend was a mere blip on their charge for promotion to National Two as they outclassed Lydney 30-6 on Saturday.

However, the Cornish side by no means had it their own way on their visit to Gloucestershire, as they sought to bounce back from the unexpected defeat at the Mennaye Field the previous weekend.

The scoreline, as player-coach Ricky Pellow admitted after the game, flattered the visitors after a battling first half in which the Severnsiders' pack had been dominant.

But Bay simply turned it up a gear in the second half, running in two tries to add to two in the first half to seal the game and the crucial bonus point.

Pellow admitted he was pleased that the team had bounced back from the Ealing defeat with a victory.

"Last week was a blip," he said. "Yes it was disappointing, but it spurred us to come up here and put right what went wrong last week."

Pellow admitted Lydney had got to his side in the first period, with their tactics to keep the game tight and locked down in the centre of the park, but that he was pleased with Bay's attitude after the break.

"Lydney got stuck into us straight away, they played really well and rattled us," he said. "We made too many mistakes in the first half but we came in at half-time and talked about cutting those mistakes out and building a lead. We then put 20 points on in the second half.

"I don't think the score reflected the game, but we built the lead and got the bonus point by playing some outstanding rugby in the second half, especially considering the conditions. Our attitude in the second half showed why we are top of the table."

Lydney's pack dominated the first half, as the home side, on a surprisingly firm pitch given the driving rain, kept the game tight. But it was Bay who struck first. Full-back Tim Mosey, whose strong running gave Lydney problems all afternoon, burst through the home side's defensive line after 25 minutes, sprinting deep into their 22 before handing off to Lee Jarvis to score.

Twelve minutes later Mosey was again involved, starting a move which saw hooker Jamie Salter bundle home. Both conversion attempts, if they could even be called that, were missed by the usually reliable Jarvis, who struggled in the face of a strong wind.

In contrast, Lydney fly-half Mark Davies had the wind in his favour and it was through his boot that Lydney were only 10-6 down at half-time, with both penalties -- one from more than 40 metres out -- coming between Bay's two tries.

After the break, it was a different story. Bay moved away with a try from Kiwi Tyrone Child, who charged down a Davies clearance just five minutes after the restart, converted by Jarvis.

Jarvis added two more penalties before lock Richard Carroll touched down after a strong run again from Child on 73 minutes to rule out any unlikely chance of a comeback from the home side.

The result, coupled with second-placed Cinderford's 20-6 win over Rosslyn Park, means Bay are still five points clear at the top of National League Three South. And it means the meeting of the top two, in the penultimate game of the season at the Mennaye Field, could be very tasty indeed.

BILL HOOPER'S CORNISH ROUNDUP for 8th/9th March 2008 (from BILL'S BLOG)

SATURDAY 15th March



National League 2. From the Western Morning News.

Redruth condemned Halifax to relegation and almost certainly secured their own tenure in National League Two with this 38-3 demolition at the Recreation Ground.

They are now 17 points clear of the drop zone, and mid-table respectability beckons for a club that two months ago appeared set for an ignominious exit from the second tier.

Six unanswered tries bear testament to their dominance, although exuberance cost them the chance of doubling that tally. The crowd were baying for Halifax blood as the disparity between the two sides became apparent, but the Reds did what they had to do and will be happy with the outcome going into the run-in. However, that last lap is likely to be completed without the services of second row Damian Cook, who suffered ligament damage early in proceedings.

Flanker Steve Wood was dazzling on his home debut and will be disappointed not to retain the number seven shirt for the trip to league leaders Otley, while fellow rookies Ben Fox and Simon Peters rewarded the faith placed in them by head coach Nigel Hambly.

"I was very pleased with all three of them," said Hambly. "I thought Ben and Steve were outstanding in the back row, while Simon Peters is an unsung hero really. A lot of the time people made breaks and he's the guy who got to the rucks and cleaned them out."

Redruth started explosively and were two tries up within 20 minutes, Rob Thirlby blasting down the left wing and Kiwi No.8 Mark Bright crashing through the centre from close range for touchdowns converted by returning fly-half Gareth Griffiths.

Halifax full-back Joe Knowles booted a penalty to put the visitors' solitary score on the board, but the Reds failed to build on their dominance and were frustrated by opponents who proved adept at playing on the edge of offside and were obdurate in defence.

However, while Halifax were seldom able to build beyond their meagre first-phase possession and made only brief forays into the home 22, Redruth crossed the gain line with ease before handling errors cost them the chance of additional scores and they went into the break only 11 points ahead, 14-3.

"We made some good breaks and got in behind them but then someone would be greedy; a bit of whitewash fever," said Hambly. "We threw the ball away willy-nilly but there was never any danger of us losing the game, just a danger of not winning the way the way we should have won it."

The imbalance between the two sides became evident in the second period as the Reds rattled in four more unanswered tries through Paul Thirlby, PJ Gidlow, another for Bright and a penalty try.

Given the paucity of Halifax's threat across the field, Redruth perhaps looked better than their error count suggested but Wood was a class player, as a ball carrier and a defensive open side. The former Henley Hawk was predatory in the loose and helped stifle Halifax's possession, but took some heavy knocks as a consequence and was replaced by Chris Fuca on 60 minutes. By then he was a crowd favourite and leaves Hambly with some tough decisions to make given the considerable back-row resources he has at his disposal.

However, the coach will be anxious to restore control among his players for the trip to Otley after Easter. Redruth cannot afford to be over-confident nearing the end of a difficult season.

"At times we didn't show a lot of respect for the ball or the opposition and I would say some of our passing was not just 50-50 but 90-10," Hambly said. "But we defended well and five points and no try conceded can't be bad."

Hambly has set his side a target of 50 points to be sure of surviving in the division and Saturday's maximum haul means they are just three points shy of that total with four games left.

"We seem to be getting stronger while a lot of sides seem a little weaker. Hopefully we can keep that going," he said. "We've got a week off over Easter and can look to get things right, work on our ball retention and go up to Otley and give it some. I don't see any reason why we can't get something out of that."



National League 3 (South). By Bill Sobey of the Western Morning News, at the Mennaye Field.

Mounts Bay extended their lead at the top of National Division Three South with a comprehensive ten-try performance in a 64-12 victory over bottom-side Luton.

Promotion rivals Cinderford only managed a draw at struggling Clifton, allowing the Cornishmen an eight-point advantage at the top of the table after this latest demolition job at the Mennaye.

Bay made their first score with little over a minute on the clock. Fly-half Lee Jarvis opted to kick a penalty into the right corner, and Bay having won the line-out, drove Ben Hilton over the line with ease, leaving Jarvis to slot the conversion.

However, spirited resistance from the visitors kept the hosts out for 16 minutes, until they crossed twice in the following four minutes.

Jarvis supplied Tyron Child 15 yards from the try line and the Kiwi centre blitzed through to the left of the posts. Jarvis stepped up with a well-struck kick to covert.

Then the third arrived following a break down the left from full-back Tim Mosey, who passed inside for No.8 Adam Nicholls to score under the posts -- setting up another easy conversion for Jarvis.

Bay secured the bonus point with 30 minutes gone. Jarvis was again the architect, this time supplying Mosey in the right corner. The Welshman again converted from close to the touchline.

Moments after the restart, Nicholls started another break before moving the ball to the right for Mosey, who helped it on for Jon Marlin to score a fifth and final try of the half by the right corner flag. But after three in a row, Jarvis failed with his kick for the conversion.

Man-of-the-match Nicholls and forward Darren Semmens combined down the right five minutes into the second half, providing the platform for Hilton to score his second of the game, which again Jarvis was unable to convert.

The visitors fought gamely throughout and fully deserved the points when John Rudgard brought a score back for Luton in the 50th minute, forcing himself over the line seconds after Bay had been brought down to 14 men with Richard Carroll shown a yellow card for an off-the-ball tussle.

Skipper Simon Lincoln did well to convert from the left touchline.

Luton scored another six minutes later when replacement Matt Smith ran into the left corner after receiving the ball from Lincoln, although the latter missed his second conversion attempt.

The Luton fightback, however, stunned Bay back into action for a ten-minute raid, scoring four more tries. Child got the first after he stole possession in midfield and ran down the right for a converted try.

Andrew Cheung-Fook added another after Adam Flide's incisive pass set him free with half a clear pitch to run into for yet another converted try.

And the strong finish continued when Mosey scored on the opposite flank, allowing Jarvis his seventh and final conversion of the day.

The rout was completed in stoppage time when Nicholls picked up a tight pass from Marlin close to the right corner flag and touched down over the line. Jarvis, however, miskicked the final conversion attempt wide.

Forwards coach Adrian Bick was pleased with the points and performance, although he admitted his side eased off for a spell in the second half after the points were safely in the bag.

He said: "We came out with a positive mindset, we probably felt the job was done a bit too early and fair play to them they came back, put together some phases and scored a couple of tries.

"Then at the end, we put our foot back on the accelerator and just pulled away.

"With all due respect we definitely wanted the win with the bonus point today and then we wanted to start expressing ourselves, but they weren't just going to come here and roll over."

The end is now in sight for Mounts Bay, but Bick says there are still challenges ahead before their crunch match with Cinderford on April 12 and a final league match with Barking.

"We've got one eye on the Cornwall Super Cup against the Cornish All Blacks," said Bick. "We've got North Walsham away and that's a potential banana skin - so there's still work to do."


SATURDAY/SUNDAY 22nd/23rd March



National League 1. Report by Bill Hooper at Camborne Rec.

A second half try fest was served up by the Cornish Pirates on a bitterly cold Easter Sunday afternoon at Camborne as they leap-frogged the Doncaster Knights to claim fourth place in National League 1 following an impressive 63 - 36 triumph over the Yorkshiremen.

It was close and tense during the first half as Doncaster edged it, turning around 17-15 up, having played with the stiff breeze blowing in from the North Cliffs during the first half.

The first half was spoilt by some indifferent referring from Mr. Doyle, who allowed the visitors to get away with murder, much to the annoyance of the crowd. Eventually, and thanks to the intervention of touch judge Steve Leyshon, former Pirate Wez Davies was red-carded for a headbutt on replacement scrum-half Rhodri McAtee -- justice, as Davies was responsible for a cynical "tackle", which led to the departure of Ed Fairhurst early in the game.

Doncaster opened the scoring with a prodigious penalty by fly-half Mark Woodrow after just 3 minutes from well inside his own half.

It got worse for the Pirates after 8 minutes as Gareth Steenson misjudged a high kick in his own 22, allowing Davies to snaffle the ball and fed winger Donovan Van Vuuren, who scored at the park gate corner.

Happily the Pirates soon replied when, following a penalty kicked to the scoreboard corner, lock Heino Senekal secured the lineout and set up the drive, which eventually saw Bourgoin-bound Tim Cowley score a fine try. Steenson's conversion bounced the wrong way off the uprights.

Woodrow kicked another penalty to extend the Knights lead to 11-5.

With McAtee now on for the unlucky Fairhurst, the Welsh Whippett weaved his magic to conjure up a super try for lock Senekal, Steenson's conversion putting the home side in front for the first time in the match.

Woodrow soon had his side back in front with his third penalty (for crossing by the Pirates in their own 22), before Steenson kicked the penalty resulting from Davies' red card to regain the lead. However, Woodrow's fourth penalty allowed the Knights to turn around with their noses in front.

The Knights were quickest out of the blocks after the resumption as flanker David Griffiths smashed his way over, Woodrow's conversion putting the Knights 24-15 up.

The crowd held its collective breath, yet the Pirates' response was to prove rapier-like as they scored four quick burst tries to finally take control of the game.

First up, centre Paul Devlin, who ran true and straight like an arrow to the line.

Devlin was involved again as the ball was stolen from a maul, his pace setting up winger Jimmy Moore, who claimed the bonus point try.

Following a daring counter by Steenson from behind his own line the Pirates gained a penalty deep in the Knights' 22. They kicked the penalty to the top right corner, and lock Bruce Cumming surged to the line, before prop Dan Seal scored his side's fifth try.

The fourth try in this ten-minute spell came from Hong Kong 7's bound Vunga Lilo.

Steenson added three conversions and the Pirates were suddenly 41-24 up with the crowd in raptures.

Doncaster, to their credit, responded with a try from hooker Steve Boden as they looked to salvage something from the game.

Lilo then intercepted on his own 22 to race away to score his second try of the game, before Moore completed his own brace after a flowing Pirates' move. Steenson kicked both conversions to add to his drop goal kicked a few moments earlier.

Replacement prop Toma Toke barged over for a bonus point try for the Knights as the game neared its end. However, and fittingly, it was the Pirates' man-of-the-match Steenson who had the final say as he completed the score card with the Pirates' ninth try of the afternoon.

Cornish Pirates 63 pts: Tries Cowley, Senekal, Devlin, Moore (2), Seal, Lilo (2), Steenson; Conversions Steenson (6); Penalty Steenson; Drop-goal Steenson

Doncaster Knights 36 pts: Tries Van Vuuren, Griffiths, Boden, Toke; Conversions Woodrow, Rees; Penalties Woodrow (4); Red card W. Davies 35 mins

Cornish Pirates: A. Winnan, V. Lilo, P. Devlin (O. Thomas 72), S. Winn, J. Moore, G. Steenson, E. Fairhurst (R. McAtee 10); P. Cook (A. Paver 49), R. Elloway (D. Dawiduik 60), D. Seal (S. Heard 65), H. Senekal, B. Cumming, C. Cracknell (M. Evans 67) , I. Motusaga, T. Cowley (capt, S. Betty 77).

Doncaster: W. Davies, P. Bailey, B. Hunt, S. Davey, D. Van Vuuren, M. Woodrow (C. Rees 58), B. Jones; R. List ( T. Toke 75), S. Boden (B. Phillips 72), N. Tau (T. Davies 58), L. Gross (L.Fa'aoso 62), G. Kenworthy (capt, T. Luke 75), D. Griffiths, S. Grainger (T. Luke 33-37, A. Carter 40), C. Planchant.

Referee: Mr. JP Doyle (RFU)

Crowd: 2,860



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

Sport can be very cruel at times -- just ask the Cornish All Blacks. National League One's basement dwellers made third-placed Nottingham -- who thrashed them 71-3 in the EDF National Trophy only a month ago -- look pretty ordinary for large parts of yesterday's game, but they came away with nothing to show for their efforts.

They at least looked set to claim a vital bonus point as they reached the final play of the match trailing 19-12, but such was their desire to try and snatch a draw, they embarked on one last attack, rather than close the game out.

It ended in disaster, as replacement full-back Andy Birkett knocked the ball on deep in the Nottingham 22, it was picked up by winger Andy Savage and he fed centre Matt Smith, who ran 80 metres to grab Nottingham's bonus-point try and put them level on points with Exeter in the table.

Bitterly disappointed All Blacks coach Jon Hill said: "That outcome is criminal. You can't really put into words the frustration and the disappointment we are feeling after producing that level of performance.

"We dominated virtually the whole of the first half, gave away one penalty before half-time, and somehow found ourselves losing at the interval.

"Two weeks ago we would have crumbled at that stage, but character wise we have bounced back and moved massively forward. We achieved every one of our performance targets today and there were some huge individual displays, particularly from Wayne Reed and Gavin Quinnell.

"People would not have given us a chance before the game, but to get nothing out of it is a hammer blow. I just hope we can channel the frustration we are feeling into next week's game against Newbury."

The All Blacks made a very impressive start, and as against Exeter in their last outing, they camped in the opposition 22 for the opening eight minutes but without producing any points.

Nottingham looked half asleep, dropping passes and taking wrong options, and they were eventually punished for their lacklustre opening with a superb wind-assisted 48-metre penalty by full-back Jon Fabian, awarded for not binding at a scrum, to give the Cornishmen a 3-0 lead.

The All Blacks continued to take the game to their hosts. The uninitiated walking into Meadow Lane would have struggled to know which team was bottom of the table, and which was riding high in third place as Fabian made it 6-0 with another well-struck 38-metre penalty in first-half injury time.

But there was still time before the break for Nottingham to take the lead. They kicked a penalty award to the corner, and from a ten-metre catch-and-drive line-out, the green forward machine forced its way over the try line, with hooker Joe Duffey credited with the touchdown, and full-back David Jackson booting over the conversion to give them an undeserved 7-6 interval advantage.

The All Blacks were back in front only five minutes into the second half, when Nottingham were penalised for hands in the ruck after they had halted scrum-half Sam Alford's sizzling 20-metre burst, and Fabian slotted the 30-metre penalty.

Nottingham's riposte was instant, though, as their juggernaut pack, boosted by one or two backs, produced another catch-and-drive line-out move, and once again it was Duffey dotting down to make it 12-9 to the Midlanders, with Jackson pushing the relatively simple conversion wide.

Fabian could have levelled in the 65th minute when Nottingham were penalised for slipping the binding at the scrum, but he missed from 25 metres out and right in front of the posts.

Nottingham put the game virtually out of reach six minutes from time with their third try of the afternoon. Jackson was denied by a superb try-saving tackle by All Blacks' fly-half Steve Perry, but the ball was swiftly recycled and former Exeter back Ben Thompson sent fellow replacement Lee Morley in under the sticks, leaving Jackson the simplest of conversions for a 19-9 advantage.

Fabian got the All Blacks within seven points, with his fourth penalty of the afternoon, but the bonus point was cruelly snatched away in the third minute of injury time with Smith's breakaway try, converted by Jackson.

SATURDAY 29th March



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

The Cornish All Blacks bid to pull off their own version of the "Great Escape" gathered momentum after they hauled themselves off the foot of the National League One table with a superb 27-5 victory over visiting Newbury.

In a game billed pre-match as "must win" by joint coaches Jon Hill and Chris Brown, the Launceston club duly delivered with a display that not only secured their first five-point haul of 2008, but at the same time helped to avenge their narrow 24-23 defeat to the Blues at Monks Lane back in November.

From the outset of Saturday's tussle, the All Blacks quickly tore into their rivals, who -- let's be honest here -- offered little in the way of stubborn resistance or genuine threat in the Polson mud.

The Blues had headed West still coming to terms with the news earlier in the week that -- as from next season -- the club will be returning to part-time status, their playing budget will be slashed, whilst those on full-time contracts this campaign have effectively been given three months' notice.

It was hardly surprising the dejected visitors trooped out for action with very little in the way of enthusiasm or energy. The miserable conditions -- both overhead and underfoot -- it seems merely added to a dismal week for many of them.

The All Blacks, on the other hand, were revved up for action and, still frustrated with the robbery of crucial points at Nottingham the week previous, wasted little time in setting about disposing of their Berkshire opponents.

On-loan Worcester forwards Tim Collier and Gavin Quinnell led the way for the Cornish club, who took just five minutes to break the game's deadlock.

Creating a maul some 30 metres from the Newbury try-line, the home pack -- who were imperious throughout -- packed together superbly to drive Quinnell over for the opening score, which full-back Jon Fabian was unable to convert.

The proud new Dad, however, atoned for his earlier miss when he stroked over a penalty ten minutes later, before adding the extras to Pete Fisher's score on 32 minutes.

The former Exeter Chiefs centre powered his way over for try number two after Quinnell and Josh Lord had combined well to create quick ball, which in turn released Fisher to hit the line at pace. Although he was initially felled just short of the line, his forward momentum was enough to carry him over the whitewash to make it 15-0 at the break.

The lead was certainly justified based on a dominant first-half showing from the All Blacks who, on the resumption, took just two minutes to stretch their buffer by a further seven points.

Quinnell, Collier and Tom Parker were again at the heart of all things good, their rampaging runs through the heart of the Newbury rearguard allowing the home side to work the opening for winger Matt Jess to dart over in the corner. Fabian obliged with the difficult conversion.

Seemingly in control of proceedings, a brief lapse in concentration from the Cornishmen allowed Newbury to register their only points of the game, winger Tom Tombleson dotting down in the right-hand corner on 45 minutes.

That, however, would be the only bright spot on a disappointing day for the visitors.

With replacements aplenty littering the second half, the game as a whole lost part of its flow. But, crucially, the All Blacks were still able to piece together another move and with it came the all-important fourth try.

Using their forwards to punch their way into enemy territory with a succession of pick-and-go moves, the All Blacks opted to go wide once more and it paid dividends when Jess scampered his way over for his 13th league try of the season.

Further chances came and went for the home side in the dying embers of the match, but by then the Polson faithful were already toasting a vital victory.

"We're delighted with the result," said Hill afterwards. "To get the bonus point was probably the icing on the cake, but in terms of our season that is a massive win for us.

"I thought we were phenomenal throughout. We set the tone early on, we had a strict game plan and I think every one of our players who stepped out onto that pitch stepped up to the mark. Man for man -- in that sort of environment -- I just think our body language, our spirit and our work ethic was that much better.

"You could tell very early on that there was a side who were very much fighting for their lives up against a side that weren't really playing for much. Our effort and our commitment was first class and now we have to keep this momentum going.

"Today, I think, has sent out a big message and has given us a massive boost for the final weeks of the season. All of us genuinely believe that we can do this and that we can stay up."



National League 3 (South). Report from the Western Morning News.

The long journey to a National Division Three South championship is one big step closer to completion for Mounts Bay after an away victory over North Walsham this weekend.

The Cornishmen battled the elements on a 900-mile round trip to east Norfolk, but returned home with four precious league points after a hard-fought 20-5 success.

That victory allows Bay an opportunity to clinch the title with a win or draw in their next league match at home to second-placed Cinderford on April 12 -- a prospect coach Adrian Bick is eagerly anticipating.

He said: "It should come to a head nicely. You couldn't wish for a better way to settle it really -- first versus second -- facing each other in the penultimate game of the season.

"We owe them one after losing 17-0 up there. We didn't perform at all up there earlier in the season, but if you want to be outright champions of the league then you've got to beat your nearest rival."

Should Bay achieve promotion to Division Two, they may look back on this weekend's victory as a defining moment.

Winger Jon Marlin ensured a period of early pressure yielded points with a well-constructed move through the backs for an unconverted try in the corner.

The visitors extended their lead 20 minutes later when the Bay pack drove Darren Semmens over the line close to the posts, allowing Lee Jarvis an easy conversion for two extra points.

Former Welsh international Jarvis then kicked a long-range penalty just before the break, this after North Walsham were penalised for coming in from the side.

The hosts did reduce the 15-point deficit for a period in the second half when prop Stuart Loose scored an unconverted try just before the hour mark.

But the visitors wrapped up the game with the try of the game in the closing stages, however, when centre Tyron Child took advantage of some poor passing from the home side. The Kiwi ace gathered possession and ran the ball from well inside his own half to the tryline for an unconverted score.

The result and the performance both pleased Bick, who said his side adapted well to meet the demands of the game and the conditions with three well-worked tries.

"They were dreadful conditions," said Bick. "It's a long old hike and sometimes that can put you out of kilter psychologically, and they were pretty dogged opponents at times.

"It really was a game of two halves, but we played better against the wind than with it. When they had it, they would just hump it down field and we were in a lot of trouble because you just couldn't kick out of your own 22.

"Our first try was a well-constructed move, and there were few occasions where we could do that because of the conditions.

"The wind was too strong to kick into and it was a bit of a dogfight in the second half. After Darren's try, Tyron scored a good break-away try from well inside his own half to secure it."

Bay now know that one more win in either of their two remaining fixtures against Cinderford or Barking will seal promotion.





National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

The Cornish club's battle to avoid relegation has improved by one point. They still stand second from bottom but have narrowed the gap between them and Sedgley Park to four points.

It was arguably the most co-ordinated and ferocious forward display ever by the now formidable All Blacks' pack.

The All Black pack power, which gave the backs both time and space to choose their options, was nowhere better reflected than in the try scorers -- all but one of the six in the backs -- including right wing Matt Jess, who bagged a thoroughly deserved hat-trick.

Only the last score went to the forwards, replacement flanker Tinus Du Plessis scorching off the turned-over ruck on the home ten-metre line to burst right through to score.

For ten minutes it swung this way and that before the All Blacks' pack ominously began to dictate. They pushed the Esher eight back on their own ball and were rock solid on their own. With a positively frightening workrate on the fringes and in the loose, they fastened on to ball after ball and churned remorselessly forward and then released the backs with exquisite and very productive timing.

Full-back Jon Fabian kicked a penalty in the 16th minute and with him and fly-half supremo Steve Perry clearing the occasional Esher danger with booming kicks to touch, the All Blacks' 15-man machine was soon functioning smoothly and ever more relentlessly.

Esher were pushed off the scrum ball, All Blacks' wing Marc Dibble hacked intelligently on, scorching in pursuit and won the race to the touch-down for Fabian to add a fine conversion.

On the half-hour, with the Surrey club frantically trying to regroup in their 22 as they lost ruck after ruck, scrum-half Sam Alford picked up and shot away to the corner to score.

Unbelievably -- or so it initially seemed to the amazed but increasingly delighted visitors' supporters -- the Cornish side were 15-0 up.

With nearly all the play in the home half another score looked inevitable. In injury time and inside their own half the All Blacks turned to attack. Jess was passed the ball and sprinted right through the startled Esher defence to score. Fabian's conversion was wide but at half-time the All Blacks were ahead 20-0.

A flurry of home replacements and a yellow card for visiting flanker Josh Lord for a dangerous tackle didn't affect the All Blacks' unremitting assault in the least.

With lock Tim Collier in the van the pack were unstoppable. The ball came out to Perry on the home ten-metre line and the fly-half boomed a perfect diagonal kick towards the right corner with Jess blitzing through to take exquisitely and score under the posts for Fabian again to add the extras.

Esher full-back Neil Hallett occasionally looked dangerous in the line and wing Matt Moore almost broke clear but knocked on. But Esher produced just two attacking moves worth a name, although they didn't worry the All Blacks. Alford lofted another big diagonal and who was suddenly up there to take on the full-back again with a carbon copy of his earlier score and post his hat-trick? Jess, of course.

A fantastic victory was rounded off appropriately with Du Plessis's imperious charge to the line, replacement fly-half Mark Scrivener adding the extras.

A delighted Brown said: "The plan was to take it to them in the forwards and keep the pressure on them, and throughout the game that's exactly what we did.

"The core foundation was in the front five and we dominated possession and starved them of it. This is the second time in succession we've done it.

"Against Newbury we said we can't be happy with that and we'll have to raise the bar -- and we did. We'll have to do it again against Moseley on Saturday.

"When you are fighting for your lives, you have to give everything, and we did and we will."



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

Plymouth Albion were almost made to pay the penalty for not taking their chances as they came within a whisker of losing yesterday's keenly contested derby with the Cornish Pirates at Camborne's Recreation Ground.

With time all but up, home fly-half Gareth Steenson was handed the ideal opportunity to put the boot into Albion's mundane National League One campaign with a late shot at the posts.

Normally a deadly assassin when it comes to carrying out the perfect hit, the Irishman's long range effort had the direction, but not the distance and in the end Albion were able to flee the scene with a share of the spoils following an entertaining 17-17 draw.

Had Steenson -- the division's leading points scorer -- netted his late kick, it certainly would have been deemed rough justice on Graham Dawe's side who, for long periods of this encounter, carried the greater threat all round.

However, having recovered well from a disastrous start to proceedings, Albion went on to produce arguably one of their best displays of the season. Their back-row triumvirate of Jannie Bornman, Mike Denbee and Kyle Marriott were immense all game, while behind Keni Fisilau and Arran Cruickshanks caused no end of problems with their hard running through the middle of the field.

Sadly, not all of the visiting components were working quite as well as the aforementioned. Fly-half Ross Laidlaw again had a mixed afternoon with his kicking, while some key decision-making was again found wanting at crucial stages of the game.

Like Albion, the Pirates offered moments of quality, but far too often Mark Hewitt's side were happy to go through the motions and see what they could pick off.

It was a fact not lost on their leader, who admitted afterwards he was "disappointed" with his side's overall display.

Having been gifted a second-minute lead -- Welsh winger Rhodri McAtee darting over after the Pirates had capitalised on a mistake from Bornman deep inside his own 22 -- the home side never got going again until almost the hour mark.

"I thought we got our first try without doing anything," conceded Hewitt. "We had a gift given to us, but then the boys took their foot off the pedal from there on.

"I know we could have won it at the end, but I thought we were very disappointing today. If I'm honest, we played probably for about 20 to 30 minutes. When we got pace into our game we looked a decent side, but it took us 40, 45 minutes for us to actually start doing that."

Trailing to McAtee's early converted score, Albion responded well with Bornman -- who next season will be pulling on a Pirates' jersey -- leading the charge.

Laidlaw reduced the deficit with a penalty on five minutes, but then saw a second effort fail to hit the target after home centre Steve Winn had been penalised for not rolling away at the tackle area.

Another chance came and went for Laidlaw midway through the half. However, the former Saracens star atoned just four minutes later when he punished Pirates' hooker Rob Elloway for coming in from the side to make it 7-6.

With Albion pressing hard in all areas, the Cornishmen were struggling to keep the visiting advances at bay. In the end, referee Rowan Kitt lost patience with their deliberate and continual disruptions and it was flanker Chris Cracknell who was the Pirate eventually fallen foul of the law.

Cracknell departed to the cooler for a ten minute spell, but Albion were unable to make their man advantage tell and it was the Pirates who held firm until the break.

A dead leg to Pirates' skipper Tim Cowley saw him replaced at the break by Matt Evans, but the South African No.8 could do nothing to stop compatriot Bornman from giving Albion the lead for the first time four minutes into the second period.

Good early pressure from the visitors saw them camp deep inside enemy territory, then, following a couple of attempted raids on the line, it was Bornman who -- aided by a number of his fellow forwards -- dropped down for Albion's first try, which Laidlaw again was unable to convert.

The home side needed a response and it came within minutes as Steenson plundered a penalty from the edge of the 22 after former Pirate Nat Saumi had been penalised for a high tackle.

However, no sooner had the Pirates regained their slender advantage, then Albion countered once more. This time it was Winn who was deemed to have carried out a high hit. Laidlaw made no mistake to put his side 14-10 up.

Having been an attritional affair in the opening 40, suddenly the game had sprung to life. With both sides throwing caution to the wind, this time it was the Pirates who hit back. A storming break out from Vunga Lilo put Albion on the defensive, the home side pressed with a series of close range attacks, the last of which allowed McAtee to squeeze over for his second of the game, again converted by Steenson.

With time fast running out, Dawe threw on fresh muscle in a bid to rescue something out of the game. The move worked and with three minutes remaining, the visitors drew level when Laidlaw landed his fourth penalty of the afternoon.

The drama, however, was far from over and with the clock ticking to 80 minutes, the Pirates were handed one final shot at victory. Looking to work the ball left, Albion skipper Tom Hayes was penalised -- somewhat harshly -- for what referee Kitt deemed a deliberate knock-on. It gifted Steenson the chance of glory.

As the crowd hushed, the kick looked good -- that was until the final moment -- when it blew off target and into the arms of a waiting Albion player. That was effectively that.

"I banked he [Steenson] would have kicked it," admitted Dawe afterwards. "I thought it was quite a harsh penalty. Tommy put one hand up not two, but the referee has deemed it deliberate."

Thankfully for Dawe, the controversial effort missed and Albion were able to take something from the game.

"I thought we were unlucky not to win the game," added the Albion chief. "We controlled the tempo of the game for long periods, the half-backs put some good shape on the ball and the forwards responded.

"It was a good game of rugby and I'm just pleased to put in a sound performance against a good team on their own ground."

BILL HOOPER'S CORNISH ROUNDUP for 5th/6th April 2008 (from BILL'S BLOG)

SATURDAY 12th April



National League 3 (South). Report by Bill Sobey of the Western Morning News.

Another year and it's yet another promotion for unstoppable Mounts Bay.

The Cornishmen celebrated their seventh rise in eight seasons this weekend after a 28-16 victory over second-placed Cinderford at the Mennaye Field, and will now begin planning for a new season in National Division Two.

As the players celebrated afterwards with champagne on the pitch, delighted forwards coach Adrian Bick admitted the magnitude of his side's achievement had yet to truly hit home. But he looked forward to more exciting new challenges during the 2008-09 season.

He said: "This is what it's all about, isn't it -- penultimate game of the season against the runners-up going for promotion -- this is what you train for all those long, hard nights. You can just see it on the guys' faces out there, they are blown away by it.

"I think the step up to Division Two is an even bigger one than from South West One to Division Three, but the guys on the field have done it, and they've put everything in place with the win today.

"But we can't take anything away from Cinderford, who are a great team, and I can see them going up as well from the play-offs."

Indeed, the champions were made to work harder for their crown than the final score suggests.

Cinderford put Bay under immense pressure in the opening minutes, a situation which was compounded by the home side's malfunctioning line-out gifting the visitors possession and the initiative deep in Bay territory.

Although they stood firm, it took Mounts Bay a full ten minutes to break into the opposition half, but when they did they forced a penalty for offside 27 metres from goal. However, Lee Jarvis's kick drifted wide to the right.

Both sides traded blows for another ten minutes before Bay's line-out woes finally cost them. Second-rower Ben Hilton stretched to reach Jamie Salter's throw-in but could only help the ball into Cinderford hands, allowing scrum-half Tom Dickens the chance to run over the line on the left.

Although winger Danny Trigg missed the conversion attempt, he added a penalty from just inside the Bay half in the 26th minute to extend his side's lead. Jarvis, however, responded with an identical kick in the opposite direction five minutes later after a Bay penalty was moved ten metres forward inside the Cinderford half for dissent.

Bay seized momentum, and in the 34th minute scrum-half Ricky Pellow chased his own grubber kick down the right and put the receiver into touch to set up a catch-and-drive chance, but the throw-in failed to meet its target and Cinderford cleared the danger.

They didn't kick it far enough, however, as Bay came surging back, and after receiving the ball in space on the left, Jon Marlin burst down the touchline to squeeze over the line by the flag to level the scores -- Jarvis' conversion kick narrowly going wide.

However, the former Welsh international showed the class and the poise that Bay will surely miss next season after he departs for Cardiff when he put his side into the lead right on the half-time whistle with a sensational 35-yard drop goal from left flank after six minutes of injury time.

It was a canny move by the experienced fly-half which turned the mood firmly in his side's favour. Jarvis explained: "It was eight all and we were putting on a lot of pressure and not getting anything from it. I knew it was the last play of the game, and if we'd moved it we might have got turned over, so I decided to have a go and luckily it came off."

However, within three minutes of the restart, Trigg brought Cinderford level with a penalty on the Bay 22, awarded for failing to roll away. But Bay came straight back down the left with full-back Tim Mosey feeding Marlin by the touchline before the winger unselfishly offloaded to Adam Nicholls, who crashed over for the try. Jarvis then scored the tricky conversion to give Bay a seven-point lead.

And when Nicholls smashed through the Cinderford line again eight minutes later -- with Jarvis converting -- the home side felt some comfort.

This feeling increased when Jarvis punished the visitors with another measured penalty kick just after the hour mark.

Replacement Mike Wallis pulled back an unconverted try for Cinderford, but with just a minute of normal time remaining, it was only a consolation. Another Jarvis drop goal attempt, this time from well inside his own half, just fell short in the fifth minute of injury time in what would have been a memorable farewell to the Mennaye Field for the talismanic fly-half in his final home game for the club.



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

Cornish All Blacks' joint head coach Jon Hill admitted his side's 12-10 victory at Moseley was not the "prettiest of games", but he did not mind as his side hauled themselves out of the National One drop zone for the first time since October.

The right boot of full-back Jon Fabian helped edge the Launceston club another step nearer to survival, but Hill insists his side still have it all to do with crunch clashes against Bedford and champions Northampton Saints still to come.

"It may not have been the prettiest of games, but we'll take this whatever," said Hill. "At this stage of the season you're happy to grind out any kind of result and that's what we did in this game.

"To pull ourselves out of the bottom two has given us a massive boost ahead of what is going to be a massive game against Bedford next week. This result I think has definitely given us a chance, whilst Newbury's result at Rotherham (the Blues lost 71-13) has thrown them into the melting pot alongside us, Sedgley Park and Pertemps Bees."

With the Bees set to play host to Sedgley Park next weekend, the battle for survial is sure to have one or two more twists around the corner.

However, Hill and fellow coach Chris Brown are solely focused on their own team and nothing else. "All we can do is worry about ourselves," added Hill. "Of course it's nice to be out of the bottom two, it's been a while since we've been able to say that. We do, however, have a lot of hard work still to do.

"The desire and commitment the boys have shown has been outstanding and we need to keep that going. Bedford, though, is a massive game for us and I think for South West rugby as a whole."

Ironically, next weekend's tussle with Bedford will coincide with the same weekend 12 months ago that the All Blacks celebrated their promotion into National One.

"That was a huge day for the club," said Hill. "Hopefully we can have something similar again because it would be a remarkable achievement for us as a club."

Having trailed to a 13th minute penalty from Moseley fly-half Tommy Hayes, the All Blacks countered within minutes through Fabian to level the game.

That is how it stayed until a minute into the second half when the Birmingham club regained the initiative through a Nathan Bressington try, which Hayes converted.

Trailing 10-3, the All Blacks proceeded to claw themselves back into contention as Fabian slotted decisive penalties on 45 and 54 minutes to put them firmly back into the match.

Then, with 14 minutes remaining, the former Exeter Chiefs, Henley Hawks and Plymouth Albion back stepped up to land the all-important fourth penalty, this after home scrum-half Gareth Taylor had been penalised for straying offside.

Even then the visitors had to survive a few late scares, including a late Hayes penalty which, thankfully for them, drifted wide of the sticks.


SATURDAY 19th April



National League 1. Report by Dick Benson-Gyles of the Western Morning News, at Polson Bridge.

If bravery and total commitment were everything, the All Blacks should have won Saturday's vital National League One battle with Bedford at Polson Bridge.

In the end, however, it took some dogged, professional discipline from the visiting Blues, to finally sink the Cornishmen 22-18.

With time fast running out, the visitors -- leading by a fragile three points -- opted for safety against an increasingly rampant All Blacks' pack. Mike Rayer's side spent the last 12 minutes of the match in their own 22 firmly holding on to the ball, but doing nothing with it until the final whistle blew.

Now, this Saturday, the All Blacks go to champions Northampton Saints for the final league game of the season knowing they face an uphill struggle to preserve their status in English rugby's second tier. Only a fool or someone totally uninformed about league rugby would expect anything from that encounter but honourable defeat.

So, having denied the All Blacks safe passage to National One rugby again next term, perhaps Bedford might do them a saving favour on Saturday and beat visiting anchor club Pertemps Bees, who also still have an outside chance of avoiding the drop.

The other club in the scramble to escape relegation is Sedgeley Park and they entertain Rotherham, so the All Blacks' fate now lies in the hands of others as well as their own.

On Saturday, though, the All Blacks had an unfortunate start to their match with the Blues, who were 14-0 up after 19 minutes.

The visitors not only had a powerful easterly wind behind them, but they possessed a zippy set of backs who passed the ball swiftly, several times setting up two-man overlaps. They also peppered the home 22 with high kicks and mounted a series of running attacks.

It was from one such raid that flanker Mouritz Botha peeled off from a close-in ruck to force his way over for the opening score on six minutes.

Then, shortly after, centre Tom Youngs took a neat inside pass from full-back James Pritchard to slice through unopposed for a second touchdown. Canadian international Pritchard, who spent a season with Plymouth Albion, added the extras to both tries to leave the home side 14 points adrift.

However, as they have been showing in recent weeks, the All Blacks are prepared to put up a fight in their bid to beat the drop and, just minutes before the break, they claimed a crucial score when leading try-scorer Matt Jess sped round from deep in one of his rocket-fuelled runs to leave the visiting defence just sniffing the smoke.

By the 50th minute the deficit had been cut to three points following two penalties kicked by full-back Jon Fabian after persistent, furious onslaughts by the home forwards.

Bedford, though, inched themselves further ahead soon after with a penalty of their own from Pritchard. Then, just after the hour mark, the visitors struck with a second try from Botha, the South African forward powering over the line after some well-worked rucks.

The home fightback now started in earnest. The forwards tore into the visiting eight with such intensity that the men in blue began to look a bit frantic and tired. Three times they pulled down the maul until a penalty try was awarded which Fabian converted.

Just four points in it, the All Blacks came again and again, but once they had got possession Bedford clung onto it for dear life, recycling and recycling close in until time ran out.

Joint head coach Chris Brown commented: "We were dominant in the scrums and our set-piece was very good and we had our chances to take the game. But a poor start cost us dear. That said, to come back from 14-0 was very good. It was crucial that we got the next score after that, and we did.

"Our pack dominated the exchanges, but early on Bedford took their tries very well. Having viewed the video I think we can count ourselves unlucky to have conceded so many free-kicks at scrum time.

"We've battled extremely hard this season. It's still not over and fortune favours the brave. We did everything we could to beat Bedford and I salute the players' efforts in recent weeks."



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly was full of praise for his side as they returned to winning ways in National League Two with a convincing 22-5 victory away to Henley Hawks.

After back-to-back defeats against Otley and Manchester, the Reds responded to Hambly's pre-match rallying call by plundering four tries in this latest encounter at Dry Leas.

"Five points away from home, you can't be too disappointed with that," said Hambly at the final whistle. "It was a little bit scrappy in places and Henley competed hard for the ball, particularly on the ground."

Two tries in first-half injury time saw the Cornish visitors take a 17-point advantage into the break. However, it did not provide the same springboard as it did back in December, when the Reds ran riot in the second period to run out 44-5 victors against the Hawks.

"To be 17-0 at half time you think they're gone," added Hambly. "Then we came out straight after half time and scored again as we wanted to. From there I thought we could have put them to the sword, but credit to Henley they stuck in there well."

Redruth got off to a flying start when a dominant scrum saw skipper Craig Bonds enter the line on the blind side to create space for winger Lewis Vinnicombe, who stood up his man well before crossing for a well-taken try in the corner.

Vinnicombe, who has struggled for top form since a shoulder injury last December, looked to be back to form, relishing work as he was almost over in the left hand corner a few minutes later.

Dominating the opening half hour, Redruth had enough chances to be well clear of the struggling Hawks, but small errors including a number of knock-ons close to the line, again let them down.

"As a coach, the good thing is that we are making chances," added Hambly. "When we get a little bit of confidence back we will put those chances away. I would be a lot more concerned if we were not making chances."

A Redruth error, however, then allowed Henley to set up camp in the visiting 22 for a while. Despite strong pressure, the Reds held firm, defending their line with a series of forward drives against the home side's giant pack.

Again, Hambly was pleased with the Redruth defensive effort and paid tribute to former Pirates' coach Jim McKay for the input he has given.

"We defended well," he said. " Jim has worked real hard on defence with us. Our defence has improved greatly in the last two months since Jim has been here."

With the game four minutes into injury time, Redruth's pack forced Henley to concede a five-metre scrum. And, from the ensuing play, PJ Gidlow attracted the home defence before the ball was recycled and long passes from Mark Richards and Paul Thirlby gave Vinnicombe space to race over in the corner for an unconverted try.

With the interval looming, Thirlby then cut the Henley midfield to pieces before setting up former Henley player Steve Wood to touch down under the bar for Gareth Griffiths to add the extras.

Again Redruth started the second half with purpose and after good work by the forwards to take play into the home 22, some blind side play ended with Griffiths crossing in the right-hand corner for an unconverted try.

Relegated and with only one win since Christmas, Henley were struggling. They did, however, show they still have some fighting spirit when England Counties hooker Liam Wordley finished a long arching run by Jim Farndon to touchdown an unconverted try in the 50th minute.

The score certainly lifted Henley for a period, although the Reds came close to adding another try late on when lock Neil Corin looked to be racing over in the left corner. However, the play was recalled for an earlier forward pass.

With the Reds playing host to Nuneaton in their final league game of the season on Saturday, Hambly is hoping to round off the season in style for the club's supporters.

"You cannot praise our supporters enough, they clapped the team on the field and it really gave the players a real buzz," he added. "They were awesome today and I'm pleased we went out and won well for them. All the supporters are welcome to come on the field (after Saturday's game with Nuneaton) and have a drink with the players after the game. We'll buy some beer and celebrate the season with them."



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

Cornish Pirates' head coach Mark Hewitt had challenged his team to finish the season with a bang after two poor performances against Rotherham and Plymouth Albion. His words, however, clearly fell on deaf ears as the Pirates offered little more than a whimper in a 29-20 reverse at Moseley.

In the aftermath of the Albion draw, Hewitt had promised to shake up his starting line-up and duly delivered with a new half-back pairing of Rhodri McAtee and Ollie Thomas, while Brian Tuohy, Peter Cook and Matt Evans were all handed starting spots.

The changes counted for little as the Pirates were undone inside a minute. In disarray following a fumbled pass by Paul Devlin, home centre Jack Adams -- on loan from Premiership side Gloucester -- seized on the ball before tearing through the visitors' defence to set up Adam Caves, who was halted inches short of the line.

However, quick ball and twinkling hands transferred play to the opposite flank where wing Charlie Sharples, another product of the Gloucester liaison, ghosted home to score. Fly-half Tom Hayes converted to make it 7-0.

The Pirates were clearly rocked by the early intensity offered by Moseley and struggled to impose themselves on the game. Ollie Thomas, making a return to his former club, struggled to find any control in the blustery conditions, whilst their set piece rarely looked comfortable against a combative home pack.

Indeed, it took almost half an hour before the Pirates finally found their footing. When they did, it yielded points as McAtee's sniping and darting forced a line out deep in Moseley territory. With possession secured, the Pirates set up a driving maul and shunted the Midlanders into submission, with flanker Chris Cracknell claiming the score.

The respite, though, was a brief one as uncertainty at the restart gifted Moseley a penalty which Hayes was able to convert.

Again the Pirates responded, Thomas atoning for his missed conversion, when he slotted a 45-metre penalty just before the break.

Whatever was said in the Pirates dressing room at the break had little effect as Moseley added 12 further points in a frantic six minutes at the start of the second period.

Turnover ball from Matt Evans prompted Ali James to launch the first assault with the impressive Adams touching down.

Then, with Iva Motusaga guilty of surrendering possession as a Pirates' attack broke down, the impressive Adams turned provider, this time for Nathan Bressington.

At 22-8 down, the Pirates were in deep trouble and were saved further embarrassment by referee David Rose three minutes later as his whistle denied home prop Nathan Williams a further try.

Hewitt had clearly seen enough and this prompted the coach to withdraw the mis-firing Thomas in favour of Exeter-bound Gareth Steenson.

Within minutes the switch paid dividends as Steenson set up Tuohy to glide home under the posts. With the Irishman's conversion in the bag, there was now just one score between the sides.

What followed was simply bizarre. With Welshmen Steve Winn and McAtee departing the scene through injury, the Pirates were further hampered when they lost both replacement props to the sin-bin within seconds of each other for offences on the floor.

Sam Heard may have deserved to see yellow, but Alan Paver can count himself unlucky. The numerical advantage quickly told and flanker Ollie Atkinson crashed home from close range to score a fourth try.

Further yellow cards followed for Chris Cracknell (Pirates) and Adam Caves (Moseley) followed a minor scuffle, while Heard redeemed himself by claiming another Pirates' try with the very last play of the game.

Afterwards, a disappointed Hewitt remarked: "That was poor from us today. There were too many individual mistakes and they scored early tries in each half from our mistakes. Having said that, I thought we played some decent stuff at times and although they (Moseley) were really up for it, we should be coming to places like this and winning."



National League 3 (South). Report from the Western Morning News.

Mounts Bay were given a guard of honour befitting the league champions at the start of Saturday's game against Barking.

It was, however, the only respect they were shown the whole game by the home side, who themselves are fighting for their own survival on the bottom rung of the National League ladder.

Ultimately, it was clear which side wanted the win and which side was already dreaming of next season, with the home team running out 16-14 winners on a blustery and numbing afternoon in Essex.

Bay's coach Ricky Pellow held his hands up after the game and took the blame for what was an error-strewn performance, saying his side had been guilty of easing off after clinching promotion to National League Two by beating Cinderford the previous weekend.

"We were a bit too relaxed in the week," he said. "We should have had a lot more focus on what was happening this weekend. We let our tempo drop completely compared to how we usually prepare and it showed in the game."

In truth, Mounts Bay never really looked like winning the game. Despite their pack dominating the line-out and strong running from the backs, notably Andrew Cheung-Fook, they were guilty of too many handling errors and ill-discipline in the face of constant pressure from the safety-seeking home side.

That said, they nearly went into the half time interval ahead after a topsy-turvy first half. Bay were 3-0 down after just six minutes, but reacted well to take the lead after 20 minutes. A sustained period of pressure, led by a powerful maul into the 22, eventually broke out to where the Bay were waiting on the left. Despite strong defence from the home side, they could not hold back flanker Adam Nicholls as he powered over the line.

The pendulum then swung back in favour of Barking, who raised their game and hit back six minutes later, when fly-half Harry Owens, scorer of the penalty, added a drop goal. But he then missed two more penalties in the trying conditions and Mounts Bay were perhaps expecting to get to half time ahead.

It was not to be. In first-half injury time a grubber kick from Owens bamboozled the whole Bay team, eventually allowing centre Aaron Hopkins to touch down for a 13-7 lead.

In the second half, Mounts Bay had the blustery North Sea wind in their favour, but it did not seem to do them any good. They made little progress, hampered by the same ill-discipline as seen in he first half and a resolute Barking line which was playing, as indeed it was, as though their league status depended on it.

The home side held firm until eight minutes from the end of normal time, when towering lock John Griffiths bundled over for Bay's second score, converted by Jamie Semmens.

But it was not to be, as Bay's lack of composure saw them concede a late penalty, duly converted by Owens. Despite ten minutes of injury time, the home side held on to signal huge celebrations.


SATURDAY 26th April



National League 1. Report by Dick Benson-Gyles of the Western Morning News, at Franklin's Gardens.

So, it has all ended in tears for the Cornish All Blacks -- one season in National Division One and they're back down in Division Two with it all to do again.

They fought like tigers in this last league match of the term at Franklin's Gardens, but their fate rested not on the result of this game (they lost 81-0) but on whether the other relegation candidates -- Pertemps Bees and Sedgley Park -- won or lost.

One cannot escape the conviction that both Bedford (at home to the Bees) and Rotherham (away to Sedgley), both safe, had no stomach for competitive rugby last weekend, because Bees and Sedgley (with their biggest league triumph of the season, 41-12) both won. So the All Blacks were sunk and will meet Bees, also demoted, again next season.

The Saints, back up in the Guinness Premiership and unbeaten in all matches in 2007-08, put on a firecracker display to which the All Blacks just had no answer.

It was an on-field demonstration of the considerable gulf in playing standards that exists between the Premiership and the rest. There was nothing the Blacks could do. They battled ceaselessly and always looked to attack and move the ball about and even came close several times, but the Saints' defence was a solid, unbreachable wall and their attacks and counter-attacks were swift, slick, clever and deadly.

The visitors certainly held their own in the set-scrums but everywhere else they were really up against it. However, they were by no means disgraced -- despite the score -- and to a man showed a tremendous fighting spirit. Yet after being whitewashed with 13 tries, they must have been gutted to then find that both Bees and Sedgley had won and that they were relegated.

Behind the perennially bright, upbeat image that joint head coach Chris Brown always presents to the world, you could detect a desperate sadness at the fate of his All Blacks. He said: "Northampton were absolutely in a different class. They were incredible. They were thoroughly professional, a Premiership squad. They were an education, and we will learn from the experience.

"But I'm extremely disappointed at the way the other results went today. Bedford losing at home to Pertemps Bees was incredible, while Sedgley Park against Rotherham recording their biggest win of the season! Well, you do wonder.

"But the season is over 30 matches. We gave it our best shot and I'm very, very proud of my players. We were so close but so far. Now we've got to keep the squad together but there are bound to be casualties. But I'll certainly continue to coach, if I'm asked to."

Northampton with their £2 million budget can afford the best players -- and they were on show on Saturday and ran in scores from everywhere. By the interval they were 31 points to the good, with right wing Chris Ashton (who ended with a personal tally of six tries), getting a hat-trick, skipper Bruce Reihana (who finished with four touchdowns) added another, as did fellow Kiwi Mark Robinson.

By the final whistle the Saints' skipper had also added six conversions, three kicked before the break.

An even bigger blitz rained down on the All Blacks in the second half when the Saints added another 50 points to their total, the scorers being Ashton and Reihana, centre Joe Ansbro and replacements John Brake and Stephen Myler.



National League 1. Report by Mark Stevens of the Western Morning News, at Camborne Rec.

London Welsh were stunned by a devastating opening blast from their Cornish hosts. Just 36 seconds had been played when a quality break-out from Rhodri McAtee and Paul Devlin cut open the Welsh rearguard, before the latter looped a pass to his right to Tongan winger Vunga Lilo to cross in the corner.

Less than two minutes later and the home faithful were on their feet again as flanker Iva Motusaga sped off down field from the restart before releasing James Moore, who turned on the after burners to scorch his way to the line for a 10-0 lead.

Both tries went unconverted by fly-half Ollie Thomas who, it has to be said, did not have his best game in a Pirates jersey.

Having been dazed by the Pirates' initial blast, London Welsh finally began to find their feet. A series of scrums brought them to within sight of the home 22 and, following an initial rush from Fijian lock Wame Lewaravu, prop Aaron Liffchak was close at hand to pick up and drive over for a try, which Matthew Jones duly converted.

Jones was then able to repeat the dose on 20 minutes when more solid approach work from the impressive Welsh pack helped to create a three-man overlap on the right for full-back Paul Sampson to glide in under the sticks to make it 14-10.

Again, though, the visitors immediately shot themselves in the foot from the restart when they were penalised for obstruction. This time Thomas had no trouble finding his target as he slotted a penalty from the edge of the 22.

That was certainly the good side of Thomas, but what followed just moments later was definitely the bad as his attempted clearance was charged down by former Exeter flanker Simon Etheredge, who happily lapped up the loose ball to claim try number three, which was again converted by Jones.

Again Thomas tried to make amends. First he attempted an audacious drop-goal chance from near halfway, then failed twice with two penalty attempts, the latter of which saw visiting No.8 Hywel Jenkins depart to the sin-bin which had been occupied just a minute earlier by home prop Alan Paver.

With both sides temporarily down to 14 men, it was the visitors who continued to look the more threatening and, with three minutes to the break, they extended their advantage when they made the most of some powder-puff home defending to release on-loan Saracens' winger Noah Cato for the all-important fourth converted try.

Forced to withdraw skipper Steve Winn at the break because of an injury, the Pirates -- just as they did in the first half -- sped out of the blocks as McAtee again weaved his magic to set up Motusaga for a well-worked try that made it 28-18.

The trusty right boot of Jones edged Welsh a little further ahead with a penalty on 51 minutes, but with the Pirates forced to play catch-up rugby and the remainder of the half littered with replacements from both sides, the game failed to hit the same heights in the second period.

Indeed, the only moment of genuine excitement came with just a minute remaining when Pirates' replacement Brian Tuohy sped down the left flank, only to be felled just short of the line by a great cover tackle by Sampson.

It was -- in the end -- a disappointing conclusion to the season for the Pirates and their coach Mark Hewitt. "We always knew it would be a hard game," he said. "We wanted to finish on a high and we spoke this week about this hopefully being a springboard for the start of next season. It wasn't to be and fair play to them, they played really well on the day.

"When they got their game going they really caused us problems. They were very physical and it told in the end."



National League 2. Report by Bill Hooper of the Western Morning News, at Redruth.

With Trevithick Day going on down the road in Camborne, Redruth in their end-of-season National League Two game against Nuneaton -- which they won 39-16 -- tried to create their own carnival atmosphere.

They did this, not just on the field, but also in the air, as the match ball arrived courtesy of a Sea King helicopter from RNAS Culdrose.

Off the field of play, 87-year-old Raymond Dunstan received the supporter of the year award, while prior to kick-off, PJ Gidlow was presented with the supporters' player of the year shield. He then went on to produce a man-of-the-match performance to cap his well-merited award.

Nuneaton kicked off playing down the slope towards 'Hell Fire corner', and both sides looked to spread the ball wide on a warm, spring afternoon on a pitch well suited to running rugby.

Redruth gradually asserted themselves after the opening skirmishes with Gidlow, as always, right in the thick of the action, bursting through in midfield.

More fine play saw skipper Craig Bonds powering towards the Strawberry Lane corner, narrowly failing to find Lewis Vinnicombe who had come across off his own wing.

It wasn't long before Vinnicombe was again in the thick of the action: a concerted Redruth attack saw play switched through various phases, before Gidlow flipped a delicate lob pass to allow the winger to fly in for a try in the scoreboard corner after 13 minutes. Fly-half Gareth Griffiths was unsuccessful with the conversion.

Nuneaton looked to get back on level terms, but they were guilty of squandering promising positions. However, following a lengthy stoppage due to an injury to Nuneaton lock Ben Griffiths, Redruth took a firmer grip on the match with a second try.

Scrum-half Mark Richards found a good touch on the visitors' 22 and, as Redruth snaffled the line-out, quick ball along the line saw Gidlow breach the defence to find the fast-arriving Vinnicombe on hand to score his second try after 21 minutes, Griffiths this time converting.

Gidlow continued to catch the eye with his tremendous work rate all over the pitch. Redruth were soon in the visitors' 22 again with a line-out up towards the scoreboard corner. As both sides fought for control of the ball, Redruth lock Neil Corin burst away to score a third try for the Cornish club after 26 minutes, Griffiths' conversion attempt again failing.

With three tries in the bag, Redruth appeared to lift their foot off the gas as they allowed Nuneaton to score on the half-hour mark. The try came following some fine inter-passing among their forwards, which allowed loose-head prop Kevin Davis to cross. Fly-half Rickie Aley added the conversion, leaving Nuneaton just ten points adrift.

The Reds roared back downfield and another flowing move saw Vinnicombe taken out as he chipped for the corner. From the resulting penalty, Redruth looked to set up a catch-and-drive. The move, however, broke down when Nuneaton infringed in front of the posts, allowing Griffiths to increase Redruth's lead after 38 minutes with a penalty.

The score was 20-7 at half-time and the Reds were slow to settle after the break as Nuneaton pinched a couple of scores.

First there was a neatly taken drop-goal by Aley on 41 minutes, before the same player also kicked a penalty five minutes later.

Stirred into action, the home side broke forward through flanker Steve Wood, a revelation in recent matches, but with only No.8 Mark Bright in support the flanker was penalised for holding on.

Wood then had to go off with a blood injury to be replaced by Chris Fuca -- and further disruption came for the Reds as lock Neil Corin earned a yellow card for entering at the side of a maul. Despite being a man down, though, Redruth increased their lead on 52 minutes as Gidlow followed up a charged-down kick from Nuneaton's 22 to score the bonus-point try in the corner. Griffiths kicked a fine conversion to stretch the lead to 27-13.

Nuneaton kept plugging away and Aley reduced the deficit with another penalty after 69 minutes.

Redruth, though, were not in the mood for any party poopers, as Griffiths, well-served by Richards, showed a good turn of pace to score under the posts after 72 minutes and then convert his own try.

A sixth try came after 75 minutes, scored down in Hell Fire corner by Bright, with Gidlow once again in the action leading to the score. There was still time for the irrepressible Gidlow to line up his opposite number with a big hit to cap his fine all-around display.

Reflecting on the season as a whole after the match head coach Nigel Hambly felt the match summed up the season: "Could have done better".

His highlight of the season was the performance at Otley. Although that was a defeat, he was very proud of the character his side showed. The low point, the well-documented events at Cambridge.

Plans are already in hand for next season. Adrian Edwards is joining Redruth as team manager, which will lift some of the burden from Hambly's shoulders, allowing him to concentrate on the coaching side.

Although set to lose Rudolph Meredith, Hambly looks forward to welcoming back PJ Gidlow and Mark Bright next term.





County Shield, Saturday 3rd May 2008, at Redruth Recreation Ground. Report by Mark Stevens of the Western Morning News.

He was the man who famously guided Cornwall to County Championship glory at Twickenham in 1991. Now, some 17 years later, Dave 'Benji' Thomas has taken on a new assignment with the Black & Golds, one he hopes will bring similar reward.

Having been coaxed back into the coaching frame earlier this year, Thomas' latest brief is similar to that of days gone by, namely to get the Cornish rugby folk heading back to the nation's capital later this month.

Unlike last time, however, the experienced coach has also been entrusted with trying to lead Cornwall back to the top table of county rugby following a couple of seasons languishing in the duldrums.

On Saturday, the new era began in fine style as Cornwall ran riot in their opening County Shield fixture of the season, dispatching visiting Oxfordshire 66-8 at Redruth's Recreation Ground.

As Thomas remarked afterwards "it was the dream start" and he was not wrong. Unlike recent campaigns, Cornwall were back firing on all cylinders with a performance which was packed full of pride and passion.

In the end the Cornishmen -- made up solely of representatives from Mounts Bay, Redruth and the Cornish All Blacks -- ran in 11 tries. It could, however, have easily been more, such was the dominance they held throughout the whole game.

The first of those scores came after just three minutes, Redruth centre Simon Peters intercepting a pass deep inside his own half before racing to the line for Mark Scrivener to add the necessary extras.

The visitors briefly countered with a penalty from fly-half James Cathcart, but that was just one of two scoring openings they would get all afternoon as Cornwall wasted little time in re-establishing their grip on proceedings.

With the home pack -- led superbly by skipper Josh Lord -- ruling the roost, Cornwall were given the perfect platform from which to launch numerous attacking options. Indeed, with ten minutes on the clock, Ben Hilton's line-out take on the left helped to set up a series of drives involving Darren Jacques amd John Griffiths, before the ball was fed out to the back division where winger Lewis Vinnicombe -- darting in off the right flank -- cut a lovely line to slice open up the Oxfordshire rearguard for a second time.

Scrivener extended Cornwall's lead to 15-3 moments later with a penalty, before Redruth pair Mark Richards and Vinnicombe scored two tries in four minutes, the latter converted by Scrivener, to leave Oxfordshire with a mountain to climb.

To their credit, the visitors dug deep for a period and, just before the break, their efforts were rewarded when they caught the home side napping in defence. Winger Nick Sevier crossing for what was to prove their only remaining points of the game.

However, there was still time for Cornwall to add a fifth try in first-half injury time when Lord and Scrivener combined to good effect to create the opening for Redruth flanker Chris Fuca to ghost in under the posts. Scrivener's successful conversion brought proceedings to a close with the home side firmly in control at 34-8.

Any thoughts that Cornwall would be happy to shut up shop for the second period were extinguished within six minutes of the restart when Vinnicombe picked up a lovely line once again to race over for his hat-trick score.

Mounts Bay winger Jamie Semmens could have heaped further misery on the visitors shortly after, but the full-back was unable to hold on to Ryan Westren's inviting pass just metres from the line.

In the grand scheme of things, it did not really matter. However, Cornwall were far from finished and when their pack proved too hot to handle just past the hour mark, referee Nigel Higginson finally lost patience with Oxfordshire's numerous attempts to kill a driving maul and awarded the home side a penalty try which, somehow, Semmens was unable to convert.

With the game safely in the bag, Cornwall used the final quarter of the game to showcase their skills. Lord -- who together with Cornish All Blacks club-mate Sam Hocking were the stand-out performers for the Duchy -- weaved his way over for try number eight, quickly followed by Semmens, who applied the finish to a slick handling move which had been worked from one side of the field to the other.

Both scores went unconverted, as did Marek Churcher's touchdown four minutes from time. On this occasion, the lack of a recognised goalkicker, following the replacement of Scrivener due to cramp, was not too much of a concern. It will, however, need to be addressed for later in the competition.

Semmens did finally get one between the sticks when he converted Jason Bolt's injury-time score. Started by a great turnover by Adam Nicholls just inside his own 22, Cornwall worked the ball down field through at least eight different pairs of hands to Bolt who, in an unaccustomed role of left winger, made the most of the space out wide to charge over.

For Thomas, it was the ideal outcome on his return to the county scene. "Who would have believed it would have been 60-odd points?" he remarked at the final whistle.

"It was a dream start and one that we aimed for. It was one that the players aspired to. They have worked really hard this week in training and in their organisation.

"I impressed on them this week all about the pride and passion in playing for Cornwall and that showed out on the field as all 22 of them gave 110 per cent and I thought our performance at times was out of the top drawer."

With Hertfordshire next up at Hertford this Saturday, Thomas knows tougher tests lie in store for his young side. However, this opening-day victory -- he believes -- has set the tone nicely for a successful push for Twickenham. "This is the first block of stone if you like," he added. "We have two more games and next week we know will be much harder. We will, though, go away with a bit of a spring in our step and know we can build off this.

"It was a solid foundation for us and, one of the pleasing things for me was, the backs and forwards integrated very well. We saw some lovely tries by the backs, then we saw Jason Bolt -- the replacement loosehead -- running 30, 40 yards down the left touchline to score a try, so I think that really epitomised the way we tried to play today."





County Shield, Saturday 10th May 2008, at Ware, Hertfordshire. Report by Nigel Walrond, of the Western Morning News, at Hoe Lane.

Cornwall have taken their passionate and loyal fans on a real rollercoaster ride in recent seasons, delighting and frustrating them in almost equal measure.

Performances like the one against Devon two seasons ago, last year against Surrey, and nine days ago when thrashing Oxfordshire have put smiles on the faces of Trelawny's Army.

However, the 2006 display against Hertfordshire, the humiliating defeat at Somerset last year, and now this latest shocker, again to Hertfordshire, have left them pulling their hair out in despair.

When a whole squad of National League players lines up against one containing only four plying their trade at that level, the result should be a foregone conclusion. Yet, once again, as they did at Highfields two seasons ago, Cornwall showed a baffling propensity to press the self-destruct button.

Some of the rugby they produced on Saturday was sublime: Mark Richards' beautiful reverse pass to send Mark Scrivener in for the first try after only 95 seconds; a dazzling second try for winger Matt Jess as he jinked and weaved his way past a whole host of defenders to reach the line; and Ryan Westren's stand-out performance in the centre were just some of the moments to relish.

However, some of their rugby beggared belief. Overthrown line-outs five metres from their own line; setting off on suicidal runs from deep inside their own 22 when a simple clearance kick to touch would have sufficed. At times, it was brainless.

Hertfordshire deserve plenty of praise for once again raising their game and capitalising on Cornwall's blunders to secure a victory by an almost identical score to two years ago, when it finished 31-27, but for Dave "Benji" Thomas, who guided the Duchy to County Championship glory in 1991, it was a reality check after the previous weekend's dream start.

"We made three very, very silly mistakes during the first half near our own line and they scored three tries, and you cannot afford to give those points away at this level, and we need to look at tightening up in those areas," he said.

"We knew it wouldn't be a stroll in the park, after what happened to Cornwall here two years ago, and we were determined to play an all-out attacking game like last week, but give Hertfordshire full credit. They did their homework on us and stopped us early on and kept us playing in areas we didn't want to play in, and we didn't get as much ball as last week."

Despite the defeat, Cornwall's hopes of finishing top of the group, winning promotion and going to Twickenham are still, pretty much, in their own hands.

Victory over an unbeaten Eastern Counties at Camborne on Saturday should see them achieve their goal, by virtue of a far superior points difference, provided that Hertfordshire do not run up a cricket score at home to Oxfordshire.

Cornwall could not have got off to a better start on a very hot and humid day in Hertford, with Scrivener converting his second-minute try for a 7-0 lead, but then matters started to become a struggle as the hosts caused problems in the scrums and line-outs.

Hertfordshire responded in the 12th minute when flanker Ian Hardcastle broke off the back of a 25-metre line-out, bursting through a couple of tackles before sending scrum-half Ryan De La Harpe over for a try. Fly-half Richard Gregg squandered the conversion, but that proved to be his only miss of the afternoon.

Cornwall moved 12-7 ahead when a clever miss-pass by Westren sent All Blacks flyer Jess tearing around the last defender to touch down in the corner, but they were then hit by a two-try blast from home skipper and Henley Hawks No.8 Dave Archer.

He firstly capitalised on an overthrow at a close-range line-out to dive over, and then dotted down off the back of a five-metre scrum.

Gregg converted both to make it 19-12 at the interval, and then added a 40-metre penalty soon after the break as Cornwall failed to capitalise on their extra man after De La Harpe had been sin-binned in first-half injury time for throwing a punch.

The All Blacks' monopoly on Cornwall's points-scoring continued in the 51st minute when Richards spotted Westren's beautifully-timed run, and he fed his Polson team-mate Jess for his brilliant solo effort, with Scrivener adding a fine conversion.

Gregg gave Hertfordshire some breathing space with two more penalties to make it 28-19, but when Westren went over under the posts after a neat pass by replacement fly-half Marek Churcher in the 76th minute, and full-back Paul Thirlby converted to make it 28-26, Cornwall's hopes were rekindled.

Gregg, though, slotted another penalty, and his side then produced some desperate defence during eight long minutes of injury time to hang on for another amazing victory over far more illustrious opponents.

Trelawny's Army ran a coach to the match. Here are some pictures taken, on the coach and at the match, by Phil Trevarton.





Saturday 17th May 2008, County Shield Southern Group match, at Camborne Rec. Report by Mark Stevens of the Western Morning News.

Cornwall are back at Twickenham after demolishing Eastern Counties 43 - 0 at Camborne on Saturday. They will play Northumberland in the final of the County Shield on Sunday 1st June (K.O. 10:00 a.m.).

London is calling for the first time in years for Cornish rugby, for the famous Black and Golds will be back at Twickenham after they booked their place in the final of this season's County Shield following a comfortable 43-0 success over Eastern Counties on Saturday.

Not since 2001 -- when they tackled Yorkshire in the Tetley Bitter Challenge -- have the Duchy graced the home of English rugby. That, as the title makes out, was merely a friendly encounter after the County Championship had been called off that season because of the foot and mouth crisis.

Since then, Cornwall have endured lean times within the county structure, including surrendering their spot within the main Championship group. Instead it has been near neighbours Devon who have emerged as the leading lights and Twickenham regulars.

It has certainly been a tough pill to swallow for many members of Trelawny's Army, but on Saturday their loyalty was rewarded when their heroes not only sealed their final date against Northumberland on June 1, but also their place back in the Bill Beaumont Cup.

For returning coach Dave 'Benji' Thomas -- the man who steered Cornwall to glory over Yorkshire at Twickenham in 1991 -- Saturday's success was just the first part of what he hopes will be a memorable second spell in charge.

Knowing nothing less than victory would be good enough following their defeat at Hertfordshire the week previous, Cornwall wasted little time in getting stuck into their Eastern counterparts, who had arrived in the Far West with an unblemished record.

Indeed, it took just three minutes for the home side to bag the first of their six tries. With Richard Carroll brought into the fray for the first time in the campaign, the experienced Mounts Bay lock quickly set the tone for the day's proceedings.

He -- along with his fellow forwards -- tore into the visitors in a lively opening blast, one which created the opening for the home back line (made up predominantly from the Cornish All Blacks) to deliver their first score.

Quick ball from Mark Richards at the base of a ruck saw it shipped along the line through Messrs Scrivener, Perry and Westren to the onrushing Matt Jess, who needed no reminding on how to cross the whitewash.

Fly-half Mark Scrivener bagged the conversion, before adding the extras to a try from No.8 Sam Hocking on nine minutes, then a penalty midway through the half after full-back Paul Thirlby had been upended by a high tackle.

It was certainly a dream start for Cornwall, who continued to boss all facets of the game, particularly the breakdown. It was therefore no surprise when they extended their advantage to 24-0 when more good donkey work from the home pack enabled Richards to feed Steve Perry, whose looping pass in midfield found the onrushing Jess, who in turn offloaded to Thirlby just yards from the line.

Three minutes later and the Redruth full-back was claiming his second of the game, this time finishing off more good approach work involving Westren and Scrivener, the latter of whom converted once more to make it 31-0.

It was one-way traffic and -- with half time fast approaching -- Cornwall claimed their fifth try of the game. Having won a penalty, Scrivener kicked for the corner. The resulting line-out was taken by Carroll and, when the shove was applied, it was lock Ben Hilton who emerged from the bottom of the pile clutching the ball.

At 36-0 down, the stunned Eastern Counties side could well have packed up there and then. Indeed, things got even worse when they fell further behind just five minutes into the second half.

A loose kick out of defence had Cornwall's Lewis Vinnicombe tracking back deep inside his own half, but when the Redruth speedster turned on the after burners, no one could stop him as he scorched his way to the line. Scrivener landed the conversion with his last telling action of the day.

With the game effectively done and dusted at that point, the second half somewhat deteriorated as a spectacle. Replacements aplenty littered proceedings, while some resolute home defence ensured the visitors were to return home empty handed.

Not that Thomas was complaining too much at the final whistle. "I'm delighted," he said. "The boys played fantastically well, especially in the first half. It was textbook stuff and you couldn't have asked for any more.

"They were really fired up for it. They were disappointed after last week and disappointed for all the supporters who went up to Hertfordshire to support them. They were determined to put things right."

Cornwall certainly did that with some style, but Thomas knows there is still much work to be done in the coming days.

"I am very lucky to have been to Twickenham three times, unfortunately losing twice and winning once," added Thomas. "But we are in a professional era and I have had to re-learn coming back in to try and set things up in Cornwall.

"What is better than getting back into Division One of county rugby, where we rightfully belong? I bet there are people up at Twickenham tonight rubbing their hands thinking 'Cornwall are back'."

More pictures.


Cornwall: 15. Paul Thirlby (Redruth), 14. Matt Jess (Cornish All Blacks), 13. Ryan Westren (Cornish All Blacks), 12. Steve Perry (Cornish All Blacks), 11. Lewis Vinnicombe (Redruth), 10. Mark Scrivenor (Cornish All Blacks), 9. Mark Richards (Redruth), 1. Darren Jacques (Redruth), 2. James Salter (Mounts Bay), 3. Danny Clackworthy (Mounts Bay), 4. Ben Hilton (Mounts Bay), 5. Richard Carroll (Mounts Bay), 6. Josh Lord (Captain, Cornish All Blacks), 7. Adam Nicholls (Mounts Bay), 8. Sam Hocking (Cornish All Blacks)
Replacements: 16. Ricky Pellow (Mounts Bay), 17. Jamie Semmens (Mounts Bay), 18. Darren Semmens (Mounts Bay), 19.Paul Andrew (Mounts Bay), 20. John Griffiths (Mounts Bay), 21. Chris Fuca (Redruth)

SUNDAY 1st June



Sunday 1st June 2008, County Shield Final, at Twickenham. Report by Nigel Walrond of the Western Morning News.

Cornwall coaching co-ordinator Dave 'Benji' Thomas admitted his side had been made to pay for their mistakes as they went down 25-11 to Northumberland in yesterday's County Shield final at Twickenham.

Cornwall conceded two tries in each half, but Thomas felt three of the scores were self-inflicted. Poor tackling and a woeful clearance kick provided Northumberland with their first two tries, while a crossfield kick caught Cornwall napping for the fourth and final touchdown, provided by winger Peter Cole.

"We gave away 17 points without any question at all," said Thomas, who suffered his third defeat in four Twickenham finals with Cornwall. "We were in it, except for those mistakes, but at the next level up, you can't afford to make mistakes like that. You've got to be absolutely watertight.

"We are disappointed for all the spectators who came to support us. What a turn-out of Cornish people it was, and they gave the team their complete backing, but we didn't play to our potential by any means."

Thomas was impressed with the way Northumberland played, but revealed he had been frustrated with some of the decisions made by ref Richard Phillips.

"Northumberland were a very well-organised side. They won the breakdowns and we lost a lot of ball in contact, and that was the deciding factor.

"We've been bossing the breakdowns in the other games we've played this season, but we didn't do that today. Perhaps I was not as happy as I might have been (with the refereeing of the breakdowns), and the decisions went against us, but you have got to play with what you get. We didn't have the ball to make the platform to get people moving."

Despite the disappointment, Cornwall can look back on a successful campaign, where they have won promotion back to the top flight, and their goal next season is to play in the main County Championship final, which enjoys a later kick-off than the 10am start they had to endure yesterday.

"At the end, the players said that they had given five weeks of their close season up to play for Cornwall, and they'd like to do it again, so I said 'okay, let's come back for a 12 o'clock kick-off next year'. That's the target," said Thomas.