The Senior Leagues 2008-2009

A summary of the 2008-2009 league season

This page summarizes the league games involving Cornish clubs in National League 1, National League 2, and SW2 (W) that took place in the 2008-2009 season. (There were no Cornish clubs in National League 3 South or SW1 this season.)




National League 1. Sunday 31st August, at the Camborne Recreation Ground. Report from the Western Morning News.

Cornish Pirates' head coach Mark Hewitt insists there is still "plenty to work on", despite seeing his side kick off their National One campaign with a 48-5 victory over Newbury at the Recreation Ground.

Although content with large parts of his side's showing, Hewitt knows the Pirates could – and should – have inflicted a much heavier beating on the Blues.

Seven tries on your first run-out of the new season is without doubt a healthy return, but at least six more scoring opportunities were squandered by Hewitt's side.

"We got five points, so that was pleasing," said Hewitt at the final whistle. "There are, however, lots of little areas we can work on. We probably blew four or five opportunities in the first half, so that was a little disappointing.

"That said, lots of things worked well and let's give credit to Newbury as well because they didn't give up. They played for the full 80. As I said, we're pleased with the five points, but there is plenty to work on."

That fine tuning work will begin in earnest over this coming week as the Cornish club will ready themselves for action at Coventry this Saturday.

"I watched Coventry at Plymouth on Saturday and they are another team, like Newbury, who have gone through a bit of turmoil over the summer," added Hewitt.

"They made Albion work very hard and they'll be competitive. For sure next week will be a lot sterner test for us, but if we are patient then we should be able to go up there and get the correct result."

Ahead of kick-off yesterday, Hewitt was forced to make a late change to his starting line-up when summer signing Aisea Havili was forced to drop out because of injury.

With the Tongan international sidelined, Rhodri McAtee was promoted from the bench and the Welshman did not disappoint as he turned in a highly impressive display on the right wing.

It was, however, fly-half Doug Sanft who set the ball rolling for the home side as he struck a seventh-minute penalty to break the game's deadlock .

Four minutes later and the Pirates were adding to their tally with the first of their seven tries. A line-out on the right touchline saw the ball worked along the line to Winnan, whose burst created a yawning gap in the Newbury defence.

As the cover closed on Winnan, the Pirates' skipper cleverly chipped the ball back inside for winger Marika Vakacegu to collect and dot down for the try.

Further chances came and went for the home side, before they finally added a second try on 33 minutes through French powerhouse Bertrand Bedes.

The imposing No.8 – who scored tries in the pre-season games against both Redruth and Almaviva Capitolina – picked up from the base of a five-metre scrum before easily brushing aside the attentions of Newbury fly-half Gareth Griffiths to touchdown.

The score signalled the now obligatory blast of 'La Marseillaise', whilst Sanft added to Newbury's misery by bagging the conversion to make the score 17-0.

Although down, Newbury were far from beaten and straight from the restart they hit their Cornish hosts with a clever counter-attack, which saw Griffiths send an inch-perfect grubber kick in behind the home defence for winger Matt Humphries to dive on in the left-hand corner. Sadly, that would be Newbury's one and only joy for the afternoon as the Pirates underlined their superiority either side of the break.

Former Newbury flanker Morgan added a second converted try on the stroke of half-time, before McAtee got the all-important fourth score on 54 minutes when he jetted in off the wing to finish off a slick move from the home backs.

With the five points assured, the Pirates used the final quarter of the game to rub salt into Newbury's already gaping wounds.

Another scything McAtee break helped lay the foundations from which the Pirates recycled another attack at pace to send replacement hooker Darren Dawiduik over in the right corner to make it 36-5.

Winnan bombed another certain try on 64 minutes, before the home side wrapped proceedings up with late efforts from James Moore and Winnan, the latter of which was converted by Moore.

All in all it was a sound start for Hewitt's men, but the Pirates are well aware they will face much stormier seas in the coming weeks.




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

Redruth thrilled their supporters with a well deserved win over one of the pre-season favourites for promotion to National League 1 -- Birmingham & Solihull Bees, one of the fully professional teams in the league this season -- getting their season off to the best possible start.

There were many in the Redruth side who caught the eye, none more so than winger Nathan Pedley, who helped himself to four tries in a man-of-the-match performance. Pedley, who has fought his way back to fitness after injury last season, was quick to play tribute to his team mates, especially full back Rob Thirlby whose pace helped create three of Pedley's tries. The former England 7's star was back to his brilliant best; he gratefully took the opportunities that came his way as the visitors persisted at kicking the ball towards him, to launch rapier like counter-attacks, linking up time and again with wingers Pedley and Lewis Vinnicombe, creating havoc in the visitors' defence. The Bees persisted with the tactic, eventually paying a heavy price for it!

The forwards also shone: the front row of Darren Jacques, Owen Hambly and Ashley Morcom helped secure the platform and a steady stream of possession at the set piece, with the confidence to go forward in the loose play as well. It was good to see James Mann back in the side at No. 8 after his long-term injury problem; he also shone on the day.

Redruth kicked-off playing up the slope, taking the game to the visitors. However, they had an early blow when second row Richard Carroll was injured after only 3 minutes. Despite returning after treatment Carroll was eventually forced to retire, Neil Corin taking his place.

Redruth got the early score they sought as fly-half Mark Scrivener landed a drop goal, via an up-right, after 5 minutes. It got better, when 2 minutes later scrum-half Mark Richards was on hand to score the Reds' opening try following a powerful drive from a line out in the scoreboard corner. Scrivener couldn't add the conversion.

Stung by the Reds' bright start the Bees stormed back, earning a penalty, which former Doncaster Knights fly-half Mark Woodrow kicked to pull back 3 points. The game ebbed and flowed one way and then the other as both sides looked for an opening, Richards clever kicks time and again earning the Reds promising positions to attack. From one of these the Reds were awarded a penalty after a Bees player was penalised for dangerous use of the boot. Scrivener's attempt sailed towards the posts as the Bees' players stood seemingly transfixed, the ball cannoned off an up-right back into play, to be gleefully gathered by Pedley, who had followed up to score the Reds' second try of the game to thunderous cheers from the home crowd; Scrivener's conversion giving the home side a 15-3 lead after 24 minutes.

The visitors pressed until half-time and were rewarded with a couple more penalties, kicked by Woodrow, to leave the Reds 15-9 up at the break

The Bees started the second half in a determined mood. However, the Reds' defence held firm under the tough examination. Indeed it was the home side who stretched their lead after 48 minutes when they turned the ball over near their own line to launch a blistering counter-attack through Thirlby, leading to Pedley scoring his second try of the match in the Piggy Lane corner to put the Reds 20-9 up. Redruth then rammed home their advantage as Pedley scored his third and fourth tries of the afternoon, with Scrivener adding a conversion to put the home side in what appeared a commanding position of 32-9 up with only 15 minutes left to play.

To their credit the Bees never let their heads drop, scoring three tries in that period through winger Simon Hunt, lock Ed Orgee and full back Reece Spee, Woodrow kicking two of the conversions. Suddenly the Bees were in touching distance at 32-28 as the game slipped into time added on. Home nerves were calmed as Scrivener kicked a penalty to confirm the Reds' opening day success.

A delighted Nigel Hambly was pleased with his side's opening day performance, especially against a full-time outfit like the Bees. He was full of praise for his team's defensive display when they were under the cosh and had to tough it out; equally that they took their chances to score when they came along. Hambly also paid tribute to the crowd's support. He will now focus on next Saturday's "Cornish derby" down at the Mennaye, when Redruth take on Mount's Bay it what is sure to be a pulsating encounter.

Redruth 35 pts: Tries Pedley (4), Richards; Conversions Scrivener (2); Penalty Scrivener; Drop-goal Scrivener.

Birmingham & Solihull Bees 28 pts: Tries Hunt, Orgee, Spee; Conversions Woodrow (2); Penalties Woodrow (3).

Redruth: R. Thirlby, L. Vinnicombe, C. Bonds (P. Thirlby 51), PJ Gidlow (capt, B. Priddey 68-72), N. Pedley, M. Scrivener, M. Richards; D. Jacques, O. Hambly, A. Morcom (P. Joyce 49), R. Carroll (N. Corin 3-11, 30), L. Collins, N. Pascoe (B, Priddey 80), C. Fuca, J. Mann (D. Roberts 58).

Birmingham & Solihull Bees: R. Spee, S. Hunt, S. Young, C. Mitchell, J. Aston (M. Culpin 78), M. Woodrow, S. Brown (R. Petty 66); M. Long (A. Lawrence 77), B. Phillips (T. Collett 66), C. Voisey, A. Davidson, E. Orgee, R. Connolly (capt), J. Preece (J. Jenner 36), R. Earnshaw.

Referee, Mr. N. Higginson (RFU)



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

When Cornish Pirates' captain Adryan Winnan stated during pre-season: "I never again want to come off a pitch having lost because we have played poorly" he probably did not expect his resolve to be tested quite so soon into the new campaign.

You cannot blame Winnan for this dire National League One performance by the Pirates in the mud bath which passed for the Butts Park Arena and you certainly cannot blame the thoroughly unseasonal elements for they were the same for both teams.

But this unexpected reverse against the kind of side which head coach Mark Hewitt has repeatedly warned must stop was nothing short of an embarrassment as they now focus on a huge clash with Exeter Chiefs next Sunday.

Afterwards Hewitt said: "We set our stall out to come away and not lose this type of game. Fair play to Coventry, they played the conditions far better than us. We went out there in the first half and the players did not execute what we had set out to do so consequently we ended up chasing the game after the break. They scored a late try off an interception because we were chasing the game but we should never have been in that position.

"We turned the ball over too often, played in the wrong areas and played into their hands effectively. We were very naive and a few players need to be accountable for their actions."

Indeed in a game in which very little happened it was a surprise that the Pirates suffered their first "nil" since the infamous 56-0 drubbing at Brickfields against Plymouth Albion in April 2004. The contest for the most part was marked with frequent and aimless aerial bombardments punctuated with futile foot races to secure small tracts of territory. This coupled with protracted hand to hand struggles in midfield did little other than run down the clock and frustrate the referee – Mark Wilson.

After a bright opening five minutes for the visitors Coventry edged ahead in the tenth minute as centre Ronnie McLean-Dents slotted a routine 20-metre penalty between the posts. The Pirates were handed an immediate opportunity to respond as Coventry were penalised for an offence on the floor but Samoan fly-half Doug Sanft wasted his kick from a similar distance, drifting it wide of the far post.

McLean-Dents increased his team's lead mid-way through the half with another penalty as Bruce Cumming strayed offside and with the Pirates struggling to string together any coherent phases of meaningful possession, it took them until three minutes from the break to seriously threaten the Coventry line. Only an unfortunate knock-on by scrum-half Nicky Griffiths denied a rampage to the posts inspired by Sam Heard and Heino Senekal.

The Pirates attempted to up the pace after the break, but Jimmy Moore, on as a replacement for the injured Rhodri McAtee, missed a second penalty attempt for the team.

Despite near total dominance in the line-out, where Senekal, Ben Gulliver and Bertrand Bedes reigned supreme, and a scrum only ever troubled by the whistle of Wilson, the frustrated Cornishmen were unable to gain the upper hand.

Wasteful tactical kicking by Griffiths prompted his replacement, whilst Sanft never managed to put distance on his kicks during a performance he will want to forget. And with eight minutes to go McLean-Dents completed his hat-trick of penalties with a 30-metre effort.

In a last desperate finale the Pirates went for broke but were held at arms length by a determined home side. Myles Dorrian's interception try deep into stoppage time as the Pirates counter-attacked from their own 22, simply rubbed more salt into the wound and McLean-Dents' conversion with the final kick of the match put the lid on a thoroughly forgettable performance from the Cornish Pirates.



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Their big weapon, a super-charged pack, did the business in Essex, giving the All Blacks the best possible start to their season in National Division Two – a five-point win.

Joint head coach, Chris Brown, said: "We got the bonus point – that is very pleasing. I feel that the game was won in the pack, where we had control of the set-pieces and of the ball and that gave us the platform for attack.

"The conditions were very difficult, it was very windy, so we knew that if we could play the conditions and hold on to the ball, we would take points. I knew the conditions were not conducive to running rugby.

"There were some very good performances, not the least from No.8 Mike Myerscough, who had his best game for the club and was dynamic in the loose, in his ball-carrying and in the line-out. And the debutants too played well – hooker Glenn Cooper, centre Mal Roberts and fly-half Adam Staniforth."

The visitors looked to have the match sewn up by half-time when they led 20-5, but in the second period with the wind against them and Southend desperate to come back and trying to run the ball, the All Blacks saw their advantage whittled down to five points with just minutes to go.

Then almost on time they launched the crucial attack – a penalty kick to touch, a line-out won by lock Steve Pape, the ball spun out to the backs and replacement flanker Josh Lord waiting wide out. When wing Marc Dibble fed him, he crossed in the corner to increase his side's lead to ten points.

Southend did manage a long-distance, injury-time penalty goal from fly-half Ben McKeith but the final whistle sounded straight after and the All Blacks had a valuable win in the bag.

The Cornish pack were soon in familiar rolling, rumbling, recycling mode, but it was the Essex boys who opened the scoring, with an 18th-minute try from wing Mark Billings after a recycled move.

The All Blacks hit back immediately, driving upfield to allow Staniforth to slot a good penalty. Seven minutes on and the visitors had stretched their lead to 10-5, the forwards driving a good 35 metres constantly recycling to send in flanker Sam Hocking for Staniforth to add the extras.

In a match littered with penalty awards, Staniforth landed his second, and just before the break Myerscough scored. The pack drove 25 metres to the line, for the No.8 to touch down. Staniforth kicked the conversion and at half-time the All Blacks had a useful 15-point advantage – despite Myerscough (backchat) and lock Tim Collier (illegal use of foot) having earned yellow cards.

Home full-back Andrew Frost landed a simple penalty early in the second half but the game was then stalemated for 20 minutes before the Cornish moved further in front. Their pack now looked to be on top and they mounted yet another unstoppable recycling drive.

Within striking distance, the ball was released wide and the astute Lord was waiting to round things off with a try in the corner. There was no conversion but the All Blacks led 25-8 with ten minutes left.

Southend gave their visitors a late fright, aided by a lot of wind-assisted possession, and their replacement wing Danny Cleare crossed on the end of a backs move. Frost converted and the hosts seemed to be getting on top.

With three minutes left on the clock Southend played the All Blacks at their own game and drove strongly forward, recycling, and No.8 Tim Stannard went over, so there were just five points in it.

The All Blacks realised their victory was under threat and decidedly reimposed their dominance with Lord's second try.



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Mounts Bay endured a rare losing start to the season as their Division Two debut ended in defeat, 14-7 at distant Tynedale.

The Bay endured an exhausting ten-hour drive to the far north east corner of the realm, and then took on their newly-promoted counterparts in atrocious conditions, where the elements tended to favour the hosts when it mattered.

Tynedale were indebted to a freak bounce of the ball out of a puddle for their first try and took advantage of a slip by the Bay cover for their second before the Cornishmen mauled over for a try of their own late on to at least gain a bonus point for their troubles.

"It was the same for both teams but their tries were fortunate and I would like to think that on a drier day we would have beaten them. I know we will have harder games than this," said head coach Adrian Bick.

"It was frustrating in the conditions and there were a lot of mistakes but we're on a learning curve," added Bick. "Some of the boys have only lost two or three times playing for Mounts Bay so it's a winning culture and we've maybe got to get into a different mindset."

Tynedale scored first on 23 minutes when an innocuous kick ahead barely bounced out of the sodden pitch, wrong-footing onrushing Bay full-back Josh Matavesi and allowing winger Robert Miller to hack on and win the race for the line. Rob Miller converted to give the home side a 7-0 lead going into the second half, with the rain getting heavier by the minute.

The Cornish forwards had been more than a match for a meaty home pack but their early dominance after the break counted for nothing when Miller scored on 53 minutes after new boy Dan Hawkes slipped in the tackle, allowing the Tynedale full-back to skip over from ten metres.

Mounts Bay got their bonus-point try with minutes remaining after flanker Steve Dyer claimed the first touch as the Cornish packed rumbled over the line for Hawkes to convert.

Bick accepts that his side's failure to adapt to the conditions contributed to defeat against a side that seldom looked worth their seven-point margin of victory.

He said: "We should have kept the ball and played the phases but at the same time, Tynedale may also have thought they didn't perform because of the conditions."

The Penzance club face another 1,000 mile round-trip in October when they travel to Blaydon but before then face tough matches against Birmingham and Stourbridge after next week's historic showdown with Cornish rivals Redruth.

"That will be a massive game for us, with personal battles between people who know one another. It's going to be interesting," said Bick.




National League 2. Report by Bill Hooper at the Mennaye Field, Penzance.

Played in glorious late summer sunshine on an excellent playing surface in front of a good-sized crowd, the first of this season's "Cornish Derbies" went the way of the visitors, Redruth, who travel the short distance back up the A.30 with all five league points safely secured. Mounts Bay will have been left in no doubt, as they probably already realise, that this season is likely to be about survival as they come to terms with life in National League 2.

One of the main areas giving Mounts Bay cause for concern is their lineout, as coach Adrian Bick readily acknowledged after the match, having lost as many as seven line outs during the first half before finally securing some ball after nearly 37 minutes! However, he was much happier with his side's scrumaging, as he should be with his scrum-half Greg Goodfellow, as well as his back three Josh Matavesi, Mika Mua and Billy Harriss, who when given ball are a potent threat to any side.

Also of concern will be the penalty count his side conceded during the match. Mounts Bay will no doubt have a good look at the video this week and then seek to re-group as they travel to Stourbridge for next Saturday's league match, another side to have lost their opening two matches.

It was perhaps an omen of things to come as fly-half Dan Hawkes' kick-off failed to go the required ten meters, immediately handing the advantage to Redruth. The visitors were soon on the attack deep in the Bay 22 as scrum-half Mark Richards found a good touch in the clubhouse corner. Bay's hooker Danny Clackworthy's throw failed to find his man. Redruth snaffled the ball, moving it out wide at pace, allowing full back Rob Thirlby to come into the line and score in the scoreboard corner the Reds' first try after only 2 minutes, Scrivener's excellent touchline conversion adding the extras.

Mounts Bay, urged on by the home support, tore into the Reds from the re-start, though play remained largely scrappy, as both sides were guilty of errors. Eventually the home side were awarded a penalty after 9 minutes as Redruth failed to stay on their feet at a ruck. Unfortunately for Mounts Bay, Hawkes' effort re-bounded from a post and Redruth cleared their lines.

Redruth suffered a setback when winger Lewis Vinnicombe was forced to leave the field, having suffered a knock to his head after 18 minutes. Mounts Bay continued to concede further penalties, with Scrivener increasing the Reds' lead to 13-0 after 29 minutes. Mounts Bay finally got on the board after 31 minutes when Redruth again went off their feet, Hawkes kicking the penalty. Almost from the re-start Redruth upped the pace and struck, a break by Scrivener, who found skipper PJ Gidlow bursting up through the middle before off loading to fellow centre Craig Bonds, who scored under Bay's posts. Scrivener's conversion put Redruth 20-3 up.

Yet again Mounts Bay tore into the visitors with Ben Hilton claiming the re-start ball and charging towards the Reds' 22, but errors again stifled Bay's attack. At long last Mounts Bay started to get some joy in the lineout, especially through flanker Brett Stroud. There was some recompense before half-time for Mounts Bay as Hawkes kicked a second penalty to leave his side trailing 20-6 at the break.

It didn't get any better for Mounts Bay early in the second half as Redruth extended their lead with Scrivener kicking his third penalty as Mounts Bay were guilty of not rolling away from the tackle area. Hawkes' mixed day with the boot, as with much of his play, continued as another penalty attempt sailed wide of the posts after 47 minutes.

Redruth appeared to switch off momentarily as Bay's Scottish scrum-half Greg Goodfellow, who had a fine match and was deservedly named Bay's man-of-the-match, carved a great line through the Reds' defence to create a try for winger Mika Mua on 51 minutes. Hawkes' conversion gave the home support hope of a possible comeback.

Stung by the score, Redruth upped the pace. However, handling errors continued to blight the Reds' domination. Their task was made slightly easier as Mounts Bay's prop Tim Mathias was yellow carded on 58 minutes as Mr. Gammage's patience finally ran out.

Both sides brought on bench players to freshen up their attacking options. Paul Thirlby thought he was in at the Newlyn Gate corner, only to be brought back for going into touch.

With the return of Mathias Bay chipped away at the Reds' lead with a third Hawkes' penalty after 73 minutes to trail by just 23-16.

Any worries that the Redruth supporters had that their team would throw away the result were quickly smoothed as their side ran in two tries in the last few minutes: first Paul Thirlby, this time making sure of a try in the Newlyn Gate corner which Scrivener converted, before scrum-half Mark Richards made a blindside break following a scrum down in the same corner to score his side's fourth try, thus securing the all-important bonus point.

Reds' coach Nigel Hambly was a reasonably happy man with his side's second win of the season, although he was disappointed at the number of chances (at least six, he felt) that his side had "bombed". He felt that his side hadn't reached the heights that they had set themselves, and was disappointed with the try they conceded. It's a measure of the standards that Redruth have set themselves this season that, despite taking maximum points from their opening two league games, they feel that they can perform even better.

Next up for the Reds, Blaydon make the long trip down to the Recreation Ground. They too have won both their opening games and taken maximum points, so something will have to give next Saturday.

Mounts Bay 16 pts: try Mua; conversion Hawkes; penalties Hawkes (3).
Yellow Card Mathias 58 minutes.

Redruth 35 pts: tries Rob Thirlby, Bonds, Paul Thirlby, Richards; conversions Scrivener (3); penalties Scrivener (3).

Mounts Bay: J. Matavesi, B. Harriss, S. Parsons, A. Birkett (C. McCrae 61), M. Mua, D. Hawkes, G. Goodfellow (M. Malloy 77); T. Mathias, D. Clackworthy (B. Taylor 70), B. Pow, B. Hilton, J. Griffiths (capt), B. Stroud, S. Dyer (A. Filde 62-68, D. Seymour 77), F. Cliverd.

Redruth: R. Thirlby, L. Vinnicombe (P. Thirlby 18), C. Bonds, PJ Gidlow (capt,), N. Pedley, M. Scrivener, M. Richards; D. Jacques (A. Morcom 77), O. Hambly, P. Joyce, R. Carroll (D. Cook 70), L. Collins, N. Pascoe (N. Corin 70), C. Fuca, J. Mann.
Replacement not used: B. Priddey.

Referee Mr. D. Gammage (RFU)



National League 2. At Polson Bridge. Report from the Western Morning News.

The Cornish All Blacks maintained a perfect start to their National Division Two season with a four-try 22-20 victory over Cinderford, but joint head coach Jon Hill realises they must up their game if they are to win through tougher challenges ahead.

The All Blacks found themselves 10 points behind within 15 minutes at Polson Bridge, but the home side accelerated into a 12-point lead with four tries in the middle third of the match through Mike Myerscough, Tony Roques, Mal Roberts and Tim Collier, with one Jon Fabian conversion.

However, two late tries from the visitors set up a nervy end to a game that appeared to be in the bag just past the hour mark as Cinderford came close to punishing the All Blacks for a series of missed opportunities.

Hill said: "We caused problems for ourselves through some sloppy errors, some quite strange decisions when we had numbers. But at the end of the day, if you can play that badly and still get five league points our supporters would accept that every time – although as coaches it's hard to take.

"When we raised the intensity and had a quick and effective breakdown we blasted them and they couldn't live with it. There's plenty of things to work on but we'll take the five points knowing we can be a better side than that. The schoolmaster's report will be that we could do better."

Cinderford, in contrast, took their chances well and began the scoring when centre Tim Stevenson slipped through the All Blacks' line for a try converted by winger Danny Trigg.

Trigg then extended their lead in the 15th minute with a 30-yard penalty moments after fly-half Adam Staniforth missed a similar opportunity for the hosts.

However, a turning point arrived in the 25th minute when prop Andy Deacon was shown a yellow card for killing the ball. Roberts exploited the extra space with a piercing run from midfield, with Myerscough eventually finishing after the ball arrived through further good play from Staniforth and full-back Fabian.

And just as Cinderford got 15 men back on the pitch after the interval, lock Rob Fidler was sent to the sin bin, again for killing the ball. Ten minutes of All Blacks' pressure was finally converted into points when Roques crossed after following up Fabian's superb run for the line to the right of the posts.

Staniforth was unable to convert, but more points soon followed as the All Blacks camped near the Cinderford try-line. A third home try arrived when Roberts found a rare gap through to the line for a try skilfully converted by Fabian from the touchline.

The bonus point was won when Collier forced his way over after Roques had won line-out ball in the far right corner for another unconverted try.

However, the jitters started when Paul Knight brought a try back for Cinderford moments later. And the situation was compounded when home skipper Keith Brooking was ordered off for having hands in the ruck.

Replacement George Evans later finished a fine Cinderford move in the left corner, leaving Freddie Burns a tricky pressure kick to level the scores.

Fortunately for the Cornish side, that kick floated wide and the points were secured. And although Hill was impressed by the endeavour of both sides, he hopes to see his own side develop a more clinical edge in the coming weeks.

He said: "Cinderford were a good side, they were well drilled and played the percentages, but we made them look better than they were. Fair play, they exploited us at times. They deserve more than one league point but we could have killed them off if we'd been more successful kicking at goal. We've missed out on nine points which would have put us in the clear, and if the other missed opportunities had been taken, the scoreline would have been very different. We showed a lot of guts and endeavour throughout the game, it was just our poor execution at times."

Mike Myerscough stretches to score the first All Black try. Photo by Paul Farrington/



National League 1. Report by Bill Hooper at Camborne Rec.

At half-time on Sunday I was sure I could hear the sharpening of cutlasses' down in the Pirates' dressing room, whether it was coach Mark Hewitt preparing his side to walk the collective plank or the crowd about to mutiny, whatever was said appeared to have desired effect to bring about (almost) a remarkable turnaround.

It looked pretty dire for the Pirates. Trailing their visitors by 22-3, it seemed that the home side had not fully digested the manner of their defeat at Coventry the previous Saturday. The second half performance apart, it looks as though coach Mark Hewitt is going to have to re-think the role of his principal play-maker -- on yesterday's performance Doug Snaft looks short on confidence in another less than average display. The Pirates mid-field had trouble dealing with the Chiefs inside-centre Matt Cornwall, who sliced through the cover at times with alarming ease, only last ditch cover saving the day. Under such pressure the Pirates infringed, allowing former Camborne favourite Gareth Steenson six successful penalties to add to his two conversions for a 22-point haul on his return to Cornwall. To cap it all the Chiefs have probably got the deadliest finisher in the league in winger Josh Drauniniu: once again yesterday he exhibited his silken skills.

After initial domination by Exeter during the opening moments the Pirates earned a penalty after 6 minutes about 40 meters out, but Snaft got under the ball and his effort fell well short of the sticks. Exeter were soon back down field attacking towards the score board corner. An Exeter penalty was reversed as another former Pirate flanker Chris Cracknell was reprimanded for illegal use of the boot.

The deadlock was broken after 16 minutes with Steenson's first successful penalty kick after Pirates' centre Paul Devlin was caught holding on. The Irishman doubled the score seven minutes later with his second penalty. Three minutes later, Cornwall once again broke the line, slipping the pass to his on-rushing full-back Sean Marsden who scored the Chiefs' first try to the right of the posts. Steenson was on target with the extras and the Chiefs had daylight on the scoreboard at 13-0. Steenson added a third penalty before Snaft finally succeeded with a penalty from in front of the Exeter posts after 33 minutes. However, it was the Devonians who through Steenson with his fourth and fifth penalties headed for the changing rooms 22-3 to the good.

Steenson missed with an early penalty chance at the beginning of the second half, before Snaft managed to double the Pirates' score with his second penalty on 46 minutes. The Pirates changed their flankers with Matt Evans and Chris Morgan making way for Bruce Cumming and Iva Motusaga.

The Pirates began to lift their game as the Chiefs came increasingly under pressure. A catch-and-drive in the clubhouse corner saw the Pirates rumble towards the line, with Motusaga crashing over for the try on 55 minutes. Snaft's conversion gave the crowd hope as they roared their side on. Further Pirates' pressure saw Exeter's skipper No. 8 Richard Baxter sent to the bin for deliberately slowing the ball at the tuck. Snaft slotted the resultant penalty and the Pirates were within striking distance at 22-16.

The Pirates then saw a promising attacking scrum in front of the Chiefs posts lost as defending scrum-half Kevin Barrett desperately kicked the ball out from the base of the scrum. Pirates No.8, Frenchman Bertrand Bédès, looked open mouthed at Mr. Kitt, who incredibly waved play on. "Merde alors!"

Rankled, the Pirates sensed their prey as they drove remorselessly at the Chiefs, especially Bédès who tore into the Chiefs as he gave a man-of-the-match performance with his powerful drives. The Pirates got a penalty following a dangerous tackle on one of their players, which should have seen the Exeter player expelled from the field. Another lineout in the clubhouse corner saw the ball moved infield before Motusaga powered over to score his second try of the afternoon. After Snaft's conversion suddenly with just over five minutes to play the Pirates led 23-22.

Hopes of an improbable win lasted barely a few minutes as Cornwall picked up a loose ball, finding Drauniniu tearing down the touchline as he brushed aside the tackles to score in the park gate corner of the ground. Steenson's conversion together with a penalty left the Pirates with nothing from a remarkable second-half showing. If only they could have played like that in the first half!

The Pirates now face a long trip up to Yorkshire when they take on promoted side Otley next Saturday, looking for a performance and a result to get their season back on track.

Cornish Pirates: A. Winnan (capt, R. McAtee 80), M. Vakacegu, P. Devlin, T. Luke (S. Winn 62), A. Havili, D. Snaft, E. Fairhurst, A. Paver, R. Elloway (D. Dawiduik 67), S. Heard (D. Seal 44), H. Senekal, B. Gulliver, M. Evans (I. Motusaga 21-28, B. Cumming 44), C. Morgan (I. Motusaga 51), B. Bédès.
Replacement not used: N. Griffiths.

Pirates' scores: tries Motusaga (2); conversions Snaft (2); penalties Snaft (3).



National League 1. At Camborne Rec. Report from the Western Morning News.

Exeter fly-half Gareth Steenson kicked his former club into touch as his 22-point haul helped the Chiefs to a hard-fought 32-23 victory over the Cornish Pirates.

On his first return to Camborne's Recreation Ground following his move east this summer, the Irishman plundered six penalties and converted tries from Sean Marsden and Josh Drauniniu to ensure the Devon club got back to winning ways following their home defeat to Leeds a week ago.

The Chiefs, though, were made to sweat as their Duchy hosts turned around a 22-3 half-time deficit to lead 23-22 with just seven minutes remaining. However, no sooner had the Pirates brought themselves back into contention, they shot themselves in the foot as a missed tackle by skipper Adryan Winnan allowed Fijian flyer Drauniniu in for a match-winning score.

Steenson banged over the extras to that score, plus a late penalty, to thwart his former employers from a deserved bonus point.

Understandably, Chiefs' Director of Rugby, Pete Drewett, was thrilled with the outcome of yesterday's derby tussle. He said: "This is my third season at the club and every game we've had against the Pirates is always a cracker.

"You would have thought after that first half we had an element of control, but you have to give great credit to the Pirates. They know this pitch very well, they played intelligent rugby, and they got back into the game and were winning by a point. What a game!

"Their ball retention was very good in the second half. They maintained possession and put us under real pressure. Every time we got the ball back we gave it away too easily, so it was only when we got more control and started playing more sensibly that we got the try, which in the end was crucial."

Drewett hailed Drauniniu's late touchdown, adding: "Josh can make something out of nothing. You can hear the crowd thinking that nothing is going to happen, but then a moment later he's run 30 metres, beaten three people and scored a try. He's a special talent."

But whilst Drewett and the Chiefs were left to celebrate a memorable victory, opposite number Mark Hewitt bemoaned a disappointing opening 40 in which his side were simply not at the races.

Had the Pirates played like they did in the second period for just part of the opening half, then Hewitt could today be reflecting on a notable scalp for his troops.

Instead, poor decision-making, a lack of discipline and a failure to take charge up front, ensured the visiting Chiefs were able to take full command.

Home fly-half Doug Sanft – who, it has to be said, had a mixed display – had the first chance of the game, but his penalty effort on six minutes fell well short and the Chiefs were able to clear without too much alarm.

At the other end, the Chiefs saw a penalty chance reversed by referee Rowan Kitt four minutes later for illegal use of the boot by former Pirate Chris Cracknell. However, Steenson was finally awarded his first shot at goal on 16 minutes when centre Paul Devlin was penalised for holding on.

Steenson made no mistake with the 25 metre attempt, then repeated the dose on 23 minutes when home prop Alan Paver was penalised for not binding at a scrum.

Worse followed for the Pirates as a searing break from Matt Cornwell through the heart of the Cornishmen's midfield saw him offload to the onrushing Marsden, who dotted down just to the right of the sticks for Steenson to convert.

Steenson's deadly right boot administered three further telling blows before the break as the Chiefs turned round 22-3 up – the Pirates' sole reply coming from a Sanft penalty.

With the wind at their backs in the second period, and no doubt a few home truths still ringing in their ears, the Pirates emerged early for the second half determined to put up some kind of fight.

A second Sanft penalty cut the deficit on 46 minutes, before the home faithful were brought to their feet on 55 minutes when – following a lineout on the left – the home pack combined to send flanker Iva Motusaga over for their opening try, which Sanft converted.

The try ignited the Pirates both on and off the field and as the half wore on, so did the pressure on the those from across the other side of the Tamar.

Finally, one indiscretion too many led to referee Kitt banishing Exeter skipper Richard Baxter to the cooler for ten minutes. Although team-mate Kevin Barrett could consider himself lucky not to be punished for blatantly kicking the ball out of the base of a home scrum just five metres out.

With Baxter sidelined, Sanft dispatched the resultant penalty to make it 22-16 to the Chiefs.

As the verbal jousting amongst the supporters increased on the sidelines, on the field the Pirates cranked up the gears a little more. Now with the ascendancy, another lineout move on the left saw the ball worked back inside before it was slipped back to Motusaga on the blindside and the Samoan barged his way to the line.

Now just a point in it, Sanft cooly stepped up to deliver a sublime touchline conversion to put his side in front for the first time.

Even then, the drama had not subsided as the Chiefs snapped up a loose ball to release Cornwell who in turn fed Drauniniu on the left. With men still to beat, the Fijian simply applied the gas before brushing aside the attentions of Winnan to score with five minutes remaining. Steenson's late blows merely did the rest.

A disappointed Hewitt remarked: "You can't give a side of that quality a 22 point start and we did. Our tactical decision making and our kicking game in the first half were poor. We also infringed too much around the breakdown and it gave Steenson soft shots at goal.

"After the break, though, we were smart and we had total control of the game. We did the right things and we took our opportunities. But then we go and miss a tackle and they get back into the game.

"Like I said, losing always hurts. We'll go away again this week, do a bit more soul searching because we have another tough game again next week at Otley. There will be an expectation on us to win that game, but it will be a hard assignment for us. We are under pressure for sure to get a result."




National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

The Cornish Pirates may have returned to winning ways, but head coach Mark Hewitt pulled no punches following his side's 31-25 victory at Otley.

With an hour of this exciting National One encounter at Cross Green gone, the visiting Pirates looked as if they had finally hit their straps and were about to inflict some serious damage on their Yorkshire hosts.

What followed, however, in a hectic last quarter clearly infuriated Hewitt.

"I'm not happy at all," said the Pirates' chief at the final whistle.

"We got five points, but that is about all I can say. The performance was well below what we expect it to be and a few of the players need to be honest with themselves.

"Some of them have to ask themselves whether they can put it in. We played against a team none of whose players would have got in our team, but their enthusiasm was far more than ours.

"In games you have to kick the ball properly and find field position. You have to play the game in the right areas. Our kicking game was poor, we didn't do what we set out to do and they showed us how to kick the ball in the first half. Second half I thought our kick game was much better."

Although the Pirates will have settled for their second league win of the season, Hewitt knows his team must show a marked improvement against Nottingham this Sunday.

"We have got a good squad and people have got to take responsibility," added Hewitt. "When they don't perform we are furious. They need to take a real hard look at themselves. Today was way below the level we strive for."

Having taken flight earlier in the day, the Pirates jetted into Otley having made four changes to the line-up from that which lost to Exeter Chiefs the week previous. Bruce Cumming and Iva Motusaga returned on the flanks, whilst full debuts were awarded to Canadian international Mike Burak at lock and Rhys Jones at fly-half.

However, on a glorious sunny afternoon in Yorkshire, the Pirates struggled in the opening stages to assert their authority. With too much possession being gifted back to the home side, they paid the price in the 12th minute as Rob Baldwin scored a try in the corner after good work by Rob Kitching.

Tom Rhodes missed his conversion just as he had an early penalty and the Pirates were spared some serious early blushes.

It took the Pirates fully 20 minutes to find some cohesion and momentum in attack, but when it came a try was the instant result. A good set play from an attacking scrum saw winger Aisea Havili released down the left flank to charge home for the first of his brace of tries. Jones converted well after a shaky start and suddenly the Pirates were ahead 7-5.

Rhodes responded with a penalty after an obstruction by Sam Heard to restore Otley's lead, only to miss again minutes later. However, the Pirates went back on the offensive and after a move in which lock Ben Gulliver should have scored, the pack quickly re-grouped and drove Burak over for his first converted score for the team.

Another Rhodes penalty pegged the Pirates back briefly, before tremendous strength from hooker Rob Elloway saw him force his way under the posts on the stroke of half-time for Jones to convert to make it 21-11 at the interval.

Despite a scrappy restart to the game, the Pirates took control up front where once again their set-piece was king. Otley were in trouble at the scrum long before persistent infringing led to flanker Nathan Bland being carded by referee Tim Wigglesworth.

Only sporadically, though, did the Pirates use the ball they were winning to the full.

Havili's second try at that point, as he finished off an attack inspired by Paul Devlin and Ed Fairhurst, should have been enough to kill off a limited opponent such as Otley.

The Pirates, however, sat back and two late tries from replacement wing Stephen Parsons, both converted by Rhodes, rang alarm bells loudly in the visitors' camp in a frantic finale.

Thankfully, Marika Vakacegu did round off a splendid move with a try in the corner for the visitors, but the match finished with Otley's pack crashing over the Pirates line only to be denied by Wigglesworth.

The finale made a great spectacle for any neutrals in the crowd, but with only the referee's full-time whistle thwarting Otley, Hewitt's anger was understandable.

He may well have taken this result so far from home before the game, but once again the Pirates' performance against supposedly weaker opposition has posed more questions than it has answered.



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly is refusing to get too carried away despite seeing his side maintain their unblemished start to the new season with a 38-12 victory over Blaydon at the Recreation Ground.

Hambly watched on as – for a second successive week – the Reds produced another late, late show to claim all five points against their visitors from the North East, who earlier in the day had flown into the Duchy riding high at the summit of National League Two.

And whereas the week previous it was scrum-half Mark Richards who claimed the all-important fourth try at neighbouring Mounts Bay, this time it was diminutive winger Nathan Pedley who raced over in injury time to rock the Rec.

Pedley's last-gasp touchdown not only brought about yet another deserved maximum haul for Hambly's troops, but it helped underline Redruth's credentials as genuine challengers at the top of the table.

Unlike others within the division who have openly stated their seasonal objectives, Redruth have quietly spent the summer months keeping their counsel to themselves.

According to Hambly, it's the way he and his team want it. Instead the Reds' chief would rather his team do their talking on the pitch, not through column inches or on internet messageboards.

Against high-flying Blaydon, his team did just what he asked of them as they bossed proceedings from start to finish. Fly-half Mark Scrivener – who went on to score 18 points in the game – fired them in front on four minutes when he slotted the first of four penalties.

Although the visitors replied just moments later through a converted Chris Mercer try, that would be the only time Blaydon held the advantage as the home side stormed back in some style.

A second Scrivener penalty on 14 minutes was followed just a minute later by the first of two tries for full-back Rob Thirlby. The England Sevens international was able to dot down when he timed his run to perfection to latch onto a well-crafted handling move.

Scrivener obliged with the necessary extras before adding a third penalty just two minutes before the break to make it 16-7 to the Reds at the turn.

Despite looking the brighter on the resumption, Blaydon were unable to find a way through the Redruth defensive wall and, having happily soaked up the initial threat, the Cornishmen turned defence into attack to set-up yet another scoring opportunity.

Again at pace, Thirlby's electric burst through the middle caused no end of problems and as Blaydon did their best to recover, a blatant professional foul from visiting scrum-half Chris Clark saw him dispatched to the bin for ten minutes.

Scrivener fired over the resultant penalty to extend Redruth's advantage yet further, before lock Damian Cook got in on the scoring act when he burrowed his way over following some smart approach work from the home pack.

Pressing home their authority, Redruth made the most of a second yellow card for the visitors – replacement Andrew Fearn the culprit this time – to add a third try. A lineout move was worked back inside along the line where skipper PJ Gidlow delivered a timely pass to the onrushing Thirlby to race over once more.

Spirited Blaydon briefly countered with a late consolation score through No.8 Jason Smithson, but by then the game was lost and Redruth put the shine on another polished performance when Thirlby set-up Pedley for his late heroics.

"Three out of three and 15 points, you can't do anymore than that," said a happy Hambly afterwards. "We are real happy with the way things have gone and the way we played. There were a few mistakes out there again today, but you can accept that when you see the type of rugby we are trying to play.

"At the moment, touch wood, everything seems to be going well for us. On the field the boys are delivering the goods and off it we've got a great set-up.

"It's a good start, for sure, but we're not going to get carried away. It's still very much early doors and we've got a very tough game up at Wharefdale next week. I know a lot of people will be thinking about the derby with Launceston in a few weeks, but that's not even in our thoughts at the moment. Our focus is solely on Wharfedale next week and we'll worry about that game as and when."



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

The Cornish All Blacks motored to the summit of National League Two after easily brushing aside the challenge of Waterloo 58-9 at Blundellsands.

Having played three, won three, all with bonus points, the Launceston club posted half a ton of points and eight tries, as well as keeping their line intact throughout.

Joint head coach Chris Brown was more than satisfied with his side's showing. He said: "Our pack set things up and dominated possession at both scrum and line-out and were very much a cohesive unit – and because of that we were able to starve Waterloo of possession.

"We knew that if we could get on top of a side that had already lost twice, we were in business. We were guilty of putting down some try-scoring chances in the first half, but our patience and tenacity reaped rewards in the second half.

"I thought Jon Fabian excelled behind the scrum and there were some good performances in the forwards which provided the plentiful possession. Most pleasing of all is that they didn't cross our line. I'm very pleased. I feel that we raised the bar significantly and we will be looking forward to putting on a similar performance, while tightening some screws, in front of our own fans this week.

"Fifteen points from 15 is very heartening, but we know we can do better with some stiff challenges to come".

The All Blacks were superior in every department and, if they had taken every first-half chance, would have been ahead at the interval by more than 22-9. However, they really got their act together at the restart and clobbered the northerners with 36 more points without reply.

By the end, Waterloo must have been longing for the whistle to sound as they desperately but vainly sought to stem the relentless Cornish attack. Their only points came from the boot of fly-half Frank Lynch, who landed three first-half penalties.

The All Blacks, on the other hand, had a try bonanza. The ubiquitous Fabian, who was always popping up in the right place at the right time, got a hat-trick. Right wing Marc Dibble and centre Jamie Semmens claimed two apiece, with Dibble's replacement, Jon Marlin, touching down for the final score.

Fly-half Adam Staniforth's metronomic boot added eight extras – to all but the first of the opening five tries – with Fabian landing two more conversions late in the game.

The All Blacks, it has to be said, had a field day. Dibble crossed in the first minute from a scrum, and would have gone over again but for a foot in touch.

Staniforth then kicked a penalty, and, after Waterloo had mounted a rare attack down the wing, Lynch kicked two goals in quick succession. However, towards the end of the first quarter came one of the All Blacks' best tries, the ball passing through at least six phases before Fabian crossed wide out.

Lynch kicked his side's final three points and then the All Blacks went to town. Scrum-half Lewis Webb broke neatly from a scrum, linked with Tim Collier and the lock put Dibble in at the flag.

The second half saw the visitors growing ever stronger. Collier broke again, lock Mike Myerscough and centre Ryan Westren joined the move and sent Fabian in for his second. That was the bonus point in the bag.

Staniforth kicked a penalty and after a fine run by Westren, Jamie Semmens raced in under the posts and then for good measure took a ball from the pack on halfway and cut clean through the defences to touch down at the sticks again.

The try blitz ended with a flourish: a move the length of the pitch with almost every player getting a touch of the ball gave Fabian his hat-trick, and Marlin was unselfishly gifted a score by Fabian who had run the length of the field to set it up.



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Mounts Bay's tough introduction to life in National League Two continued on Saturday as they slipped to a 44-13 defeat at Stourbridge.

The first-half dismissal of skipper Nick Burnett – for an alleged headbutt – capped what was another disappointing afternoon for the newly promoted Cornishmen, who must now ready themselves for the visit of Birmingham-Solihull to the Mennaye this Saturday.

Despite the setbacks, however, head coach Adrian Bick is refusing to get too downbeat, believing that it will not be too long before his side finally show what they are capable of.

"Of course we are disappointed to lose again, but I thought there were a number of encouraging signs to take out of this game," said Bick. "For large parts of the first half I felt we were the better side and felt it could be our day. But then we lose Nick to a red card just before half-time, then Griff [John Griffiths] gets a yellow early in the second half and we are up against it.

"To be honest, I'm didn't see the incident involving Nick, but I've spoken to him and he's adamant he did not headbutt anyone. I know he's quite an abrasive player, but doing something like that is not in his character."

Bick says he will review the DVD of the game in the coming days and the club will make further submissions once Burnett is summoned to appear before an RFU disciplinary panel.

Despite falling behind to an early try from Stourbridge winger Tom Hughes, the Bay hit back with a double blow inside a minute. First Dan Hawkes slotted a penalty, before Burnett and Greg Goodfellow combined well to send full-back Andy Birkett over for a try on eight minutes.

It was a lead Bay were to hold until just before the break when the home side claimed their second try, centre Oliver Groves finishing off a good break inside from Ben Barkley, which full-back Alistair Bressington converted.

With the half all but up, Bay appeared to have been awarded a penalty. However, the intervention of a touch judge saw referee Richard Parker-Sedgemore reverse that decision and in turn dismiss No.8 Burnett for foul play.

Things did not get any better for Bay after the break as first Griffiths was sin-binned for a technical offence, then Bressington extended the home side's buffer with a penalty on 44 minutes.

Although Bay competed valiantly in the second-half exchanges, Stourbridge pressed home their advantage by adding further tries through Martin Freeman, Duncan White and two for Bressington, who also bagged three conversions.

All Bay could muster in reply was a touchdown for prop Adam Flide just past the hour mark.

"We always knew this was going to be a tough start for us in this division," added Bick. "At half-time we were still very much in the game, but in the second half we let things slip away a little bit. Next week against Birmingham will be just as tough, but out of adversity could come our finest hour."




National League 2. Report by Alex Folkes.

On an Indian summer afternoon the Cornish All Blacks retained their 100% record with another bonus point win. But for the third time in four matches they almost gave victory to the opposition by relaxing when the victory appeared secure.

After being on the back foot for the first fifteen minutes, the All Blacks seemed to have the match won with tries for Sam Hocking, Ryan Westren and two for man of the match Lewis Webb. But everything fell apart after 65 minutes as the visitors came back and almost won a thrilling match at Polson Bridge.

Four yellow cards for Tynedale could be said to have done for them as the All Blacks took advantage of the short numbers to dominate the middle forty five minutes. But they took their foot off the gas and allowed the game to get away from them and they only just managed to regain control in the final five as Tynedale looked as though they could have made the long trip a victorious one.

For his two tries, All Blacks' Scrum Half Lewis Webb was justifiably named man of the match. Both were scrappy scrum half tries, the first a back peel when Tynedale flanker Grant Beasley left his post to cover for the absent Harrison and Webb only had to finish. The second a tap and go from a penalty for a score under the posts.

Webb sped the game up and his skills from the base of the scrum and open play were too quick for his opposition. Whilst teammates Fabian, Roques and Lord had another good game and the scrum was dominant, the remainder of the team play in the second half was scrappy and many passes failed to go to hand when total dominance could have been achieved.

A yellow card for Tim Collier on 67 minutes resulted in a loss of control up front as Sam Hocking was sacrificed to allow Steve Pape to come into the second row and provide alternatives in the line out where Mike Myerscough ruled supreme. Pape was his usual strong self despite recent injuries, but the All Blacks had become disjointed.

All Blacks Joint Head Coach Chris Brown was adamant that his side had played a 'get out of jail free' card for the third time this season. "We went ahead but let our foot off the gas and Tynedale, to their credit, took full advantage. We are scoring tries but our application needs to be improved. We let a side back into a game when they shouldn't have been there and sooner or later we are going to get caught out. We know we can and should do better."

Sam Hocking is congratulated by team mate Mal Roberts after scoring the All Blacks' first try. Picture by Alex Folkes/



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Redruth's fine start in National League Two continued on Saturday when an 18-15 triumph against Wharfedale made it four wins in as many games and saw them record their first ever victory up in the Yorkshire Dales.

Head coach Nigel Hambly had mixed feelings, however, saying: "I feel pretty elated. We did not play particularly well but we gave 100 per cent. It was a good game of rugby, end to end stuff. We started at a frantic pace and carried on at a frantic pace and never got any structure into our game.

"It is difficult to be over critical, this is the first time [in five visits] that Redruth has ever won at Wharfedale. This is a tremendous achievement. We said we are coming for the win. We did that, but from a coach's point of view there is a lot to work on. We went away from what served us really well in the first three games. I can't wait to get stuck into the DVD."

Wharfedale played a fast and loose game with their talented backs and looked to be heading for a win as they took a four-point lead into the closing stages of the game. However, when the Reds turned the screw the Yorkshiremen conceded consecutive penalties in their 22.

As full-time approached, the Redruth forwards made ground with a couple of powerful drives. As the ball came out England sevens international Rob Thirlby, picked his spot, pinned his ears back and glided over in the right-hand corner.

A superb Mark Scrivener touchline conversion gave the Reds a three-point cushion to take into an agonising seven minutes of stoppage time during which Wharfedale launched a series of desperate attacks.

Hambly acknowledged that it made for a tense finale. "It felt like 20 minutes injury time!" he said. "I thought we showed tremendous courage and tenacity to stay in there at the end. The only thing that we did today that we do at training was defend, we kept our shape. I was really pleased to come away from home and keep our try line intact."

From the outset, Redruth showed grit and took an early lead. In the first minute they applied pressure at a scrum that led to a penalty which Scrivener duly booted from 35 metres.

Wharfedale half-backs James Doherty and Luke Gray put pace and width on the game to prevent the Reds settling and England counties player Chris Malherbe, playing on the left wing, frequently came into midfield, asking many questions of the Redruth defence.

The line kicking to the right hand touchline of Mark Bedworth also drove Redruth back, but he was off target with two penalty attempts before putting over kicks in the 25th and 32nd minutes to give the hosts a 6-3 advantage at the break.

Scrivener levelled matters with another well-struck penalty in the 49th minutes as Wharfedale lost Andrew Hodgson to the sin-bin for a late obstruction.

A man down, Wharfedale raised their game. Bedworth struck a penalty to put the home side back in front three minutes later.

A great individual effort from hooker Owen Hambly put the Reds two points back in front after 57 minutes. He seized on a loose ball after Redruth had lost a line-out and in a 30-metre run to the line beat off two defenders: first with a wicked hand-off and then a nifty bit of footwork to roll over in the right corner.

Bedworth hit back with a massive penalty from near halfway minutes later and when Redruth lost another line-out the England counties centre dropped a goal from 30 metres and the Reds looked to have blown their chance. Until Rob Thirlby pulled the game from the fire.

"A touch of class won it at the end," reflected Hambly. "Ironically that was what we were lacking all game."



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

If Newcastle United are currently football's club in crisis, then Mounts Bay could be rugby's equivalent after they were thumped by visiting Birmingham-Solihull 61-3 at the Mennaye Field.

Having endured a tough introduction to life in National League Two so far this season, things went from bad to worse for the Cornish club in this latest encounter.

For a second successive week, the Bay were forced to play much of the game with 14 men following the first-half dismissal of flanker Brett Stroud for stamping.

Stroud's red card means he will join team-mate Nick Burnett in facing an RFU disciplinary hearing in the not too distant future. However, the former Plymouth Albion forward could yet face even more trouble after he was also cited for foul play by Stourbridge.

Even had Stroud lasted the course, there was no way Mounts Bay were going to hold the impressive Bees, who stung their Duchy hosts with a nine-try blast.

Despite a bright opening to the game, one in which they bossed the early exchanges, Bay's lack of first-phase ball and attacking firepower meant they were always beating their heads against a brick wall.

There were bright points – youngsters Josh Matavesi and Richard Bright both impressed in the back division, while Fraser Cliverd was the pick of the forwards – there were, however, too many of the current Bay squad who were found wanting.

Indeed, once the visitors finally found their rhythm a healthy flow of points soon followed. They opened the scoring on 13 minutes when a pass from Mark Woodrow released Simon Hunt on the charge, the winger burst through from halfway before chipping over the top of the home midfield. However, as he looked to close in on the try-line, he was illegally taken out by centre Sam Parsons and referee Terry Hall did the rest by awarding a penalty try, which Woodrow converted.

Bay replied moments later with a sublime 30-metre drop-goal from Matavesi, but that was to prove one of the rare highlights of the game for the home side, who fell further behind on 20 minutes when the Bees claimed their second try with a superb counter-attack move.

Deep inside their own 22, powerhouse centre Cameron Mitchell barged his way through the heart of the Bay defensive line, before offering a simple offload to onrushing captain Rob Connolly to cross by the sticks, Woodrow again converting.

If that was a setback for the home side, worse followed just minutes later when Stroud was dismissed – on the intervention of a touch judge – for stamping on Bees lock Alex Davidson. It was the last thing Mounts Bay needed and the Bees made them pay with a strong finish to the half.

Poor midfield tackling allowed Mitchell to ease his way over for a try on the half-hour, before he produced a repeat performance in stoppage time when he was able to finish off following good work from Connolly. The deadly left boot of Woodrow converted both scores to make it 28-3 at the break.

On the resumption, the visitors quickly picked up from where they left off as they added two more tries in as many minutes. Connolly claimed his second on 46 minutes when he galloped in from the 22, before an excellent burst through the middle from Reece Spee saw the ball shipped to the right wing where Hunt did the rest with an easy finish.

To their credit, Mounts Bay kept plugging away and their endeavour caused the Bees problems. Referee Hall was also losing patience with their blatant infringements and brandished yellow cards to Shaun Pemmenter and Tom Collett to go alongside the first half sin-binning of Adam Clayton.

Sadly, the Bay could not capitalise and once the visitors were back to full quota, they wrapped up victory with hat-trick tries for both Mitchell and Connolly, whilst Hunt squeezed over for his second. Woodrow booted all three conversions to put the seal on a decent display.

The final word, however, would go the way of Mounts Bay who, in a late show of defiance, worked the ball deep into the visiting 22 before a sniping break from Greg Goodfellow saw him feed Ollie Faulkner to dive over in the right-hand corner.

For Mounts Bay, things will not get any easier this weekend as they face a testing trip to Cambridge.

Head coach Adrian Bick remarked: "We are disappointed, of course. I don't mind losing to sides who are better than us – and they were a better side than us. You could see they had the edge on us, they had the gas on us and had the skills to finish and I can't see too many sides beating them this year.

"Silly mistakes though are costing us. There were gaping holes in the midfield at times, but when we look back at the DVD we'll see that there was a massive mismatch between Cameron Mitchell and Mike Molloy. He has got to be the biggest player on the field, up against a guy who normally plays scrum-half. We asked Mike to do a job there today and he did his best."

As well as individual errors, a costly red card did little to help Bay's cause. Bick added: "You could see the whole team were deflated after that card. For 20 minutes we were playing rugby and we had them on the back foot. We were camped in their half; Josh showed a lot of maturity dropping a goal in their half; then that happens and it's a huge body blow for the side. I am going to look at the video of it, but it's stupid mistakes like that which are killing us.

"There were positives, I thought Josh did well at fly-half, Richard Bright did well on his debut, plus another positive was we scored last – we didn't give up. Everyone kept pushing away until the end and, perhaps, we could have had one or two more tries. But playing a man down for as long as we did, it's always going to be a tough ask and their defence was well organised as well."



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

Cornish Pirates' head coach Mark Hewitt was left to rue a "mad 10 minutes" as he watched his side slip to a second successive home defeat against Nottingham yesterday.

As was the case against Exeter Chiefs a fortnight ago, the Pirates dug deep into their reserves to find a way back into another enthralling contest, only to gift their rivals a winning lifeline right at the death.

It's a problem Hewitt admits he and his squad need to eradicate sooner rather than later, as once against the Duchy's leading club side were left pointless despite another determined showing.

"I'm disappointed," said Hewitt following the 31-20 defeat. "I can't sit here every week and make excuses, we have to address certain things. At times today I felt we played some good rugby in patches – far better than what they did – and when we started to move the ball we looked really good.

"The problem is, however, we have to get the balance right and start turning these games where we play well in patches into a full 80 minute performance."

Hewitt added: "I thought for the first 20 minutes we controlled the game, we played some really good football, then for the next 20 they had total dominance and I was disappointed we leaked the try at the end of the first half.

"In the second half, we started with a man in the bin and then we had what was a mad ten minutes. We kicked the ball poorly, which piled the pressure back on us, and we gifted them two opportunities, which they took."

At 19-8 up, Nottingham had turned the tie around and were seemingly cruising to victory. But, just as they did against the Chiefs, the Pirates regrouped with some style and hit back with a quality spell that saw them regain the initiative at 20-19 with 13 minutes remaining.

However, another crucial missed tackle – this time by winger Aisea Havili – allowed Nottingham to regain the lead and it was the visitors who finished with aplomb, adding a fifth try in injury time.

"Errors we are making are costing us at the moment," added Hewitt. "If people keep offending and giving away penalties – or people keep missing the same tackles week in, week out, they are making decisions for me.

"At the moment it's taking us a while to get things right, but we will get it right. I'm really confident we have a good squad here and you can see that at times. I don't think anyone in the league plays the brand of football we do and when we get it right, we are devastating. At the moment though, we are having these 10 minutes spells where we fall asleep."

No doubt Hewitt will be hoping to address such issues this coming week as he readies his side for a trip to bottom club Manchester on Saturday.

In truth, the Pirates should certainly have too much for the Northerners, who have accrued just one point from five starts this term.

As Hewitt pointed out, the Pirates showed in glimpses yesterday just what they are truly capable of. In a bright start to the game, they quickly set about their visitors who, having lost their opening fixture of the season to Leeds, had notched up victories over Plymouth Albion, Esher and Sedgley Park in the following weeks.

Nottingham were sluggish in the initial exchanges and having trailed to an early Doug Sanft penalty, the home side extended their tally on 19 minutes when Fijian full-back Marika Vakacegu was able to finish off a flowing move in the corner following some excellent approach work involving Tom Luke and Havili.

Centre Luke – who enjoyed his best game yet in a Pirates jersey – was a constant threat in attack for the home side, whilst midfield partner Paul Devlin was equally prominent both offensively and defensively.

But whilst the Pirates offered a series of genuine attacks in the opening quarter of the game, they were unable to add to their score and it was Nottingham who grew stronger as the half wore on.

The normally reliable Dave Jackson fired two penalty attempts wide of the sticks, before they finally made the breakthrough. Capitalising on the sin-binning of Chris Morgan – who had earlier come on for Bruce Cumming [dislocated shoulder] – they made their pressure tell when winger Jack Cobden burrowed over in the right-hand corner.

On the resumption, what had been a sleepy Nottingham display in the opening 40 minutes was replaced in the second 40 by a more tenacious showing full of skill and guile.

A slick passing move allowed Jackson over for a second try on 43 minutes, before fly-half Tim Taylor added a third effort five minutes later when he was able to snipe through a gap following a great steal by former Plymouth Albion lock Nic Rouse. Jackson – now with his kicking boots on – converted both to put his side 19-8 in front.

Up against it, the Pirates knew they needed a swift response. It did come, but not before Sanft failed to hit the mark with an easy penalty chance.

On the hour, a lightning break from Welsh whizz Rhodri McAtee cut through the Nottingham midfield and as he was just about to be felled, he offloaded to Vakacegu who showed a clean pair of heels to the chasing visitors as he dived over just left of the posts. This time Sanft did not fail with the additional kick.

Buoyed by the score, the Pirates sensed a way back into the contest. Launching wave-upon-wave of attacks, the pressure was mounting and finally it told on 67 minutes when the ball was worked from one side of the field to the other and replacement hooker Darren Dawiduik was able to release Vakacegu for his hat-trick score to make it 20-19.

The contest, though, was far from finished and with just eight minutes remaining it was Nottingham who stunned the home faithful when a move down the left created space for Andrew Savage. With what seemed plenty still to do, the replacement winger shrugged off a helpless attempt at a tackle from Havili to restore his side's slender advantage.

Even then the Pirates had opportunities to grab the headlines, but sadly it did not materialise. Instead it was Nottingham who wrapped up the win with a last-gasp converted try from Rob Harris, the prop trundling over following a clever steal by Sam MacDonald.



National League 1. Report by Bill Hooper at the Camborne Rec.

Despite the changes to the team made by coach Mark Hewitt, the Cornish Pirates slipped to a third defeat in five games as they lost to Nottingham 31-20 on a beautiful late September afternoon at Camborne on Sunday. Defeat also came with a heavy price as powerful flank forward Bruce Cumming left the field after 34 minutes with a dislocated shoulder and is likely to be absent for some time. For the visitors it was a second successive win on the Recreation Ground. Another performance to leave the Pirates coach both frustrated and disappointed.

It started brightly for the home side as they established an early lead. A Doug Snaft penalty for a trip on scrum-half Ed Fairhurst after 7 minutes, which also led to Nottingham's loose-head Matt Parr visiting the sin-bin, was followed on 14 minutes by the first of full-back's Marika Vakacegu three tries of the afternoon: the ball was moved right with a long miss-pass thrown out by inside centre Tom Luke which found winger Aisea Havili, who fed Vakacegu to score in the Hubert's Hill corner. Snaft couldn't add the extras.

Nottingham's goal kicker, full-back Dave Jackson, wasn't having the best day with the boot as three chances went a-begging.

The writing though was on the wall as Nottingham enjoyed possession and field position for long periods of the opening half. Pirates, under pressure and forced to defend, gave away too many penalties -- eventually paying the price as Chris Morgan, on for the unfortunate Cumming, was yellow-carded. Nottingham took full advantage with an opening try scored by winger Jack Cobden down in the scoreboard corner just prior to half-time to leave the Pirates 8-5 up.

Early pressure from the visitors at the start of the second-half saw them establish a healthy lead with tries from Jackson, in the Park gate corner on 42 minutes, and then from fly-half Tim Taylor after 48 minutes, Jackson adding both conversions. Just as in their previous home game against Exeter, the Pirates found themselves up against it. To their credit they again responded.

For the second time in the game Nottingham found themselves down to fourteen men as prop Nigel Hall was sin-binned for elbowing an opponent.

The home side lifted their game, taking play to the visitors. Fairhurst, Luke, Rhodri McAtee and Iva Motusaga all caught the eye as the Pirates looked to get back into the game. Snaft was wide of the posts with a penalty attempt before Vakacegu gave the home support hope as he crossed for his second try of the game after 61 minutes, following a break by McAtee. Snaft was successful with the conversion.

Six minutes later and the crowd were on their feet as Vakacegu grabbed his third try following a delightful flip pass from Darren Dawiduik to scamper in at the clubhouse corner.

Incredibly the Pirates led -- not for long though. Nottingham pressed, stretching play from one side to other. The breakthrough for the Merry Men came as Havili crucially missed a tackle on Andrew Savage, allowing him to dive in to score in Hubert's Hill corner to secure a bonus point for Nottingham.

The Pirates pressed for another score. McAtee looked to be tackled high in the Nottingham 22 following a fine run, yet it was Nottingham who sealed their win with a fifth try as the Pirates were driven off a ruck on their own 22, allowing replacement Rob Harris to pick up and scamper in under the posts, Jackson's conversion leaving the Pirates pointless and with more questions than answers from another mixed performance.

A good win at Manchester will do much for the players' confidence and mindset and hopefully kick-start a disappointing season start.

Cornish Pirates 20 pts: tries Vakacegu (3); conversion Sanft; penalty Sanft.
Yellow card: Morgan

Nottingham 31 pts: tries Cobden, Jackson, Taylor, Savage, Harris; conversions Jackson (3).
Yellow cards: Parr, Hall

Cornish Pirates: M. Vakacegu, A. Havili (M. Ireland 76), P. Devlin, T. Luke (S. Winn 74), R. McAtee, D. Sanft, E. Fairhurst ; A. Paver, R. Elloway (D. Dawiduik 62), D. Seal (S. Franklin 56), M. Burak (H. Senekal 45), B. Gulliver (capt), B. Cumming (C. Morgan 34), I. Motusaga, M. Evans.
Replacement not used N. Griffiths.

Nottingham: D. Jackson, J. Cobden (A. Savage 64), R. Nirmalendran, T. Molenaar, A. Dodge, T. Taylor, T. Usasz (C. Pilgrim 68); M. Parr, J. Duffey, N. Hall (R. Harris 64), L. Morley (S. MacDonald 64), N. Rouse, C. Hammond (capt), L. Sherriff (N. Harris 11-21), D. Montagu (R. Harris 60-62).
Replacements not used: J. Clarke, C. Eggleshaw, B. Thompson.

Referee: Mr. L. Apgeraint-Roberts (RFU)

Crowd: 2729




National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

If there was anybody in the crowd expecting the Cornish Pirates to finally break their shackles of inconsistency against National Division One's bottom club and register a comfortable win, they left Manchester's Grove Park once again mightily disappointed following a less than impressive 12-6 victory.

In fairness to Pirates' head coach Mark Hewitt, he had refused to be drawn into any speculation prior to the match as to how many the Cornishmen would win by. Instead, he concentrated after the final whistle on reflecting upon a vital victory earned in difficult circumstances.

"It was very difficult out there today with a gale blowing down the pitch which made it difficult for both sides to play," he said. "First half I thought we were poor, but in the second we were outstanding.

"That is the first time we haven't conceded a try this season and we got a win on the road. I know a lot of people thought we should come up here and win by 60 or 70, but I tell you now they are a tough side and I'm pleased with the result."

Hewitt made ten changes to his starting line-up following defeat to Nottingham the week previous, but once again a team performance for the full 80 minutes eluded him.

"We opened up opportunities for everyone and I'm really pleased that Rhys Jones had a good game which will give him confidence to build on," added Hewitt. "Steve Winn was a real handful defensively and distributed the ball well, whilst Nicky [Griffiths] took his opportunity well. Now we have to work harder and put on a good performance for our own fans next week. We have got great supporters and they deserve it."

However, after just four minutes of this latest encounter it would have been fair to expect a rout from the visitors as quick thinking from Griffiths with a tap penalty led him on a sniping break through the Manchester 22 to score at the foot of the posts. Jones added a simple conversion with the wind at his back and the Pirates were off to a flyer.

Yet as the half progressed the whistle of referee Michael Tutty took centre stage, with the tackle area becoming a lottery of confusion and inconsistency for both sides. A total of 37 penalties and two yellow cards were awarded during a match which was never dirty, yet it was effectively destroyed as a spectacle.

Unable to build on their early advantage, the Pirates found themselves having to defend in increasing numbers as the half progressed. With lock Heino Senekal sin-binned after 21 minutes for an offence in the loose, Manchester turned the screw, using their pack as a solid platform and the dangerous running of wings Rob Wellock and Gareth Wynne to pin the Pirates back.

Crucial tackles from Rhodri McAtee, Winn and Iva Motusaga kept Manchester – who had scored 58 points in their two previous home fixtures – at bay and a scrappy, error-strewn half ended with the home side camped on the Pirates' line but unable to find a way through.

Playing down the slope after the break, the Pirates suddenly looked much sharper. The injured McAtee was replaced by Paul Devlin, who had a lively afternoon, whilst the under-performing front row duo of Darren Dawidiuk and Scott Franklin made way for Dan Seal and Rob Elloway.

Shortly after the introduction of flanker Chris Morgan for the largely anonymous Sam Betty galvanised the Pirates' pack, who quickly secured a strong territorial advantage.

With Jones and Griffiths busy behind the forwards, plus the strong running of Fijian full-back Vakacegu clearly worrying Manchester, a second score looked inevitable. Not for the first time this season, poor decision making in try-scoring positions again proved costly.

Instead it was Manchester who, having lived on scraps of possession after the restart, began a fight back in the 56th minute. Penalised for not rolling away at the tackle, the Pirates conceded a penalty and Wynne took his season points tally to 35 with a straightforward kick.

The Pirates went immediately back on the offensive but were again frustrated by errors and the referee. Wynne then missed a long-range penalty before slotting a further effort from 45 metres with just 12 minutes remaining.

Trailing now by just a point, the home side scented an unlikely victory. For once, though, the cool heads belonged to the Pirates.

The finale was a tense, yet ugly affair, but when superb approach play by Devlin, Jones and Griffiths released Vakacegu down the left wing with eight minutes remaining, the Fijian flyer made no mistake.

The try was no more than the Pirates deserved and, despite Jones missing a difficult conversion into the gale, they were able to play out the remaining minutes in Manchester territory.

The second half ended with the Pirates camped on the Manchester line. Their collective sighs of relief at the final whistle must have been heard all the way back in Cornwall.



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

Redruth withstood a tense final onslaught by the men in black, to finally record a first ever win over the Cornish All Blacks in league encounters in the driving rain at the Recreation Ground in this latest Cornish derby, a result which also propels them to the top of the National League 2 table.

Keeping discipline was always going to be a paramount key to success in such conditions: the yellow card of Cornish All Black's lock Tim Collier on 45 minutes proved to be pivotal as Redruth scored eight points during his enforced absence, putting them into a 16-3 lead.

From the start both sides found controlling the ball difficult, and the game was littered with handling errors.

Redruth had an early penalty chance after 5 minutes when the visitors were penalised for holding on just inside their own half. With the wind at his back, fly-half Mark Scrivener's attempt sailed to the left of the posts.

To their credit both sides looked to put width on the ball in the appalling conditions. Lewis Webb at scrum-half, another youngster to have learnt his trade at Penryn, caught the eye for the visitors as he looked to get his side on the front foot. But he was up against a formidable opponent in Mark Richards in the Reds' number nine shirt, well-versed in playing in such conditions on the Recreation Ground.

Eventually the deadlock was broken on 20 minutes following a fine passage of play as the Reds attacked deep in the Cornish All Blacks' half, with lock Damien Cook, skipper PJ Gidlow and prop Darren Jacques to the fore. The visitors were penalised for not rolling away, giving Scrivener a shot at goal from in front of the posts, which he slotted.

Redruth looked to make use of the wind, putting up high balls that tested the Cornish All Blacks' back three to the extreme. Redruth secured a scrum near the visitors' line, up in the scoreboard corner on 26 minutes. The Cornish All Blacks went for an eight man shove, but the Redruth pack controlled the ball well despite going backwards, allowing Richards to pick up and go. With the Cornish All Blacks back row tied up, Richards was able to make ground and time his pass winger Lewis Vinnicombe, who crossed in the corner to tremendous cheers in the packed grandstand. Scrivener was unable to add the extras from his touchline conversion attempt.

Despite further pressure on the visitors' line Redruth couldn't add to their lead before half-time.

A bright opening by the Cornish All Blacks in the second half saw a powerful drive by No.8 Sam Hocking, named this week as Cornwall player of the year by the Trelawny's Army Supporters' Club. Redruth countered with an attack by full-back Rob Thirlby and winger Nathan Pedley. Jacques was also soon to the fore once more as he drove on, with flanker Chris Fuca and Cook, to the visitors' 22. The ball was moved left, with Thirlby coming into the line, and the Cornish All Blacks were caught offside. It was this incident that saw Collier yellow-carded for silly verbal abuse, and Scrivener kicked his second penalty of the afternoon to put his side 11-0 up.

Despite cutting the deficit on 53 minutes with a penalty by fly-half Adam Staniforth, as Redruth came in at the side, the Cornish All Blacks crucially conceded a second try on 55 minutes. Following a turnover, a powerful run by Pedley down the Eastern Bank touchline set up skipper Gidlow to cross in the Piggy Lane corner. The Redruth crowd erupted as they sensed that this might just be their day. Scrivener's conversion attempt faded against the elements.

Staniforth kicked a second penalty for the visitors after 58 minutes as both sides brought on fresh legs for the final quarter of this absorbing tussle. Redruth pressure saw the visitors concede a five-metre scrum from a charged down clearance. Redruth pounded away at the line with No.8 James Mann, who put in a tremendous amount of work around the park, and props Peter Joyce and Jacques before the ball was put out wide only for Rob Thirlby to be forced into touch. Redruth continued to press and were rewarded with another penalty as the Cornish All Blacks went off their feet, Scrivener coolly adding three more points.

With time running out the Cornish All Blacks threw everything they had at the Reds, little errors costing them dear. Eventually, though, they crossed the whitewash after a big drive by replacement Steve Pape after 75 minutes, with Staniforth's conversion at the very least securing a losing bonus point.

Despite further pressure from Pape, Redruth held firm to secure a famous victory, although the win was soured slightly by the sight of Scrivener being stretchered off near the end with a knee injury.

Redruth 19pts: tries Vinnicombe, Gidlow; penalties Scrivener (3)

Cornish All Blacks 13pts: try Pape; conversion Staniforth; penalties Staniforth (2)
Yellow Card Collier

Redruth: R. Thirlby, L. Vinnicombe, C. Bonds, PJ Gidlow (Capt), N. Pedley, M. Scrivener (P. Thirlby 76), M. Richards; D. Jacques (A. Morcom 69 - 77), O. Hambly, A. Morcom (P. Joyce 52), D. Cook, L. Collins, D. Roberts, C. Fuca (R. Carroll 58), J. Mann.
Replacements (not used): J. Tresidder, N. Corin

Cornish All Blacks: M. Roberts, M. Dibble (H. Smales 68), R. Westren, S. Perry, J. Fabian, A. Staniforth, L. Webb; K. Brooking (Capt), G. Cooper (D. Semmens 58), D. Porte (J. Bolt 69), T. Collier, M. Myerscough, J. Lord, T. Roques (G. Remnant 45), S. Hocking (S. Pape 67).

Referee: Mr. T. Hall (RFU)

Crowd: 2008

Cornish All Black try-scorer Steve Pape charges at the Redruth line. Photo by Alex Folkes/

Big Match reaction

After the match Cornish All Blacks' joint head coach Chris Brown was in a philosophical mood: "It's a bitter pill to swallow and something I've not experienced before. At half-time I was very pleased going in at 8-0 down playing into the wind and the rain. Possibly if Mark (Scrivener) had had his kicking boots on we would have been 11-14 points down and chasing the game. They hustled and harried."

On the yellow card incident that saw his lock Tim Collier spend 10 minutes on the sidelines, Brown remarked, "Critical moments in games like this where we needed to keep our mouths shut, we chirped up and the referee punished accordingly. The yellow card was coming I think for either side, I could see that, it was a yellow card that was in all probability deserved."

Brown congratulated the Reds on their win and conceded that this had been their toughest test to date: "The forward battle was pretty even, but Redruth came out on top in the kicking game this afternoon. I look forward to my side putting matters right next week (at home to Stourbridge)."

A beaming Reds' coach Nigel Hambly praised his side for being brave against a quality side like the Cornish All Blacks. "We wanted to be brave today, to step up and meet the challenge front on, not take a backward step in the forward battle, neither in the backs battle. We're happy with the win but at the end it could have gone the other way".

Hambly also felt it had been a great advert for Cornish rugby played in a fantastic atmosphere. "Proper Cornish rugby played by proper Cornish boys," he remarked.



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Mounts Bay will begin rebuilding their battered team morale knowing things can only get better after hitting rock-bottom of National Two this weekend.

The Cornishmen endured another confidence-sapping afternoon during a 76-3 loss at Cambridge. Fly-half Dan Hawkes scored their only points with a first-half penalty and could only watch and admire the hosts who made ten tries at the other end.

Bay's difficulties were exasperated by more disciplinary problems with yellow cards for Ben Hilton, Adam Flide and player-head coach Adrian Bick, leaving them little hope of a competitive display against highly rated opponents.

Bick said: "We knew we were going to be up against it. We're in the eye of a storm at the minute. We've got Blaydon next week but we'll go with a much stronger side and after that we're looking to target some games – Wharfedale at home for starters in two weeks' time.

"No-one likes getting beaten by 70-odd points, your pride is hurt. We got yellow cards galore today and we're not getting the rub of the green at the moment – I'm not criticising the referee because if we'd had a different one we still would have lost.

"I had to go on the bench at the last minute and Duke Seymour went off with a blood injury and I was on the field no more than about 30 seconds before I was yellow carded for a repeat infringement.

"We were down to 13 men and they ran in three tries. Everything seems to be conspiring against us but we're our own worst enemy at times."

An early Ben Patston penalty started the rout and the full-back soon added the extras to the opening try from flanker Tom Powell. Hawkes' strike brought some hope but yellow cards for Hilton and then Bick proved costly.

The hosts scored three more tries before the interval through Christoff Lombaard, Mike Guess and Dan Legge – Patston adding the conversions, as well as a penalty.

Promotion candidates Cambridge continued to apply the pressure in the second half, scoring six more tries, all of which were converted by Patston.

Powell got his second of the game before James Knight added another. Bay held out ten minutes before conceding a penalty try with Lombaard crossing for his second soon after. The scoring was completed by David Archer and Craig Evans.

Despite the comprehensive scoreline, Bick feels his side will have their day and rise from the bottom of the division. He added: "We'll just work on our defensive systems a bit, but we've not been able to put out the same 15 players from one game to the next, it's constantly in a state of flux – we need to get a bit of continuity.

"We're going to pick up some games later in the season, but it's been a really tough start. The guys have got to learn some hard lessons. People at Mounts Bay have been in the privileged position of not losing much in the past. The sides that have beaten us have all been at the top end of the table."

Bick also reaffirmed the club's ambition to reinforce the squad in the coming weeks. He said: "There are two or three irons in the fire and we're looking to close some of these deals pretty quickly. We're in negotiations with several players.

"We did lose some very experienced players in the summer. And when you lose Callum McCrae, Andy Birkett and Mika Mua we end up with a very inexperienced back line. There were naive errors today, but we did the best we could. Teams aren't really building tries -- it's just or three missed tackles and we're getting found out."




National League 1. Report by Bill Hooper, at the Recreation Ground, Camborne.

Just like a recurring nightmare, the manner of this latest home defeat was all too familiar. Give the opposition a good head start and then spend the rest of the match trying to play catch-up rugby, a recipe for disaster, and a habit the Cornish Pirates need to get away from quickly. Head coach Mark Hewitt pulled no punches after the match: you can read his post-match comments in Mark Stevens' Western Morning News report that immediately follows this one.

Jaws visibly dropped as the Titans went 17-0 up in the space of 13 minutes at Camborne on a beautiful mid-October Sunday afternoon. An early try scored by skipper and full-back Mike Whitehead after barely 2 minutes, and before the Pirates had even touched the ball, followed by a second try on 13 minutes by winger Jon Feeley, an interception as the Pirates pressed in the Titans 22; both scores converted by fly-half, Pirate old boy, Tom Barlow, who also kicked a penalty after 10 minutes, left the home crowd visibly bewildered and audibly frustrated.

Having to chase the game from such an early stage the Pirates pressed too hard, committing basic errors hampering their cause.

An early strike back came when following initial good work from centre Tom Luke, who stood out as ray of sunshine, No.8 Bertrand Bédés powered over near the posts to score the Pirates' opening try. Luke's conversion cut the deficit to 10-points.

Frustratingly, the Pirates conceded a penalty moments later as hooker Rob Elloway was adjudged to have popped out of the scrum near the half-way line. Long-range kick specialist Whitehead slotted the penalty to extend his side's lead once more.

The Pirates stormed back, earning another penalty attempt in-front of the posts that Luke, who was not assigned kicking duties pre-match but assumed following an early knock to fly-half Doug Sanft, successfully kicked.

Further pressure from the home side saw the Pirates earn a penalty just outside the visitor's 22, which Sanft kicked towards the Hubert's Hill corner. Skipper Ben Gulliver secured the lineout with the ball moved left, pressure finally telling as winger Brian Tuhoy made a fine break, outpacing the cover to score in the Park gate corner of the ground after 35 minutes. Luke's touchline conversion improved the score to 17-20. Just before half-time Barlow missed with a penalty for Rotherham as Bédés was caught holding on.

The start of the second-half was a case of déjà-vu as the Pirates switched off. Whitehead, from nothing, chipped a kick a few meters in-front, attacking the Pirates' 22. The ball was re-gathered, Whitehead fed Feeley, who found support from back row forward Jon Skurr, who motored up to take the pass and score in the Hubert's Hill corner, Barlow's conversion putting the visitors 10 points up again at 27-17.

Luke missed with a further penalty chance before kicking his second to bring the home side back to a seven-point deficit. Fresh legs were on trying to inject pace into the game. A marvellous break by Nicky Griffiths came to nought as his pass to Adryan Winnan failed to find the club captain, with the line begging!

Further pressure from the Pirates gifted Luke another penalty kick in-front of the posts, which he took to add three more points.

In a frenetic finale the Pirates were camped on Rotherham's line. It looked certain that they would score, yet incredibly the ball was turned over, allowing Rotherham to break out and kick deep into the Pirates' 22 leaving, Winnan with no choice but to run the ball into touch. From the lineout Rotherham scored their fourth try, sealing the game as flanker Ryan Burrows burrowed over in the Park gate corner.

The Pirates needed two scores, and there wasn't enough time. To their credit they pulled back five points as Dan Seal, who celebrated his 200th appearance for the club, crashed over with the final play to at least earn a losing bonus point for his side.

It was the flag of the white rose, which flew proudly over Camborne on Sunday evening.

CORNISH PIRATES 28 pts: tries Bédés, Tuhoy, Seal; conversions Luke (2); penalties Luke (3)

ROTHERHAM TITANS 32 pts: tries Whitehead, Feeley, Skurr, Burrows; conversions Barlow (3); penalties Barlow, Whitehead

Cornish Pirates: M. Vakacegu, B. Tuhoy, P. Devlin, T. Luke, A. Havili (R. McAtee 60), D. Sanft (A. Winnan 67). E. Fairhurst (N. Griffiths 60); A. Paver (D. Seal 72), R. Elloway (D. Dawidiuk 70), D. Seal (S. Franklin 64), H. Senekal (M. Burak 64), B. Gulliver (capt), C. Morgan, I. Motusaga, B. Bédés
Replacement not used: M. Evans

Rotherham Titans: M. Whitehead (capt), J. Feeley, B. Hunt, C. Briers, E. Classens, T. Barlow, N. Chivers (C. Erskine 80); S. Corsar (A. O'Donnell 74), N. Conroy (H. Horn 51), B. Prescott (A. O'Donnell 5-15) G. Hayter, M. Challinor, (L. McGowan 60), R. Burrows, T. Du Plessis (A. Barnes 80), J. Skurr
Replacements not uses: T. Allen, J. West

Referee: Mr. G. Garner (RFU)

Crowd: 2,488



National League 1. Report by Mark Stevens of the Western Morning News.

Whilst there remains great debate over the leadership credentials of a certain gent at 10 Downing Street, so it appears Cornish Pirates' supporters are beginning to adopt a similar stance to that of their own man at number ten.

Having been blessed in recent years with proven playmakers such as Lee Jarvis, Tom Barlow, Alberto di Bernardo and, more recently, Gareth Steenson, the absence of a gifted fly-half – someone who can rule the roost in a game – is something of a glaring omission from the current Pirates' make-up.

Summer signings Doug Sanft and Rhys Jones have both been offered the lead role at various stages so far this season, but as yet neither player has been able to make their mark on the grand stage.

Yesterday, against visiting Rotherham, it was Samoan international Sanft who was entrusted with the key role. Not for the first time this season, the 29-year-old did not enjoy a great day at the office.

It was an assessment backed up by unhappy head coach Mark Hewitt, who pulled no punches following his side's 32-28 reverse at the Recreation Ground.

"We have worked hard this week, but I can't account for people missing tackles and people making poor decisions," said Hewitt. "People keep making the same mistakes week after week. At times today, I felt there was a lot of endeavour from a lot of the guys, but as far as I'm concerned, fingers need pointing at those people who keep making the same errors.

"My head is on the block, but players are also accountable at the end of the day. There are some people here who are letting the rest down by not doing the basics well. We can't keep going on like this. We can't keep sitting here and saying we are a great side because at the moment we're not a great side.

"Individuals let us down because they miss the same tackles each week. I can't have that. They get paid a lot of money to make tackles and they don't make tackles. Someone else gets paid a lot of money to put the ball in the right areas and run the game, but he doesn't do that. We are just making it hard for ourselves.

"We have got some very good individuals out there and when we play and put bits and pieces together, we look outstanding. The game, though, is played over 80 minutes."

The disappointing Sanft was certainly at the heart of Hewitt's verbal volley at the final whistle, but winger Aisea Havili was another to get the public tongue-lashing.

"Sanft isn't good enough," admitted Hewitt. "I can't put it any blunter than that. If anyone is accountable, I must be because we brought him in. That's life.

"Other people have come with reputations, but can't tackle. That's not good enough either. You know the people I am talking about, Havili. He's missed three tackles. One today, another one up at Otley that cost us a try, and he missed one against Exeter that cost us a try. There is nothing I can do about that."

It is, according to Hewitt, those kind of mistakes that are crippling his side, who were left stunned by a devastating opening to the match from the visiting Yorkshiremen.

Titans skipper Mike Whitehead set them on their way to victory when he crossed after just two minutes, the full-back finishing off a clever move which had been well crafted by Neil Chivers and Ernie Classens.

Former Pirate Barlow slotted the conversion, plus an 11th-minute penalty as Rotherham swept into a 10-0 lead.

With the home faithful somewhat shell-shocked, things got decidedly worse as Craig West's side went further in front on 13 minutes with an interception try from Jon Feeley, who raced from his own 22 to glide in under the sticks for Barlow to convert again.

A response was needed and – from their first notable raid into enemy territory – it was No.8 Bertrand Bedes who was able to barge over after Tom Luke had sniped round the side of a ruck for the converted score.

Whitehead and Luke exchanged penalties midway through the half before the home side rallied once more. With half-time fast approaching, Brian Tuohy – a former Clifton Lane favourite – made the most of an opening in the visiting rearguard to touch down, Luke's conversion making it 20-17 to the visitors at the turn.

The second half, however, started just as the first period had done. Just two minutes were on the clock when the Titans claimed try number three.

Collecting the ball deep inside his own half, the impressive Whitehead chipped over the head of Paul Devlin and reclaimed the bouncing ball before feeding Feeley who in turn drew in what feeble cover there was from the home side, before offloading to Jon Skurr who was able to race over once more.

Two Luke penalties helped the Pirates cut the deficit to four points, but just as the home side positioned themselves for a final fling, a crucial turnover on their own line saw Rotherham break downfield and from recycled ball it was Ryan Burrows who crossed for their all-important fourth try.

Even then there was still time for the Pirates to claim a scant consolation point when prop Dan Seal – who earlier was acknowledged by the masses for racking up his 200th appearance for the club – bundled over from close range.

By then it was all a little too late.



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

James Mann's hat-trick of tries ensured Redruth maintained their unbeaten record and their supremacy at the top of National League Two.

Head-coach Nigel Hambly has seen his team overpower all opposition so far and despite the announcement that assistant coach Jim McKay is to leave the club for a new role at Premiership side Leicester Tigers, Hambly was concentrating on his latest victory.

"Coming to Blackheah is a daunting task," he said. "Never easy. They are a pretty decent team with people who have operated at Premiership level and just below and people who have been around the National 1 scene for a long time. So to come here and get five points is very satisfying indeed.

"We didn't control the game too well today, I thought a lot of it was played between the two ten-yard lines and neither side really imposed themselves with a kicking game. We could have been 12 to 15 points up, then we had to defend bravely for a long period.

"First 20 and last 20 we played in the right places and did not make any silly errors and the team worked for each other. We stayed on our feet, we are being smart at the tackle, the players are listening to what the referees say the same as they are listening to the coaches at training."

Redruth started well with skipper PJ Gidlow, Rob Thirlby and Lewis Vinnicombe all finding big gaps in the Blackheath defence before a powerful scrum opened up the blind side for Mann and Vinnicombe to exchange passes before Mann touched down wide out on the right in the 12th minute, Brett Rule converting on his debut.

"In the first ten minutes we had four clean breaks and we only converted one of them, we could have had a nice lead after 15 minutes."

Blackheath scrum-half James Honeyben took advantage of some slack defence around the fringes of a ruck and touched down near the posts four minutes later but Matt Leek was wide with the conversion.

Twenty-year-old Rule played with composure, kicking close-range penalties from both sides of the pitch in the 24th and 32nd minutes to open up an eight-point gap.

Hambly had praise afterwards for the fly-half stepping into Mark Scrivener's boots. "Brett Rule is another player off the Colts conveyor belt," he said. "They are the things that really put a smile on my face. Simon Blake and his helpers, what they do – the boys have enough about them to stay with the club and give it a go. It is easy these days to go off and play in a lower league. They show a bit of bottle and we repay that by giving them the opportunity to play at this level."

In the 15 minutes leading up to the break and the ten minutes after it, Blackheath dominated possession and asked serious questions of Redruth's desire and defensive organisation.

As the pressure grew it was a bad mistake at the back of a scrum that led to full-back Martin Olima going over in the right-hand corner, Leek converting with a beauty from the touchline.

Leek had a chance to put the home side in front on the stroke of half-time with a penalty in front of the posts, but luck smiled on the Reds. The ball hit an upright and Rule cleared the rebound down field as Redruth clung to a one-point lead at the break.

Redruth began the second half without the giant Hayle man Damien Cook and had a torrid time as the home pack dominated and the Reds could not get their hands on the ball. It was no surprise when Leek put over a penalty in the 48th minute to put Blackheath 15-13 ahead.

At this stage you felt Redruth were on the ropes. A turnover, however, gave Luke Collins the chance to use his giant strides to give the Reds some forward momentum. The ball was then quickly moved to the left and Mann exchanged passes with Nathan Pedley before going over in the left-hand corner for an unconverted try.

The heat started to tell on the giant home pack as Redruth got back into the game. It became a tale of the two captains – Redruth's Gidlow was inspirational with his powerful running and tackling, while the England Counties hooker Liam Wordley was sent to the sin-bin for killing the ball in the 66th minute.

Redruth were close to tries by Pedley and Craig Bonds before the forwards were held up over the line in the 69th minute. From the five-metre scrum Mann crashed over for his third try.

The Penryn man, who had a wretched season with injuries last year, was immediately surrounded by all his celebrating team-mates.

From the restart Rob Thirlby delivered the coup de grâce, with a brilliant run of the sort that brought him such a big reputation on the international sevens circuit. He ran from the halfway line, first swerving left then right to leave the defence helpless and touch down under the crossbar on 73 minutes.

Rule converted and the Redruth supporters were purring with pleasure.

Hambly said: "I'm not going to get carried away. We have won six games in a row and we're top of the league but there is a such a long way to go yet.

"Westcombe Park will make us work very hard indeed next week, but everyone will when you are at the top of the league. We know what is was like being in the bottom half last season and thinking 'Let's go turn them over'."

McKay, meanwhile, has provided tremendous support for Hambly since his arrival last season from Cornish Pirates and is likely to be sorely missed at the Recreation Ground following the announcement that he is to take up a position with Leicester Academy.

Hambly said: "It's a massive loss. Apart from being an outstanding coach, Jim is also an outstanding individual. He is a top bloke and I will miss him personally as a friend. He will be back on occasions and will be at the Westcombe Park game.

"As head coach, for me it has been ideal having someone like Jim to bounce ideas off. We discuss things and we both have a massive love of rugby. He has bought in to what we are about and I think he has found his second home with us."



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

The Cornish All Blacks won five National Division Two points with five tries against Stourbridge at Polson Bridge, but this was still some way short of a five-star performance from the Launceston men despite the 37-29 score-line.

Winger Marc Dibble's double and further tries from Mal Roberts, Darren Semmens and Steve Perry were enough to see the All Blacks through, but their inability to maintain a cohesive defensive line will cause joint head coaches Chris Brown and Jon Hill concern over the coming week.

The All Blacks made a blistering start – scoring their first try after just 38 seconds – as they sought to erase the memory of a Cornish derby defeat to league leaders Redruth the previous week. Scrum-half Lewis Webb found Dibble in space on the right and he surged over in the corner. Fly-half Adam Staniforth then added the conversion with a measured kick from close to the touchline.

Dibble soon added a second when he collected Staniforth's cross-field chip into the right corner, allowing it to bounce once before touching down for an unconverted try. The home side appeared to be running riot, but they were caught on the hop in the 16th minute when Stourbridge full-back Ali Bressington set Jon Hall free down the left wing.

The winger exploited the space left by home centre Ryan Westren, who pulled up with a hamstring injury in the build-up to the try, which Bressington failed to convert. The visitors grew in confidence and forced the All Blacks into conceding a penalty right in front of the posts for not rolling away which Bressington slotted home to bring them back within four points.

The onslaught continued with winger Martin Freeman bursting down the other flank causing more mayhem before the move was stopped by foul means – the All Blacks though were not severely punished for killing the ball as Stourbridge kicked the close-range penalty into touch and made a hash of the resulting line-out.

Staniforth then compounded their error by stroking over a 40th-minute penalty from the Stourbridge 22 as the All Blacks broke on the counter attack. However, the visitors still had time to level before half-time when Bressington converted a fine individual score from scrum-half Tom Richardson who waltzed through to the try-line, virtually unopposed by the All Blacks.

The All Blacks were back in front within three minutes of the restart when Mal Roberts broke clear and ran into the right corner for an unconverted score. But that lead lasted just six minutes as Stourbridge centre Adam Billig took a Jon Higgins pass at pace in midfield and tore through to the All Blacks' line for a try converted by Bressington.

The home side responded with arguably their best spell of the game, scoring 17 points in the next 15 minutes. The first of which arrived when centre Steve Perry forced his way over under the posts, leaving a simple conversion for Staniforth.

Then, a Jon Fabian chip-and-charge, after he collected Richardson's high kick, got All Blacks back on the front foot again. Lock Mike Myerscough took over and played the ball inside to Darren Semmens, who ran in under the posts in the 57th minute for Staniforth to convert.

The former Exeter Chiefs' fly-half added another penalty with just over ten minutes remaining after Stourbridge were caught offside. But Stourbridge's Hall completed the try scoring on the left wing, with Bressington adding the extras as the visitors picked up a well-deserved bonus point despite the loss.

With full-time outfit Birmingham & Solihull to come next week, the All Blacks' coaching team know their side will need to show more of the same in attack but more steel and resolve in defence. Brown said: "I think we're going to have to raise our game significantly this week against Birmingham & Solihull. But having said that I thought we were absolutely excellent in attack today. When we had the ball we looked dangerous.

"Stourbridge have had a tough start to the season, they've played the top four teams and they are no mugs. Their backline was exceptional, they have good players and they're well coached. To score 37 points against them is superb. However, we must make sure we're more resolute in defence. We've gifted Stourbridge 29 points on our home patch and we can't say we made them work hard for it – at training on Tuesday there's no doubt that gum shields and hard hats will be required.

"We made a great start, we showed poise and direction and I felt that we really hit them hard, but missed tackles allowed them to come back into it when the game should really have been dead and buried in the early stages."

Fly-half Adam Staniforth kicks one of his three conversions during the Cornish All Blacks 37-29 win at home to Stourbridge. Photo by Alex Folkes/



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Mounts Bay drew encouragement from a spirited second-half performance that saw them score a try and restrict their hosts to 12 points after going into the break 28-0 down.

Blaydon won the National League Two clash 40-7 but scored three of their tries through first-phase moves as the Cornishmen's inexperience showed and were far from dominant in the second half.

Mounts Bay head coach Adrian Bick said: "I was delighted with our second-half performance: it shows what we can do when we get a bit of confidence and momentum but we've got to compete for 80 minutes. They ran in three tries from scrum ball, which is a bit disconcerting but that's inexperience and something we can work on.

"We could have scored a couple of times ourselves to make it a bit more respectable but we're still working hard and looking to turn our season around."

Bick indicated that the club hopes to sign new players to boost his side's chances of staying in the league, and was happy that new loan signings from Plymouth Albion, Darren Ritchie and Steve Johns, had acquitted themselves well. The coach said: "They came in and stepped right up to the mark. I was delighted with both of them."

Mounts Bay were under the cosh immediately at Crow Trees, where Blaydon, who were winning for the fourth time in six matches, took a six-point lead in the opening minutes through two Charlie Raynor penalties. Second row Sean Tomes got the first of six tries on 18 minutes and, by half-time, three more touchdowns for Andrew Fenby, Ben Mercer and Scott Riddell had established that 28-point lead.

Mounts Bay regrouped after the interval and began to match their opponents up front and in the threequarters, where Ritchie was at the centre of the visitors' hard-working defence.

Blaydon were able to score two more tries after their first-half, blitz, both down the flanks, with left-wing Fenby completing his double and Brendon Daniel scoring on the other side of the field in the 70th minute.

However, it was the Cornishmen who had the final say through Sam Parsons' 79th-minute try, converted by Dan Hawkes.

"We always knew it was going to be a tough start to the season," said Bick, who made an early appearance off the replacements' bench when flanker Duke Seymour suffered a dislocated thumb in the 25th minute. "I thought we kept our discipline after a poor start and we defended well in the second half. Certainly we're not short of commitment."

Next up is a home game against fellow strugglers Wharfedale, who pulled of a shock 41-12 win against Birmingham & Solihull on Saturday. Bick added: "We'll be massive underdogs again but we're at home and we'll see what sort of mental attitude we go in with."




National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

There was to be no naming and shaming this week by Mark Hewitt: instead the Cornish Pirates' head coach preferred to rejoice from the rooftops.

Perched on the balcony of Doncaster's Castle Park clubhouse, a testing week on the front line had finally drawn to a close for the 49-year-old.

Calm and composed, perhaps even relieved, this was a much different Hewitt than that which let rip just days earlier following his side's latest setback on home soil against Rotherham.

This time round, the former Royal Marine could have few complaints over the sterling efforts of his troops in battle. Whereas against the Titans certain personnel went MIA [Missing in Action], on Saturday every Pirate stood up to be counted against the robust Knights.

In the end, only a controversial decision from referee Dean Richards deep into stoppage time prevented the visitors from claiming a notable scalp. Instead they had to settle for a share of the spoils following an enthralling 24-24 draw.

It was certainly tough on the Cornish club, who had earlier staged a spirited second-half fightback, only to be denied at the death by Jamie Lennard's fourth penalty of the game.

Hewitt, however, was encouraged and believes the display could herald the start of something good for his spluttering side.

"We'll take the draw, but we're disappointed not to have won the game," he admitted at the final whistle. "We got ourselves in front right at the end, we had control of the ball, but I don't know why that end penalty was awarded. They had players break around the fringes, yet we were the ones penalised."

Even then the Pirates could have snatched a last-gasp success had fly-half Rhys Jones not had a decent drop-goal chance charged down.

For Hewitt, though, the marked improvement was clear to see. He added: "Because people haven't performed we've tended to chop and change and that hasn't really worked. Today the boys played for each other, they played for the club, and I think we will build on this. We are at home next week [against Moseley] and expectations will be really high because we've put a performance in today, but this could be the start of our season if I'm being honest.

"Yes, it's been a tough week for all of us, but we said beforehand let's find a way to win, let's stick together and work hard for each other. We know we will score against sides, but at the same time we needed to tighten up our defence and be more aggressive in the tackle area. That's what we did and you saw what happened after that. When we put more than three phases together we had them in all sorts of problems."

Playing with a strong wind at their backs in the opening half, it was the Pirates who were afforded the first chance of the game on eight minutes. Sadly, Jones – one of four changes made by Hewitt ahead of the game – was unable to take advantage as he saw his left-footed effort just sail wide of the right upright.

At the other end, Lennard had no such problem in finding his mark, the former Rotherham fly-half slotting the first of his four penalties on 12 minutes.

Doncaster's lead would prove shortlived, however. Within three minutes, Jones levelled the game up at 3-3 when he made light work of a penalty from in front of the posts.

But despite dominating in terms of both possession and territory, the Pirates were hit with a classic counter-attack on 27 minutes. A late hit by Rob Elloway on Lennard allowed the fly-half to kick for the left-hand corner. And, from the resultant line-out, the home forwards used a series of drives to send flanker Simon Grainger over for a try, which Lennard duly converted to make it 10-3 at the turn.

Worse was to follow for the Pirates on the resumption as Lennard extended Donny's grip on proceedings, the number ten gliding over from a well-crafted move that cut wide open the visiting rearguard.

Immediately the call went up from the hearty visiting support for a rapid response from their team. It duly arrived on 49 minutes as some intelligent play from centre Paul Devlin helped create the opening for winger Rhodri McAtee to cross for the first of his two converted tries.

However, two more Lennard penalties helped to put the home side – who have still to beat the Pirates in competitive action – back in the comfort zone as the game crept into its last quarter.

Reinforcements were summoned by Hewitt from the visiting bench and all of them helped to make an immediate impact. The fresh muscle not only gave the Pirates some much-needed "go forward" – but it helped to ignite the visitors for one final push.

McAtee's second try – again converted by Jones – reduced the arrears to 21-17 before the Pirates stunned the home crowd with a third touchdown two minutes from time, flanker Iva Motusaga somehow burrowing his way over by the sticks for Jones to convert once more.

Having regained the initiative, all the Pirates needed to do was close the game out. And, as the final moments ticked by, the plan appeared to be working – that was until the intervention of referee Richards.

His decision to penalise former Doncaster player Tom Luke at a ruck some 25 metres out was not only baffling, but gifted Lennard his opening to strike once more.



National League 1. Report by Bill Hooper, at the Recreation Ground, Redruth.

Redruth, who welcomed back Kiwi Mark Bright from his exploits in the Air New Zealand Cup with the Tasman Makos, notched up win number seven to maintain their top spot in National League 2 with a six-try defeat of visitors Westcombe Park at the Recreation Ground.

Despite the score-line, the Reds were made to work hard, especially during the first half by their tough, uncompromising opponents, ably led by England Counties No.8 Tom Hayman. The Kent side put up a strong defence, with former Mounts Bay player Tyron Child tackling tenaciously in the mid-field. Keeping discipline has been one of the main cornerstones of Redruth's season so far, and so it proved to be again today, allowing referee Mr. Parker-Sedgemoor a relatively trouble-free afternoon.

It began very brightly as Redruth looked to dominate the set piece, pinching an early scrum and lineout. The Reds looked to set up their driving game, soon winning a penalty chance after only 2 minutes for a high tackle. Young Brett Rule, playing once again at fly-half in place of the still-injured Mark Scrivener, pushed his attempt to the left of the posts. He was on target a couple of minutes later though, when following a fine Reds' move involving winger Lewis Vinnicombe, full-back Rob Thirlby and skipper PJ Gidlow, Westcombe Park were caught off-side in front of the sticks, allowing Rule to open the score.

For a short period the visitors came more into the game. The ever dangerous Child made a good break into the Reds' half, forcing Redruth to concede a penalty 30 meters out in front of the posts. However, fly-half Gareth Hunter missed the kick. The number 10 made no mistake after 12 minutes with a neatly taken drop-goal to level the scores. Parity lasted barely three minutes as Child gave away a penalty with an illegal tackle, allowing Rule to kick his second penalty from 25 meters.

Redruth were starting to dominate territorially, but Westcombe Park's defence remained firm under the onslaught, forcing errors from the home side.

Many Redruth players began to catch the eye. Richard Carroll, Luke Collins and Neil Corin were all enjoying success in the lineout, also making a nuisance of themselves in the loose, especially Corin, who was popping up everywhere with ball in hand in a man-of-the-match performance. The front row of Peter Joyce, Owen Hambly, Ashley Morcom and Darren Jacques when he came on got through an enormous amount of work.

Chances came and went. Winger Nathan Pedley looked to have scored but was called back by the assistant referee for a forward pass. The breakthrough finally came just before half-time, Thirlby's pace once again making the difference as he came into the line to set up No. 8 James Mann to score in the Piggy Lane corner. Rule couldn't add the touchline conversion, so it remained 11-3 at the break.

Redruth made a couple of changes at half-time, with Jacques coming on for Joyce in the front row and Mark Bright replacing Dave Roberts in the back row, yet it was the visitors who made the perfect start. A high kick out of defence by Westcombe Park saw Pedley and Thirlby both get into an awful mess, the ball bounced horribly for the Reds, allowing Westcombe Park's winger Lee Campion to collect and run in under the posts after 46 minutes. Hunter's conversion brought the visitors back to within a point. That was as good as it was to get for the men from Kent.

The Reds struck back to score within a minute. Following an attack by Gidlow and Pedley down towards the Strawberry Lane corner, Jacques powered on towards the line before Collins, though tackled, reached out to stretch over the line near the posts, Rule's conversion putting a little daylight between the sides once more.

Redruth looked to turn the screw, and pressure grew on the visitors' line. Bright, after his long flight from New Zealand, was making his presence felt around the park. Redruth, following further pressure, were camped up in the scoreboard corner. Eventually Carroll scored on 59 minutes, following a break by scrum-half Mark Richards. Paul Thirlby, on for Rule, assumed kicking duties and calmly kicked the touchline conversion via an upright.

Three minutes later and the crowd were on their feet once again. Collins juggled with the ball before storming up-field. Paul Thirlby and Bright were involved in the move before centre Craig Bonds crossed under the posts to score the bonus point try in some style, leaving Thirlby with a simple conversion.

Redruth continued to play some wonderful rugby at times, with backs and forwards combining in some marvellous moves which deserved scores and had the crowd purring with delight, the visitors left at times chasing shadows.

The Reds' fitness was telling. Further pressure near the visitors' line saw Richards dart over for his side's fifth try on 71 minutes, Thirlby kicking his third conversion.

The scoring was rounded off with a magnificent try, a move started from the Reds' own 22, with Corin powering up-field and also involving Bright and Joyce, before the excellent Collins scored his second try of the game in the scoreboard corner, leaving the Reds' supporters in seventh heaven.

Redruth 44 pts: tries Mann, Collins (2), Carroll, Bonds, Richards; conversions Rule, Thirlby (3); penalties Rule (2)

Westcombe Park 10 pts: try Campion; conversion Hunter; drop-goal Hunter

Redruth: R Thirlby; L Vinnicombe, C Bonds, PJ Gidlow (capt) (C. Fuca 67); N Pedley; B Rule (P Thirlby 55), M Richards; P. Joyce (D. Jacques h/t), O Hambly (R Brown 67), A Morcom (P. Joyce 57), R. Carroll, L Collins, N Corin, D Roberts (M. Bright h/t), J Mann.

Westcombe Park: P. Chesters; C. Lewis, T. Child (R. Walsh 71), A. Slade, L. Campion (G. Purdy 50); G. Hunter, D. Bruce; B. McKinnell (J. Mitchell 52), J. Bonner (J. Moyce 58), R. Denton, J. Chance, W. Thorpe; G. Inches, D. Abbott (B. Longergan 61), T. Hayman (capt).

Referee: Mr. R. Parker-Sedgemoor (RFU)

Crowd: 1019

Match reaction

Speaking post match, Redruth coach Nigel Hambly, whilst delighted with another win, was disappointed in the manner his side gave away Westcombe Park's only try: " I was disappointed with that try, it was a real gift, Christmas come early. Also, though we scored six tries, we should with the amount of possession we had, have scored a few more. A lot of unforced errors today, we could have used the spaces a little better".

Hambly, mindful of next Saturday's trip to Southend, also feels that there is still much more to come from his side: "We need to get our feet back on the ground. Though we've won seven games, we need to keep working and re-focus so as to cut out these errors. We've got another tough encounter next Saturday, we've got be on the top of our game to get another result".

Jim McKay, who has started up at the Leicester Tigers academy but was present yesterday, was also pleased with the Reds' win: "We won, that's good. It was a good game of rugby, once we worked out what we needed to do.

"I felt we were a bit flat when we started in the first half, we went away from what we had set out to do. We looked at that at half-time. Fair credit to the boys, we got it back on track, what we were looking to do. I thought the forwards went really well in the first half to keep us in the game, the line-outs worked well, also the scrum. In the end we ran away with it and that's credit to the guys".

McKay was fulsome in his praise for the setup at Redruth, all the way from the minis up to the first team squad. "People are fantastic, this is a real rugby county. It's been very refreshing and rewarding here and I'll be coming back as much as I can and when I do hopefully I'll be here and helping out."



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

The All Blacks will be kicking themselves after letting this one get away. They would have travelled to Birmingham with confidence, knowing that Birmingham and Solihull had also been relegated last term and that they would probably have the measure of them in this National Division Two encounter. Events proved otherwise.

It was two home tries either side of half-time that did the damage in the 23-19 defeat. However, the game began with some tit-for-tat aerial bombardment before, in the fourth minute, the Bees took a quick throw-in, set off down the left flank, spun it across field, and No.8 Jim Jenner crossed in the corner.

Five minutes on and the Cornishmen replied with a penalty goal from back Jon Fabian, for going over the top. Then the All Blacks' wing Hamish Smales scorched down the left to be stopped just short of the line.

At the end of the first quarter the Bees struck again with a penalty from fly-half Mark Woodrow for not rolling away. Again the All Blacks came agonisingly close, with their other wing Marc Dibble intercepting and blitzing from his 22 virtually the whole length of the field, only to be brought down just a few yards short.

Ominously, Birmingham and Solihull's backs were looking dangerous, sending long passes into open space to be exploited – and the All Blacks seemed to have little real answer to the danger.

Nevertheless, they narrowed it on the half hour with a penalty, the first of three, from fly-half Adam Staniforth.

Then, just before half-time, the Bees won a penalty for offside. A quick tap by Woodrow was followed by an offload to Reece Spee and the full-back shot over for the former to add the easy conversion.

Bees were 15-9 up at the break and immediately extended it at the restart, Woodrow lofting an inch-perfect diagonal kick for wing Mich Culpin to take it on the full and cross.

Within minutes Woodrow landed another penalty and his side were 23-9 ahead. The All Blacks' tactical kicking was a bit ragged, but full-back Fabian and Smales made some useful forays into the home half.

The All Blacks' fightback began in earnest on the hour. From a line-out ten metres from the home line, No.8 Glen Remnant collected at the back and made crucial ground before passing outside to replacement Scott Hobson – on his debut – and the lock was over for Staniforth to land a difficult conversion and narrow it to 23-16.

When the fly-half sent over yet another penalty there were only four points in it with 15 minutes remaining and it looked as though the All Blacks might snatch the win.

Home lock Alex Davidson was red-carded for stamping on the head of centre Steve Perry who had just come within inches of scoring, and the chance beckoned. But despite a kick to the corner and another run from a scrum along the left wing, the All Blacks finished just short.

Joint head coach Jon Hill was "bitterly disappointed" at losing a game he knew they should have won.

"We dominated the game for large parts and had, I would say, 75 per cent of possession and territory," he said. "In fact, it was the best we'd played all season and we created a lot of try-scoring opportunities.

"But there were four or five chances we didn't take in the second half. And the red card for their lock for stamping on Perry's head – that might have been a penalty try and we should have scored from the scrum perhaps. It was another chance that went begging. Now we can't afford to slip up again in the near future and must bounce back straight away.

Cornish All Blacks Sam Hocking, Tony Roques, Glen Remnant and Steve Pape combine to stop the Birmingham & Solihull Bees' Ben Phillips during the Bees's 23-19 win. Photo by Alex Folkes/



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Mounts Bay head coach Adrian Bick admits he faces a monumental task in raising his players' spirits after another morale-sapping National Division Two defeat this weekend.

After 80 minutes of toil and graft at the Mennaye against Whafedale, his men were left with just a solitary, losing bonus point despite dominating large spells of their 18-14 defeat.

Bay were untouchable for 40 minutes. Two well-deserved tries from returning winger Mika Mua and on-loan centre Steve Johns were converted by fly-half Dan Hawkes for a 14-point lead, and the Cornishmen were more than equal to anything the visitors could muster in attack.

However, once their defensive seal was broken after the break, self doubt and apprehension consumed the home side, and allowed Wharfedale to squeeze out 18 points and leave the Mennaye in stunned silence at the final whistle.

"I'm kind of speechless at the moment," said a shattered Bick. "I think most of the boys are as well. We're utterly dejected. We played our best rugby of the season in phases in that first half, and despite the pressure they threw at us, they didn't really have a great deal to offer and we absorbed it.

"But in the second half we lost a little bit of confidence again, they scored early and that doubt started coming into the players' minds. Once they scored, the boys started panicking slightly."

There seemed little chance of a Wharfedale comeback as the teams left the field for half-time. Bay were far superior from the start and began the scoring in the 11th minute when scrum-half Greg Goodfellow set up a break from midfield with a fine dummy and quick feet before offloading to Fraser Cliverd.

The Bay flanker ploughed on and handed off to Steve Dyer, who nearly made the try himself before being brought down yards from the line. Fortunately Mua was following up and added the final few yards for the score, which Hawkes converted from close range.

Wharfdale's first opportunity came when winger Darren Ritchie gave away a penalty for failing to roll away. However, centre Mark Bedworth failed to get enough power in his long-range kick and it dipped below the bar.

Bay, however, continued to play with a confidence that belied their difficult start to the season. The pressure soon told when Johns showed impressive pace and power to burst through the middle, doubling Bay's advantage once Hawkes made the conversion.

Everything stayed on track until the 50th minute, when Wharfedale winger David Hall found some space to the left of the posts. The home side were scrambling to cover three men lurking on the overlap, and with no Bay player closing down the man in possession, the winger ghosted in for the touchdown. And while Bedworth missed the conversion, the damage was done.

Bay's fluency and confidence deserted them and the visitors could smell blood. After a long spell of pressure, prop Peter Hall popped over in the right corner after his side won line-out ball and drove for the line in the 60th minute for an unconverted try.

Then the Yorkshiremen repeated the manoeuvre for Peter Hall's second try 12 minutes later – the situation compounded for Bay when second-rower John Griffiths was sent to the sin bin for taking out the receiver from the resulting kick-off. Bay's misery was then completed when Bedworth struck a late penalty in off the left post to extend the winning margin to four points.

Bick must now refocus his players' minds on a trip to Polson Bridge to face the Cornish All Blacks this weekend. He said: "It's going to be another tough game next week. I thought this week was going to be the start of something special for us, the start of our season. We knew the first six games were going to be difficult and we targeted this one, but they were no mugs.

"We've got to be upbeat and positive about all the things we did well today, especially in the first half. The ball retention and the way we defended was good. If we can do that for 80 minutes, we're in with a shout. It's coming and we're owed a little of bit of luck."




National League 1. Report by Bill Hooper, at the Recreation Ground, Camborne.

Ben Gulliver secures lineout ball during the first half. Photo by Will Hooper.

With the clock ticking down rapidly it looked as though the Cornish Pirates had once again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on another seemingly frustrating afternoon. However, with the final play of the match Mark Ireland's level pass found winger Brian Tuhoy in acres of space, allowing the Irishman to scamper into the clubhouse corner to score the match winning try, much to relief of all those present at Camborne on Sunday.

The Pirates should never have found themselves in such a situation, such was their possession and territorial domination during the match, yet once again a combination of over eagerness, wrong options, dogged Moseley defence and plain misfortune almost undid them for the fourth time at home this season.

It started brightly for the Pirates, with Moseley's Nathan Williams going offside after only 3 minutes, allowing fly-half Rhys Jones to kick an opening penalty. The youngster doubled the score with a neatly taken drop-goal after 13 minutes.

There was plenty of endeavour from the home side, despite young Jones being forced off the field to receive attention for a broken nose on 19 minutes. Chances came and went for the Pirates. Jones was on-hand to kick a second penalty kick after 36 minutes following a late tackle on centre Tom Luke by prop Terry Sigley. Once again the centre had a fine game in the Pirates' mid-field.

Just before the break Moseley pulled back three points thanks to a drop-goal from fly-half Richard Vasey on a rare visit into the Pirates' half. But Vasey's accuracy was found wanting as he wasted a couple of penalty attempts either side of half-time.

After the interval the Pirates needed an early score and it came, after 45 minutes, from ever-willing French No.8 Bertrand Bédés, who took the ball on the Moseley 22 and ran hard into the scoreboard corner for a fine try. Cue la Marseillaise on the tannoy! Jones couldn't add the extras from the touchline conversion.

Both sides brought on their bench replacement as it looked as though the Pirates would kick on, but no. Errors crept in and the anxiety in the home side's play grew as they failed to build on their lead. Instead it was Moseley who came back into it, firstly thanks to a try from No. 8 James Rodwell in the Hubert Hill corner, which Vasey converted. Then, with the Pirates swarming all over the visitors' line down in the clubhouse corner, Moseley's winger Charlie Sharples intercepted a ball to run the length of the field to score a second try for his side on 65 minutes, despite full-back Adryan Winnan's desperate attempt to haul him back. Vasey couldn't add the extras.

Moseley had the lead by a point and spectre of a fourth consecutive home defeat loomed ever closer as the minutes ticked by. The Pirates dug deep and Tuhoy's late score got them out of jail in the nick of time.

Head coach Mark Hewitt was mightily relieved after the game. "We won a game of rugby which we needed to win at home, but I am disappointed with a few of the things we did. We had a chance to go 17 points up, but someone has made a decision to run a simple three points, they go and intercept a ball and suddenly we're chasing the game.

"Also some of the fantasy rugby we try and play in wet weather, the big missed passes that didn't go to hand, we need to be a bit tighter, play more narrow and play keep ball a bit more. We talked about that at half-time, but that message got lost in translation somewhere!

"Having said all that, fair play to the boys, they stuck to the task and in the end we found a way to win as we needed that result. Expectations are really high, as a group we are feeling that, as we are not playing to our full potential. We need to iron a few things out. We should never have been in that position in the first place, we'll review that tomorrow".

Cornish Pirates 19 pts: tries Bédés, Tuohy; penalties Jones (2); drop-goal Jones

Moseley 15 pts: tries Rodwell, Sharples; conversion Vasey; drop-goal Vasey

Cornish Pirates: A. Winnan, B. Tuohy, P. Devlin (M. Ireland 63), T. Luke (S. Winn 63), R. McAtee, R. Jones (S. Winn 20-25), N. Griffiths (E. Fairhurst 77); A. Paver, R. Elloway (D. Dawiduik 30), S. Heard (S. Franklin h/t), H. Senekal, B. Gulliver (capt, M. Burak 58), C. Morgan, I. Motusaga, B.Bédés.
Replacement not used: P. Cook

Moseley: A. Binns, C. Sharples, H. Trinder, A. Reay, N. Bressington (D. Norton h/t), R. Vasey, G. Taylor (capt, J. Pasqualin 52); N. Williams, A. Caves (J. Bignell 63), T. Sigley (G. Davis 63), A. Muldowney, R. Stott (P. Arnold 52), N. Mason (M. Evans 52), A. Whitney (D. Ostleton 63 ), J. Rodwell.

Referee: N. Williams (RFU)

Crowd: 2,530



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Cornish All Black wing Marc Dibble is grabbed by Mounts Bay's Fraser Cliverd. Photo by Alex Folkes/

Mounts Bay finally threw off the shackles that have kept them locked in a cycle of defeat with his momentous result at Polson Bridge. The 8-6 victory over the Cornish Blacks was their first in National League Two and ends a seven-match losing streak.

Few expected the league's whipping boys to leave the packed ground with anything more than pride against their high-flying opponents, but their long-awaited return to winning ways was carved out through the hard yards against rattled hosts and fully deserved. The All Blacks saw a banana skin and obligingly stepped on it.

It was a scrappy affair that left both teams facing issues on discipline and observance of new rules but for now, Mounts Bay are revelling in their victory.

"It means such a lot, I'm almost lost for words," said Bay head coach Adrian Bick. "You could see it on the players' faces at the end of the game; it was like we'd just won the World Cup: a huge release of frustration against a big club that we respect and with great traditions. You could use a whole lot of clichés here – swallows in summer etc – but I truly believe it's all about self-confidence and self-belief. When you start believing that you can do it, you can turn a losing culture into a winning culture and hopefully this can kick-start our season. I've worked with these boys and played rugby with them and I know the quality in the squad."

All Blacks' joint head coach Chris Brown was less impressed with the performance of his players, who could only put two penalties on the scoreboard, both off the boot of fly-half Adam Staniforth in a reply to a Ben Hilton try and Dan Hawkes penalty.

He said: "We didn't play anywhere near our potential, we made too many errors and I thought the performance from the outset was not in line with what we expect. I'm thoroughly disappointed. I don't think in particular you could point the finger at any one player, and say maybe they're not performing to their potential, I thought as a XV we gave very little to the team and deserved to lose. We must face up to that and take it on the chin."

Brown's anger was compounded by the fact that his side failed to capitalise on the sin-binning of visiting forwards Bruce Pow and Nick Burnett either side of half-time for technical offences, when his key decision makers let slip the opportunities to take advantage of the visitors' own numerous failings.

He said: "We weren't good enough and Mounts Bay thoroughly deserved their victory. It was a tight game and we needed to get on top early. The longer they were in the game the harder they were going to be to beat and we have to be better than that: we have potential in our dressing room but potential is one thing, translating it into a performance which justifies inclusion in the squad has to be the key."

This was a match where Mounts Bay's game management was highly effective. They held on to their gains both territorially and on the scoreboard and as their basic fundamentals clicked into place and they were able to slow proceedings at will, the All Blacks' game management disintegrated and their penetration was restricted to a handful of genuine attacking movements in either half. They looked increasingly panicky.

The All Black's initial genuine foray into the Bay half was 15 minutes in the making and resulted in Staniforth's first penalty, but Hawkes replied in kind on 22 minutes, both offences for players holding on, and it was the visitors who continued to set the agenda, happy to run from deep and undeterred by either Pow's dismissal or the inevitable forwards punch-up involving skipper Nick Burnett and his former team-mates at the Launceston club.

The sides changed ends all square at 3-3, but voices would have been raised during the home team's half-time talk as the prospect of an unthinkable upset loomed.

That prospect came nearer reality as Mounts Bay resumed exuberantly, quickly reasserting their territorial advantage and matching the vaunted home pack in the forward exchanges, where Hilton, Steve Dyer and Burnett were outstanding. Hilton's try in the 52nd minute – the big second row mauled over the line by his fellow forwards as the All Blacks' defence gave ground – provided the visitors with fresh energy and induced ever greater All Blacks uncertainty as they fought desperately to regroup.

Josh Lord and Glenn Cooper joined the fray in a bid to energise the All Blacks' faltering forward effort, but by now Bay half-backs Mike Molloy and Hawkes were dictating the pace of the game and although there was to be no further scoring, the closing stages were crying out for a drop-goal as Brown's men finally began to dominate.

The All Blacks lay siege to the Bay line but failed to either break through from several set-piece opportunities or to release for the drop-goal attempt that Staniforth was surely ready to take. The final whistle was greeted by shocked silence from the home supporters and jubilation by the men in white and their substantial group of travelling fans.

However, Saturday is history in an intensely competitive league and for now Mounts Bay must plan for next week's home encounter with Blackheath in the knowledge that their error count must be reduced if this stepping stone to recovery is not to be wasted. Ironically, the Cornish club slipped back into bottom place in the division despite their achievement, following the shock 18-13 victory by fellow strugglers Waterloo over Cambridge and Bick knows there is still much work to do.

He said: "We had two yellow cards today for offences in and around the contract area and it's killing us; we're not managing that area at all.

"Last week we had 14 penalties against us against Wharfedale and eight of them were from the tackle area where we're giving away penalties in our green zone and that's something we're going to have to address this week in training."

For the All Blacks, who have slipped to fourth place, ten points adrift of leaders Redruth, next week's gruelling trip to Blaydon promises to be a real test of character and Brown is unlikely to be sparing on the training field this week, when the eradication of errors will also be his priority.

He said: "We were under pressure at the scrummage and made critical errors in the strike zone. It's up to us to pick ourselves up. We've got collective and individual reputations to restore and when we go on to the pitch, it's our job to reach 100 per cent of potential, and I didn't think we were anywhere near it today. It's a time for honesty – we haven't achieved what we set out to at the moment – we're three games down after eight weeks and that's simply not good enough."



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Redruth coach Nigel Hambly had only one word to describe his side's 32-7 win at Southend on Saturday. That word was "awesome".

He was a very pleased man, as you might expect after the long journey across the country led to Reduth's eighth-straight victory of the campaign, a bonus point victory to boot.

And there was more to be pleased at. Rivals the Cornish All Blacks, third in the table, stumbled at home to Mounts Bay in a shock result that raised one of the biggest cheers of the afternoon among the travelling Redruth fans.

Whilst second-placed Cambridge were also sensationally beaten by basement club Waterloo 18-13. It means that Redruth are now seven points clear at the top of the table and still have a big fat zero in the losses column.

Hambly described the first 40 as "the best half we have played all season". Playing with a blustery wind behind them, they sucked up pressure from a spirited if limited Southend side.

In possession terms, the 13-0 lead the Cornishmen went in at half-time with was flattering, but possession does not tell the whole story. Redruth, though little in their opponent's half before the break, defended comfortably and after the break, when the home side tired, they found the gaps and space on the flanks to put the game beyond their reach.

Hambly paid tribute to his team's defensive capabilities, saying it was this rigidity that had been the basis that had allowed them to go on and win the game.

"We had great shape, tenacity and attitude today," he said. "For the first 20 minutes they were camped in our 22 but they didn't score. That is what we are all about. From one to 15 we were pretty much outstanding defenders.

"We didn't try to play too expansively. We also played the elements and the field. We didn't give them a sniff and that was important. We didn't let them think they could win it, which would have allowed them to get on top."

While paying tribute to a team effort, the game was also a Thirlby and Thirlby show. Paul came in for his first start of the season at fly-half alongside Rob at full-back. Between them the rocket-heeled brothers contributed 22 of the away team's 32 points.

Rob's second try was perhaps the pick of the game's scores. Southend's No.8 Mark Braidwood burst through the Redruth defensive line and ran into the 22 before looking desperately to offload. His wayward pass went straight to Redruth's captain PJ Gidlow, who swiftly threw the ball out to the overlapping Thirlby.

The former England Sevens star did the rest with a fair impression of Roadrunner down the left wing, leaving Southend players looking like they were wearing Acme comedy heavy boots.

Thirlby had already gone over in the first half, with a simple try following a good burst from Mark Richards. Two kicks from brother Paul had also kept the scoreboard totting up.

After the second try the game opened up compared to the stalemate of the first period. Tries for flanker James Mann, his fifth in three games, and wing Lewis Vinnicombe put the game out of reach of the home side.

Paul Thirlby himself could have had a try to cap an impressive performance, but as he burst through late on the referee blew up for a previous knock-on by Vinnicombe, chasing his own high kick.

Despite the win, and its bombastic nature, Hambly was still not happy. He lamented the "sloppy" try the side let in early in the second half, scored by home captain Andrew McClintock. "It wasn't a perfect performance by any means," Hambly said. "I can assure you we will not be losing focus or taking our foot off the gas."




National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

After a recent upturn in their fortunes, the Cornish Pirates needed to claim a big scalp to prove their National One campaign was at last back on track.

At Goldington Road on Saturday, Mark Hewitt's side proved it in style as they floored hosts Bedford Blues with a knockout performance. Make no mistake, this outcome was no fluke.

Such was the total control exerted by the visitors in a solid 80-minute performance, the Blues – who have been scoring tries for fun this season – never once posed a meaningful threat to the Cornishmen's line during the entire second half.

It was a display which clearly delighted Pirates' head coach Mark Hewitt after a testing few weeks at the helm. He said: "This is a hard place to come and win and I thought the boys showed a lot of spirit and a lot of attitude. We had to really grind out a result today.

"We have looked at them [Bedford] and they are a good side. They have got one of the best back divisions in the league, but we looked at them and realised we could stop them at source by getting into their set-piece, stopping them putting it on the floor and stopping their momentum. Defensively we knew we could put them under pressure and that is what happened today."

Tries from Nicky Griffiths and Steve Winn coupled with the boot of fellow Welshman Rhys Jones were enough to account for the home side on the day.

Hewitt added: "For a change, we took our opportunities today. We got a penalty with our first attack and we showed composure. In the past we have panicked a bit and done silly things, but we deserved the result.

"We were in a good position at the start of the second half, so it was just a case of more of the same. We kept our defensive shape, applied pressure and we knew the chances would come. We scrummaged well, took their line-out apart and forced them to live off scraps and play from deep.

"I'm also pleased that we managed a game at last and never looked like going behind in the second half, for which Rhys Jones and Nicky Griffiths can take some credit. Adryan Winnan also managed the game and led the team well."

Injuries and illness forced the Blues into five changes coming into this match, but playing down the notorious Goldington Road slope in the first half they were the fastest out of the blocks.

Early pressure brought a fifth-minute penalty and Billy Twelvetrees, a summer capture from Leicester Tigers, made no mistake from 20 metres.

Undaunted, the Pirates fought back immediately. Assertive play from half-backs Jones and Griffiths – who terrorised the home defence all afternoon – drew an 11th-minute penalty from which Jones made no mistake.

Eight minutes later and superb pressure play from the Pirates saw a darting break from Rhodri McAtee draw a second penalty from the Blues. Jones again made no mistake.

Things did not get any easier for the home side when they lost skipper Brendan Burke to a yellow card. And – from the resultant penalty – Jones fired the visitors further in front.

Leading 9-3, the Pirates had opportunities to increase their lead as Bedford began to implode up front, but a yellow card for visiting prop Scott Franklin and a second penalty for Twelvetrees kept Bedford in the hunt at the interval.

With the weather deteriorating after half-time and the home crowd baying for an improvement, it looked like the Pirates were going to be in for a torrid second period. Thankfully, it did not happen.

With Ben Gulliver and Bertrand Bedes wrecking Bedford's line-out with impunity, plus the wily Alan Paver in particular too smart for the Bedford front row, the home set-piece began to dismantle.

Behind the pack, the backs led by Winnan from full-back tore into the home team time and time again. Paul Devlin tackled like a man possessed and then there was fellow centre Winn. He clearly relishes playing on this ground against this opposition and once again he tormented Bedford all afternoon.

With an hour played Griffiths made a good afternoon even better for the Pirates. This time his step inside not only fooled the Blues' defence, but avoided the flailing arms which had dogged him up to that point, as he burst clear from 20 metres to touch down beneath the posts.

Jones converted and at 16-6 Bedford had no choice but to play catch-up rugby.

The results for the home faithful were not pretty. The Pirates penned Bedford back in their own half for lengthy periods with tenacious tackling and sensible tactics, forcing them to take more and more risks. As their error count grew, the Pirates waited to pounce and with five minutes to play the chance came as Jones coolly slotted his fourth penalty of the contest.

Then, three minutes into injury time, with the home fans leaving in their droves, Winn claimed an interception on half-way and sprinted clear to dot down under the Bedford crossbar. Jones landed the simplest of conversions to cap a memorable afternoon for the Pirates and their fans.



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

Fifth-placed Cinderford were a side that many local rugby pundits felt would give Redruth a stern examination in this West Country derby. However, Redruth were in no mood to be dictated to by the Gloucestershire side: they completely outclassed their visitors, winning by eight tries to two in a game that, as a contest, was over by half-time.

It was probably Redruth's finest performance at home since their opening-day win against the Bees, with their back three running rampant and helping themselves to six of the tries. At the final whistle the home crowd rose to cheer their heroes as they continue their impressive march at the top of National League 2 with this ninth consecutive win.

Playing with a stiff breeze behind them down the slope first half, Redruth kicked-off knowing that they need a sizeable first half haul. Fly-half Paul Thirlby missed with an early penalty chance from distance as Cinderford went in at the side. But Redruth's early pressure soon paid dividends with an opening try after only 5 minutes. Following good work from the forwards, notably lock Richard Carroll and flanker Chris Fuca, the ball found centre Craig Bonds, who ran hard into Hell Fire corner, slicing through a yawning gap in Cinderford's defence to score. Thirlby kicked a fine conversion for a 7-0 lead.

Redruth continued to dominate with a second try on 10 minutes. A clever kick by winger Lewis Vinnicombe close to the touchline on the visitors' 22 saw the winger catch his covering opponent to force a Redruth throw in. From the lineout Redruth worked the ball across field, with PJ Gidlow and Carroll involved before the ball found winger Nathan Pedley, who dived into the Piggy Lane corner. Although Thirlby couldn't add the extras he was on target with a penalty after 18 minutes following good work from hooker Owen Hambly at a lineout as Cinderford were caught offside.

Redruth had stepped up another gear. Just three minutes later Cinderford were rocked by yet another score, as No. 8 Mark Bright finished off a move he instigated, with Paul Thirlby providing the scoring pass before converting the try.

The bonus point was secured after only 26 minutes, and in some style too, as full-back Rob Thirlby coolly collected a high ball near half-way. Cleverly spinning out of the tackle, he then launched on one of his trade-mark blistering runs, leaving the Cinderford cover grasping thin-air before calmly placing the ball down behind the try-line, to thunderous cheers all around the ground. Brother Paul converted for 29-0.

The Redruth crowd barely had time to draw breath before they were celebrating a fifth try as Vinnicombe polished off the latest Redruth move down in Hell Fire corner after 33 minutes. Thirlby's conversion attempt hit an upright and stayed out.

To their credit Cinderford stuck to their task, getting some reward just on half-time when prop Phil Kennedy was driven over down in the Strawberry Lane corner, Danny Trigg's conversion failing.

Despite making a couple of changes at half-time Cinderford were soon back under the cosh at the start of the second half. The game briefly threatened to get physical as the visitors' frustration grew -- a late hit on Paul Thirlby left the fly-half shaken, but not stirred. Bonds was forced to leave the field for stitches to a nasty looking cut above his left eye, thanks to some careless foot work from the visiting forwards.

Redruth were not about to be suckered in by Cinderford's spoiling game, keeping their discipline to answer in the best possible way by putting more scores on the board. Bright was once more involved in the early stages of a move that saw Vinnicombe power up towards the scoreboard corner, with Rob Thirlby on hand to score his second of the afternoon on 54 minutes.

Four minutes later Pedley was rounding off another fine move down in the Strawberry Lane corner, after more good work from Bright and Gidlow. Redruth then rounded off their scoring with another cracker, as Vinnicombe countered from his own 22. Rob Thirlby was on his shoulder to score his third try in the scoreboard corner, with Paul Thirlby's conversion taking the Reds' total past 50 points.

Cinderford, though totally mesmerised by the sheer pace of the Reds' attacking, had the consolation of scoring a second try late in the game through flanker George Evans, which centre Dewi Scourfield converted. They were thankful that referee Phillips' final whistle saved them from any further punishment. If it had been a boxing match they'd have already been well on their way back up the A30 at full-time!

After the final whistle Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly was a very happy man. "It was a team effort, even the boys who came off the bench added to the game, they kept the pace and the power up, that was impressive. At half-past two this afternoon I'd have settled for that scoreline."

Turning to next Saturday and their trip to Waterloo, Hambly remarked, "They (Waterloo) turned over Cambridge last week. We will not be taking them lightly, it's going to be another tough game up there."

Redruth: R. Thirlby, L. Vinnicombe, C. Bonds (B. Rule 51), PJ Gidlow (capt), N. Pedley, P. Thirlby, M. Richards; D. Jacques (P. Joyce 62), O. Hambly (R. Brown 62), A. Morcom, R. Carroll (N. Corin 59), L. Collins, C. Fuca, J. Mann (D. Roberts 59), M. Bright.

Cinderford: D. Trigg (T. Wilson 58), J. Copsey (O. Winterbottom 45), D. Knight, D. Scourfield, A. Macrea, T. Stevenson, W. Merivale; P. Kennedy, C. Hall (N. Matthews 68), A. Deacon (J. Meadows h/t), R. Fidler, M. Cornwell (capt), G. Evans, C. McNeil (G. Thompson h/t), R. James.

Redruth 51pts: tries Bonds, Pedley (2), Bright, R. Thirlby (3), Vinnicombe; conversions P. Thirlby (4); penalty P. Thirlby

Cinderford 12 pts: tries Kennedy, Evans; conversion Scourfield

Referee: Mr. R. Phillips (RFU)

Crowd: 1109



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

There's suddenly less mention of the dreaded 'R' word at Mounts Bay as the Cornish side's stock continues to rise in National Division Two following a 28-22 home victory over Blackheath.

The pressure was on at the Mennaye Field as Bay sought to follow up their superb derby day success over the Cornish All Blacks the previous week, but Adrian Bick's side showed all the confidence and conviction that was missing from their game in the opening weeks of the season to lift themselves off the bottom of the table.

This was a performance reminiscent of those that saw them promoted as champions of Division Three South – brilliant for 65 minutes before easing back once victory was assured. That, as Bick admits, is a far more risky strategy in this division, but there is now every reason to believe his side have finally adjusted to the rigours of Division Two.

"It's all about confidence," said head coach Bick. "It was great to get some points on the league table last week but it was worth so much more than that. It's also about what we carried through into today. There was massive pressure. Last week's victory would have meant nothing if we turned around today and lost at home.

"But you can see on the field that the players are coming up and high-fiving one another and getting really enthusiastic when they do something well, whether it's a try, turnover or a good tackle. It's all confidence, it's something you can't train for but it's something we have to generate as a squad."

The Bay feel-good factor even saw prop Tim Mathias charging down the touchline like a winger in the opening moments against Blackheath. He received a perfectly timed long pass out wide from much-improved fly-half Dan Hawkes and crashed over in the corner. Hawkes was unable to convert, but the former Plymouth Albion player showed how his confidence has grown with a sweetly struck drop goal to extend the hosts' lead moments later. Blackheath fly-half Matt Leek slotted a penalty on a rare counter-attack but still Bay were in control.

The first-half blitz continued with scrum-half Mike Molloy catching Blackheath unaware with his tap penalty and charge for the line midway through the half. He was brought to a halt just short of the try-line, but skipper Nick Burnett followed up, and when he was unable to make the vital yards, Mathias was on hand to force the ball over under the posts.

Hawkes converted and added a penalty five minutes before the break as his side continued to press ahead in search of a third try. That score arrived eight minutes into the second half when hooker Jamie Salter charged down a Blackheath clearance, gathered the ball and touched down with Hawkes – who set up the opportunity with a well- judged kick for the corner – converting from close to the touchline.

A 60th-minute Hawkes penalty extended Bay's lead to 25 points -- at which point they let their foot off the accelerator. A Blackheath penalty try, converted by Leek, was followed by a Charlie Gower touchdown just under the posts with six minutes remaining – Leek again adding the extras.

Visiting scrum-half James Honeyben then got an unconverted third try for his side after a lightning raid down the right by winger Alex Page. But, unlike in previous weeks, Bay settled and stifled the visitors well in the final moments to see out the win.

"That wasn't an 80-minute performance out there," admitted Bick. "We had a wobble – the typical Mounts Bay wobble, where we tend to go to sleep in the last quarter of the game. Fair play to Blackheath, they are a decent side and they came back and punished us. At 28-22 it could have been really uncomfortable. The slow-ball plays towards the end were ugly, but it's what we need to do to close games out."

With new Fijian signings Joji Qaranivalu, Wilson Tulakepa and Ifereimi Nasiko Kava looking on from the sidelines ahead of possible debuts next week, and new South African backs coach Graham Furber – who has worked with 2008 Currie Cup champions the Natal Sharks – due to arrive this week to assist Bick, Bay might be even more potent in the games ahead against Westcombe Park and Southend.

However, Bick is keen to ensure the current form and confidence of the Bay squad is enhanced rather than diluted. He said: "We're looking to add to the squad all the time, be it signings or loan players, etc. I'm not sure what the side will be like in two or three weeks' time, but I'd like to keep the side together and continue building that continuity and camaraderie which has drawn us through the last two games. We could sign one or two stars but it might not necessarily make us a better team."



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Cornish All Black lock Bryn Jenkins runs with the ball against Blaydon. Photo by Alex Folkes/

Cornish All Blacks' skipper Keith Brooking was not too despondent following this narrow defeat at far-flung Blaydon.

The 18-16 setback saw the club slip 14 points off the pace in National League Two and follows last week's shock Cornish derby defeat against Mounts Bay.

Brooking said: "We're getting lots of possession and territory but we need to show a bit more composure in the scoring zone and start converting it into points.

"Obviously it gets harder each time we lose but if we weren't playing well and not winning possession, then that's something we would have to look at. We're playing our rugby in the right areas, now we need to work on the finishing."

The two sides were level 3-3 at half time, respective fly-halves Andy Baggett and Adam Staniforth both successful with penalty kicks, and it was the All Blacks who struck first in the second period, Staniforth booting another penalty as the visitors continued to dominate proceedings.

However, the Cornishmen were made to pay for their continuing failure to turn territory into points when Blaydon scored twice against the run of play.

Winger Brendan Daniel claimed both tries, the first resulting from good work by fellow threequarters Martin Shaw and Ben Mercer, but the second was a solo effort that benefited from poor All Blacks tackling. Baggett converted one of the tries and added a penalty for an 18-6 lead with time running out, but it was still the visitors who looked stronger, and they battled back to within two points with two late tries.

Second row Tim Collier got the first as Blaydon's defence finally cracked under intense pressure and the Cornish forwards rumbled over the line. Replacement Jamie Semmens claimed the second after good work from Exeter Chiefs loan signing Tom Bedford and, with the score at 18-16, Staniforth had the chance to take a share of the points with his touchline conversion attempt, but the kick went wide.

A draw was the least the Cornish All Blacks might have expected as reward for their dominance, but Brooking accepted that his players had contributed to their own downfall. He said: "We should have been well in front and looking for four points instead of needing a kick for the draw. We conceded two soft tries and didn't take our own chances.

"However, it's a long old season and I think there'll be a few twists and turns before we get to the end. We'll just knuckle down and hopefully if we improve our finishing and take our opportunities, we should be in the mix after Christmas."

The All Blacks were also encouraged by the performance of Bedford and fellow Exeter Chiefs loanee Gary Kingdom, as well as giant tight-head Hamish Mitchell, who was making his debut after arriving from New Zealand club side Taranaki last week.




National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

The Cornish Pirates made it three wins in a row and four matches unbeaten with a workman-like performance in Surrey against a gritty but ultimately limited Esher side.

The Pirates dominated huge phases of possession and territory, but struggled to land the killer punch as National League One Esher dug in and frustrated their visitors. As at Bedford, just seven days before, it took a piece of Nicky Griffiths magic on the hour to eventually edge the Pirates into open water as he raced clear to set up the opening try for wing Brian Tuohy. Then, five minutes later, the livewire Welshman was again instrumental as Tuohy killed the contest with his second try.

Speaking after the match Pirates' head coach Mark Hewitt said: "We kept the momentum going today, although we wanted a better performance than the one we turned in. Our accuracy in places was not particularly great and we made a few errors with the ball. But that is now two weeks on the trot that we haven't conceded a try so that is a positive, and as I have said the momentum is moving and we are going in the right direction.

"We lacked accuracy to complete all the sets of possession we had with our handling and silly little off-loads. They [Esher] got themselves back in it with some good kicks which got in behind us and put us under pressure, but the game does ebb and flow."

For the second week running Pirates props Alan Paver and Scott Franklin proved thorns in the side of their opposite numbers at the set-piece. Hewitt adding: "On their ball our scrum really put them under pressure, but I thought our ball was sloppy at times so we need to work on that. At the break I told the team to work on the tackle area and avoid giving silly penalties away. In defence I told them to work on making the tackle and working through the tackle area. I told the boys to be more direct, take the ball to them and keep the ball."

The first half of this contest, played on a heavy pitch after a torrential pre-match downpour, was largely forgettable. The Pirates took the game to Esher and secured a second-minute lead as early pressure forced the home side to infringe deep in their own half. Fly-half Rhys Jones slotted a simple penalty and the vocal travelling support quickly found their voices.

There was plenty of effort and endeavour after that from the Cornish side, with centre Steve Winn and skipper Adryan Winnan at full-back particularly impressive, but wrong options and niggling errors frustrated the Pirates, allowing Esher to build some momentum of their own towards the break with their points-scoring double act of Neil Hallett and Dougie Flockhart to the fore.

It took the Pirates until five minutes before half-time to extend their lead as Jones stroked home a second penalty, but turning around into the strengthening wind and only six points to the good, it was clear that a more direct approach was needed.

Esher capitalised on a sluggish restart from the Pirates when an offence in the loose allowed Hallett to open their account with a 40-metre penalty. After a brief exchange of aerial ping-pong between both sets of backs the Pirates forwards then took control of the ball, building up a head of steam which resulted in a third successful penalty for Jones in the 53rd minute.

The home side immediately began to reinforce their flagging pack with the first of a raft of replacements, but with 61 minutes played the game was decided by a moment of brilliance from the Pirates. Hooker Darren Dawidiuk struck an Esher scrum against the head mid-way inside his own half. Griffiths seized quick ball, bursting 40 metres deep into home territory before offloading to fellow Welshman Steve Winn. His controlled pass under pressure to Tuohy gave the Irishman a 15-metre blast down the touchline to score in the corner.

Five minutes later Griffiths was again the provider as his lofted chip to the same corner caused consternation in the Esher defence. The sliding Griffiths was inches from touching down himself but former Saracens wing Tom Lozides got ahead of him and over-ran the ball. As Lozides struggled for grip on the wet surface Tuohy ghosted in unopposed behind him to claim the score.

Esher protested that Lozides had actually grounded the ball himself and the referee Keith Lewis consulted with his touch judges before awarding the try. Jones missed the difficult touchline conversion attempt before the enraged home side stormed back at the Pirates in a furious finale. Hewitt's men refused to yield and claimed a deserved victory ahead of Sunday's mouth-watering clash with Leeds Carnegie at Camborne.

On the subject of the disputed second try, Hewitt commented: "It's history now. The try stands, the result stands, it's gone."



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly is hopeful skipper PJ Gidlow will not be sidelined for too long after the centre sustained a heavy blow to his cheekbone in Saturday's 35-17 victory at lowly Waterloo.

Although Gidlow travelled home with the table-topping Reds on Saturday night, he was in hospital yesterday having the injury assessed.

"The swelling has gone down and he's got a bit of feeling back, but he's in hospital now having it looked over," said Hambly yesterday. "Hopefully it's not too serious, but we'll have to wait and see."

Before going off, however, the hard-hitting Samoan helped play his part in yet another success for the Reds, who have now won all ten league games and sit eight points clear at the summit of National League Two.

"I'm really pleased with the result," added Hambly. "We showed tremendous courage to stick in there and there was a real desire to keep our winning run going.

"We've had a lot of games that have been fairly one way, but today the game was in the balance for 60 minutes. Today, though, we showed bottle, we didn't stand off and we stepped forward. All the replacements came on and made an impact and we kept going right to the end.

"Credit to Waterloo, I thought they played exceptionally today, they are a proud club with a massive tradition. Their second try was an excellent try and of the ten teams we've played this season, they're possibly better than five of the other sides."

After last week's scintillating win over Cinderford, Redruth started full of confidence and broke the deadlock after just three minutes when Paul Thirlby stroked over a penalty.

Redruth's lead, however, proved shortlived as a delayed pass from Mark Richards was intercepted by Waterloo's Neil Kerfoot who raced some 60 metres to touchdown near the posts for Frank Lynch to convert.

The visitors soon hit back and their free-flowing style was evident as a sweeping passing move ended with a clever chip by Rob Thirlby being picked up by James Mann, who dived over for a try that Paul Thirlby converted.

For the rest of the half Redruth created chances but did not finish them off. Waterloo, on the other hand, showed determination but got on the wrong side of referee Richard Parker-Sedgmoor too many times and lost lock Jason Harrington to the sin-bin for repeated offences at the tackle area.

Into the second half and Redruth extended their advantage with two quickfire tries from Lewis Vinnicombe and Rob Thirlby to open up a 13-point lead.

Despite the cushion, the Cornishmen could not shake off their determined hosts who hit back with an excellent try on 55 minutes. Good forward play – with former Pirate Peter Ince prominent – helped set the platform for a sweeping passing move across the field that allowed winger Matt Williams to dive over in the corner, Lynch's conversion going over via an upright.

The try certainly gave the home side a lift and, when Lynch slotted a penalty moments later, just three points seperated the two as the game headed into the final quarter.

Hambly, however, had the luxury of bringing on important forwards Darren Jacques, Richard Carroll and Chris Fuca and the fresh muscle helped ease the Reds home.

It was a lucky chargedown that led to the all-important bonus-point try with 15 minutes to go. Craig Bonds and Dave Roberts made the most of the chance and, with the Waterloo cover desperately scrambling back, Paul Thirlby dived over for a try that he also converted.

A second Thirlby penalty helped put more daylight between the two sides, who had to engage in uncontested scrums late on after Waterloo's replacement prop Liam McLoughlin was yellow-carded for landing a cheap shot on Richard Carroll.

With the man advantage, Redruth wrapped up victory when winger Mike Georgiou raced onto a long pass from Ricky Pellow to score in the left-hand corner.



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Cornish All Black flanker Tony Roques wins the ball in a lineout against Wharfedale. Photo by Alex Folkes/

It will be an uphill battle to bridge the 14-point gap to the top of National Division Two, but the Cornish All Blacks finally started to look like genuine title contenders during a 38-10 home victory over Wharfedale this weekend.

The All Blacks, who have so often failed to convert their dominance into points this season, showed their clinical side by running in five tries for the loss of just one in an all-action 80-minute performance.

Even the disappointing loss of centre Ryan Westren to injury during the warm-up failed to halt the home side – a quick backs reshuffle saw Marc Dibble step in to score two tries in his 100th appearance for the club, while Sam Hocking, Ben Turner and Scott Hobson added the rest.

Joint head coach Chris Brown said: "Recently we've been performing in fits and starts, but today I think we put it together with some real simple stuff. When we got momentum in the early stages, we were patient and we opened them up out wide.

"If people are going to take us seriously, we have to string together performances. But I was very pleased with today, it was the boost that we needed."

After a back-and-forth opening ten minutes winger Dibble could have scored the first try when he chased his own grubber kick into the right corner. Although he seemed favourite to reach the ball first, he was unable to touch down. The All Blacks were then penalised for diving in as reinforcements arrived to try to make the score.

But Dibble persisted and did get his first try five minutes later. Back-rower Josh Lord and on-loan Exeter Chiefs' winger Gary Kingdom made some decent yards on the left before the ball was played out to the other side via a fine pass from new prop Hamish Mitchell to Jon Fabian. Dibble then took over and ran it into corner for an unconverted score.

Wharfedale soon upped their game, and when the All Blacks were penalised for coming in at the side, centre Mark Bedworth struck a penalty through the posts.

The home side responded with another patient try-scoring move four minutes later. Fabian, Kingdom and Tom Bedford put together a slick move down the left before allowing their forwards a chance to drive for the line. And just as the Wharfedale defence were drawn in to stop them rumbling over the line, the All Blacks shifted the ball to the right through fly-half Steve Perry and centre Mal Roberts. The ball then found its way to Dibble, who had plenty of time and space to score his second, which Fabian converted.

Sam Hocking, a blood replacement for Glen Remnant, then ensured the home side ended the half on a high with an unconverted pick-and-go score in the right corner to put his side 14 points clear at the break.

A Fabian penalty shortly after the break extended the hosts' lead further, before scrum-half Turner secured the bonus point with a determined run for the line off a scrum close to the posts. Wharfedale battled on and were rewarded with a try after a slick backs move was finished off by No.8 Gavin Jones in the 50th minute, converted by Bedworth.

An offside infringement allowed Fabian another successful penalty kick just after the hour-mark, and once Wharfedale try-scorer Jones was shown a yellow card for over-zealous use of the boot, it seemed certain that the All Blacks would only increase their lead.

And so it proved as replacement Mike Provis came on for Roberts and kicked a fine drop-goal in the 70th minute, before lock Hobson scored the All Blacks' fifth and final try, which was converted by Fabian.

Brown agreed this was one of his side's best performances of the season to date, but he feels there is still plenty to do before the All Blacks can talk again about any possible ambitions of promotion.

He said: "This win was important for our comeback but it doesn't put us anywhere different from where we were last week in terms of the season.

"In March or April, maybe we'll have a clearer picture, but in this season and in this league, there will be a lot of stories left to tell I'm sure."



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Mounts Bay's Division Two resurgence continued at Westcombe Park with this 26-8 victory.

Dan Hawkes scored all of the visitors' points at Goddington Dene with two tries, two conversions, three penalties and a drop goal, but while the fly-half took the individual plaudits, this was another superb team effort from a side that has now won three matches in a row and is moving slowly away from the bottom of the table.

Hawkes ran the show for the visitors in the first half, and after Westcombe Park had taken an early lead with a Gareth Hunter penalty, the former Plymouth Albion number ten chipped the ball neatly behind the home defence, gathered and crossed near the posts before booting the simple conversion.

Hawkes and half-back partner Mike Molloy have been growing in stature in recent weeks and they again combined well on Saturday behind their hard-working forwards.

The stand-off booted two penalties to put his side 13-3 ahead and then delivered a hammer blow before the break with an interception close to the Park line and a converted try that saw the visitors take a 20-3 lead into the second period.

Mounts Bay were given a fright shortly after the restart when winger Lee Campion's opportunistic run for the line from 70 metres narrowed the gap and reminded the Cornishmen that a tendency to go off the boil has cost them dearly in the past.

However, there was to be no repeat this time and the visiting forwards gradually took control.

Hawkes by now was in total control and had sufficient composure towards the end to slot a drop goal from 30 metres before rounding things off with his third penalty.

Mounts Bay return to their Mennaye Field home next week for a clash with a Southend side that have now lost four matches in a row, culminating in Saturday's 39-14 defeat against visiting Birmingham & Solihull, which saw them fall to second from bottom in the table, two points adrift of next week's hosts.

Bay head coach Adrian Bick is satisfied that the players have now fully regained their confidence and are ready to climb several places up the table by Christmas. He said: "It was a good strong performance all round, the set piece was sound and we had turnover ball. Things that we have worked on in training are coming to fruition and the boys were disappointed we were unable to push on and get the bonus point, which is a big turnaround from four weeks ago."

Bick believes that, with a hatful of good victories under their belt the players have adopted a new mindset, typified by their reaction to Saturday's victory. He said: "There wasn't quite the same euphoria as the week before and I think that's because the boys are now setting their standards a little bit higher and looking to push on."

The Bay hope to have substantial reinforcements on the field on Saturday, including Fijian Under-20 winger Wilson Tuakepe. Flanker Brett Stroud will be available after suspension and scrum-half Greg Goodfellow's return from injury is likely to present the Bay with a selection problem.




National League 1. Report by Bill Hooper at the Recreation Ground, Camborne.

The Cornish Pirates gave their supporters another roller-coaster ride of emotions on Sunday afternoon at Camborne in an eventually enthralling and pulsating match, which could have gone the home side's way with a little more nous. Even those supporters well-known for leaving their seats early near the end of games, for once (thankfully!) sat transfixed with this absorbing encounter.

The Falmouth Marine Band were in attendance and raised the crowd excitement pre-match, but if they had hoped to strike fear into the visiting side then they were very much mistaken.

The Pirates began the match in the worst possible way as fly-half Rhys Jones' kick-off was gathered and run back by Leeds Carnegie lock Kearnan Myall. Without a Pirate laying a hand on him, he dotted down under the posts with barely 16 seconds on the clock! Former Pirate favourite, fly-half Alberto Di Bernardo coolly slotted over the conversion.

Barely two minutes later and the Pirates were rocked once more as another former player, winger Richard Welding, was on-hand to finish off a slick move involving Tom Biggs, Di Bernardo and Rob Vickerman up in the Hubert Hill corner.

The faithful could be forgiven for thinking "Here we go again!" But no, this Pirates side is made of sterner stuff -- they set about their up-hill task with skipper Adryan Winnan leading the charge by example. The home forwards put the visiting forwards under tremendous pressure, forcing the Yorkshiremen to concede a host of penalties. Eventually prop Juan Gomez was sin-binned after 13 minutes as referee Nick Williams' patience ran out.

Rhys Jones had already began to cut the deficit with a penalty after 7 minutes. He had further successful kicks on 13, 22 and 24 minutes, as Vickerman became the second Leeds player to see yellow as illegal play prevented a Pirates' try.

Having got level, the Pirates let Leeds snatch back the initiative prior to half-time. Di Bernardo kicked a penalty on 31 minutes and added a touchline conversion to a try by winger Tom Biggs down in the Park gate corner of the ground. But the Pirates stormed back to earn a fifth penalty which Jones kicked to give them hope for the second half, the grandstand crowd raising the rafters with their half-time ovation for their team's fight back.

Dan Seal appeared at half-time in place of Sam Heard at tight-head as the Pirates set about trying to claw back their deficit. However, it was Di Bernardo who struck first for the visitors as the Pirates were penalised on 43 minutes.

The Pirates made further changes, with Matt Evans and Sam Betty coming on for Bertrand Bédés, who took a hefty knock to the head which left him very groggy post match, and Chris Morgan.

The Pirates kept up the pressure. Jones missed with a penalty attempt after 53 minutes, Winnan then had a chip and chase deep into the Leeds' 22. A penalty to the Pirates on 60 minutes was kicked down to the Park gate corner 22. Having secured the lineout, the forwards drove at the Leeds line with hooker Darren Dawiduik getting the touchdown; unfortunately the extras went begging.

The Pirates stormed the gates as they looked to clinch an improbable win. A sixth Jones penalty left the Pirates tantalisingly close. Despite referee Williams playing almost 9 minutes of time added on -- much to the annoyance of the Leeds team and their entourage -- it was they who held out for the four points in their quest for an immediate return to the Guinness Premiership next season.

After the match Pirates head coach Mark Hewitt was in reflective mood. "It's the story of our season, we're disappointed. The start cost us seven points, then we give away another one and suddenly we're twelve points down. However, you've got to give credit to the guys, they didn't let it get on top of them, they stuck to their task and created a lot of opportunities first half to get themselves back in the game, so total credit to the lads."

He acknowledged that Leeds would have been disappointed by the number of penalties they gave away, especially during the first half, whilst adding, "They won't be happy but there's a guy in the middle who decides all that. If you apply pressure people do silly things."

Despite his side's dreadful start he still rued that a seemingly improbable win had slipped away. "I think better teams would have taken those opportunities. We were pretty naïve when we put them under pressure. I thought we could have milked a penalty in the closing stages, but we went off task, near the line we gave away a silly free-kick for crossing. Good sides make those opportunities count."

Looking ahead to the Sedgley Park game, a few players will have a run out Monday evening at Launceston in the Skinners Brewery Cornwall Super Cup tie. "If we do the hard work opportunities will happen next week. We've got to be more clinical. We will look at bringing some guys in, we won't be making wholesale changes. That's not disrespectful to Sedgley Park, it's a long year. We've got to give some of the other guys opportunities and some of the regulars a rest."

Cornish Pirates 23 pts: Try Dawiduik; penalties Jones (6)

Leeds Carnegie 25 pts: Tries Myall, Welding, Biggs; conversions Di Bernardo (2); penalties Di Bernardo (2)

Cornish Pirates: A. Winnan (capt), M. Vakacegu, P. Devlin (M. Ireland 68), T. Luke (S. Winn 66), B. Tuohy (R. McAtee 66), R. Jones, N. Griffiths; A. Paver, D. Daviduik, S. Heard (D. Seal h/t), H. Senekal, B. Gulliver, C. Morgan (S. Betty 51), I. Motusaga, B. Bédés (M. Evans 58).
Replacement not used: P. Cook

Leeds Carnegie: L. Hinton (J. Goodridge 75), R. Welding, R. Vickerman, H. Paul (S. Barrow 67), T. Biggs, A. Di Bernardo, S. Mathie (J. Bedford 67); F. Pala'amo (J-F. Gomez 70), R. Rawlinson (capt, P. Nilsen 80+1), J-F. Gomez (T. McGee 51), E. Lund, K. Myall (J. Pendlebury 63), C. Clark, H. Fourie (T. McGee 16-25), R. Oakley.
Replacement not used: D. Paul.
Yellow Cards: Gomez, Vickerman

Referee: N. Williams (RFU)

Crowd: 3853



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

Halloween may have been last month, but National One leaders Leeds Carnegie were yesterday given one almighty fright by the Cornish Pirates.

Looking at the statistics today, the Yorkshiremen will be pleased with what they see following their narrow 25-23 success at the Recreation Ground. Not only is their unblemished record for the season still very much intact, but they remain in pole position in the race to the promised land of the Guinness Premiership.

That said, as the visitors carted themselves out of the Camborne car park yesterday afternoon, they will no doubt have been breathing a huge sigh of relief after they escaped from the depths of the Duchy with a precious four-point haul that helped lift them back to the summit ahead of title rivals Exeter Chiefs.

It was a vital victory for the visitors, but one which was made all the more easier after a freakish opening from the Pirates, who were always left playing catch-up after gift-wrapping their rivals 12 unanswered points inside the first three minutes of the game.

To say Christmas came early for the visitors would be an understatement. Just 13 seconds had been played when Leeds lock Kearnan Myall collected the game's kick-off from home fly-half Rhys Jones before galloping unopposed some 60 metres to go under the sticks for former Pirate Alberto Di Bernardo to convert.

The score silenced the home faithful – aided for the day by a healthy contingent from the neighbouring Chiefs – in a flash. However, worse was to follow as Leeds extended their buffer just two minutes later with a well-executed move.

A line-out on the left touchline was claimed by Myall and then worked back inside through the palms of Tom Biggs, Di Bernardo and Rob Vickerman to Richard Welding, another ex-Pirate, who somehow squirmed his way over in the right-hand corner to make it 12-0.

As some sections of Pirates feared the worse for their side, others within the crowd did their best to re-ignite the home fire. Their efforts were not in vain as Mark Hewitt's side valiantly pulled themselves back into the contest with a display packed full of pride, passion and, crucially, power.

With the home forwards beginning to exert some authority up front, so with it came a flurry of penalties as Leeds – who were to lose both Juan Gomez and Vickerman to the sin-bin for persistent infringing – struggled to cope with the Pirates' excellent work in and around the fringes.

Welshman Jones duly made the leaders pay as he helped himself to four successful penalties to draw the home side level. However, with half-time fast approaching a penalty from Di Bernardo, coupled with a soft converted try for Biggs, helped the visitors to pull clear once more at 22-12.

Jones, though, ensured it was the Pirates who finished on a high as he struck over a fifth penalty with the last action of the half.

The home side replaced Sam Heard for Dan Seal during the interval and the prop was quickly into the action as both sides wasted little time in tearing into each other once more.

Unfortunately, the Pirates were a little too eager in their approach and five minutes into the second period, some over over-exuberance at a ruck allowed Di Bernardo to net another three points for his side.

Ten points behind, Hewitt introduced back-row duo Sam Betty and Matt Evans. And together they wasted little time in making their mark as they helped link-up with their fellow forwards to drive hooker Darren Dawiduik over for an unconverted score.

With the home sail now at full mast, the Pirates piled on the pressure in the closing quarter in a bid to not only snatch a victory, but at the same time do their Westcountry rivals Exeter a massive favour.

In truth, it was a valiant effort from the Cornish club, whose scant reward in a thrilling finale was a sixth penalty from Jones. Sadly, that was not enough and it was Leeds – who got a little fiery both on and off the field in the dying embers of the game – that prevailed.

Pirates head coach Hewitt had mixed feelings come the final whistle. "We are disappointed," he said. "The start cost us seven points, then they get another one and we're suddenly 12 points down. But you have to give credit to the guys, they didn't let that get on top of them, they stuck to the task and they created a lot of opportunities in the first half and got themselves back into the game, so total credit to the lads.

"It was a poor start, so we'll talk about it on Monday but really that's gone. You take those little things out of the game and we won the game. We had most of the momentum after that poor start in the first half. Second half they came out and played really well for 20 minutes and we were really struggling, but then we managed to get ourselves back into the game and created a bit of momentum and nearly draw level. In the end, it wasn't quite enough."

Hewitt also felt that had his side shown a more composed approach in the final quarter, they may well have been celebrating, not commiserating come the final whistle.

"I think better teams would have taken those opportunities," Hewitt added. "We were pretty naive when we put them under pressure. I thought we could have milked a penalty in the closing stages, but we went off task and we gave away a silly free-kick for crossing. Good sides make those opportunities count.

"We're not happy losing, we felt it was a game we could win. The boys had a belief we could win, but in the end we failed. We'll get another opportunity at them, but today was a big opportunity missed."

However, Hewitt – whose side tackle Sedgley Park on home soil this Sunday – will have taken plenty of positives, albeit in defeat.

"We have known all year we are amongst the top clubs in this division," he said. "It's disappointing, yet we got a bonus point and we probably moved up the table. We also thought we could do Exeter a favour, but it didn't quite happen in the end. I think if we keep progressing with what we have been doing, we are on the upward spiral.

"Talking to them they were disappointed with the amount of penalties they conceded, but if you apply pressure people do silly things and we got some return."



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly insists he is happy to play dumb when people talk to him about the thought of promotion come the end of the season.

Hambly watched on with pride once more as his table-topping Reds maintained their unblemished record in National League Two with a hard-fought 15-5 victory over Tynedale at the Recreation Ground.

It was, according to their leader, the Reds' toughest test of the season so far. But whereas many of their victories this term have been all about the Cornish club's attacking prowess, this time round Hambly's young charges showed they are equally as strong in defence, thwarting their rivals with a no- nonsense approach.

"I'm pretty pleased," admitted Hambly afterwards. "I think the win is a bit like me, it wasn't all that pretty. Fair play to Tynedale, they've come down here and given it a good go against us and they've obviously done a bit of homework on us. They came and competed and they caused us some real problems at times.

"At times they put a lot of pressure on our scrum-half and our kickers and we found it tough to really get at them. It wasn't until probably the last ten, 15 minutes where we really took a hold of the game and really pinned them back."

Indeed, it took a late touchdown from Redruth's Kiwi No.8 Mark Bright to finally end Tynedale's stubborn resistance as up until that point there were only five points that separated the two sides.

"We've built up a bit of a reputation this year for playing this free-flowing end-to-end style of rugby, but today we had to do things a lot differently," explained Hambly. "At times we had to dig deep, especially in our defence, but the guys did and they showed a different side to their characters, which is pleasing.

"If I'm honest, they were probably the toughest side we've played this season and you could argue they probably deserved a losing bonus point for their endeavour rather than their creativity. They caused us a few problems which we'll need to go away and look at and, hopefully, we'll learn from that.

"That said, you can never be too disappointed with a win. It's great for the boys and it's great for the club, but we're not going to get too carried away. Somebody asked me the other day about the 'P' word, but I'm pleading ignorance.

"We've still got a lot of hard work and a lot of hard games ahead of us, but for now we'll savour this win, have a week off and then get ourselves ready and in the right frame of mind for Cambridge in two weeks."

By then, Redruth should be able to welcome back injured skipper PJ Gidlow, who sat out Saturday's game following a hefty blow to his eye socket in the win at Waterloo seven days earlier.

With Gidlow sidelined, Hambly recalled Mark Scrivener to the starting XV, as well as giving starts to Peter Joyce, Richard Carroll, Chris Fuca and Nathan Pedley.

The quintet quickly settled into proceedings and helped the home side open up with a series of attacking bursts. They were, however, thwarted by some stubborn defence from their Northern visitors, who were making their first-ever visit to the Rec.

With half chances coming and going for the Reds, it was just before the break that the Cornish club finally broke the game's deadlock.

Good approach work from the league leaders saw them position themselves deep in Tynedale territory, but when the visitors tried to spoil the home ball – not for the first time it has to be said – referee Ed Turnill finally lost patience and dispatched fly-half Gavin Beasley to the sin-bin for persistent infringing.

As Beasley trudged to the touchline, opposite number Scrivener, who had earlier missed with a shot at the posts, plundered a 30-metre effort to give the home side a 3-0 lead.

Moments later and the Reds made their numerical advantage tell some more when, following a quality break-out down the left flank, the ball was recycled at pace to allow centre Paul Thirlby over for a try, which Scrivener converted with aplomb from the left touchline.

With a 10-0 cushion at the break, the Reds could feel somewhat satisfied with their endeavours for the first 40 minutes. On the resumption, however, Tynedale had other ideas and in a blistering opening to the second half, the visitors cut the deficit inside two minutes when skipper Jamie Murray finished off some neat approach work to make it 10-5.

Murray's try clearly lifted the visitors, whilst for the first time in the match the Reds looked somewhat vulnerable. A second penalty miss from Scrivener did little to help the home nerves, which were been tested to the max as Tynedale continued to pose the greater attacking threat.

However, the Reds were in no mood to give up their unbeaten tag without a fight and having soaked up all the visitors could throw at them, they recovered valiantly to finish the game the stronger.

The introduction of fresh muscle from the bench was crucial, as was some excellent territorial kicking from Paul Thirlby late on. His booming kicks finally put Tynedale on the back foot once more and, following a scrum in the final minute, it was left to Bright to wrap up the win when he barged his way over the whitewash from six metres.



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

The Cornish All Blacks snatched victory with just a couple of minutes remaining of this National League Two confrontation with Cambridge at Grantchester Road.

The away win against the East Anglians, who were second in the table behind Redruth, will have done the players' and supporters' morale no end of good.

The Polson-based club have now risen from fourth to third place in the league.

With full-time approaching fast the All Blacks were losing 21-16, but they wound themselves up for a final assault on the home line. A line-out led to a ruck 15 metres out where speedy scrum-half Ben Turner whipped the ball out to Steve Perry, who had switched to the midfield after Adam Staniforth had replaced full-back Jon Fabian on the hour and taken over at fly-half.

The inside centre sent out a long pass to Marc Dibble and the wing released Mal Roberts, who had moved to 15, to race delightedly over wide out to level the scores at 21-21.

The clock said 80 minutes. Up stepped Staniforth for the pressure kick of the match five yards in from the touchline.

Everyone held their breath, but his strike was a textbook example and the ball, with victory written all over it, sailed over slap between the posts.

Joint head coach Chris Brown was quietly delighted. "It was very pleasing," he said. "It was a combination of a lot of hard work in recent weeks.

"I feel there's a lot of psychological momentum going into the game after the confidence gained from the Wharfedale game, and a collective attitude instilled from training sessions played key roles.

"This win was an important hurdle for us to have jumped because it was a tight game in which we dominated but in which we were behind and chasing throughout.

"Although we had dominated, we had to show psychological poise and patience and maintain faith in our ability to execute the game plan. And at the end, although it was a last-minute score, it was just reward for our style of play, which will always bring dividends."

The sides sounded each other out for ten minutes with Cambridge in the All Blacks' half. But there were signs of the visitors marshalling their strengths and, with centre Ryan Westren breaking and Dibble coming close, the All Blacks began to dominate.

Wing Gary Kingdom on a solo run was stopped just short and another combined move almost succeeded but for a final stray pass.

Perseverance paid off at the start of the second quarter when Fabian kicked a 32-metre penalty.

Cambridge hit back immediately with an unconverted score, left wing Chris Lombaard – one of the league's top try-scorers – finishing off a handling move to cross wide out.

Within five minutes this narrow lead was extended to 10-3, scrum-half John Brake sending a clever cross-kick for full-back Ben Patston to gather and release wing John Hinkins to go over.

The All Blacks responded with Fabian breaking down the wing and chipping. He was held back before re-gathering but the referee failed to spot the transgression.

At half-time Cambridge held a seven point lead, which they stretched soon after the re-start when the backs accelerated through the midfield and released Lombaard for his second.

Patston made it three conversion misses out of three but Cambridge looked to be pulling gradually away.

However, after a brief territorial kicking duel, the All Blacks' fightback began. Fabian lofted a superb cross-kick in the home 22 and Dibble fastened on to it and sneaked in at the corner. And just after the hour from a tapped penalty in midfield on the 22 Turner shot away to touch down in the corner making it 15-13.

Patston landed a fine 30-metre penalty which was cancelled out by one from Staniforth after home lock Pete Kolakanski was sin-binned, but then Patston added three more easy penalty points with his boot to make it 21-16. The stage was set for the nailbiting finish from Roberts and Staniforth.



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Mounts Bay cut their visitors to ribbons in the second half and scored 28 points without reply to continue their resurgence in National League Two. However, the 40-15 victory over Southend was achieved despite a distinctly sloppy first 40 minutes in which the visitors from Essex were the better team.

Fly-half Dan Hawkes kept his side in the game with four sweetly struck penalties that saw the Bay trail 15-12 at the break after conceding two soft tries, both scored by hooker Adam Ferrier from close range, and a penalty; not helped by winger Darren Ritchie's 19th-minute yellow card for failing to roll away in the tackle under his own posts.

Hawkes took his match tally to 25 points after the break with three more penalties and the conversions to two penalty tries but was unable to add the extras to a late try by skipper Nick Burnett.

The statistics will point to a resounding success for Mounts Bay but head coach Adrian Bick knows his team were found wanting in that forgettable first-half display. He said: "We just weren't in it; our defending was poor, there were too many line breaks and too many missed tackles and they were getting in behind us.

"There wasn't the enthusiasm and passion to play and you could see it ripple through the side as heads dropped. We were hanging in there but we had a good chat at half-time and the boys responded."

Certainly the Bay were a different side after the break. Forward pressure saw Southend infringe time and again at the ruck, continually forced to hold on to their meagre possession in the tackle and try their luck going in at the side.

ELVs didn't come into it, Southend just suffered in the traditional areas where sides under pressure are always exposed. Referee Luke Pearce duly punished their indiscretions, awarding ten penalties following the earlier sinbinning of abrasive No.8 Mark Braithwood.

Hawkes went for goal from three of the penalties awarded and all three kicks were successful. Penalty tries in the 62nd and 72nd minutes were the ultimate testament to Cornish pressure and the desperate measures taken by Southend to stem the tide.

The foundations for Burnett's try two minutes from the end of normal time were laid by the outstanding Josh Matavesi, who delivered a superlative performance on his return from England Under-19 duty. A storming break by the Mounts Bay full-back took play deep into Southend territory, where the power of the home forwards became all too apparent and Southend's defensive effort was eventually left in some disarray.

After first being held up over the line, the Cornishmen launched waves of forward drives inside their rivals' 22 and Burnett eventually capped a fine performance by stretching a meaty arm over the line for the Bay's third try, Hawkes inexplicably missing the conversion attempt.

The fly-half was pleased with his contribution to the game but acknowledged that his job had been made easier by the team's massive improvement after the half-time whistle.

Hawkes, who took his points tally from the last two matches to a massive 51 after scoring all the points in last week's 26-8 victory at Westcombe Park said: "It was a good team performance in the second half. Before then we didn't stick to what we've been doing in the past, keeping our form and coming up as a line. We realised we weren't doing the best we could and we managed to turn it round.

"All credit to the guys for getting in the right areas to get the penalties – kicking them is just down to concentration and confidence really. Tactically I wasn't kicking as well as I might have hoped but our chase game was good which maybe made it look better than it was."

Bick meanwhile was pleased with the character shown by his players, adding: "Southend had some big guys out and we knew they were going to cause us some problems, they've been in that league a long time and they know how to close a game out. We were a lot more decisive in the second half and came out with a lot of physicality and passion. We played the patterns that we had worked on during the week and everyone at the club is delighted with the way it's turned out.

"The boys have had to take a few knocks on the chin this season but we've worked exceptionally hard and I think we're adjusting our standards. We've got a week off from the league now so we'll have some good hard training sessions and then we go to Cinderford which will be hard, but bring it on."




National League 1. Report by Bill Hooper, at the Recreation Ground, Camborne.

Another storming performance from the "Jet" helped the Pirates to their biggest win of the season thus far. Not only did the all-action flanker score two tries, he was involved as usual all over the park, always in the thick of the action.

Two tries also for winger Aisea Havili to follow up his score in the Cornwall Super Cup win during the week at Launceston. It was a side that showed many changes after the bruising encounter against Leeds the previous Sunday.

In difficult playing conditions, the new half-back combination of Jimmy Moore and Simon Whatling soon had the Pirates on the offensive. Whatling opened the scoring with a neat drop-goal after only 3 minutes. Moore then providing the scoring pass for the game's opening try as prop Peter Cook crashed over four minutes later; Moore slotted the conversion. The Pirates continued to dominate proceedings with some fine breaks in mid-field through centres Tom Luke and Matt Ireland.

Unfortunately for the Pirates, they found themselves down to fourteen men as prop Sam Heard was yellow carded for a late tackle.

Sedgley Park's skipper missed with a monster penalty attempt from inside his own half after the Pirates went off their feet at a ruck.

Despite dominating the Pirates had to wait until 30 minutes for their second try: after good work from Luke, Havili finished off the move, Moore's conversion missing the goal.

The Pirates were then caught napping as Sedgley, from a penalty award in the Pirates' 22, took a quick tap, allowing prop Petrus Du Plessis an easy score, with Jones' conversion making it 15-7. With half-time approaching a fine break by full-back Marika Vakacegu found winger Brian Tuohy in support. Motusaga was on hand to finish the move, scoring the Pirates' third try in the scoreboard corner.

Once again the Pirates were guilty of being a little dozy at the start of the second half. Another quickly-taken penalty by Sedgley Park saw their winger Peter Swatkins race in from 75 meters virtually unchallenged, Jones' conversion cutting the deficit to six points.

From then on it was virtually one-way traffic as the Pirates went on to notch up another five tries. Motusaga completed his brace up in the Hubert Hill corner, with Moore adding the extras. Moore was then on hand to kick a penalty as Sedgley failed to roll away in the tackle, putting his side 30-14 up.

The Pirates brought on the bench as the game moved into its final quarter, with, notably, Richard Bright making his National League 1 debut in place of Luke at centre. Huge pressure from the home pack finally saw referee Mr. Hartwell lose patience with the visiting forwards as he ran under the posts on 64 minutes to award a penalty try, with Moore adding the extras.

With Sedgley's resistance well and truly broken the Pirates ran in another three tries through Matt Evans, Havili, and finally Moore, following a fine break from Tuohy. The Irishman, having been the provider, duly converted the score with a fine kick.

Post-match, a happy head coach Mark Hewitt summed up his feelings on the performance: "Very pleased to get the five points, first half was a bit sloppy, in the second half we played some good rugby in the conditions.

"We've mixed it a bit (today). All the boys that have come in fronted up pretty quickly. I was pleased for people like Havili, Mark Ireland, Simon Whatling and Richard Bright. Also, in the forwards Sam Betty and Matt Evans went well today.

Hewitt went on to pay tribute to opponents Sedgley Park: "You've got to give them credit, they have a never-say-die attitude, they keep playing right until the final whistle. I thought we stuck to our task pretty well today.

"It's starting to come. We knew we were a pretty good side but it's taken a little longer than we thought, to be honest. The results are now coming. We've got a massive game at the weekend (Plymouth Albion). The form book goes out of the window, it'll be a big occasion. We'll have a look at them this week, they have got a good squad, they may not have the stars they had in the past but they have got a lot of players who work really hard. We know it's going to be a big occasion, we'll have to take our chances if we create them.

With the Canadian boys set to return from international call-ups, Hewitt will have a few selection headaches ahead of the big game. However, one player who will be missing is Iva Motusaga, due to a family bereavement in New Zealand.

Cornish Pirates 56 pts: tries Cook, Havili (2), Motusaga (2), penalty try, Evans, Moore; conversions Moore (4), Tuohy; penalty Moore; drop-goal Whatling

Sedgley Park 14 pts: tries Du Plessis, Swatkins; conversions Jones (2)

Cornish Pirates: M. Vakacegu (P. Devlin 63), A. Havili, M. Ireland, T. Luke (R. Bright 58), B. Tuohy, S. Whatling (S. Winn 58), J. Moore; P. Cook (A. Paver 39), D. Dawiduik, S. Heard (D. Seal 51), H. Senekal, B. Gulliver (Capt), S. Betty, I. Motusaga (D. Seal 17-20, C. Morgan 56), M. Evans.
Replacement not used: B. Bédés
Yellow card Heard

Sedgley Park: C. Hall, P. Swatkins, M. Riley, L. Tafa (S. Woods 47), P. Wilcock (J. Weeden 16), P. Jones (Capt), C. Wilkinson (W. Cliff 70); G. Evans (A. Livesey 63), G. Roberts, P. Du Plessis (D. Greenhalgh 70), T. Fourie (O. Cook 47), G. Townson (D. Williams 70), J. Crous, J. Jones, A. Newton.

Referee: A. Hartwell (RFU)

Crowd: 2,324



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

The Ice Man came in from the cold to help Cornish Pirates to a convincing National League One victory at a wintry Camborne Rec yesterday.

Tongan international winger Aisea Havili scored two of the Pirates' eight tries in his first start since being frozen out of the side more than a month ago.

It was a win that extended Pirates' recent fine run of form to only one defeat in six matches, and that loss was a very narrow and arguably undeserved one to leaders Leeds Carnegie.

However, Sedgley looked a poor side destined for relegation, and next Saturday's opponents, Plymouth Albion, will pose a far sterner test at Brickfields.

It was a good day for players returning to the Pirates' fold, with Simon Whatling having a competent game at fly-half on his first appearance after 14 months out with a shoulder injury.

Jimmy Moore also turned in a good performance at scrum-half after being handed his first full 80 minutes of the season, finishing with a personal 16-point haul, and there was also a debut appearance off the bench for 18-year-old full-back Richard Bright, who looks a very fine prospect.

Satisfied Pirates' head coach Mark Hewitt said: "I was obviously pleased to get the five points. In the first half we were a bit sloppy in patches, but in the second half we played some good rugby in the conditions.

"We mixed the side up a bit and all the boys who came in fronted up pretty well, people like Ice [Havili], and Mark Ireland, who looked really sharp, Simon Whatling, Richard Bright looked really useful when he came on, and I thought Sam Betty and Matt Evans in the back row went pretty well."

Hewitt added: "You have got to give Sedgley Park some credit. They have got a pretty never-say-die attitude and kept playing until the final whistle, but I thought we stuck to our task pretty well.

"We have got a massive game next weekend. Personally I have not had much joy against Albion since I have been with Pirates – I think we have won one game – so we have got a big week ahead of us preparing for that."

Pirates got off to a flyer against their Mancunian visitors with a fourth-minute drop goal from Whatling and a try four minutes later by prop Peter Cook, who later had to go off after suffering a twinge in his back.

Fellow front rower Sam Heard was then yellow carded for a late, high tackle, but Sedgley fly-half Phil Jones missed the 54-metre penalty chance.

Pirates' second try, in the 31st minute, was created by centre Tom Luke and scored by Havili in the right-hand corner, but Park struck back almost immediately when Heard gave away a soft penalty on his own 22, and the hosts were caught napping as Sedgley took it quickly and a gap opened up in front of South African prop Petrus Du Plessis to race over, with Jones slotting the simple conversion.

Pirates gave themselves some half- time breathing space when a fine break from inside his own half by Fijian full-back Marika Vakacegu was carried on by Brian Tuohy, before flanker Iva Motusaga dotted down, just before monsoon-like conditions hit the ground, to give the hosts a 20-7 interval lead.

However, they were caught napping again, soon after the break, by another quickly taken penalty, which saw winger Peter Swatkins race 70 metres to score, and Jones added the extras to cut the deficit to six points and set alarm bells ringing in the home camp.

Pirates' fans need not have worried, though, as Park never troubled the scoreboard again, and their favourites ran in five more tries, with four of them coming in the final 17 minutes.

Motusaga – who will be absent on Saturday as he returns to New Zealand following a family bereavement – added his second, converted by Moore, who also slotted a penalty, to push Pirates 30-14 in front after 56 minutes.

Then a penalty try, Matt Evans and Havili all provided five-pointers, before Moore, who converted two, rounded off proceedings in injury time with a try and a celebratory forward roll after a superb 50-metre break by Tuohy, who banged over the conversion himself.




National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

A bit like Bill Murray's tormented character in Groundhog Day, Cornish Pirates' head coach Mark Hewitt once again found himself reliving the same old story when it came to derby day with local rivals Plymouth Albion.

Tormented on previous occasions by the men from the Brickfields, Hewitt's recurring nightmare came back to haunt him and his side once more as Albion plundered the spoils 20-12 in Saturday's tea-time tussle.

Albion – just as they had done in the corresponding fixture a year ago – devised a classy game plan which not only mopped up everything the Cornishmen could throw at them, but at the same time left the Pirates searching for more answers in what has been a frustrating National One campaign to date.

However, having pledged ahead of kick-off that his side would at last rid themselves of "the monkey on their back" – the Pirates had not won a league encounter between the two sides since the 2005/06 season – the primate sat on Hewitt's derriere today has now grown a little larger.

Dawe, on the other hand, seems to have again worked his magic as Albion's on-field wizardry proved potent enough to continue their league curse on the Pirates.

With little to choose between either team coming into the fixture – the Pirates were ahead on points difference only – the opening exchanges of battle were always going to be keenly contested.

It was, though, the visitors who were first out of the traps and set the tone with an enterprising flurry of early attacks. Happy to move the ball at will, the Pirates wasted little time in spelling out their intentions.

For all that was good in what they served up, the Pirates – as has been the case several times this season – then proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot as they gifted their hosts the opening points of the game.

Fielding a kick deep inside his own half, Pirates' winger Brian Tuohy sent up a high up-and-under, but as he closed in on collection of his kick, his team-mates were penalised for being offside and up stepped the recalled Kieran Hallett to fire Albion in front with the resultant penalty on four minutes.

The response from the Pirates was again good and Ed Fairhurst – back from international duty with Canada – thought he had sniped over for the opening try, only to be called back by referee Llyr Apgeriant-Roberts for crossing.

Clearly frustrated at not making the most of the moment, the Pirates allowed Albion back down field and – once again – the home side made the most of their opportunity as fly-half Hallett doubled their tally when, following an indiscretion by Mark Ireland, he sent over a second penalty.

Worse could have followed for the Pirates as first Albion winger Tom Jarvis spilled a glorious chance right on the line, then Hallett fired an ambitious drop-goal chance well wide of the sticks on 24 minutes.

Visiting hearts, though, were quickly warmed just moments later when an excellent burst by Ireland through the heart of the Albion defence saw him link well with skipper Ben Gulliver, who in turn fed Tuohy to dot down in the left-hand corner for a try, which James Moore was unable to convert from the touchline.

Moore also failed with a long-range penalty chance on the half-hour, before Albion extended their advantage with a try that was again more down to the Pirates' shortcomings, rather then any real creativity from the home side.

Pushing hard deep inside the Albion 22, a loose Pirates pass – yet another one this season – was plucked out of the air by Ryan Hopkins, who burst downfield, linked with Wayne Sprangle who, despite being felled, was able to allow his team-mates to recycle the ball at pace and send it along the line to centre Matt Hopper, who claimed his third try in two games. Hallett converted to make it 13-5 at the turn.

A response was needed from the Duchy's finest on the resumption and – with the wind at their backs – they quickly set sail with their destination the Albion try-line. Three minutes into their journey and they soon found some much-needed bounty.

A classy attacking move – one which was worked from one side of the field to the other – helped to release Ireland in space and as he closed in on the line, he was cynically up-ended by a head high tackle from Keni Fisilau. The Tongan was immediately dispatched to the sidelines for ten minutes, whilst the Pirates were awarded a penalty try, which Moore converted to leave just a point in it.

Now with the ascendancy, the Pirates looked to press on and inflict further pain on an Albion side who looked bruised and battered and hanging on for grim life. Unlike a prize fighter in Las Vegas, the visitors were unable to land the crucial knockout blow, centre Steve Winn spurning their best chance when he knocked on right under the home posts.

It was a crucial let-off and – in a Rocky-like revival – Albion roused themselves for the final quarter of this absorbing contest. Indeed, Hallett had the chance to ease their worries when he was given another shot at the target, this time after visiting flanker Sam Betty had been penalised for an off-the-ball incident.

His 62nd-minute effort flew wide of the mark, but he was able to make amends three minutes later when he added the extras to a try from Sprangle, the former Launceston forward bursting over the whitewash after he combined superbly with back-row colleague Kyle Marriott from a set scrum.

The two-score buffer meant the Pirates were having to dig deep into their resources in a way to find a lifeline back into the game. But as the icy wind intensified and the rain overhead lashed down, so it conspired to add to the woes of Hewitt and his troops.

Try as they may, they were unable to plot a route through the home rearguard. The sight of 49-year-old Dawe emerging from the sidelines in the dying embers merely helped to rub salt into their already gaping wounds.

Yet again, though, this was another job well done for the Devonians.



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

Redruth's fine run was brought to a grinding halt by Cambridge on Saturday as the visitors won 19-18 thanks to a fine second-half fight-back, at the same time throwing wide open the National League 2 title race as Birmingham & Solihull move to within three points of the Reds at the top of the league.

Redruth will look back on their first half performance with the advantage of the slope, when they really should have been more than 15 points up. Cambridge were tenacious opponents, extremely adept at slowing the ball down at the breakdown, also in stopping play frequently, thus breaking the flow of the game.

Redruth welcomed back skipper PJ Gidlow and gave a start to Ricky Pellow at scrum-half.

After a brisk opening, Redruth had a first chance of points after 4 minutes as the Cambridge forwards went off their feet just outside their 22. But the normally reliable Paul Thirlby hooked his attempt wide of the posts, the first of five kicks at goal which were spurned by the Reds' fly-half. In the set-piece Redruth's forwards were getting the better of their opponents, taking three strikes against the head during the first-half, despite Cambridge's scrum-half Stef Liebenberg making a right nuisance of himself, not always legally, around the fringe, thus spoiling Redruth's attacking options.

Redruth were disrupted with an early injury to winger Lewis Vinnicombe as he tackled his opposite number, the dangerous Cambridge winger Christoff Lombaard, after 11 minutes. Richard Carroll was also forced to leave the field two minutes later for running repairs but was soon back in to the fray.

Following a penalty kick to the visitors' 22 towards Hell-Fire corner, Damien Cook won the lineout which saw the ball moved left at pace. Mark Bright and Mike Georgiou took the move on into the Piggy Lane corner before the ball was knocked on. From the Cambridge scrum Redruth got a nudge on, forcing the ball to squirt out on the blindside, allowing flanker James Mann to pick up and score in the corner on 17 minutes. Thirlby couldn't add the extras from the touchline.

Redruth looked to increase their lead when a fine move along the top touchline saw centre Craig Bonds make a break before finding winger Nathan Pedley, who was, however, well covered. Redruth continued to take play into the Cambridge 22. After 23 minutes Cambridge came in at the side to give a penalty chance to Thirlby from in front of the posts, which he kicked for an 8-0 lead.

Further pressure by Redruth saw them force another lineout in the visitors' 22. Securing the ball, the home pack drove for the line, with Gidlow in amongst the forwards being driven over after 36 minutes. Thirlby kicked a fine conversion to leave the score at 15-0 to the Reds at half-time.

Cambridge made a change at No.8 at half-time, David Archer replacing Tom Powell. It took less than 10 minutes for the former Henley Hawk and England Counties player to make his mark on the match as he drove powerfully over the line in Hell Fire corner to score his side's first points. Full back Ben Patston's conversion brought the visitors right back into the match.

Moments later Cambridge had a penalty just inside the Redruth half. Former Welsh Under 21 fly-half Craig Evans slotted the long-range effort as Cambridge continued to chisel away at the Reds' lead.

Some silly back chat by Cambridge saw a penalty to Redruth advanced 10 meters, allowing Thirlby to momentarily extend his side's lead; only for Patston to reply in kind a few minutes later, then further reduce Redruth's lead after 68 minutes as Redruth went off-side.

With just two points in it tempers on both sides became frayed. Patston then saw a drop-goal attempt go wide for the visitors, but the warning signs were there for the Reds!

Cambridge continued to press, keeping the home side pinned back in their half. Evans collected a clearance by Redruth near half-way and coolly dropped what proved finally to be a killer blow goal, to the consternation of the home crowd. The prospect of a first defeat now loomed very large.

In the gathering gloom and with time fast running out Redruth chased the game, throwing everything at Cambridge. A clearance kick deep into the Redruth 22 saw full-back Rob Thirlby set off on one of his trademark mazy runs, beating players one after the other, covering 60 meters as he jinked into the Cambridge 22. It looked certain that he would score, until he checked, thinking he was about to be closed down, and the chance had gone.

Yet Redruth had one final opportunity to save the game, a last gasp penalty as Cambridge infringed to the right of the posts after more frenetic pressure. Up stepped Thirlby, only to see his effort sail wide and Redruth's un-beaten run with it.

At the final whistle Redruth's head coach Nigel Hambly had no complaints about the result, warmly praising Cambridge's effort, especially in the second half as the visitors came from behind to notch a vital win to keep alive their own promotion hopes. "They wanted it more than us today and they deserved it. They showed a terrific amount of courage, it took a pretty special drop-goal from 55 meters. They showed massive character to come out in the second half and turn us over. I think that at the end of the day they deserved the win. I am disappointed; we didn't play particularly well today, but no sour grapes from me. When you keep winning it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on you. That's gone now and my immediate thoughts turn to the Stourbridge game next Saturday. We must regroup and see what sort of side we are. The next few weeks leading up to Christmas will answer some of those questions".

Commenting on Rob Thirlby's spectacular run near the end which almost saved the game for his side, "I thought he was in, if he'd have kept going he was in under the posts. It didn't happen and that's sport. We've had all ups so far this season, a little bit of a down won't do anyone any harm". Hambly was quick to remind everyone that his side were still top-of-the-table after all of Saturday's results.

"We'll have a look at selection on Thursday and see whose holding their hand up in the development team (who played the Cornish All Blacks in a Cornwall Super Cup tie at Polson Bridge on Tuesday evening). Perhaps we'll freshen things up a little bit. Redruth will regroup and Redruth will be back. We'll go to Stourbridge next week and hopefully put in a big performance".

Redruth 18 pts: tries Mann, Gidlow; conversion Thirlby; penalties Thirlby (2)

Cambridge 19 pts: try Archer; conversion Patston; penalties Patston (2), Evans; drop-goal Evans

Redruth: R. Thirlby, L. Vinnicombe (M. Georgiou 11), C. Bonds, PJ Gidlow (Capt), N. Pedley, P. Thirlby, R. Pellow; D. Jacques, O. Hambly (B. Priddey 51), A. Morcom (P. Joyce 64), R. Carroll (D. Cook, blood 13-24, 64), L. Collins, J. Mann, C. Fuca, M. Bright.
Replacement (not used) B. Fox

Cambridge: B. Patston, J. Hinkins, L. Fielden, J. Knight, C. Lombaard (H. Schmidt 72), C. Evans, S. Liebenberg (D. Hunter 60); T. Laws (J. Ross 60), M. Otter (S. Hoad 60), B. Cooper, P. Kolkowski, R. Hurrell, D. Legge, D. Fox (Capt), T. Powell (D. Archer h/t)

Referee: Mr. K. Lewis (RFU)

Crowd: 1089



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

The true test of Redruth's title credentials begins now after the Cornishmen suffered their first National Division Two defeat of the season, 19-18, at home to Cambridge this weekend.

There were no excuses or recriminations from head coach Nigel Hambly, just an admission that his side were beaten by a better side on the day. He does, however, expect his side to respond with a better performance away to Stourbridge this Saturday.

Redruth appeared to be coasting to their 12th league win of the season as they left the field at the break 15-0 ahead despite never really hitting their stride. But a second-half fightback from the visitors, capped by two superb long-range kicks at goal, turned the game on its head to stun the Recreation Ground.

Hambly said: "Cambridge wanted it more than us and they deserved it. It took a pretty special drop goal from 55 metres, but good on them. It was 15-0 at half-time and the game was pretty much dead and buried, but they showed massive character to turn us over.

"They stepped up the gas and we couldn't live with it. People aren't just going to lie down because we're top of the table and hadn't lost. It's gone now and our immediate thoughts now turn to Stourbridge next week. We'll regroup and we'll see what type of side we are, it will be an interesting couple of weeks for us leading up to Christmas.

And although Hambly emphasised repeatedly that his men stand and fall together as a team, the game was undoubtedly decided by the superior kicking skills of the visiting backs Ben Patston and Craig Evans, in contrast to the brave but unfortunate Paul Thirlby for the home side.

The Cambridge duo simply never missed, scoring 14 points from any angle and distance to turn the game in their favour as the game wore on. Paul Thirlby's woes started in the fourth minute when some good work by lock Richard Carroll earned his side a penalty 25 yards in front of the posts.

An awkward kick was dragged wide to the left of the sticks, and that was followed by another miss eight minutes later as the stalemate continued.

The fly-half did deserve credit for his part in the Reds' first try, however. His long kick upfield, along with some good closing down by his team-mates, won them possession with a line-out inside the Cambridge 22 off Patston's sliced clearance.

The home side gathered the line-out and probed for an opening. They looked to have blown the opportunity when they knocked on in the left corner, but flanker James Mann was alert and managed to steal the ball on the restart and touched down in the corner.

Paul Thirlby failed to convert, but he did extend Redruth's lead with a well-taken penalty in the 26th minute. The home side then pressed for more points but failed to take numerous chances for tries right up until first-half stoppage time. At that point centre PJ Gidlow popped the ball over the line for a converted try in the left corner after an attempt to drive for the line initially fell just short.

However, Cambridge were the stronger side after the break and got a try back through replacement Dave Archer in the 51st minute, converted by Patston from the touchline. Suddenly, the natives grew restless as four minutes later Patston stepped up to brilliantly slot a seemingly ambitious penalty kick from inside his own half.

Paul Thirlby's streaky form with the boot continued, meanwhile, as he missed one penalty then scored another. But the Reds' lead was whittled down to just two points as Patston maintained his strike-rate with two more penalties, before Evans unleashed a stunning drop goal from fully 50 metres to put his side one point ahead with six minutes remaining.

Redruth made a late attempt to salvage the game in a breathless finish to the match. Full-back Rob Thirlby took possession deep inside his own half and weaved his way past seven Cambridge tackles, but with the last man seemingly beaten, he lost his bearings and got bogged down despite the open field in front of him.

Hambly said: "I thought he was in under the posts, if he had kept going he would have scored. I was talking to him at the end and he said he thought the guy had the inside covered. But Rob's just run 70 metres and beaten about eight guys so we can't be too disappointed!"

His brother Paul was then given a chance to snatch it in with the last kick of the game, but his admirable bravery in stepping forward was not rewarded as he again dragged a 25-yard penalty well wide from just to the right of the posts.

"I felt sorry for Paul," said Hambly. "You have to give a huge amount of credit to someone who steps up to take the kick. Good on him. I don't blame him, and there are no individuals in our performance today. We were just a little bit out of sorts today and that's what happens.

"It will be a psychologist's dream to see how we react, but we're still top and we've got to be positive. We've got to get back; we've got to train hard. We will regroup and Redruth will be back."



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Mounts Bay coach Adrian Bick bemoaned a dismal opening quarter as the main factor behind his side's 41-12 reverse to Cinderford in National League Two.

Having come into the game on the back of a four-game winning streak, hopes were high the Cornish club could continue their run with victory against a Cinderford side who followed them up from National Three South last season.

Sadly, Bick's side did not get off the coach for the opening 25 minutes of the game at Dockham Road and it was Cinderford who stormed into a 29-0 lead.

Home fly-half Tim Stevenson did much of the initial damage as he slotted a third-minute penalty, before adding two tries and three conversions. Other touchdowns went to Paul Knight and Chris McNeil.

"Yet again we didn't start great," said a disappointed Bick afterwards. "To be 29-0 down after 25 minutes it was always going to be a tall order to try and get anything from the game.

"Before the game we talked about what they would do, how we'd start the game and what we wanted to get out of it all, but that seemed to go out of the window right from the off, which is very disappointing.

"Having got a bit of momentum behind us with those four wins, I don't think the break in fixtures did us any favours at all," added Bick. "We were slow to start, like I said, but once we established ourselves in the game I don't think it was until late in the second half that they scored again.

"Looking at the score it may seem funny for me to say that I thought – for at least half the match – we were the better side, but we were and you could see a lot of the things we've been working on in training coming out on the pitch."

Indeed, when Bay finally got their act together they caused Cinderford numerous problems with back-row forward Fraser Cliverd leading the way with a try double, one of which was converted by fly-half Dan Hawkes.

Sadly, Bay were unable to add to Cliverd's brace and it was the home side who sealed victory with second-half tries from Dewi Scourfield and Dave Knight, the first of which was converted by Stevenson.

Already Bick has confined this loss to the history books and is focusing on this weekend's visit of Waterloo to the Mennaye.

"We've got to move on and, hopefully, we can do that against Waterloo," said Bick. "We've shown already that we can compete and can win games in this division, so we've got to go out and do that all again."


The Cornish All Blacks' National League Two match with Blackheath at the Rectory Field was abandoned 15 minutes into the second half when the floodlights broke down. (Blackheath were leading 19-10 at the time.) The match will be replayed.




National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

One of the radio commentators during the Cornish Pirates' emphatic 38-23 win at London Welsh likened the game to the Battle of Rorke's Drift, the 19th Century battle where a handful of Welsh soldiers held off thousands of Zulu warriors.

But at Rorke's Drift the Welsh fusiliers won. At Old Deer Park, the Exiles were comprehensively defeated by 15 Cornish warriors who cut through their rearguard at ease, taking no prisoners on their way to a maximum-points victory.

The Pirates could have moped and had self-doubt after last week's derby defeat at the hands of Plymouth Albion. Instead, they raced out of the blocks in West London, allowing their back line to do the talking for them. And whilst the Dragons were probably stronger in the forwards, they struggled to contain the visiting backs, who showed a willingness to pass the ball at every opportunity.

Winger Brian Touhy, who grabbed a fully deserved hat-trick, plus full-back Marika Vakacegu were their main tormentors, along with returning centre Tom Luke. Luke, sporting a top-knot that made him look like a blond Samurai, excelled despite having to play at flanker for a chunk of the second half because of injuries.

Indeed, a mounting injury list is the only negative coach Mark Hewitt could take from the game. As well as Luke fitting in on the pack, the game ended with prop Paul Andrew playing as arguably the league's smallest No.8 after Matt Evans was forced off in the first half with a broken knuckle. Flanker Chris Morgan was also forced off with a rib injury.

Hewitt admitted at the final whistle that the defeat against Albion "still hurts" – but that it had been the perfect performance to put the 20-12 defeat at the Brickfields behind them.

"It was pleasing to bounce back from last week's disappointment. We looked pretty sharp," he said. "By half-time we had our noses in front and that is the first time we haven't been chasing the game all season. We were keeping the ball and playing with width and it worked very well.

"We knew Welsh defended thickly around the ruck and maul and we knew they would struggle if we used a lot of width. After we got ahead they started to crack. Their body language had completely gone."

The Pirates were ahead inside three minutes, with fly-half Simon Whatling dropping over after a good period of pressure. However, they then found themselves behind after Welsh were awarded a penalty try on 15 minutes after the Cornishmen kept collapsing a scum on their five-metre line.

But as good as the Pirates' back play was, the Welsh forwards were meting out their own powerful play, causing some real early problems.

It took a brace of tries from Tuohy and one from Mark Ireland to put them comfortably 22-13 ahead at half-time. Centre Ireland was the first to go over following sustained pressure on the Welsh goal line that created space for him to nip over the line.

In contrast, Tuohy's first was almost comical. Welsh winger Michael Tagicakibau closely watched a high kick from Whatling trickle back across his own goal line. He was still watching it, without a single call from a team-mate, as Tuohy dived past him to score. The Irishman's second was almost a mirror of Ireland's first score.

If the first half had held a few nervous early minutes for the Pirates, the second held none, as the home side rarely troubled them in any real way. Handling errors and errant kicking cost the home side any chance of getting back into the game.

No.8 Tom Brown went over late on for the home side, but Tuohy's third try and another from Canadian international Ed Fairhurst, coupled with kicks from Whatling and Luke, had already killed the game off as a contest.

The Pirates travel to struggling Newbury next week hoping to complete a first league double of the season, the Cornishmen having opened their National One account with a 48-5 victory at Camborne back in August.

Hewitt said he was looking to use the game to build on the good work done in London. He added: "We have got some momentum going, there is no reason why we can't improve on where we are."



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Redruth wasted little time in returning to winning ways in National League Two as they saw off Stourbridge 26-15 at Stourton Park.

Having surrendered their unbeaten tag for the season the week previous at home to Cambridge, Nigel Hambly's side were well worthy of this latest maximum haul.

"There were a few questions asked in the week about how we would cope with our first loss," explained Hambly afterwards. "I think we responded with courage. Stourbridge have not had the best of starts this season, but they have won four out of five at home and they are always very competitive at Stourton Park. To come here and get a result, like we have today, is pretty pleasing.

"I thought we showed real dogged determination because we've not been playing well in the last three or four games, but we have been grinding out results. Last week it didn't quite happen for us, but this week we dug in and we showed tremendous spirit, heart and courage."

The visiting Reds, who made six changes to their line-up, were quickly into their stride and playing some attractive rugby which forced Stourbridge into killing the ball close to the posts in the opening minutes. Unfortunately Mark Scrivener – one of those recalled to the side – could not cash in as his penalty chance failed to hit the target.

The home side, however, could not clear the danger and from a five-metre scrum close to the posts, No.8 Mark Bright – who will return to New Zealand today for the funeral of his grandmother – charged over for an unconverted try in the fifth minute.

Suddenly, though, the complexion of the game changed as Stourbridge responded with two quickfire tries.

The first came on ten minutes when Rob Thirlby got turned over in midfield and giant lock Ben Hughes ran on to an astute chip by Ton Richardson to run in a try that Jon Higgins converted from the touchline.

Moments later, the Midlanders struck for a second time when, following a probing kick from Redruth's Ricky Pellow, the home side countered at pace and a long pass from Higgins saw full-back Oliver Grove race over in the left-hand corner.

Stourbridge continued to press hard for more points, but stout defence from the Cornishmen kept them at bay. It was, as Hambly pointed out later, a crucial period in the game.

"Some people will say that Stourbridge should have made more of their possession and territory, but I think it was our defence that deserves the credit," said the Redruth coach.

Buoyed by their work in defence, the Reds raised their game just before the interval and following a flowing move, Bright took centre stage once more as he beat three home defenders before dotting down near the posts for Scrivener to add the extras.

On the resumption, Redruth survived an early scare when a probing grubber kick from Higgins almost set up Jon Hall for a third try. Thankfully, Rob Thirlby outpaced Hall to the kick and – following advice from the touch judge – no try was awarded.

And with Redruth taking the drop out quickly, play was soon on the Stourbridge line. Patient build up from the Reds created an opening for skipper PJ Gidlow, who took the ball off Bright to crash over near the posts for Scrivener to convert.

Cold hands saw both teams put the ball to ground in good positions, but a massive penalty from nigh on halfway by Grove in the 51st minute helped to keep the home side in contention.

Despite seeing their advantage cut slightly, Redruth – with the advantage of the slope – continued to have the better of territory. Their dominant scrum was also causing major problems to the home side.

At the heart of it all was England Counties prop Darren Jacques, who was in great form and gave his opposite number a torrid time.

The efforts of the front-row and their scrummaging coach Terry Pryor were duly recognised by Hambly at the close. He added: "It has been a tremendous boost having Terry on board this season. He has improved our scrum no end. He has a tremendous knowledge of front-row play and I consider it a privilege and honour to work with his experience and standing in the game."

With time fast running out, Redruth ground the home side into submission when, following three five-metre scrums, referee Michael Tutty had little option but to award a penalty try when the home side caved in for a third time. The try ensured the bonus point, whilst Scrivener's conversion merely added to the points tally.

Stourbridge made valiant attempts in injury time to get a losing bonus point from the game, but the Reds – who today sit seven points clear at the halfway stage of the season – were in miserly mood and held firm with great effect.



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Cornish All Blacks' number 8 Glen Remnant smashes through the Westcombe Park defence. Photo by Alex Folkes/

This was "the best rugby I've seen played since I was at Polson Bridge, the first half was sensational," said Cornish All Blacks' joint head coach, Chris Brown, following his side's 45-19 victory over Westcombe Park.

That said, victory was achieved exclusively in the first half. By the 19th minute the Polson men were 24 points up without reply and had the bonus already in the bag. And by the interval they were 45-5 up, with the match as a contest virtually over.

The Kent visitors were clearly stunned. All they had managed to snatch amid the relentless onslaught was a lucky, if well-taken, intercept try by their pacy wing Kirk King in the 35th minute – by which time the All Blacks had already posted 38 points.

Astonishingly, the All Blacks failed to score again after the break. From the re-start a previously shell-shocked Westcombe Park fought back well to post 14 points.

They were never going to win, but they certainly caught the All Blacks off guard and, if they returned to Orpington with nothing to show for their efforts, they must at least have journeyed home with heads held high.

Brown said: "I think we ought to take it on two levels. The first half was sensational. We stuck to a rigid game-plan and made the most of their errors. We were patient and played at a pace which was very difficult to live with. At half-time I don't think I've ever been more pleased with the team.

"There were some outstanding displays and the forward pack were entirely dominant, which laid the foundation. We were very clinical and showed a killer instinct I hadn't seen before.

"In the second half we tried to do too much too soon and played in the wrong areas of the field. Also Westcombe Park were far more resilient. We allowed them to have chunks of possession because when we had the ball we didn't show patience and we tried to hit a six off every ball we had.

"We went away from the game-plan and for that reason didn't perform as we should have done. But scoring 45 points in the first half was exceptional.

"We know that we still must improve again. Psychologically we switched off after that outstanding first half."

From the kick-off the All Blacks' points came faster than one a minute. With the pack in charge – No.8 Glen Remnant a class act in a superb back row – and the backs getting quick ball and running with penetration, patience and panache, a cricket score looked on the cards.

An astute touch kick by fly-half Steve Perry, a stolen line-out, and Remnant went charging over for the opening points. Five minutes on and he was over again, this time after a piercing run by on-loan Exeter Chiefs' winger Gary Kingdom. Centre Adam Staniforth landed a quality conversion.

Then, with the backs queuing up out right in the 22, Perry lofted a long pass for wing Marc Dibble to stroll over untouched. Staniforth added another two points.

Just before the end of the first quarter, full-back Jon Fabian lofted another perfect touch kick, Kingdom broke through the middle and centre Ryan Westren brushed aside tackles to cross. Twenty-four points, four tries, and the bonus point – all in 20 minutes.

The attacking momentum was unrelenting. After two scrums under the posts Dibble, released by scrum-half Lewis Webb with another long pass, touched down again. After two more points from Staniforth's boot, another almost casual move out on the right saw flanker Josh Lord breeze over, and the All Blacks were 31-0 up.

King finally got his side on the board, but the half ended with flanker Sam Hocking in the 22 remarkably shooting right through most of the Westcombe side to score at the posts for Staniforth to add the conversion.

The Polson faithful now expected a cricket score. Instead, lock Tim Collier was sin-binned for an indiscretion at a ruck, Westcombe's pride was finally engaged and a fightback was on.

Just after the hour King stormed out of his own in-goal area and released wing Lee Campion to race 40 yards to score.

Full-back Philip Chesters converted, and six minutes from time, with the All Blacks under considerable pressure in their 22, the ball was driven and recycled close in and lock John Chance scored at the posts for Chesters again to add the extras.

It wasn't the way the All Blacks wanted the match to finish, but they weren't worried – they knew it had really finished 40 minutes before.



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

In a campaign which has so far seen more ups and downs than the Big Dipper at Blackpool's Pleasure Beach, Mounts Bay hit the halfway point in National League Two on the rise following their 41-16 victory over visiting Waterloo.

Adrian Bick's side notched up their fifth victory of the season by running in tries from Brett Stroud (two), Steve Johns, Darren Ritchie and Jamie Salter, whilst the left boot of full-back Dan Hawkes did the rest of the damage against the division's basement club.

For Bick and his players, Saturday's success was just the lift they had sought following their disappointing 41-12 reverse at Cinderford the week previous.

Buoyed by the inclusion of on-loan Cornish Pirates' back Doug Sanft, Bay were quickly into their stride. Indeed, early pressure soon brought rich reward as Hawkes fired over a fourth-minute penalty after the Merseysiders had been penalised for straying offside.

However, parity was restored within a few minutes as Waterloo fly-half James O'Brien copied the feat of Hawkes by plundering a superb 40-metre penalty.

With little to choose between either side in a tight opening quarter, Bay slowly began to up the tempo and with it regained the initiative on 27 minutes when good interpassing from both forwards and backs helped to release Johns at pace.

As the on-loan Plymouth Albion centre sprinted downfield, he was felled in the right-hand corner, but was still able to feed the ball back inside for recalled flanker Brett Stroud, who collected the ball before bursting under the posts for Hawkes to add the extras.

A second O'Brien penalty helped keep Waterloo alive just before the break. However, Hawkes helped Bay re-establish their seven-point buffer early in the second half when he sent over an excellent drop-goal to make the score 13-6.

The response from the visitors was again swift and when O'Brien made the most of a lucky bounce following a high up-and-under to score a try, which he also converted, the arm wrestle between the two clubs was once more deadlocked.

Sadly for the visitors that would be as close as they would get to their Cornish hosts for the remainder of the game. Indeed, as Bay lifted the intensity, so came a flurry of points.

The lively Johns sold a beautiful dummy to claim a second converted try on 51 minutes, then Salter got in on the scoring act as the hooker – another loanee from the Brickfields – provided the crucial touchdown to some powerful play from the Bay pack.

In between the two tries, O'Brien took his personal tally to 16 points with a second penalty, but by then it was Bay who were ruling the roost.

Hawkes nudged over the conversion to Salter's try, plus the all-important fourth which came courtesy of Stroud, who outpaced the Waterloo rearguard with 61 minutes on the clock.

Seemingly home and dry, Bay refused to take their foot off the gas as they inflicted what was to prove a telling final blow to Waterloo with just over ten minutes remaining.

Collecting a clearance deep inside how own half, Hawkes returned the punt with interest, collecting his own kick before passing inside to Johns, who in turn fed winger Ritchie, who glided clear of the Waterloo defence to score a fifth converted try.

Afterwards, a delighted Bick remarked on a job well done for his side. He said: "I am very pleased for the boys. It was a good result for us and the manner in which we did it was excellent. I thought they [Waterloo] were tough old opponents and it wasn't until the second half that we finally broke them. We were able to stretch them a bit more in the second half and that was when we scored our tries. Up until then, I thought they were a fairly useful side and they caused us one or two problems in certain areas."

For Bick, though, just getting back on track following the loss at Cinderford was crucial. He added: "We were really disappointed with how we played up at Cinderford. We had a poor start and we were always chasing the game up there. It's always tough when you have to do that, but that wasn't the case against Waterloo.

"I've said it a lot this season, winning games of rugby gets confidence up and that is what we need. We need a winning culture within the side. We had a tough start to the season and people, including myself, were questioning certain things. But we've turned it around as the season has progressed. I think we have made big strides.

"We've shown that we can play in this division and that we can win games of rugby and that is what it's all about. I know we've changed personnel a bit as well since the start, but I think as a group we have all learnt lessons and over the second half of the season we'll learn even more and, hopefully, we'll get even better."

Next up for Bay is Saturday's EDF Energy National Trophy tie with visiting Barking at the Mennaye Field.




National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

It wasn't exactly a cracker, nor did the Pirates pull out all the stops, but the Cornishmen still had enough in the bag to sink visiting Coventry 32-14 in this National League One tussle at Camborne.

Mark Hewitt's side made amends for their early season stuffing by the Midlanders by not only running in six tries in yesterday's return leg at the Recreation Ground, but at the same time producing a miserly defensive display, one in which Ebenezer Scrooge would have been proud of himself.

It was – to all intents and purposes – a job well done by the Pirates. However, head coach Hewitt is well aware his side will need to up their game considerably if they are to gain similar reward from next Saturday's derby encounter with Exeter Chiefs.

"It was pleasing to get a result like that, but the performance wasn't particularly good," remarked Hewitt at the final whistle. "Our accuracy on a lot of occasions wasn't great, especially at the breakdown, and that is something we need to look at because it has been going well up to this point. Also we're concerned about missing all those kicks at goal."

Just one successful shot on target tells its own story as kickers Tom Luke, Simon Whatling and, later in the game, James Moore, all struggled to find their range with an assortment of attempts at the posts.

On another day, such misses could prove costly and Hewitt knows as much. He added: "We got a start, but it was only 15-11 at half-time and they were still very much in it. Had we kicked our goals we would have been out of sight.

"It's something we will have to go away and think about this week because in games like Exeter, if you have a chance of three points, you have to take three points because they will."

But whilst Hewitt will look for an improvement in both goalkicking and certain accuracy issues, he need not worry too much about other areas of the Pirates' play.

At times yesterday, some of the rugby produced by the Duchy's finest was delightful. The inter-passing between both forwards and backs often caused problems for Coventry, who themselves were more than happy to give the ball some much needed air time.

However, any hopes Phil Maynard's side had of pulling off their first double of the season were soon extinguished as the home side let rip with a powerful opening to the game.

Despite the early barrage, the Pirates were unable to make their pressure tell as Luke failed with a straight-forward penalty chance after Coventry had been penalised for an infringement at a ruck. At the other end, the day's kicking curse claimed another victim as Coventry fly-half Myles Dorrian saw a similar chance float wide of the left stick.

With little to choose between either side at that stage, it was the Pirates who finally broke the deadlock on 16 minutes. A clearance from visiting full-back Ben Russell was fielded deep inside his own half by Simon Whatling, whose return kick was misjudged by centre Donovan Sanders and Pirates number nine Ed Fairhurst pounced on the loose ball to send Whatling over in the corner.

Things did not get any better for the visitors five minutes later as hooker Chris Whitehead was dispatched to the sin-bin for a professional foul on Whatling as he looked to release the home backs.

With the extra man, the Pirates duly pressed home their advantage when winger Brian Tuohy crossed for their second try, which again went unconverted by Luke.

A Dorrian penalty briefly reduced the arrears on 27 minutes, before the Cornishmen added try number three with a sublime score. Flanker Iva Motusaga created the initial platform from which the ball was fed through the hands of Heino Senekal, Luke and Mark Ireland, who made no mistake from six metres out.

Luke's dismal day with the boot continued as his attempted conversion again failed to find its target, much to the relief of the Midlanders, who were still happily in touch despite the home side's first-half dominance.

A second Dorrian penalty brought Coventry a little closer, before the visitors claimed their first try on 36 minutes. Quick thinking from scrum-half Nathan Jones caught the Pirates napping, Whitehead made the most of the space afforded to him and he linked well to send winger Will Hurrell over in the right corner to make it 15-11 at the break.

On the resumption, Dorrian had another opportunity to cut the deficit, but his effort was shanked to the left and it was the Pirates who responded immediately, claiming their fourth try on 44 minutes when a slick move saw the ball worked from the right flank to the left, where Fijian full-back Marika Vakacegu scorched over from 15 metres out, Whatling bagging the one and only conversion to make it 22-11.

Still Coventry refused to buckle as Dorrian continued to chip away at the home side's buffer with another penalty.

However, having weathered a strong Coventry storm, the Pirates – aided by some fresh blood from the bench – extended their lead on 68 minutes when an excellent burst from Whatling saw him spin a pass wide to Vakacegu, who made no mistake from close range.

Once more Coventry responded well and only a last-gasp tackle from the excellent Motusaga prevented Russell from crossing the whitewash.

It would prove the best the visitors could muster in the latter stages as the Pirates wrapped up victory when, following a long clearance out of defence, ex-Coventry favourite James Moore won the sprint race to the loose ball, before slipping the ball back inside for Steve Winn to score try number six.



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

For the second time this season, Mounts Bay were left well and truly burnt after they felt the full heat of National League Two table-toppers Redruth at the Recreation Ground.

Billed ahead of kick-off by the Reds marketing team as the 'Inferno in Kernow' – Nigel Hambly's side engulfed their near neighbours with another powerful display that not only ensured them of yet more local bragging rights, but also a healthy seven-point cushion at the summit going into the New Year.

Bay, meanwhile, will have plenty to chew over as they prepare to tuck into their festive fare this week. Top of the menu for head coach Adrian Bick will be devising a way of improving discipline within the playing ranks, as well as a safe route away from the division's drop zone come the end of April.

Not for the first time this season, the Penzance-based club were left to rue yet more on-field indiscretions, the pick of which was the second-half dismissal of John Griffiths for punching.

The lock's red card was the club's third this campaign and Bick is well aware that if the trend continues in any shape or form in 2009, Bay's survival bid will be severely hampered.

"I'm bitterly disappointed and so are the boys, they're incredibly flat right now," assessed Bick following Saturday's loss. "After 20 minutes I was pleased with the way we were playing. We were creating chances, causing them a few problems, but then just before the break we kind of imploded. They scored two quick tries and that left us with a lot to do in the second half.

"To be honest, before the game I was fairly optimistic we could come up here and do something. Again, though, our discipline has cost us.

"We lost our scrum-half [Mike Molloy] to a yellow card in the first half, then we lost one of our second row [Griffiths] in the second half. Having 15 men on the field it's always going to be tough coming to a place like Redruth, but with 14 men you're always going to be up against it.

"I don't want to say too much right now because I'd like to see the video, but I thought Mark Scrivener kicked very well for them today. If you take his five penalties away, that's 15 points off the final score, then you're in with a chance still.

"Certainly I don't think the end scoreline was a true reflection of the game. I thought even when we had 14 men, we still controlled certain things. Now we just have to go away from here and regroup, pick ourselves up, and look forward to Stourbridge at our place."

But whilst Bick knows he has plenty to work on in the coming days and weeks, opposite number Hambly was able to reflect on a 'job well done' by his in-form team.

"I'm happy with a win and I'm happy with five points," said Hambly. "That is always very pleasing. I thought we pretty much dominated from start to finish. They had a couple of breaks in the first half when they were a bit dangerous, but that was more slack defence on our part, rather than them really creating things.

"That said, fair play to Mounts Bay, they came here and gave it a real go. But I think the scoreline was right in the end and perhaps we could have scored a few more points."

With Redruth much changed from the youthful side that lost to Birmingham-Solihull in the National Trophy the week previous, the home side wasted little time in settling into the game and took the lead on five minutes.

A series of forward drives got them camped nicely inside the Bay 22 and, when the visitors infringed with hands in at the ruck, up stepped Scrivener to send over the first of his five penalties.

Bay could have replied within minutes, but on-loan Pirates' fly-half Doug Sanft saw his long-range effort float wide, before Scrivener doubled his tally with a near identical kick on 10 minutes.

Sanft, however, was able to reduce the arrears on 16 minutes, this time punishing the home side after they had gone over the top trying to defend their own ball.

That, however, would be Bay's only reward for an opening period in which they offered plenty early on, but then shot themselves in the foot as the half drew towards a close.

Call it petulance or mere stupidity, Bay handed the initiative to the Reds on 28 minutes. Having won a penalty inside their own 22, former Plymouth Albion flanker Brett Stroud got himself caught up in a spot of handbags with James Mann, the end result being the penalty Bay had won subsequently being reversed in favour of the Reds.

Scrivener duly kicked for the corner and, from the resultant lineout, the home forwards combined as a collective unit to drive prop Darren Jacques over for a try, which Scrivener converted.

Things did not improve shortly after for the visitors when, having been warned a number of times for infringing, Molloy transgressed once too often for referee Luke Pearce's liking and he was banished to the cooler for ten minutes. Scrivener added to the Bay's woes by hammering over a third penalty.

Even then the Reds were not finished, rubbing salt into Bay's already exposed wounds with a second try in stoppage time. Winger Paul Thirlby applied the finish, touching down after the Reds had worked a lovely opening following a loose kick from Sanft.

On the resumption, Scrivener again wasted little time in adding to his haul, the fly-half bagging two more penalties – the second of which came following the needless dismissal of Griffiths – to put the Reds firmly in control at 27-3.

Like a hound sensing blood, Redruth proceeded to go for Bay's jugular. A third try quickly followed as No.8 Mann exposed an opening in the visiting rearguard, before charging his way over from 30 metres, Scrivener again obliging with the extras.

Although wounded, Bay's heartbeat continued to pump, albeit much weaker than in the first half. However, they were rewarded for their battling spirit when replacement scrum-half Greg Goodfellow sniped from a ruck and scampered under the posts for a try, which Sanft duly converted.

It was a score which disappointed the Reds' coaching team afterwards. However, head honcho Hambly need not have worried too much as his side claimed the all-important fourth try on 69 minutes.

With the man advantage up front, the Reds worked themselves deep into Hellfire Corner where, following a series of scrums, one final push for the line enabled Paul Thirlby to somehow sneak over for his second try, again converted superbly from the touchline by Scrivener.

That was effectively that for the two sides, who now go into 2009 with different objectives, but a clear and concise goal on what they wish to achieve.

Hambly added: "I can't be too disappointed after that. It was nice to finish 2008 with five points and a win in a local derby. Now, we have to look forward to Blaydon next up. That's a new challenge for us, but as a group we like a challenge.

"If they beat us on the day, they beat us on the day, but we are happy with the way we are and the way things have finished. Good on the boys for what they've done, they deserve all the plaudits because they've worked so hard."




National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

The Christmas story tells of a star shining brightly over a town called Bethlehem. On Saturday night, the glow of satisfaction which beamed from Exeter Chiefs' coach Pete Drewett at the final whistle was just as prominent.

Having seen his side's title push suffer a setback on successive weekends against Esher and league leaders Leeds Carnegie, Drewett – together with his two wise men, Rob Baxter and Paul Larkin – knew a third slip against the visiting Pirates would all but spell disaster for the Devon club in their quest to land the end of season gold.

And, for 40 minutes at least, the Chiefs knew getting their campaign back on track was going to be no formality. Despite having beaten the Cornishmen 32-23 in their own stable back in September, Mark Hewitt's challengers arrived for this re-match determined to settle a few old scores.

Buoyed by December victories over London Welsh and, more recently Coventry, the Pirates happily soaked up the initial thrust of the Chiefs, before countering with some inventive rugby that left the home side scrambling for cover amid the heavy attacking barrage.

The fact that the Chiefs were able to withstand the bombardment was two-fold. First, the Pirates failed to capitalise on a series of promising openings, whilst secondly Exeter's defensive shape was not only rounded, but rock solid at the same time.

Former Pirate Matt Jess prevented the first attack of any note from the Duchy's finest on 15 minutes. The winger, who was recalled to the Exeter line-up in place of the injured Nic Sestaret, did superbly to track back and prevent the ball from reaching Marika Vakacegu following a slick backs move from the visitors.

Five minutes later and the Pirates were on the attack once more as Simon Whatling and Mark Ireland linked well to release Paul Devlin on the left. As the winger collected, he decided to cut back inside in pursuit of points. Sadly, it was a decision he would come to rue as, instead of feeding the unmarked Tom Luke outside of him, he was instead swamped by a plethora of home tacklers and the chance was lost.

Despite this, Hewitt's charges continued to press hard and again threatened when Ireland's pass opened up space for Brian Tuohy on the right flank. With little option but to chip over the top, Exeter scrum-half Clive Stuart-Smith did well – albeit after an initial fumble – to fend off the advances of the Pirates as they sensed yet another opportunity.

With a scrum five metres out, the stage was now seemingly set for the visitors to finally break the game's deadlock. What followed, however, was an indication of what was to transpire later in the game. Instead of biding their time to find the opening, the Pirates tried to force their attacking plan into action. It was a move – not for the first time this season – that backfired on them.

The Chiefs lapped up the turnover ball and countered with devastating effect. Centre Paul McKenzie and flanker Tom Johnson led the charge back up field for the home side, the latter eventually feeding Fijian winger Josh Drauniniu who, with two men still to beat, fended off the attentions of Tuohy and Vakacegu to cross in the left-hand corner.

It was a classic sucker punch and one which the Pirates failed to see coming. Although it did not floor the visitors at that stage, the effects of Drauniniu's potent serving on the half-hour mark would have an influence after the break.

Even then the Pirates had further chances to make an impact on proceedings, but twice fly-half Whatling failed to convert with two straightforward penalty chances.

With little to choose between either side at the break, the Chiefs wasted little time in stretching their lead on the restart. It took precisely 43 seconds as an initial break from Drauniniu was recycled back inside to fly-half Gareth Steenson, whose chip over the top of the onrushing Pirates' defence fell invitingly into the clasp of McKenzie to dot down under the sticks. Steenson obliged with the extras.

The score gave the home side a comfortable buffer from which to build. Whereas in the first period the confrontation up front was not only bruising, but also keenly contested, suddenly the Chiefs – marshalled superbly by fly-half and former Pirate Steenson – could play a much more territorial game.

At every opportunity the Irishman would use his booming right boot to send his former club back deep inside their own half. It was a tactic that not only made life difficult for the Pirates, but also ensured the Chiefs could continue to press hard in attack.

It was therefore no surprise when they extended their grip with a third try on 55 minutes. More neat approach work down the right saw Stuart-Smith combine with Steenson, whose clever grubber kick in behind saw full-back Sean Marsden win the subsequent sprint to the line for the touchdown.

Worse was to follow for the Pirates on the hour as Marsden was in on the scoring act once more, this time claiming the all-important fourth try. Centre Tom Bedford did much of the hard work with a rampaging run through the middle, Stuart-Smith was on the scene quickly when Bedford was eventually felled, and the scrum-half's slip pass to the right found the former Bristol back to cross from a few yards out. Steenson converted for a second time to make it 24-0.

There was no let-up from the Chiefs who, still smarting from their 19-18 reverse at Leeds the week previous, went for the Pirates' jugular in the closing quarter. Again the home side created a series of drives down the right flank, before the ball was worked inside through Stuart-Smith and Danny Gray, the latter of whom fed the speeding Jess, who made no mistake in crossing the whitewash. With Steenson having departed stage left, Gray administered a third conversion to make the score 31-0.

With little more than pride to play for, the Pirates did continue to plug away – albeit still shell-shocked from what the Chiefs had hit them with in the second period.

Indeed, with a minute of normal time still remaining, their efforts were rewarded when Rhodri McAtee plucked a telegraphed pass from Gray out of the air, before racing away under the posts for a consolation score which Rhys Jones converted.

Even then, the home side were far from finished and, with the game deep into stoppage time, a new star was born for the Chiefs. Collecting a ball deep inside his own half, Bedford set off on a mazy run that left the Pirates bamboozled and the sell-out crowd amazed.

The 20-year-old's late touchdown was not only a fitting conclusion to this derby encounter, but an indication that the Chiefs are not willing to give up their pursuit of Leeds just yet. Roll on 2009!




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

Five second-half tries by the depleted Cornish Pirates saw them home in another roller-coaster afternoon at Camborne Rec. It was a game full of incident, especially during the first-half when, after 30 minutes, the Pirates found themselves down to 13 men, as scrum-half Nicky Griffiths saw yellow for a professional foul and tight-head prop Dan Seal was shown a red card for punching by referee Mr. Knowles. The resulting penalty put the visitors 13-10 up, but the incident appeared to kick-start the Pirates as they then played out of their skins to deny the visitors any further points. Fly-half Rhys Jones, after a shaky start, went on to kick every chance at goal and score a try to boot, to end up with a points tally for the game of 25.

"He went well, didn't he" remarked head coach Mark Hewitt after the game. "Hopefully with his kicking like that he'll get another chance next week" (at Nottingham).

There was regrettably an underlying niggle during the game, resulting from the kick-off when the Otley players felt that their receiver lock Paul Williams was taken out in the air. The resulting dust up saw Seal targeted by the Otley players, the consequence of which would be all too clear 30 minutes later!

Not for the first time this season at home the Pirates were guilty of pressing too hard early on, committing a whole catalogue of mistakes and errors that resulted in promising moves floundering, whilst Otley continued their "in your faces" style of play, living off scraps and spoiling like a mad dog.

It was a hack on by lock Howard Parr that saw a dangerous ball dealt with by winger Rhodri McAtee back in his own 22. The Welshman decided to chance his luck with a run out of defence, only to be felled by a dangerous looking tackle which went unpunished; the ball ended up in touch. From the line out Otley contrived to power over with the skipper, flanker Dan Hyde, getting the try in the scoreboard corner. Fly-half Tom Rhodes added a fine conversion for an early lead after 9 minutes.

The Pirates soon found themselves 10 points down as they were caught off side 25 meters out from their posts, Rhodes happily adding the penalty.

The Pirates needed a speedy riposte. Further frustrations came their way before eventually the ball stuck in the hands and a fine move was finished off by Jones on 15 minutes as he scored the Pirates' opening try. His conversion of his own try, plus a penalty a few minutes later as Otley failed to roll away, tied the scores.

Hooker Darren Dawiduik had a powerful run deep into the Otley 22, part of another fine performance by the young Cornish hooker.

Then came the incident concerning Dan Seal's dismissal. Otley were pressing in the clubhouse corner and then the players were at each other once again. Rhodes kicked the resulting penalty to put the visitors briefly back into the lead. The Pirates were forced to withdraw flanker Sam Betty as prop Sam Heard came off the bench to replace Seal.

The fears soon turned to cheers as Aisea Havili scorched in down in the Park gate corner to round off another fine move, Jones' conversion giving the Pirates an improbable 17-13 lead at half-time.

A second penalty by Jones increased the Pirates lead shortly after the resumption of play for the second half, as a much more cohesive Pirates' side began to wrest the initiative. Moments after coming on, replacement hooker Rob Elloway crashed over for the Pirates' third try, following good work from centre Steve Winn. Jones continued with his success rate at goal.

Plucky Otley looked for a way back into the game but fortunately they were thwarted at every turn.

All-action No. 8 Chris Morgan scored the bonus point try after 64 minutes to kill off any hopes Otley may have had, Jones' extras putting the Pirates 34-13 up.

The Pirates superior fitness now told as they proceeded to run in a further three tries. Rhodri McAtee ran in from half-way after the ball went loose after 69 minutes. Jimmy Moore, on for Marika Vakacegu, ran in the 6th try with a lovely dummy pass to Havili to wrong foot the defence, whilst Brian Tuohy, on for Havili, picked his way through the now disconsolate Otley defence to run in a fine individual score under the posts. All three tries were converted by Jones to cap his fine performance with the boot.

A relieved Mark Hewitt conceded that the first half performance had been poor. "We put together 30 minutes of good rugby in the second half. First half we made offloads to nobody, we forced the play too much, we didn't go through our phases and our passing and decision making was poor. We struggled for 40 minutes". He felt that Otley played the referee a little bit. "I was disappointed with the referee. We had a guy go into the bin and another red carded. Every time there was a stoppage they caused a confrontation, they were the ones who started all the problems. The referee lost the plot he didn't control that area of the game."

He also felt that there had been no contact in the air from the kick-off, which caused the initial brawl. "Half-time we talked about our accuracy and going through the phases. We felt that we would get an outcome. We went through the phases, didn't force off-loads, and in the end the scoreboard reflects that."

Looking ahead to next Sunday's game at Nottingham, "It's going to be a tough encounter, they have got a pretty good record up there. We are expecting a tough game next weekend, they are very direct in their approach and they challenge you to combat them. As I've said before, I think we've got a pretty good game and when it functions I think we have a game to beat anyone, but we have to be at our best."

Cornish Pirates 55 pts: tries Jones, Havili, Elloway, Morgan, McAtee, Moore, Tuohy; conversions Jones (7); penalties Jones (2)

Otley 13 pts: try Hyde; conversion Rhodes; penalties Rhodes (2)

Cornish Pirates: M. Vakacegu (J. Moore 65), A. Havili (B. Tuohy 72). P. Devlin, S. Winn, R. McAtee, R. Jones, N. Griffiths; P. Cook (P. Andrew 69), D. Dawiduik (R. Elloway 48), D. Seal (sent off 30), H. Senekal, B. Gulliver (capt), S. Betty (S. Heard 35), I. Motusaga, C. Morgan.
Replacements not used: T. Luke, S. Whatling
Yellow card Griffiths; red card Seal

Otley: D. McCormack, D. Roberts (A. Whitter 50), K. Dench, M. McCornish, D. Smith, T. Rhodes, A. Brown (A. Whitter 21-40); S. Trethewey (K. Fullman 58), W. Kay (T. Whitaker 52), K. Fullman (J. Craig 52), H. Parr, P. Williams (B. Steele 52), M. Lewis, D. Hyde (capt), R. Baldwin.
Replacement not used: I. Shuttleworth

Referee: Mr. P. Knowles (RFU)

Crowd: 2,073



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Redruth fly-half Mark Scrivener came within a whisker of grabbing a last-gasp victory for the National Two leaders at Blaydon on Saturday.

With the game deep into injury time, Scrivener saw his drop-goal attempt cannon back off the upright and fall back into play.

Even then the Cornishmen could have snatched victory as they laid siege to the home line. Sadly, it was not to be and the Reds headed home with a share of the spoils following this 13-13 draw at the Crow Trees Ground.

"I have a little bit of mixed feelings," reflected Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly at the final whistle. "There's a tinge of disappointment because I thought we were good enough to win the game. Blaydon are a decent team with some handy operators and a couple of guys out wide who, if they get space, can cause you a lot of trouble."

The visitors, though, were left to bemoan a poor opening to the game, one in which they trailed 8-0 after 13 minutes.

"It was another slow start by us," added Hambly. "It is always going to be tough travelling as far as this. It was difficult conditions as well, it was cold out there, the pitch was sticky and it was a tough wind to kick in.

"That said, I don't want any excuses for the journey. I thought our preparations were great, we left early on Friday morning, had a full recovery session last night, we got it right.

"We started slowly and perhaps lacked a little bit of self belief. Away from home, little things don't always go your way. Scrivs (Scrivener) is gutted about his drop goal attempt that hit the post and maybe we could have had a penalty shot at goal in the closing stages.

"Blaydon is a tough place to come, nobody has won here this season and Birmingham-Solihull and Cambridge still have to come here. By the look on their faces at the end, I think they were happier with the draw than we were."

On a bitterly cold day in the North East, it was soon clear Redruth were in for a tough afternoon. Newcastle Falcons loanee Joe Shaw put in a breathtaking hit on Redruth skipper PJ Gidlow in one of the opening plays.

Equally, when Blaydon had the ball, they kept it for long periods with pick and drive plays that tested every bit of Redruth's defensive organisation and will.

Forward pressure led to Shaw landing a penalty from wide out with just six minutes on the clock.

With Redruth struggling to impose their game, Martin Shaw brushed aside a tackle in midfield to set up an unconverted try in the corner for former Bath and Harlequins player Brendan Daniel after 13 minutes.

The score seemed to trigger Redruth into life and once Damien Cook got the chance to win some decent lineout ball, the home side started to concede penalties at the breakdown as they tried to slow up the visitors at source. It was therefore no surprise when, on 31 minutes, Peter Phelan was shown the yellow card for repeated team offences.

Scrivener kicked a 30-metre penalty to get some points on the board, but the hosts made light of being a man short with a series of forward drives leading to an unconverted try in the left corner for Andrew Fenby as Blaydon took a 10 point advantage into the interval.

Immediately after the break Scrivener used the wind to play for territory and with the Reds front three of Darren Jacques, Owen Hambly and Peter Joyce starting to dominate the scrums, they created the chance for No.8 Mark Bright to force his way over in the 46th minute for an unconverted score.

Former Camborne flanker Dave Roberts was getting through a lot of work in the back-row, while winger Nathan Pedley was just inches away from a try with a tremendous solo run.

The pressure from the Cornishmen, however, was mounting and after putting together several phases of play Redruth drew level in the 53rd minute when Paul Thirlby touched down in the right corner, Scrivener's conversion hitting the near upright.

Back roared the home side as Blaydon twice threatened the Redruth line, while Joe Shaw was well wide with a long range penalty.

With time all but up, Redruth – buoyed by the introduction of Richard Carroll and Chris Fuca – pushed for a late victory. However, it was not to be and Blaydon were spared.



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Cornish All Black Number 8 Sam Hocking scoring his first try. Photo by Alex Folkes/

A ton of points for the record book, tons of fun for the Polson faithful, and a very long journey home to Liverpool for Waterloo.

This National Two thrashing of the northerners (the league's struggling anchor club) highlighted two significant facts. One, if you are allowed to play to your strengths, you can find abilities in your side that had been only potential before. Two, if you don't have the money to buy players of the necessary standard, you won't survive for long at National level.

The All Blacks' stunning 103-5 triumph on a cold, frosty day at Launceston was thoroughly deserved as their attacking was absolutely relentless for the full 80 minutes.

Waterloo had been blown clean away by the interval, by which time they had conceded 46 points and not even got onto the scoreboard. To their credit they contested the match bravely throughout, with full-lback James Gee and fly-half James O'Brien both kicking well to try to set up attacking positions, but to no avail.

The All Blacks, though, were in total command – scrum, loose, lineout, in the backs, and in quickness of both thought and deed. The visitors' only points came from a try shortly after the turnaround when they took a clever kick-off and worked their backs down the wing for English Counties centre Freeman Payne to make it over at the flag.

The rest was a desperate and hopeless attempt to dam a flood of points which threatened and duly materialised to sweep away the defences even before the half-time whistle had blown.

All Blacks' joint head coach, Chris Brown, was unconditional in his praise for his side's achievement. He said: "To score 16 tries and maintain consistency for the full 80 minutes was a hugely pleasing element of our play.

"It's very difficult to maintain focus when the game is already won, and it was fantastic to see our lads show a killer edge. Regardless of what is put in front of you, skill levels are always put under pressure, and I felt that our execution was outstanding.

"Waterloo are going through a difficult period in their club's history but, nevertheless, Saturday was very much a focus for putting together our brand of rugby and our performance, which I felt we did very well. Also the return to form of Mike Myerscough was very heartening to see."

The try-fest was under way from the start and soon everyone was keen to get into the scoring act. The forwards drove their opposite numbers unceremoniously about the place and had soon rucked their way to the line for No.8 Sam Hocking to touch down at the posts, with centre Adam Staniforth converting and then kicking a penalty.

More driving forward power saw Myerscough bursting over, released by centre Ryan Westren; then left wing Gary Kingdom crossed after a well-judged touch kick by full-back Jon Fabian and a move down the left.

Staniforth's boot again obliged with the extras and then Fabian himself got on the scoresheet after another very good drive down the middle was followed by a neat crosskick to Marc Dibble; the wing almost made the line at the corner and flipped a perfect inside pass to the full-back, who went over. It was the half-hour mark and the All Blacks already had four tries and the bonus point in the bag.

Fabian was over again but a forward pass was adjudged, but in the six minutes before the break there were three more home scores as non-stop ruck-and-run play laid the groundwork for scrum-half Lewis Webb to split the defence wide open and send Staniforth in to touch down and convert.

Then further powerful driving ending with lock Tim Collier crossing; and a lovely handling move from halfway involving, among others, Myerscough and Collier, was completed by Webb for Staniforth again to add the two extra points.

Early in the second half Jason Luff, on loan from Exeter Chiefs, replaced Webb and he showed his scorching pace, marking his debut by racing from deep to bag a personal hat-trick of tries.

Fellow loanee Kingdom snatched an intercept close in to score and, after Waterloo's solitary touchdown, play began to resemble a game of Sevens, with All Black tries coming from every angle.

Luff, replacement hooker Glenn Cooper, Hocking (boldly stealing a lineout and bursting over), Luff for his third; Myerscough breaking unstoppably down the midfield; Westren on the end of another backs' move; and finally Dibble after yet more slick interpassing.

Staniforth and Kingdom, who took over kicking duties when Staniforth was replaced, added two conversions apiece to round off a remarkable afternoon of rugby.



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

This was supposed to be Mounts Bay's springboard to National Division Two survival, a chance to pull clear of the relegation zone and drag one of their rivals into the mire, but instead the Cornishmen were left frustrated and disappointed by a 14-9 defeat at home to Stourbridge.

Although Bay were the better side for much of the game, they were inferior in the one area that counts – Oliver Grove's second-half try tipping the scales in favour of the visitors with rival goal-kickers Dan Hawkes and Ali Bressington kicking three penalties apiece for their teams.

Clearly Mounts Bay are still leaps and bounds ahead of where they found themselves after losing their first seven league games of the season, but a few too many of the old problems remain as they sit one place above the four-team drop zone having played more games than any of their rivals.

The National Division Three South champions have a lengthy injury list – which now includes England Youth international Josh Matavesi after he came off with a shoulder injury – a suspension looms after lock John Griffths' ill-discipline at Redruth before Christmas and they will be without winger Mika Mua, whose career in the Navy has taken him to Portsmouth for the foreseeable future.

Head coach Adrian Bick admits his club will be looking to reinforce their squad sooner rather than later. He said: "Just in the backs, Darren Ritchie is injured, Richard Bright is injured, Mika Mua has gone away now with the Navy for a couple of years and elsewhere we're probably looking at John Griffiths getting a little bit of a ban for his red card at Redruth.

"We're definitely looking at bringing in players for sure. We've got to; it's the only sane thing to do really. We've played every side in the league now and we've got to be realistic about mapping it out to the end of the season.

"We've still got to play Blackheath, Westcombe Park, Wharfedale, Southend and Cinderford – these are games that you'd like to think we'd get something from. Overall our value-added each week is still massive and if we keep working at that, we'll be OK. We've had worse times."

There were certainly no signs of doom and gloom in the early stages against Stourbridge. Although Hawkes missed an early drop-goal attempt, Bay's pressure eventually told, forcing the visitors into desperate measures. Hooker Ben Gerry was shown a yellow card for a high tackle on opposite number Danny Clackworthy and Hawkes slotted the penalty to give his side the lead before adding a second from 35 yards five minutes later.

Bressington then showed his ability with a similar long-range effort for the visitors before Hawkes re-established a six-point lead from close range before the end of a mostly forgettable first half.

Bay were penalised for hanging on shortly after the restart and Bressington thumped a 35-yard kick through the posts to bring his side back into contention. The decisive moment of the game came in the 50th minute when Bressington broke from midfield before passing wide to flanker Peter Knight, who quickly off-loaded back inside to Grove who crossed the line to the left of the posts.

Bressington missed the conversion but struck another penalty eight minutes later to establish a five-point lead. Bay fought back well in the latter stages but were incapable of finishing their forward momentum with a try – that man Bressington launching the ball out of play to bring the final whistle.

"We were a little bit rusty after the Christmas break," admitted Bick. "We're bitterly disappointed, we've got to have a little bit of realisation and have some faith in ourselves because we were pushing in the last 20 minutes. We've just got to start putting sides away, I don't often say this but we were the better team.

"At 9-6 there were a few silly little penalties here and there. And I think on the run of play, the last 20 minutes was all us, but the rub of the green went against us a few times. You have to take positives out of every game and today it was that over the 80 minutes we were the better side. But in the end, we weren't ahead. We got a bonus point as well, but it's a losing bonus point against a side who are mid-table and hovering above that drop zone – that's not what we wanted.

"They are a big pack of forwards but they didn't really cause us too many problems and we just gave in, losing momentum, giving the ball away at certain points, allowing them turnover ball and kicking it back to them. It's hugely, hugely frustrating."

Bay have little time to feel sorry for themselves, with a trip to Birmingham & Solihull this weekend followed by a National Trophy tie against National Division One side Esher and Cambridge in the league.

Bick said: "We've just got to dust ourselves down and prepare for the next week. It's disappointing because the next few weeks are going to be tough as we're just going to have to keep our heads down and see if we can pick up a few bonus points here and there realistically.

"You can sense the boys are flat as at the moment. Now we've got a very difficult month ahead of us. It doesn't get any tougher than this, we've got Birmingham away next week and realistically we're going to be huge underdogs – if we can't dispatch sides like Stourbridge at home then we're going to struggle."




National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

Cornish Pirates' assistant coach Brett Davey held his hands up afterwards to a decision that arguably cost his side a superb National League Division Two victory at Meadow Lane.

A try by scrum-half Nicky Griffiths and a conversion and penalty by fly-half Rhys Jones in the space of five minutes had given the Pirates a 19-9 lead in the 66th minute.

The impetus was with them and they had the game by the scruff of the neck, when Davey made a triple substitution that had many Pirates' fans scratching their heads in puzzlement.

Griffiths, Jones and the limping Tom Luke were replaced by Ed Fairhurst, Simon Whatling and Steve Winn, and all of a sudden Nottingham sensed they had a chance, which they took with two converted tries in the final nine minutes of the game to run out 23-19 winners.

"I am really disappointed and I take full responsibility for the defeat," said Davey. "You make decisions and it is easy to point to that one because of the end result. If we had won 19-9 people would have said it was a masterstroke.

"It was always our intention that we had to do that because the players were out on their feet. Nicky played really, really well, but with the players coming on and with their experience, we just felt they could shut the game out for us, but I got it badly wrong. It is as simple as that.

"I told the players I take full responsibility for that. I apologise to all the supporters as well."

You can only admire the Welshman's honesty, and it is easy to criticise from a seat in the stand, but you just felt it was a game-changing moment as the substitutions took place, and so it sadly proved for the Cornishmen.

Six minutes later, with the Pirates' scrum – which had struggled for most of the afternoon – again coming under intense pressure, referee JP Doyle awarded a penalty try as the Pirates' pack disintegrated with Nottingham shoving towards the try line.

It was another decision that Davey was not happy with, but centre Greig Tonks slotted the simple conversion, and the gap was down to three points.

Then, two minutes into injury time, another concerted forward effort from Nottingham and a fierce driving maul saw No.8 Dan Montagu awarded the touchdown, after Doyle had consulted with his touch judge, and Tonks again added the extras.

The final whistle followed soon after and it was so hard on the Pirates, who had once more given their all and come up just short, as they had previously done this season in home matches against title chasers Leeds Carnegie and Exeter Chiefs.

The first half was a real war of attrition and was like the weather – dull and overcast, with Doyle's whistle all too prevalent and a stream of penalties the result.

Jones was successful with a sixth-minute effort, but failed with three long-range attempts, while Tonks slotted one from three for the hosts to make it 3-3 at the break.

Both sides also lost players to nasty- looking injuries, with Nottingham scrum-half Tim Usasz helped off with a shoulder injury and Pirates' flanker Sam Betty stretchered away with a gashed leg.

Jones and Tonks then exchanged two more penalties apiece in the opening quarter of the second half for a 9-9 scoreline, but then came a moment of class that lit up the proceedings.

Great work by replacement flanker Iva Motusaga helped earn Pirates a five-metre scrum under Nottingham's posts, and when the outstanding Griffiths broke from the base, a huge gap opened up in front of him and he cantered over, with Jones adding the extras.

It seemed the victory spoils were on their way to west Cornwall, until the intervention from the dug-out, but whatever the rights and wrongs of Davey's decision, he could be very pleased with his side's performance.

"I think the players should be really proud of themselves because they showed exactly what they could do. We completely nullified Nottingham for long passages of the game," said Davey.

"It is no secret that our scrum is struggling a little bit at the moment, but I thought the forwards were superb. They dug in, worked hard, and that's all you could ask and I am just disappointed for everybody."



National League 2. Report Bill Hooper, at the Recreation Ground, Redruth.

Despite plenty of possession and the lion's share of territorial advantage, Redruth produced their most disappointing performance of the season as they went down -- for the second time at home in the current campaign, by a single point -- to a spirited Wharfedale side who never gave up the chase and were ultimately rewarded with winger David Hall's winning try in Hell-Fire corner with the final play of the match. It's a result which dents Redruth's promotion hopes, whilst at the same time lifting Wharfedale further away from the relegation scrap to the detriment of another Cornish club, Mount's Bay.

Redruth made a number of changes from the side that drew at Blaydon the previous week. On the face of it the changes in themselves shouldn't have made much of a difference to a squad that has been going well all season, but for some reason the selection just didn't click on the day.

After the freezing weather this week, conditions were positively balmy as Wharfedale's fly-half Luke Gray kicked off, with his side playing up the slope in the first half. After the usual early exchanges it was Wharfedale who had the first points opportunity as Redruth went off their feet after only 2 minutes, allowing former England Counties centre Mark Bedworth a kick at goal, which he duly slotted comfortably.

Redruth looked to hit back -- at times forcing the game, with the resulting errors spoiling their play. Following an offside by the visitors, Redruth had a lineout from the penalty in the Wharfedale 22. Lock Richard Carroll made a big drive towards the line, gaining an attacking scrum for the Reds. From the heel No. 8 Mark Bright powered on before feeding skipper PJ Gidlow, who crossed to the right of the posts on 11 minutes. Scrivener's conversion attempt went across the posts, leaving the Reds 5-3 up.

Redruth lost the services of centre Paul Thirlby after 15 minutes with Craig Bonds coming off the bench. A promising break by Gidlow on 20 minutes came to nothing as Rob Thirlby failed to hold on to the pass; certainly a good chance went begging.

Wharfedale then proceeded to craft a fine try, started and finished off by their fly-half Luke Gray. An initial break in mid-field took play into the Reds' 22. The ball was moved right towards the scoreboard corner before being re-cycled and moved back left, with Gray, though tackled short of the line, able to stretch and plant the ball behind the whitewash right under the posts, to give Bedworth a simple conversion.

Moments after scoring Wharfedale found themselves reduced to fourteen men, as No.8 Tom Ball was sin-binned for a professional foul, referee Mr. Tutty finally losing patience with their persistent infringing at the breakdown. Redruth looked to capitalise on their man advantage but were denied by a combination of errors and stout Yorkshire defence, limiting them to a Scrivener penalty to reduce the arrears just on half-time.

Redruth began the second half brightly. A powerful drive by prop Peter Joyce, who stood out throughout, going on to earn the man-of-the-match accolade, took play into the visitors' 22. The ball was moved right towards the scoreboard corner and it looked like Lewis Vinnicombe was about to score, only for the winger to lose the ball at the critical moment!

Wharfedale continued to threaten, with Gray splitting the Reds' defence in a promising break, only to over hit his kick towards winger Hall.

There was a slight delay as Wharfedale's winger Dan Hart was stretchered off on 51 minutes, to be replaced by accomplished England Counties' centre Chris Malherbe.

Redruth continued to see chances frustratingly slip by, though eventually, after a line out and a big drive up in the scoreboard corner, with Chris Fuca, Joyce, Gidlow and Bright all involved, Redruth earned a penalty under the posts to allow Scrivener to re-gain the lead at 11-10 on 63 minutes.

Scrum-half Mark Richards was kicking more for the corners as the Reds looked to set up a driving game. A third penalty by Scrivener after 74 minutes as Wharfedale's back row broke too early from a scrum looked to have given Redruth a narrow win. But a final flourish from the visitors saw them launch an attack from their own 22, having taken a Redruth scrum against the head, allowing them to set up a platform in the Reds' 22 and a final surge into Hell Fire corner, to allow Hall's late winning try to claim the points.

After a lengthy post-match meeting with his players a very disappointed Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly emerged to give his version of events. As ever he was quick to praise the opposition for their performance on the day: "You've got to give Wharfedale credit. If we had won it would have been a travesty, we didn't turn up today, we took them a little bit lightly, we've had a good clearing of the air (players post-match meeting). Maybe I've got to take a little bit of the blame for today, I am not blaming the players. However, maybe there were some signs that I missed. At the end of the day it's down to me. I asked a few questions (of them) and they asked a few (of me). We are in the results business and today we didn't get the result we wanted. We will all learn from this and move on".

Looking ahead -- with a week off next Saturday as it's the EDF-Energy National Trophy 4th Round -- Hambly and his troops will focus on their trip to Polson to tackle the Cornish All Blacks in what promises to be another enthralling encounter. "There is nothing like a Cornish derby to get the blood boiling, get the juices flowing and get the frustration out."

Redruth 14 pts: try Gidlow; penalties Scrivener (3)

Wharfedale 15 pts: tries Gray, Hall; conversion Bedworth; penalty Bedworth

Redruth: R Thirlby, L Vinnicombe, P Thirlby (C Bonds 15), PJ Gidlow (Capt), N Pedley, M Scrivener, M Richards; A Morcom (D Jacques 47), B Priddey (O Hambly 47), P Joyce, D Cook, R Carroll (L Collins 65), D Roberts, C Fuca (B. Fox 40 - 53), M Bright

Wharfedale: A Whaites, D Hart (C Malherbe 51), A Hodgson, M Bedworth, D Hall, L Gray, J Doherty (Capt); C Steel, D Charnley (S Freer 30), B Fear (P Hall 30 - 75), O Renton (G Jones 70), A Capstick, A Allen, D Solomi, T Ball (R Baldwin 44)
Yellow card Ball

Referee: Mr M Tutty (RFU)

Crowd: 951



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

The All Blacks could be forgiven for feeling this was one that got away. They had to play desperate catch-up after the turnaround and simply ran out of time before going down 29-17 in their National League Division Two match against Tynedale at Tynedale Park.

The Northumbrians were more aware of the value of a deceptively strong wind, were dangerous on the break and commanded the scrum in the second half with their very heavy pack.

The first two advantages brought them a virtually unassailable 29-7 half-time lead and it left the All Blacks with a mountain too steep to climb.

Unbeaten in 33 consecutive home league matches, Tynedale were determined not to allow the Cornish visitors to spoil their record and attacked with a will from the start. Having bagged their 29 points in the opening 40 minutes, the northerners couldn't score again, while the All Blacks spent most of the second period in the home half and by the end of the third quarter had added ten points to their total and, only two scores adrift, were back in contention.

They came very close to narrowing it further but hadn't left themselves enough time to press home their attack and snatch victory.

Joint head coach Chris Brown said: "I feel that Tynedale played some good rugby, particularly in the first 25 minutes; and I feel we left ourselves too much to do. They made us work very hard for scores and we gave away some soft ones and failed to come to terms with their intensity of play in the first half-hour.

"In close games elementary errors will cost you and I felt we made four which gave us too much to do. The second half was very heartwarming and we attacked with vigour and aggression but ran out of time. No.8, Sam Hocking, was outstanding and was at the forefront of everything we did well."

Tynedale were 19 points up without reply before the half-hour. Full-back Jack Smales – who in the second half found himself facing his brother Hamish as his replacement opposite number – drew the defence and sent unmarked wing James Hoyle away for a try.

Then a combined move down the left ended with an inside pass to Ross Samson and the scrum-half split the defence to touch down at the posts for fly-half Robert Miller to convert.

The All Blacks rallied but first a penalty kick to the corner and then a move involving left wing Marc Dibble and centre Ryan Westren with centre Mal Roberts knocking on at the line, came to nothing. Tynedale just carried on, with Smales racing 39 metres and brushing off two tackles to score, for Miller to add the extras.

The All Blacks opened their account five minutes from the interval. Fly-half Steve Perry lofted an inspired long pass to Jason Luff 30 metres out and the wing shot away to swerve and jink his way over for Roberts to convert.

Tynedale kept coming. Miller landed a simple penalty and straight from the kick-off the ball was shipped out through the backs for Smales, who raced round for his second, which Miller again converted to give the Northumbrians a 22-point lead at half-time.

With the wind at their backs the All Blacks rallied strongly and were on top for nearly all of the second 40.

Roberts kicked an early penalty but the home defences were solid and it took the visitors 20 minutes to score again. After a forward drive close in they were awarded a penalty try. Roberts converted to make it 29-17. The All Blacks surged again, almost crossing in the dying moments. But lack of time scuppered them.




National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

If there is one thing consistent about the Cornish Pirates right now, it has to be that they have fathomed how to win – and win ugly.

For a second successive week, Mark Hewitt's side got the end result they wanted – this time sinking basement club Manchester 25-10 in National League One – but the display, as it was against Southend seven days earlier, at times bordered on the grotesque.

Cornwall's top club side have at their disposal a lethal blend of power, pace and precision within their attacking arsenal. Sadly, it's rare we see all three of those key components hit the spot at the same time.

As regular followers of the Pirates will testify, when things click into place they provide prime-time viewing for their loyal legion of supporters. However, when one segment goes missing – or for that matter one is slightly off as has been the case in recent weeks – it is quite often an uphill struggle for Hewitt's side.

Yesterday was again no exception as at times we saw the Pirates showcasing their undoubted talents – particularly in the first half – but again we saw the elementary errors which continue to hinder their long-term aspirations.

Head coach Hewitt is aware of the mixed bag his side continue to offer, stating: "I thought first half we played really, really well. We controlled the ball well, playing into really poor elements. It was sticky underfoot and the wind was pretty strong.

"I thought we played some smart rugby first half, then second half we scored straight after the kick-off and then thought it was going to be really easy. In the end we lost our way, we lost our shape and we tried to play too much rugby. That was when we made too many errors.

"I said to the players at half-time that we had played a really smart 40 minutes. We were 15 points up and played really well, but then second half we lost our way and we lost the good things we were doing first half."

Having weathered a bright opening from the visitors in which lock Ed Norris and full-back Joe Knowles both went close, the Pirates finally clicked into gear on 14 minutes when some dogged work from the home pack saw them drive deep into the Manchester half before the ball was worked through Rhys Jones and Mark Ireland to winger Rhodri McAtee, who cut in beautifully from the right flank before dancing his way to the line for the opening score.

On a tough day for goalkickers, fly-half Jones failed with the resultant conversion, a subsequent penalty chance, and a difficult touchline conversion to Brian Tuohy's try on 28 minutes, as the Pirates held a 10-0 lead.

Despite the failure of Jones to add the extras to those scores, the Pirates continued to press forward and, when one stunning attacking burst was halted wide on the left, the home side recycled the ball at pace to the other wing where flanker Iva Motusaga was waiting to dot over from close range.

Jones' miserable day with the boot continued as he failed to add the additional two points. Then – on 36 minutes – the Welsh youngster saw what he thought was a fourth try chalked off for a knock-on right on the Manchester try-line.

The wait, however, for the all-important fourth score was not long as it took just a minute of the second half for the Pirates to hit the mark once more.

A loose kick from Knowles was returned with interest by the Pirates through their pack of forwards and – with men outside on the right – home full-back Marika Vakacegu timed his run to perfection to hit the line at pace and cross for the bonus-point score, which again went unconverted.

At 20-0 up, the Pirates were expected to press home their authority and run up some kind of cricket score. The fact they did not was two-fold. One: Manchester are a never-say-die outfit who were happy to compete right until the death. Two: The home side simply got sloppy and silly mistakes were allowed to creep into their play.

To their credit, Manchester made the most of the slip in standards. First prop Dan Birchall snuck over in the left-hand corner for their opening try, then centre Andre Wilson made the most of some powder-puff tackling to cross for a second score.

However, any chance of a late upset by the visitors was extinguished five minutes from time when Kiwi replacement Blair Cowan thundered over for his maiden try for the Pirates.

It sealed the win for the Cornishmen, but as Hewitt well knows a much improved display will be needed if the Pirates are to head home from Rotherham's Clifton Lane this Saturday with the points in the bag.

At least Hewitt's options should be bolstered by the return of forwards Heino Senekal, Scott Franklin and Alan Paver following injuries.



National League 2. Report by Bill Hooper, at Polson Bridge, Launceston.

Cornish All Blacks lock Tim Collier bulldozes over Redruth flanker David Roberts. Photo by Alex Folkes/

Redruth's promotion prospects took another stumble as they lost their second consecutive league fixture -- in the "Battle of Polson" to their arch rivals, the Cornish All Blacks, by 19 - 8, the latter gaining revenge for their defeat at the Recreation Ground earlier in the season. It was the first game this season in which Redruth failed to take any points from a league encounter.

Whilst the game was no classic, it was, however, a passionate Cornish derby played for the most part in good spirit. That the Cornish All Blacks deserved their win there can be no denying, especially after their second half performance, with lock Tom Skelding, on loan from Exeter Chiefs, unquestionably the standout player on the field. His performance in the tight and loose was immense, time and again breaking the game line with his powerful drives.

Redruth will rue the fact that they didn't make the most of their opportunities, especially during the first half, when they enjoyed possession and territorial advantage. Frustratingly for them the Cornish All Blacks' defence was resolute and held firm. Also fly-half Mark Scrivener didn't have the best of days with his goal kicking, with three attempts at goal crucially missed.

After a lively opening it was the Cornish All Blacks who had the first penalty opportunity after 8 minutes. In quick succession both full back Gary Kingdom and No. 8 Sam Hocking were tackled short of the line, allowing Malcolm Roberts to open the scoring with his successful kick. Roberts was on cue again a few minutes later to double his side's score with a second penalty as Redruth failed to roll away.

A thigh injury saw Redruth's winger Nathan Pedley replaced after only 13 minutes, with Mike Georgiou coming on. Redruth pressure saw them rewarded with a penalty as the Cornish All Blacks' flanker Tom Rawlings went off his feet at the ruck, allowing Scrivener to reduce the deficit.

Despite Redruth pressure they couldn't find a way through the black curtain in front of them, a crunching tackle by winger Hamish Smales -- who picked up the man-of-the- match award -- on Redruth's new loan signing from Exeter Chiefs, Emyr Lewis, exemplifying the Cornish All Blacks' rugged determination.

Yet it was Redruth who finally got the first try of the match approaching half-time. Attacking the scoreboard corner of the ground, Redruth went close initially through prop Darren Jacques. Awarded another scrum, a powerful Redruth drive allowed No. 8 Mark Bright to break down the blindside and power over in the corner.

There was an altercation amongst the players, resulting in the Cornish All Blacks being awarded a penalty at the re-start. Roberts kicked for the clubhouse corner to earn the lineout on the 22. As the ball was moved left the Cornish All Blacks were only denied by strong Redruth defence. However, they earned a penalty as the Reds went off side, Roberts kicking his third penalty on the stroke of half-time for a narrow 9-8 lead.

Redruth's cause was not helped early in the second half when the influential Bright was forced to leave the field with an ankle injury.

Despite being under the cosh for most of the second half Redruth were still only a point adrift as the game passed the 70 minute mark. The breakthrough for the Cornish All Blacks, though, came almost immediately, with winger Marc Dibble making an initial break down the right-hand side before being tackled in the Reds' 22. The ball was moved left at pace along the back line, with full back Gary Kingdom coming in to give the scoring pass to Smales, who dived in at the Lanson Suite corner. Roberts couldn't add the extras from the wide out conversion.

It left Redruth needing a converted try to win. A seemingly straightforward penalty kick for the Reds went a-begging as they chased the game. As the game slipped into time added on even the losing bonus point was taken away, as full back Rob Thirlby mis-judged Steve Perry's clever grubber kick, allowing Roberts to gleefully gather the ball and dive over for the Cornish All Blacks' second try. He couldn't add the conversion, nor a penalty attempt shortly after. It didn't matter to the Polson crowd, they had got their revenge and kept their season alive.

Cornish All Blacks 19 pts: tries Smales, Roberts; penalties Roberts (3)

Redruth 8 pts: try Bright; penalty Scrivener

Cornish All Blacks: G Kingdom, M. Dibble (J Fabian 80), R Westren, M. Roberts, H Smales, S Perry (A Staniforth 80), B Turner; J Bolt, G Cooper, H Mitchell, T Skelding, M Myerscough (T Collier 57), J Lord (Capt), T Rawlings (D Semmens 79), S Hocking.
Replacement not used: A Knight

Redruth: R Thirlby, E Lewis, C Bonds, PJ Gidlow (Capt), N Pedley (M Georgiou 13), M Scrivener, M Richards; D Jacques, O Hambly (B. Piddey 80), P Joyce (A Morcom 74), L Collins, D Cook, N Pascoe (R Carroll 69), D Roberts, M Bright (C Fuca 46)

Referee: Mr. K Lewis (RFU)

Crowd: 1,911

Man of the Match: Hamish Smales (Cornish All Blacks)

Post match reaction from the coaches

Cornish All Blacks' joint head coaches Chris Brown and Jon Hill were understandably delighted after their side's win on Saturday. Brown was especially pleased to have gained revenge for the defeat earlier in the season down at Redruth: "I don't think you can underestimate how much that (the defeat) hurt. I hadn't lost in a derby match before. Once you've lost you think you'll fold, but actually it makes you stronger, you live for days when you get the tactics right and today to be fair to the lads they didn't underestimate them and I felt they did a really good job. They really listened hard to the tactics. I am very pleased with their execution."

Brown had billed the match all week in the lead up as a must win game for his side to keep them in the promotion hunt. "We've still got a large hill to climb, but this win really puts the cat amongst the pigeons. I think we've opened up a small chink of light. It's all about hard work. We've got a lot of that to come we are still as far away as we have ever been. We've got to produce performances like that week in week out."

Brown was also realistic when he added, "It's still Redruth's to lose. It's all very well having won this game but they are still in front of us and still hold the whip hand. Having won today we now need to focus on ourselves."

Jon Hill was equally ebullient at the end. "At the sixty minute mark the game was finely poised and could have gone either way. That's what derby day is all about. I think Scrivener's two missed penalties was a bit of a let off for us, but the composure we showed in the second half, the territorial battle, which I felt we again won in the second half, saw us home. There were some key battles out there in terms of the breakdown. I think it's an area we need to work on, we didn't get some of the hot ball we required at certain points today".

Hill was also pleased that his side denied Redruth any league points. "I think that that is a significant aspect of today's game. We had to build on our score and keep our discipline."

Redruth's head coach Nigel Hambly was naturally disappointed with the result but conceded that the Cornish All Blacks deserved their win. "We were beaten by the better side on the day. No complaints nor excuses from me, we'll take defeat as it's meant to be taken. I thought today they played us off the field.

"Their line-out did a real number on us, though we probably dominated the scrums, and their kicking game and all-round game management was better.

"I am disappointed, but we have lost a game of rugby. We have got another game next week (Blackheath at home) and the chance to put it right. Maybe Launceston should try and get that intensity every week. They have got to ask questions why they only play with that intensity when they play us. I thought today they were excellent, as good a side as we have played all season, but there is probably something wrong if they can only get excited about playing against Redruth in a local derby. If you are going to win the league you have got to have that intensity in all your games."

Hambly was frustrated that his side conceded a penalty, having just taken the lead with Bright's try. "You don't get much away from home, do you? I had a pretty good view of it, I thought it was OK. That's the way it goes sometimes".

Asked if the side was feeling the pressure at the top Hambly remarked:

"Now I am going to see what sort of character my side's got. This is new territory for us, we've got to adapt to it. We are still top and we are still in with a chance to win this league. The league is played over 26 games it's probably going to go down to the very last game. We've got to keep fighting and battling. We are Redruth and that's what we are all about. We don't shirk away from it, the boys are very proud to play for Redruth, the boys gave 100% that's all I can ask for today. It wasn't enough and we came off second best".



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Earlier in the week the roads in and around Launceston were closed for a while as overnight ice put the skids on motorists trying to negotiate a safe passage through one of the gateways to Cornwall.

On Saturday afternoon, visiting Redruth also came a cropper as their National League Two title bid suffered yet another slippery setback as they were undone by the Cornish All Blacks 19-8 at Polson Bridge.

Having started 2009 firmly in control of their own destiny, a jittery January has to date given the chasing pack a real scent of hope as Nigel Hambly's side continue to search for the form that made them so strong in the first half of the campaign.

To be fair, Hambly has always maintained it would be the second half of the season that would ultimately spell out his side's destiny. So far, however, results which went the way of the Reds during the first part of the campaign have now gone AWOL.

It's something the Reds' head coach needs to address sooner rather than later. That said, Hambly could have few complaints about the way his league leaders suffered their third reverse of the season. With little to choose between either side in a tense opening period, the All Blacks pulled away in the second half and won this derby encounter at a canter come the final whistle.

For the home side it was not only a vital victory in their own hopes of hauling in the table toppers, but it also went some way to making up for the misery they suffered in their 19-13 reverse at the Recreation Ground back in October.

The All Blacks' coaching team know this was just the first step in what they hope could be an epic climb to the summit. However, play like this for the remainder of the season and Messrs Brown and Hill can expect their side to win more than lose.

It does however beg the question, why have the All Blacks not fired liked this for all the season?

Not until the end of the season will we get the true answer to that, but for now the Men in Black have set a standard they can ill afford to slip off. Like the Reds, the next few fixtures are pivotal to their end quest.

Buoyed by this latest success, though, the All Blacks can look to the future with a great deal of optimism. Indeed, they opened up brightly enough against their near neighbours, taking just eight minutes to break the deadlock as they made the most of their first significant foray into the Reds' 22.

Good build-up play helped to release on-loan Exeter Chiefs full-back Gary Kingdom in space and, when he was felled just short of the line, referee Keith Lewis hauled the play back for an earlier infringement by the visitors.

Up stepped home centre Mal Roberts to plunder his first kick at goal with a sweetly struck effort from 25 metres – and the Cornishman than repeated the feat four minutes later when Emyr Lewis, making his Reds' debut, was penalised for straying offside.

It was hardly the start Redruth had envisaged and things went from bad to worse when they lost winger Nathan Pedley to a torn hamstring on 14 minutes. Despite the early blows, however, the visitors finally made their mark when fly-half Mark Scrivener, back at his former club, slotted a routine penalty to make it 6-3.

The points clearly lifted the Reds and as the half ticked by it was the visitors who posed the greater attacking threat. Dominating at scrum time and with some ever-willing runners in the likes of skipper PJ Gidlow, Darren Jacques, and Mark Bright, it was only be a matter of time before they turned pressure into points.

They sounded their intent with a neat threequarters move that almost sent Lewis over in the right-hand corner, but just moments later from a scrum five metres out, No.8 Bright picked from the base and powered his way over the whitewash.

Instead of celebrating the score in the right manner, Redruth lock Luke Collins got himself involved in a spot of handbags with some rivals and – following a consultation between the referee and a touch judge – the resumption of play saw the All Blacks awarded a penalty at the restart.

Roberts beautifully booted the ball to the left corner and suddenly the Reds were on the defensive once more. Although the home side tried a series of initial raids off the resulting line-out, once they shipped the ball to the right side the visitors transgressed again. With the last kick of the half, Roberts administered his third telling blow as the All Blacks went into the interval 9-8 to the good.

Things did not start well in the second period for Redruth either as they lost the considerable frame of Bright to an early ankle injury. Having been forced to re-jig the back-row, the visitors were not quite the same attacking force with the powerful Kiwi forward missing.

However, even had Bright remained on the field for the second 40, it's unlikely his presence would have been able to counter the ever-growing threat of the All Blacks. Whereas in the first half the home side were guilty of basic errors and trying to over complicate situations, the second half was a much more polished performance in both attack and defence.

Twice Roberts declined kickable penalties in favour of a more attacking option, while kicking counterpart Scrivener could have regained the lead for his side had he hit the mark with a long-range effort on 68 minutes.

With less than ten minutes remaining and still very little to choose between either side, the All Blacks finally gave themselves some breathing space when, following some good work by the home pack, the ball was spun along the line through the hands of Steve Perry, Ryan Westren and Kingdom to winger Hamish Smales, who made no mistake with the touchdown.

Even then the Reds could have hit back instantly, but Scrivener pulled another penalty chance wide of the left post.

His kick summed up a disappointing day for the visitors who – at that stage – could at least console themselves with the fact they had achieved a crucial losing bonus point. That, however, was removed from them in injury time when the hapless Rob Thirlby misread Perry's grubber kick in behind and gifted Roberts the easiest try he will score this season.

Although Roberts failed to convert his own score, the celebrations were already well underway and it was the Reds who headed home still searching for their first-ever league win at Polson.



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

There was to be no silver lining to a difficult week for Mounts Bay, who fell to a 28-3 National League Two defeat to Cambridge at the Mennaye Field.

However, the Cornishmen emerged with much credit, despite failing to pick up any league points at the end of a week which saw the club's hierarchy admit they are struggling to cope financially.

Two 14-point flurries in the first half from Cambridge, which included a hat-trick for centre Luke Fielden, were enough to put the game beyond the reach of Bay, who responded with a lone penalty from full-back Dan Hawkes.

Bay still fought doggedly in deteriorating conditions after half-time, battling out a 0-0 second half that left head coach Adrian Bick to wonder what might have been had they shown the same cohesion and confidence in the opening 40 minutes.

He said: "The 14 points early on were just defensive errors; they took their chances well but we basically gifted them those two tries. Then just before half-time we just lost our way a little bit and they got another 14 points – those were two poor phases. In between them, and in the second half, I thought we played really well.

"I'm just a little bit disappointed that we didn't come away with some points really. We are good at slow-ball plays and keeping it tight, but today we just lacked a little bit of an edge. Cambridge are a good team. I just feel for the boys because there was a huge amount of effort and endeavour."

The opening ten minutes of the game set the tone. Cambridge took the initiative early on, battering the home side's defensive line. To their credit Bay appeared to weather the storm until a momentary slip in concentration allowed fly-half James Shanahan and centres Craig Evans and Fielden to pass their way clear under the posts, with the latter touching down.

Within four minutes of Ben Patston's conversion, Fielden found another gap, breaking from midfield to score his second, again converted by Patston, who kept his feet well in the mud to slot home.

A brief fightback from Bay enabled Hawkes to score a penalty from 25 metres in front of the posts after Cambridge were penalised for not rolling away. The visitors, however, were soon back in control.

And once Bay scrum-half Mike Molloy was shown a yellow card for a professional foul, Cambridge overwhelmed the hosts. No.8 Dave Archer peeled off the back of a five-metre scrum and could not believe his luck when he saw no opponents standing between him and the line.

Patston again converted well and his side were on the charge again moments later. Winger Handre Schmidt ran down the right with Fielden outside him. Schmidt drew the last of Bay's scrambled defence before releasing his team-mate to complete his hat-trick.

Chances were few and far between in the second half. Bay arguably had the better of the play with Hawkes twice kicking into the corner before the home side lost their nerve or ran out of ideas in possession metres from the try-line.

After this defeat, the next few weeks are going to be crucial to Bay's survival hopes. Bick's side entertain Blaydon this weekend, with a trip to Wharfedale next up in the league two weeks later.

In between those games Bay now have a National Trophy fifth-round home tie against London Scottish to prepare for on February 7, after their fourth-round conquerors Esher were eliminated from the competition for fielding an ineligible player against Bay last weekend.

Bick said: "Next week is a 50-50 game against Blaydon. They've got a very good back three, but we more than matched them in the forwards up there. I don't think we've been turned over too many times in the forwards all year. But just putting things into context today against Cambridge, it was 76-3 up there and 28-3 down here, so it's progress.

"A bonus point would have been nice. Next week it's a must and Wharfedale away is also a must, otherwise it could all just get a bit too much for us. As far as the Trophy is concerned, we'll take anything coming our way at the moment. It's a bad thing for the pitch, but it could be good for the club."




National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

On a day of unseasonably mild weather in this corner of Yorkshire, Rotherham and the Cornish Pirates served up an eight-try feast of nail-biting rugby which endured a full 80 minutes until Jimmy Moore's late try settled the contest in favour of the Cornishmen 34-28.

For the Pirates, the prospect of winning and jumping above Plymouth Albion in the league table had prompted a "no excuses" approach to the fixture. For Rotherham, without a win in the league since early December, there was much pride to be restored following their capitulation at Moseley seven days before.

The end result, however, left Pirates' head coach Mark Hewitt understandably delighted, but also relieved. He said: "It was a job well done from us. Five points up here is a great result at what is a really hard place to come. I thought we put a great performance together, even if we did nearly throw it away on a couple of occasions.

"We spoke at half-time about keeping our discipline and making sure that we played in the right areas, but then we came out and had a shocking five minutes which gave them an opportunity. I get greyer and greyer by the day when that happens! But when we were down to 13, I thought we were awesome. The way we defended and tackled was just a credit to the boys."

The home side had demonstrated their hunger for the contest before kick-off when they jogged from the field as a unit straight through the middle of the Pirates' tackle bag drills prompting several exchanges between rival players.

With the home crowd fired-up by the spat, Rotherham then immediately took the game to the Pirates and, after missing a first-minute penalty, Titans' captain Mike Whitehead edged his team in front four minutes later as the Pirates infringed in front of their own posts.

Rhys Jones levelled the scores moments later with his first shot at goal, before Scottish referee Graham Knox took centre stage in an incident which left Pirates' hooker Rob Elloway hospitalised.

Elloway staggered away from a ruck before falling to the floor with a facial blood injury. Mr Knox indicated that Titans' prop Ben Prescott, who had just returned to the side following suspension, had thrown a punch and immediately dismissed the Rotherham forward. After lengthy medical treatment, Elloway was also forced from the field with an injury which may well have ended his season.

Hewitt commented: "The red card was a definite sending-off for a real act of foul play and poor Rob Elloway has got a broken nose and a partial fracture of his eye socket. That is really disappointing news for us all."

Rotherham curiously replaced Prescott in the front row by withdrawing lock Matt Challinor and consequently struggled at the set-piece for the rest of the contest. The drama, though, was only just beginning.

Pirates' prop Sam Heard was sin- binned five minutes later for persistently infringing at the breakdown, before the Pirates' backs began to cut loose.

Strong running from Mark Ireland and Tom Luke in the centre put the Titans on the back foot and winger Brian Tuohy and full-back Marika Vakacegu began to revel in the new-found space.

Strong running by Tuohy, himself a former Clifton Lane favourite, set up the opening try for the Fijian in the 23rd minute. He then added his second just before the interval after sustained Pirates' pressure on the Titans' line. Jones slammed home two splendid touch-line conversions for a 17-6 lead.

Whitehead reduced the arrears with his third penalty right on half-time, but within minutes of the restart the wheels had come off the Pirates' wagon. Ed Fairhurst hesitated under a high ball and Errie Claassens won the foot race for the bouncing ball, setting up giant No.8 Ryan Burrows to dot down under the posts for Whitehead to convert.

Things then got really bad for the Pirates. Captain Ben Gulliver received a yellow card for slapping an opponent, then 60 seconds later flanker Iva Motusaga joined him for a line-out offence. Rotherham seized the initiative and pounded the Pirates' line relentlessly, finally being rewarded with a penalty try and the lead as a five-metre scrum creaked once too often for Mr Knox.

Hewitt sent on Steve Winn to steady the midfield and Jimmy Moore for the injured Tuohy and again the pendulum swung. This time Darren Dawidiuk prospered as Rotherham completely misread a line-out on their own line and the young Cornishman blasted home to score. Jones added his third conversion from the touchline to restore the Pirates' lead.

Four minutes later Motusaga burrowed through a confusion of bodies on the Rotherham line for try number four, but crucially Jones missed the conversion and a 77th-minute touchdown from the impressive Whitehead seemingly handed the initiative back to the home side. However, Jonny West missed the routine conversion and the score remained at 29-28 in favour to the visitors.

As the tension became unbearable on and off the pitch, the Pirates went for broke in a bid to seal the contest. A turn-over just yards short of the Rotherham line suddenly gave Claassens a clear sight of glory for the home team, but he crucially knocked-on as he stole the ball. Quick thinking by Kiwi flanker Blair Cowan cleared up the mess and fed Moore, who slid home unopposed to settle the match and send the travelling supporters into raptures.



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Redruth finally broke free of the shackles that have weighed them down in recent weeks with this impressive victory at the Recreation Ground.

The 29-17 triumph over Division Two rivals Blackheath was more emphatic than the score suggests as the hosts spurned numerous good scoring opportunities in the first half, while Blackheath grabbed a last-minute try of their own to reduce their losing margin.

However, four splendid second-half touchdowns bore testimony to the Reds' supremacy and lifted the black cloud hanging over the club following the previous week's derby defeat at Launceston.

As a consequence, Redruth remain top of the league and keep their six-point lead over Birmingham & Solihull, the side they must take on in the last game of the season in a potential promotion play-off. Given their second-half performance on Saturday, that April 25 fixture at Sharmans Cross will hold little fear for the Cornishmen.

Head coach Nigel Hambly was unimpressed with the Reds' first-half display in which both sides scored unconverted tries, but was delighted with their efforts after the break as Blackheath were at times torn to shreds.

He said: "We played some awesome rugby in the second half; there's no team can live with us when we play like that and that's why we're top of the league. We bombed at least four clear-cut chances in the first half, which was disappointing, and a few things were said at half-time, but the players took it on board and at the end of the day we fully deserved our win. It's nice to be back on track."

Redruth certainly knew they had a fight on their hands at the interval following a bruising forward battle in which the visitors bossed the rucks and refused to give ground in the contact area. However, the Cornishmen's efforts were better harnessed in the second half, their increased commitment to the ruck and a slick line-out left Blackheath starved of possession and the tries flowed.

Hambly said: "When we get on the front foot and get our forwards running and carrying the ball over the gain-line we're pretty good, but we haven't done that in the last three to four weeks.

"We haven't got much of a gameplan to be honest. The forwards chase the ball and the backs play as backs. That's the gameplan and when we stick to that, like we did for 20 minutes in the second half we look good but when we don't, like in the first half, we look pretty awful. I told the boys before the match that we needed to show some fire and we showed some fire. It's a good way to answer the critics."

The visitors drew first blood after 12 minutes when, following the harsh sin-binning of Redruth's Lewis Vinnicombe for a professional foul, Blackheath's potent winger Mark Odejobi showed the pace that has made him a Wasps' target by steaming over the line in Hellfire Corner, fly-half Tom White making a horrible mess of the conversion attempt.

Remarkably, Redruth then played virtually all of their rugby in Blackheath territory for the remainder of the half, but had only a Mark Bright try to show for their efforts. Too often the Reds knocked on or were turned over, having created try-scoring opportunities, and all the time Blackheath were defending ferociously and winning ruck ball, while shrugging off the sin-binning of flanker Tom Lawy in the 21st minute for a similar offence to Redruth's earlier misdemeanour.

"We were making chances and not taking them; we talked about it at half-time but in the second half we took our chances and scored some fantastic tries," said Hambly.

The first of those tries came soon after the restart as Redruth hit the ground running, man-of-the-match second row Luke Collins crossing to the left of the posts for a try, converted by fly-half Brett Rule.

Instantly Blackheath seemed to lose composure and were turned over deep in their own territory, Redruth's on-loan full-back Emyr Lewis creating the opening for Vinnicombe's unconverted try that took the score to 17-5.

Now the Redruth forward machine was starting to fire on all cylinders and two more tries of exceptional quality followed, first centre Craig Bonds completing a move that saw the ball recycled through at least six pairs of hands, before Lewis dazzled the 800-strong crowd with a lung-bursting length-of-the-field sprint after gathering turnover ball from virtually underneath his own posts.

Owen Hambly and Bright, playing out of position on the flank, were the men closest to the Exeter Chiefs flyer as the Blackheath cover finally closed down the threat and it was the hooker that carried the ball over the line for Redruth's fifth try.

"The old legs haven't got it any more; ten years ago I would have made it the whole way but I knew I had the support and I'm just glad we got the try," said Lewis, who will remain at Redruth for the remainder of the season before returning to the Chiefs under a two-year contract he signed at Sandy Park in June.

For Blackheath, a converted Alistair Vanner try and replacement Johnny Williams' 79th-minute score were scant consolation for an afternoon's endeavour in which they contributed fully to a tremendous game of open, free-flowing rugby.

Redruth made use of all their replacements – including promising players Nick Simmons and Richard Brown – and Hambly believes he has the resources to get the Red express back on the rails. He said: "We're a long way from where we were at the start of the season but we're getting back to it. We've got eight games left, five of them away, so it isn't going to be easy right up to the last game. We have got to keep playing well and playing hard."



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Cornish All Black wing Hamish Smales skips free of a tackle. Photo by Alex Folkes/

Devasted would be an inadequate word to sum up the feelings of the All Blacks after victory in this crucial National Two away game was snatched from their grasp by Stourbridge in the third minute of injury time. The 37-36 defeat effectively puts them out of the title race.

An exciting encounter at Stourton Park saw the balance of play shift throughout with the scores twice levelling.

The All Blacks were ahead from the 53rd minute 29-27 and five minutes later had stretched this to 36-27, but on the hour the Midlanders' accurate goal kicker, full-back Ali Bressington, narrowed it with his third goal. Although the visitors found themselves defending furiously, they kept their six-point lead intact for the whole of the final quarter.

The clock ticked into the third minute of injury time. Then, to the All Blacks' dismay, Stourbridge launched a last-gasp handling move from a free-kick.

The ball was spun out to Martin Freeman and the left wing shot out of home territory, rounded the defence and touched down at the posts, 35-36. The metronomic Bressington was not going to miss a winning conversion slap in front of the sticks, and the All Blacks had to travel back down the M5 with just two bonus points to show for an impressive, five-try performance.

A very disappointed joint head coach, Chris Brown, said: "We attacked with poise and pace throughout the game and showed a killer instinct around the try-line to finish off three or four of the best scores I've seen.

"However, 50 per cent of rugby is defending and each team at this level is always going to have a period of time with the ball and it's essential that when you haven't got it, you show character and resolve in defence which is difficult to break down.

"In attack we were lethal but in defence we were very sloppy and paid the ultimate price for a lack of concentration.

"I felt that at the end of the game we had opportunities to close it out but showed a lack of composure which allowed Stourbridge to come back in. I think we were guilty of trying to avoid failure rather than going for the win. This loss, I think, takes us out of the title race."

The All Blacks, as so often in the past, made life difficult for themselves in the opening quarter. By the 11th minute Stourbridge were 14 points up. From a scrum close in their openside flanker Rupert Cooper scored, and then lock Ben Griffiths went over off the back of a driving maul.

When the visitors came alive they started to open up the defence. Wing Marc Dibble touched down for centre Mal Roberts to add the extras and then land a penalty, as the Midlanders found themselves on the back foot.

The All Blacks were in the lead just after the half hour, when No.8 Sam Hocking crossed from a scrum and a drive-over. Stourbridge, though, were soon briefly level with Bressington's first penalty before the visitors regained the lead.

Left wing Hamish Smales took off on an exhilarating run from his own 22, breaking through three tackles and jinking to release lock Mike Myerscough on his shoulder to go over.

Stourbridge came back, interpassing with panache, for hooker Ben Gerry to score and level it on half-time.

Bressington's second penalty put his side into the lead again, but the All Blacks hit back powerfully to post what looked to be the crucial scores. Smales made good ground and linked with scrum-half Ben Turner to send in hooker Glenn Cooper – 29-27 to the visitors and the four-try bonus in the bag.

Roberts unaccountably missed the simple conversion but the All Blacks maintained their momentum and more neat interpassing ended with prop Hamish Mitchell crossing, for Roberts, back to form, to add two further points. But All Black joy was ultimately ended by Bressington's boot and Freeman's last-gasp try.



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Off the field, Mounts Bay may be in something of a pickle, but on it they could do no wrong in romping to a thoroughly deserved 12-0 victory against visiting Blaydon.

After a week in which their players were forced to take a pay cut because of a dire financial situation, Bay could have been forgiven for thinking the fates were against them. At 2.30pm on Saturday, the weather in Penzance was atrocious, the pitch not much better and they faced a team which spanked them by a clear 30 points when they met earlier on in the season.

But from that moment on the players put the week's off-field goings on out of their head to turn in a dominant display that their Northumberland opponents could not deal with. Despite a pitch heavier than a pre-gastric band Fern Britton, they had far more about them from the off than Blaydon, who looked like they just wanted to get the match out of the way and get back on the plane to Newcastle. The fact they didn't score a point did not do them an injustice – their handling was very poor and their backs, who looked very lightweight, might as well not have bothered.

That is to take nothing away from Mounts Bay, whose backs threw the ball around liberally and whose forwards were a menace throughout.

Adrian Bick praised his team for their performance, though far from happy with all of it, and said that they had wanted to leave off-field issues on the outside of the white lines.

"Rugby off the field is one thing and on the field another," he said. "They (the players) had a massive bombshell dropped on them during the week and to come out on the rebound with that performance, fair play to them.

"The players have a common bond that is binding them all together at the moment. They have adopted a professional attitude. It is up to sponsors and fans and perhaps the club committee to do the stuff off the field."

The finances of the club didn't stop the fans cheering on Bay, and even inspired them. When one of the players ripped his shorts and had to put on a fresh pair, the physio bringing the ruined pair off was told to "wash 'em and mend 'em" by one wag.

The game started chaotically, both sides not surprisingly choosing to kick as often as possible given the sticky wicket. It took ten minutes for Bay to make their first serious foray into the opposition half. Their pack started to make its presence felt and it led to the first try shortly after. Good power play on the right wing involving the lively Jamie Salter ended when lock Ben Hilton got the ball and saw what passed for daylight in the gloomy afternoon air and burst through to touch down.

Fly-half Doug Sanft, whose handling of the ball was excellent all afternoon, converted after squelching up to his kick.

The score rocked Blaydon and they made numerous handling errors before getting their own first chance. A penalty on 21 minutes was in a good position for fly-half Richard Windle, but he conspired to miss to the right with a kick that lacked conviction. It was as close as they got to scoring.

Five minutes later they were reduced to 14 men when winger Brendan Daniel was sin-binned for blatantly pushing Danny Clackworthy in the back as he ran away from him with the ball.

It was a costly mistake. Four minutes later Mounts Bay went over again. The massive frame of Ed King split the Blaydon line around halfway and was only brought down inside the 22. The ball, however, was fed out to Sam Parsons, who went over in the corner. This time Sanft could not convert.

There was no score in the second half, but it was far from boring. Bay roared from the kick-off, charging down the kick return inside the Blaydon 22. They spent much of the half in the opposing team's half, threatening to go over three or four times. but on each occasion they were held up by resolute defending. Despite Blaydon hooker Matthew Hall being binned after 73 minutes, they could not get over again. As it was, no extra score was needed.

"I was really pleased with the way we played," Bick added. "We went back to basics and started multi-phasing in the first half. Second half, well, I think it is the third game on the trot where no one has scored against us after the break.

"When you have a clutch of experienced players and they are all performing you are delighted. I'm pleased because we have come a long way since the start of the season. It has been frustrating and hard to swallow some of the defeats. If we played the way we did today against the likes of Stourbridge and Wharfedale at home we might not be in this position in the league."

As it is, the result sees Bay climb a place to 11th, three points behind Wharfedale, Bay's next opponents in a fortnight.




National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Redruth breathed a huge sigh of relief after a last-gasp try from replacement Rob Thirlby saw them claim a slender 15-13 victory over Westcombe Park at Goddington Dene.

The former Bath, Saracens and Pirates back had been on the field only a matter of minutes when he raced over in the right-hand corner following an excellent break-out involving skipper PJ Gidlow and Craig Bonds.

The win – Redruth's 15th of the season – ensured Nigel Hambly's side extended their lead at the top of National League Two to 11 points over Birmingham-Solihull, who yesterday defeated Cinderford 38-26 in the EDF Energy National Trophy.

The Midlanders, however, have three games in hand on their Cornish rivals, so this latest success was crucial to the Reds' hopes of gaining promotion come the end of the season.

Despite the victory, Hambly was less than impressed by his team's showing. He said: "We did not perform and a few individuals will have to go away and look at themselves. It's OK to play at home, but when we go away we have got to be a bit more hard-nosed.

"We struggled in areas we should not struggle in, our line-out was not snappy and our scrum was not dominant. Both sides lacked a bit of skill and a bit of composure today. Also we lacked a bit of cohesion at nine and ten in the first half."

After the heavy snow and rain in South East London over the past fortnight, conditions – as expected – were heavy.

The home side, who were beaten 44-10 by the Reds at the Recreation Ground back in October, started the game quietly, adopting a simple game plan which was perhaps more focused on damage limitation. Redruth, on the other hand, played with greater ambition, but a series of sloppy mistakes kept handing the initiative back to Park.

It was Park, though, who broke the deadlock on five minutes when fly-half Adam Slade slotted them in front with a penalty.

Slade's effort was just one of a handful of bright spots in a largely uneventful first 40 minutes. The closest Redruth came to a score was when Mike Georgiou reacted quickest to latch onto a loose ball after Brett Rule's penalty attempt rebounded off an upright. Sadly, the winger could not hold on to the ball with the line beckoning.

At the other end, Slade doubled his tally for the day when he kicked a second penalty two minutes before the break to give Park a 6-0 advantage at the turn.

Hambly's concern over his half-back pairing was clear as he withdrew Rule from the fray and replaced him with the more experienced Mark Scrivener.

The move, together with a few harsh words from the coach, saw Redruth start the second period with more application. However, the turning point in the game came when Park full-back Lee Campion was sent to the sin-bin for an off-the-ball offence after 48 minutes.

Taking immediate advantage of the extra man, Redruth ran in two crucial unconverted tries in a four-minute spell.

The first of those scores came from a line-out, the visiting forwards driving the ball to the home line, where scrum-half Mark Richards fed loan signing Emyr Lewis, who made no mistake as he raced over in the left-hand corner.

Although the score went unconverted, Redruth took the lead for the first time just two minutes later when a long pass from Richards gave Kiwi No.8 Mark Bright the space to force his way over the line wide out on the right.

Leading 10-6 with just five minutes to go, Redruth did not look to be in danger of defeat as it had been difficult to see the Kent side scoring in the second half.

It was therefore a disaster when a mix-up between Lewis and Lewis Vinnicombe on the halfway line led to Park winger Richard Lankshear racing away for a shock score in the left corner.

Slade plundered the difficult touchline conversion and the relegation strugglers suddenly had their tails up.

Indeed, things could have got even worse for the Reds a minute later when they conceded another unnecessary penalty. On this occasion, however, Slade was unable to find his target, much to the relief of the visitors.

Having been given a let-off, Redruth stunned their hosts when – with time all but up – Bonds picked a great line to collect a well-timed pass from fellow centre Gidlow. The move cut open the home defence, allowing Bonds to feed Thirlby, who finished with a touch of class wide on the right.

Scrivener was unable to convert, but that was it as Park did not have enough time to stage any kind of come back.

Hambly was well aware his side had got out of jail, but was understandably pleased to record a vital victory.

He said: "A bit of class from Rob won it for us at the end. Westcombe Park are third from bottom, but they are not a bad team. They are a side that are going to cause you problems. They were very committed around the tackle area.

"Today, I felt, the game was pretty scrappy around the tackle and we did not want that. I'm not blaming the officials, we just wanted nice clean ball. However, life's not perfect, sometimes things don't go your way.

"I emphasised all week about how difficult it is to beat sides at the bottom of the league at this stage of the season. Today, perhaps, we were guilty of believing our own press a little bit and believing we just had to turn up. It's OK to think that if you do your basics right, the scrum, the line out, the ruck, but we didn't.

"We contributed to our own downfall in the first half, our kicking game was non-existent. We played too much 30 metres from our own line which, if you lose the ball. means you are going to be under a lot of pressure."

Next up for Redruth is this Saturday's visit of Southend.



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Mounts Bay president Michael Leah admits his side are nearing defeat in their battle against relegation following a 28-16 National Division Two defeat at fellow strugglers Wharfedale.

The Cornishmen travelled to Yorkshire knowing a win was essential to their quest of pulling clear of the bottom-four positions in the table. However, a four-try performance from the hosts has left Bay nine points adrift of Cinderford (who sit immediately above the relegation zone) having played four more games. The three teams below them also have a game in hand.

Leah said: "It's going to be a massive uphill struggle now. Cinderford have got four games in hand and Blaydon have two – it doesn't really bode well.

"I don't think it would do us that much harm going down a league. We'd still be in National League Two South, so in some ways we could regroup and go for it again.

"We've got some players here that aren't up to the grade, we're planning ahead for next year and we've got to make some decisions. Some people are not doing themselves any favours."

Wharfedale surrendered home-pitch advantage by moving the game to Giggleswick School after the surface at Wharfeside Avenue was deemed unplayable due to the freezing conditions in the region. But the hosts soon made themselves at home against Bay with some early points on the scoresheet – fly-half Mark Bedworth punishing foul play from Bay 35 metres in front of their own posts.

The visitors continued to contribute towards their own downfall with Bay full-back Dan Hawkes' chip gifting possession to Wharfedale No.8 Rob Baldwin, who set-up a try-scoring counter-attack, finished by hooker Dave Charney with Bedworth converting.

Bay fought back and took advantage of good field position to score a try. Ben Hilton won line-out ball and – following determined work from skipper Nick Burnett, scrum-half Greg Goodfellow and flanker Fraser Cliverd – touched down to complete a neatly-worked try.

Hawkes converted and was on hand to level the scores before the half-time break with a close-range penalty as Wharfedale struggled without the yellow-carded Baldwin.

Indiscipline has also caused Bay plenty of problems this season and they saw themselves down to 14 men once again for a period in the second half following a breakdown on the Bay 22. In the aftermath, Burnett was shown a yellow card, along with Wharfedale's Ben Fear.

The home side soon took the lead through a Bedworth penalty for offside as Bay's defence began to unravel. And Although Hawkes responded in kind with a score-levelling penalty, Chris Malherbe and Adam Whaites put the game out of reach with tries either side of the hour mark.

Two more Hawkes' penalties gave Bay late hope, but Whaites then added a final home try to seal the bonus point and send the visitors home empty handed.

Leah said: "I'm not best impressed. We didn't help ourselves, it was poor discipline and bad tackling again that let us down."

Leah also admitted Bay would have preferred to meet the Cornish Pirates in the last eight of the EDF National Trophy rather than Nottingham. The Pirates were beaten 39-8 in a fifth-round tie at Meadow Lane yesterday.

He said: "I'm disappointed because we were looking forward to playing the Pirates. Nottingham is going to be a huge task, but we're just going to try and enjoy the day. We're the only Cornish club left in it now. They won't fancy coming down here so who knows."




National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

The smiles were back on the faces of the Cornish Pirates and their supporters as the week from hell ended with an excellent 37-26 National League Division One victory away from home against Moseley.

A dismal EDF National Trophy defeat at Nottingham, the sacking of head coach Mark Hewitt, and a pay cut for the players had seen the Duchy side's faithful travel to the Midlands in understandable fear and trepidation.

The excuses were all there for the Pirates "not to turn up", and when Moseley raced into a 10-0 lead inside the first 15 minutes, a long afternoon appeared to be in store.

However, inspired performances by scrum-half Nicky Griffiths and goalkicker Jimmy Moore, and no doubt some half-time magic by new head coach Brett Davey, saw the Pirates transform the game and serve up some of their best rugby of the season.

The set-piece was a massive improvement on the Meadow Lane shambles six days before; the in-your-face defence – with Steve Winn immense – worked a treat in denying Moseley space in which to work, and with the forwards providing a solid platform, Griffiths was able to turn in the sort of display more befitting the Guinness Premiership. He grabbed a hat-trick of tries, but his performance was much more than just his scoring exploits.

A superb tackle on flanker Richie Bignell in the 28th minute denied Moseley a certain try that, with a simple conversion to come, would have made it 17-0 in the first half – a deficit that the Pirates would probably have struggled to make up.

He also provided a wonderful pass for Paul Devlin's 60th-minute try to help put the Cornishmen ahead for the first time.

While Griffiths made the cake, Moore iced it with an immaculate goalkicking display. His 100 per cent record from seven attempts gave him a personal 17-point haul.

Davey, who will be in charge until the end of the season, when he unbelievably has to re-apply for his job if he wants to stay at the club, said: "It was a pleasing result, but the players deserve all the credit because they have had a pretty tough time.

"I just asked them for a performance and to have a look at things in a slightly different way, and they were superb.

"We had a 15-minute spell just before half-time when we started to get into the game and play a bit of rugby. We weren't too sensible up to that point, but everything after that was probably as well as we have played for a long time.

"Nicky was excellent, but he mirrored a lot of other performances as well. The front five have come in for a bit of criticism, and I thought they were absolutely superb, and the back row complemented them really well. Nicky had a bit of a platform to play off, and defensively the back line was sensational."

Griffiths' fine day did not begin well as he scythed down Moseley winger Dan Norton as he chased a kick ahead by Jack Adams to give the hosts a seventh-minute penalty try, converted by Tristan Roberts, who then added a penalty.

In fact, it took the Pirates half an hour to get inside the Moseley 22, but when they did, quick thinking by Griffiths at a free-kick saw him dive over from close range, soon after Moseley captain Andy Reay had been sin-binned after a period of intense Pirates' pressure.

Moore kicked the conversion, before he exchanged penalties with Roberts to make it 16-10 at the interval, and the pair did so again in the third quarter to leave Moseley 19-13 ahead with 20 minutes remaining. Then Griffiths took over.

His slick pass picked out a tremendous angled run by Devlin, who raced 35 metres to the line; the Welsh scrum-half then made a 30-metre burst of his own, only to be stopped just short, but was on hand again to score when the ball was recycled by the forwards; and he completed his hat-trick with a 40-metre touchline run down the blindside of a scrum.

Moore added all three conversions, and a penalty, and 19-13 had suddenly become 19-37.

Replacement centre Mark Ireland slipped off a tackle to give Adams a late consolation score for Moseley, converted by replacement fly-half Richard Vasey, but it was all too late to ruin Pirates' day in the sun.



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly was the first to admit his side were not quite firing on all cylinders during their 48-14 home win over struggling Southend, but their renewed ability to annihilate opponents without hitting top gear will surely send a stark warning to their National Division Two promotion rivals.

A hat-trick from rejuvenated winger Rob Thirlby, two for inspired No.8 Mark Bright, and further scores from Peter Joyce, Lewis Vinnicombe and Owen Hambly were more than enough to secure an overwhelming victory at the Recreation Ground.

At times in the first half it was scrappy, at other times brilliant, but the win was never in doubt against a defiant Southend side who overcame a series of injuries and mishaps to record two well-deserved tries of their own in the second half.

"You've got to give them some credit," said Hambly. "I'm not saying we're totally blameless. We didn't really go through our phases and play the way we wanted to. But when we did, we got on the front foot and scored some nice tries.

"It was very stop-start with breaks and injuries where you can lose concentration. But these guys are going to scrap and give it everything, they've got nothing to lose, everybody expects them to get hammered.

"They are going to slow the game down and I thought they pushed the offside lines quite well today. They made life a little bit difficult for us, but we made it difficult for ourselves as well. We didn't really stick to our game plan and it's a simple one – the forwards follow the ball, backs play as backs – and that's it. When we actually got the forwards to follow the ball, we scored some lovely tries. We just didn't do it enough today."

An early Thirlby try masked a sluggish start for Redruth. Flanker Chris Fuca stole possession in midfield before passing to Bright, who powered through several tackles and laid off to the onrushing Thirlby to burst clear and score.

In truth Redruth rarely looked like adding to that unconverted score until Emyr Lewis' break midway through the half was halted by a throat-high tackle from Southend No.8 Tim Stannard. The Reds maintained possession before quickly working the ball through the backs to the opposite flank, where Craig Bonds was just forced out of play before touching down in the left corner.

The pressure continued with Darren Jacques, Bright and Mark Richards all inching the ball forward. Southend stood firm until Bright decided enough was enough, taking the ball off the back of a five-metre scrum and crashing over under the posts, setting up an easy conversion for Brett Rule.

Things got worse still for Southend when winger James Short collided with full-back Simon Hoult as they sought to deal with a high clearance from scrum-half Richards. Hoult was badly hurt with play brought to a stop for more than ten minutes while he received treatment before being taken to hospital – fortunately the latest reports suggest his injuries are not as bad as first feared. Short struggled on initially but was later replaced.

On the resumption, Redruth compounded the visitors' woes with two tries before half-time. First Joyce powered over as he followed up some fine approach work from Lewis, Vinnicombe, and Thirlby; then Vinnicombe scored a try of his own to confirm a Redruth bonus point with a jinking run through the Southend line, scoring just to the right of the posts, allowing Rule his second conversion.

After a few rousing words from Hambly during the interval, Redruth came out for the second half full of attacking impetus. Thirlby claimed two quick tries for his hat-trick, the first after quick interplay from his fellow backs set him free on the left, before his own burst of pace pierced the stretched Southend defence on the opposite flank seven minutes later.

However, the visitors took advantage of some casual defensive work to grab a try back through centre Tom Casson on the hour mark, with replacement Perry Sampson adding a well-taken conversion. Normal service resumed when Richard Carroll entered the fray after replacing James Mann. His neat work set-up Owen Hambly for a try, converted by replacement fly-half Mark Scrivener.

Southend, though, refused to go quietly with Casson scoring his second try after evading Rule's tackle with five minutes remaining, Sampson again adding the extras.

The final word, quite rightly, went to man-of-the-match Bright, who charged through four tackles on a rampaging run down the left wing for a touchdown converted well by Scrivener.

"Overall, I'm happy we got the win and the bonus point with no major injuries again," said Hambly.

"Our back three looked very good going forward today. Emyr Lewis, Lewis Vinnicombe and Rob Thirlby all looked good.

"The one thing I'm very disappointed with was their first try, it was absolute rubbish. As a defensive team we should pride our line more than that. Just to let them stroll over is not acceptable and that will be addressed. We've got four training sessions between now and our next game at Cinderford in two weeks."



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Cornish All Blacks' second row Tom Skelding on a charge. Photo by Alex Folkes/

It's a lump that has stuck firmly in the throats of the Cornish All Blacks since October. It's one that has also been left to linger and one that leaves a bitter taste.

Now, following a few heart-stopping moments at the Mennaye Field on Saturday, said lump has at last been eradicated from the All Blacks' system.

With the Launceston club facing up to a second National League Two loss of the season against Cornish counterparts Mounts Bay, it was left to young No.8 Sam Hocking to step into the breach and carry out the match-winning operation en route to a 19-15 victory.

Hocking duly delivered – seven minutes into added on time – as he latched onto a slip pass from fellow forward Tom Skelding before barging his way past Bay lock Ben Hilton to rescue the points for his side.

His actions not only ensured some sweet revenge and a last-gasp success for his club, but it also plunged Bay ever further towards the divisional drop-zone.

Bay know they now face an uphill struggle to preserve their National Two status, but head coach Adrian Bick remains defiant his side will keep going right until the death.

"The trap door is definitely below us right now," he said. "That said, it's up to us now. If we perform like we did today for the remaining eight games of the season, we will give ourselves a fighting chance of staying up.

"Today, I honestly thought we did enough to win the game. I feel with the performance we've put in, we deserved to get some more points from that game. It was hard justice in the end."

Having seen his side regain the lead a minute into second-half injury time through a fifth penalty from Dan Hawkes, Bick was sure Bay could hold out to claim a rare league double over their rivals from just up the A30.

"I'm just thoroughly disappointed for the boys," he added. "I can't quite work it out. Again we could easily have come away with four points from this game. It was a bit like at Wharfedale in the last game – a couple of missed tackles, a call going against us – it's those sort of things which are the difference between us staying in this league and not staying in it."

But whilst Bick was left to reflect on another setback for his side, opposite number Jon Hill was happy to take the points and run.

"It's about time we won an ugly game," said the All Blacks' joint head coach. "We tend not to win ugly games – we certainly haven't this season – so we're pleased to go home with the points.

"The game wasn't quite the spectacle we had hoped it would be. We came down here with the idea that we would try and play fast and wide, we'd look to really move them around, but it didn't happen.

"Unfortunately the contact area was an an area where there were a number of offences at the breakdown and it meant the game became very stop-start. I felt we were unable to get any flow into our play whatsoever, which was a shame.

"Also, we showed very little composure in the first half. We created three very good try-scoring opportunities, yet we didn't take any of them. We then played into the hands of Bay by giving away penalties in our half and Dan Hawkes was there to punish us every time.

"It was only in the second half when we showed some composure in the attacking third that we came away with points. In the end we scored two tries and they scored nil, so let's not get away from that. We created a number of opportunities throughout the game, but we made it hard work for ourselves by making a stack load of errors."

But as Hill quite rightly pointed out at the close, he and fellow coach, Chris Brown, would happily take those errors as long as their side prevailed.

"I'm glad we have been able to turn this fixture on its head," added Hill. "We lost 8-6 at home and that really hurt. I'll happily take this score, although we know we have to improve our all-round performance."

With the early season defeat at Polson still fresh in the memory bank, the All Blacks quickly set about their task in this rematch. With just two minutes on the clock, they made their first impact.

Bay's refusal to retreat at a quickly taken free-kick allowed visiting centre Mal Roberts the ideal opportunity to post his first points of the day. The former Newbury man did not miss as he guided the ball between the posts at the Newlyn End.

Bay countered almost immediately with a similar effort from the left boot of Hawkes. However, the home side suffered a blow on 12 minutes when prop Tim Mathias was sin-binned for a professional foul.

With the man advantage, the All Blacks opted for a scrum instead of the penalty. However, they conceded the initiative immediately when they were penalised as the two packs prepared to engage.

Further chances came and went for the visitors as first Jason Luff saw a try ruled out for a forward pass, then Adam Staniforth failed to make the whitewash following a break in midfield.

The missed chances were adding up and with Mathias ready to return, all the All Blacks could muster in that period was a second Roberts penalty.

Having been buoyed by their heroic defensive duties, Mounts Bay countered with great effect. Hawkes restored parity on 19 minutes after Glenn Cooper had been penalised for handling on the floor – and then put his side in front for the first time on 23 minutes when he punished another indiscretion from the All Blacks.

With the visitors infringing more and more, referee Nick Williams brandished the yellow card once more. On this occasion it was Josh Lord who was the villain, the All Blacks skipper sent to the sidelines for an untidy block on Bay scrum-half Greg Goodfellow.

Again Hawkes showed his prowess with the boot, this time firing over a kick from just inside the touchline to make it 12-6 at the break.

The early exchanges of the second half were certainly frantic, but it was the All Blacks who were at last beginning to get a grip on proceedings. On 52 minutes, their endeavours bore fruit when, following a break from centre Ryan Westren, they worked the ball across the field to send replacement Glen Remnant over in the left-hand corner.

Still behind, albeit by a point, the visitors continued to push forward. However, they almost came unstuck when Bay's Sam Parsons intercepted a pass from Adam Staniforth. Although the home winger raced away from the initial cover, he did not have the speed in his legs to carry him home and was eventually caught by Gary Kingdom.

With ten minutes remaining, Roberts had the chance to add to his tally after the touch judge had spotted an off-the-ball punch by Bay forward Fraser Cliverd. On this occasion, though, his effort was well wide.

Although Bay breathed a momentary sigh of relief, it was to prove shortlived as moments later referee Williams penalised Paul Andrew for a ruck offence, and up stepped Staniforth to thunder over an excellent 40-metre penalty to make it 14-12.

Even then we weren't finished as – straight from the kick-off – Bay drove themselves back down field, winning a penalty which Hawkes knew could potentially win the game.

The former Plymouth Albion back appeared to connect well enough with the kick, but initial viewing of the effort appeared to show it did not find its target. The officials, though, were convinced it did and the home support erupted into delight.

That should have been that for the day. However, the All Blacks had other ideas and in one final throw of the dice, it was the Launceston gamblers who won big, courtesy of Hocking's heroics.




National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

Anything other than five National League One points and a comfortable win for the Pirates and it might have had the critics of the Cornish side sharpening their arrows for another onslaught.

As it turned out, Brett Davey's side need not have worried too much as they happily saw off relegation-threatened Newbury Blues 39-10 at Monks Lane.

During a lacklustre opening to the game, one in which the home side led for the only time courtesy of a first-minute penalty from fly-half Gareth Griffiths, it was the Pirates who dominated both possession and field position, only to be let down again by poor discipline and basic handling errors.

However, when the Duchy's finest finally came to their senses, putting pace and direction on the game, they ran in 22 points in the final ten minutes of the half to kill the game as a contest by the interval.

Speaking afterwards, Pirates' coach Davey said: "We set out to get a bonus point win and that is exactly what we achieved. The second half got a bit disjointed with all the changes, but when you can say it's 'job done' – you have to rest certain players and let a few other boys have a chance.

"I thought we were pretty poor for the first 20 minutes, but then we started to get a platform and play our game. We tried too much to over-complicate things and some of the players have to learn that it doesn't have to be wide, wide rugby all the time.

"First you have to earn the hard yards up front, but we got caught trying to play the wrong game. When we put our stuff together, I thought we looked all right in patches and it was a job well done in the end."

Indeed, the three-try blitz from the Pirates at the end of the first half set them well on the way to a third successive away win in National League One, whilst at same time consigning Newbury to their 11th defeat on the trot.

The damage began in the 31st minute when superb approach play from Nicky Griffiths, Steve Winn and Marika Vakacegu set up French No.8 Bertrand Bedes, who made no mistake crashing over between the posts for Rhys Jones to convert.

Five minutes later, Bedes turned provider for Griffiths, whose sniping run saw him suddenly in space with the try line at his mercy. Jones converted again and then added a monster penalty from halfway deep into stoppage time.

In between, however, there was a gem of a try from the rejuvenated Jimmy Moore. The former Coventry man met Winn's floated pass to the right with a stunning volley on the run – and such was the precision of his footwork, the ball bounced perfectly over the line for the winger to race through a bewildered Newbury defence to touch down.

The half-time lead of 22-3 was increased just 89 seconds after the restart, Bedes setting off on a charge which took play to within five metres of the Newbury line. As the Blues clung on in defence, the Pirates worked the phases and this time hooker Darren Dawidiuk prospered with the all-important bonus point try, which Jones was able to convert once more.

The young Welsh fly-half – recalled to the side in place of Simon Whatling – then added a second penalty after 51 minutes to stretch the visiting side's lead to 32-3.

What followed was a strange 20-minute period which saw a raft of replacements and amazingly four yellow cards as referee Michael Tutty took his season's tally to 20 in the National Leagues.

First to go was Pirates' lock Mike Burak, who had enjoyed a good game until he was adjudged to have committed a late tackle. Then Newbury lost lock Brad Mockford and wing Martin Nutt within the space of four minutes -- also for high tackles.

Finally, Pirates' flanker Chris Morgan – himself a former Blues' player – was banished to the now crowded sin-bin in the 63rd minute for an offence at the break-down.

The Pirates, however, continued to dominate the set-piece and with the game now shapeless, Newbury found themselves constantly running down blind alleys as they tried to run the ball from hopeless positions.

As it was, the visitors were far from finished and added a fifth try when winger Aisea Havili, enjoying a rare outing in a Pirates' shirt, set up Moore for his second try in the clubhouse corner.

Moore may have had little space to work in, but he needed no encouragement to blast over the whitewash. Jones capped a splendid place-kicking display by landing a fourth conversion, this time from the touchline.

To their credit, Newbury registered a consolation try in stoppage time. It was scored and converted by replacement Ben Stevenson, but it was all a little late for the home fans, who are without a win at Monks Lane since November 8.




National League 1. Report by Bill Hooper, at the Recreation Ground, Camborne.

A March gale well and truly scuppered this match as the hoped-for spectacle to round off the excellent program of events that the Cornish Pirates had organised for their St. Piran's festival.

The Cornish Pirates, with the wind at their backs during the first half, failed to gain any advantage as the half ended scoreless. Crucially Rhys Jones failed to convert a couple of penalty chances -- one a long-range effort, the other from within the Blues' 22 in the first minute of the game.

The Pirates dominated territorially for large periods of the first half. As you would expect, the forwards drove with purpose, notably lock Heino Senekal, making his 100th appearance for the club, along with the back row of Chris Morgan, Iva Motusaga and Bertrand Bedés. Out wide Jimmy Moore not only fizzed and buzzed whenever he got the ball, he also saved a certain try near the end of the first half with a vital tackle on his opposite number Ian Davey. Full-back Adryan Winnan looked to counter from deep and as ever gave his all to the cause.

However, you have to give credit to the Bedford Blues' defence, which was outstanding during the first-half. Also their scrum got the upper hand on their hosts, no mean feat.

Eventually the opening score came after 52 minutes, when the Pirates were guilty of not rolling away, allowing Brendan Burke the chance to chalk up the first points of the afternoon, from 35 meters, in front of the posts.

The Pirates then had a period of pressure down in the Blues' 22. From a scrum, Bédés picked up and found scrum-half Nicky Griffiths, who in turn served Jones who beat the cover to score out wide in the scoreboard corner after 69 minutes. The fly-half couldn't add the extras.

With a perilous 5-3 advantage any misdemeanour by the home side in the closing stages would likely hand the win to the visitors and so it was to prove as a powerful drive by the Blues' pack saw the Pirates concede a penalty, which Billy Twelvetrees kicked to regain the lead for his team. Despite nine minutes of time added on by referee Mr. Lewis, the Pirates couldn't score again.

After the game Pirates acting head coach Brett Davey was very disappointed with the final outcome, his first defeat since taking charge following Mark Hewitt's dismissal.

"We're disappointed we scored a try and we've lost a game of rugby. We've given away a penalty in the wrong area and it's cost us. It's a bit painful at the moment, to be honest.

Asked about not making enough of the conditions during the first-half he remarked, "We had a chance early on, we didn't take it. We also had one or two other half chances that went begging. In fairness I thought Bedford played the first half quite well, they kept it tight. It was going back to last season's type of rugby, pick and go around the fringes, which we thought had been stopped but suddenly it's come back into fashion."

Asked about his half-time team talk: "To be honest it was about not giving penalties away. I said to them that if this game ends up 0-0 I'd take that due to the conditions. I couldn't see how either side was going to do anything. At this level if you miss your chances it will come back and bite you."

"Our discipline has been a problem. I've highlighted that and today it's cost us a game of rugby, no doubt about it. Looking at the first-half you could argue that we didn't take our chances, yet we were still in front with nine minutes to go, so that is what is hurting at the moment."

Davey has recently been critical of the Camborne pitch and once again he made no bones about it on Sunday. "It's exposed when the wind hits it, it's difficult to play. We've got to be a little better in what we do. People who perhaps don't know rugby that well don't appreciate how difficult it is playing up and down a slope in such a wind. When the ball is kicked back you have to start again and it takes a lot out of the players."

Next Sunday the Pirates will look to make amends when they entertain Esher. No doubt a certain television presenter at Twickenham will have an eye on the result, amongst a few others in the crowd.

Cornish Pirates 5 pts: try Jones

Bedford Blues 6 pts: penalties Burke, Twelvetrees

Cornish Pirates: A. Winnan, P. Devlin, M. Ireland, S. Winn (T. Luke 69), J. Moore, R. Jones, N. Griffiths; A. Paver, D. Dawiduik, S. Heard (S. Franklin 67), H. Senekal, B. Gulliver, cap't (M. Burak 75), C. Morgan (B. Cowan 69), I. Montusaga, B. Bédés.
Not used: R. Elloway, E. Fairhurst, S. Whatling.

Bedford: W. Harries, O. Dodge, B. Burke, I. Vass (L. Roberts 71), I. Davey, W. Twelvetrees (N. Walshe 48-58), Dickson (N. Walshe 80+5); S. Walsh (M. Cecere 63), D. Richmond, cap't (C. Locke 60-67), P. Boulton, M. Howard (J. Cannon 63), M. Botha, G. Gillanders, S. Harding, P. Tupai (R. McKay 71).
Not used: R. Owen.

Referee: Mr. K. Lewis (RFU)

Attendance: 4764



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Redruth's 17th win of the season maintains their quest for National League One rugby next season, although they failed to get the crucial bonus point in a 25-20 success at Cinderford.

A frustrated head coach Nigel Hambly said: "I am pleased with a win but it should have been five points. The big thing that came out of the game today was the silly penalties in the second half – that will be addressed this week in training.

"With two minutes to go I thought it was just a question of keeping our patience and getting the fourth try, but things went haywire. We started giving away penalties, ridiculous penalties. With the wind, we gave away huge chunks of territory and put ourselves on the back foot as we continued to give away penalties and it became a real dog fight."

With a cold wind at their backs, Redruth soon had two bus loads of travelling supporters cheering when Mark Scrivener kicked a penalty from in front of the posts in the opening minute.

The hosts responded by dominating the next 15 minutes, with half-backs Dave Knight and Tim Stevenson pulling the strings and Rod James carrying the ball well.

Stevenson kicked two penalties to put his side in front. Knight also crossed the line but touch judge Brian Ravenhill already had his flag up for Jake Carter stepping on the touch line earlier in the move.

Scrivener, with a penalty from 30 metres for the Reds, levelled the scores after 16 minutes.

England counties international Luke Collins, after a quiet start, began to get into the game and cantered over for a try in the 31st minute after Owen Hambly had scythed through the Cinderford defence. The accurate Scrivener added the extras.

Playing with more confidence, Redruth pulled further away four minutes later when Lewis Vinnicombe touched down in the corner after chipping over the defence. Scrivener again converted from the touch line with a great kick.

"We started slowly, but our defence was good, we defended really well close to our line," Hambly said. "In the second quarter, we played really well and dominated. We carried on after the interval when we played some nice rugby.

"We kicked to the corner really well and put the pressure on when they had a guy sin-binned. The try from Lewis Vinnicombe was outstanding, a great finish by Lewis which he should be doing more often."

Although playing into the wind, Redruth looked to build on their lead after the interval and took advantage immediately after Cinderford skipper Dave Knight was shown a yellow card for repeated offences by his team.

Long passes from Mark Richards and Vinnicombe opened up space for Emyr Lewis to go over in the left-hand corner in the 58th minute for an unconverted score that put the Reds 19 points in front.

At this stage Redruth had chances and a bonus point looked a formality. But in the final quarter Stevenson kicked two penalties to keep the Foresters in the game with ten minutes to go, although he missed with two other attempts at the posts.

A long spell of pressure on the Redruth line saw Richard Carroll sent to the sin-bin for repeated offences by the Reds. Then a well-worked move from a line-out put Dave Knight over for an unconverted try as the game moved into stoppage time.

Cinderford showed their appetite as they moved into losing bonus- points territory when replacement Danny Trigg kicked a 30-metre penalty with the last kick of the game.

Hambly praised the Reds for their team spirit, singling out a player who didn't make the squad as an example. "One guy I would like to single out was Nathan Pascoe," he said. "He was not feeling well [on Friday] and did not feel well at the hotel [on Saturday], but he put the side first. He could have played but knew he was not 100 per cent and stepped down.

"He has worked really hard to get his place back but he put the team first. That is a measure of the man and what Redruth are all about. I admire him for that."




National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

After two minutes of this entertaining National League One contest played at a sun-drenched Recreation Ground it looked as if the Pirates had shrugged off their set-back seven days before against Bedford Blues.

They tore into Esher from the kick-off and were rewarded with a try from Simon Whatling as he showed superb individual skill to dance through the visitors' defence. The fly-half then added the conversion and the Pirates were off to a flyer.

The problem was that the relegation-threatened Surrey side had other ideas, fighting back to steal the contest 16-7 as the Pirates faded during a second half of startling mediocrity.

Speaking after the match, Pirates' coach Brett Davey admitted that the result had left him shell-shocked. He said: "As performances go that was very disappointing. From my viewpoint I felt that we were struggling after 20 minutes, not so much with the opposition but not doing the things we normally do very well. Why that is I don't know. I'm going to have to ask the boys that this week.

"Skill levels are personal. When you play at this level you should have good skills, but you can't hide from the fact that this was sloppy and simply not good enough for what the supporters deserve. We never got in front in the second half and didn't have any answers to the questions they posed us."

When asked if his team changes for the match had any bearing on the result Davey said: "None at all. All the guys who came in played quite well. I thought the back row played well, Ed [Fairhurst] and Simon [Whatling] played well, so there's no blame attached to them. I could handle the defeat last week against Bedford because we played well despite the result and the conditions, but this was so far away from where we should be."

Indeed the Pirates' lead in the match lasted just eight minutes before full-back Sam Ulph rounded off the first of many dangerous attacks inspired by the pacy centre pairing of Seb Jewell and Charlie Amesbury. Despite Ulph missing a difficult conversion attempt, Esher grew visibly in stature and took the game right back to the Cornishmen.

The Pirates struggled to contain the direct attacking play of the Surrey side, and despite Whatling going desperately close to scoring a second try and Darren Dawidiuk a constant threat in the loose, Esher stood resolute before the Pirates.

Their skipper David Slemen then knocked on in the process of grounding the ball as he crashed over the Pirates' line following another lethal break by Jewell. Moments later Ulph wasted the chance to steal the lead as he scuffed a penalty from 25 metres.

Pirates' wing Brian Tuohy then appeared to be impeded as he chased his own chip ahead with a try a possibility, but touch judge Lloyd Jackson chose to ignore the incident. Rhodri McAtee than had a gilt-edged chance to race home, only for Mark Ireland to waste the scoring pass as he needlessly threw it behind the Welshman.

Then seconds after Pirates' No.8 Matt Evans had won a foot race with Dougie Flockhart to prevent a certain score, Ulph finally did hit the target as he stroked home a penalty right on half-time.

Ulph was on the mark again three minutes after the break as he extended Esher's lead to 11-7 as the Pirates infringed in the loose right in front of their own posts. Canadian international scrum-half Ed Fairhurst was then sin-binned on the advice of touch judge Nigel Higginson, and shortly afterwards the influential Whatling was replaced due to injury.

Esher's well-organised defence continued to frustrate the Pirates, who steadily ran out of attacking thrust. The mobility and pace of their backs nullified the Pirates' threat on both wings, and the tactical kicking game of Ulph and Slemen had the Pirates constantly on the back-foot.

Handling errors and missed tackles continued to haunt the Pirates as Esher made ground with indecent ease with virtually every attack and, after replacement fly-half Rhys Jones had missed a routine penalty attempt, heads visibly dropped in the team.

In the end it was left to Esher wing Flockhart to seal a famous win for the visitors as he collected his own chip-and-chase through a pedestrian Pirates' defence to score their second try with just five minutes remaining. Ulph failed with the conversion but it mattered not as Esher claimed another scalp on the way to National One survival.

Coach Davey summed up the Pirates' performance when he said: "To go through 80 minutes and not have one big tackle is unacceptable. The players have to come to the fore and be professional. We all must be professional."




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

Redruth began their final five matches, perhaps the biggest five games in the club's long and illustrious history, with the big win required against the bottom-placed club in National League 2 this season -- an equally famous club with a great pedigree, Waterloo.

For rugby enthusiasts it is never pleasing to see a once great club such as Waterloo going through such difficult times: one can but hope that they will be able to bounce back and be competitive once more before too long.

Redruth had other thoughts on their minds and went about the task in hand with a clinical precision that will have pleased their head coach Nigel Hambly ahead of next Saturday's tricky game at Tynedale. It was also a personal triumph for full back Emyr Lewis, the scorer of five tries.

On a sunny afternoon ideal for the running style that has served the Reds so well this season, prop forward Darren Jacques -- fresh from his exploits, along with team mate Luke Collins, with the England Counties team at Twickenham last Sunday -- led the Reds on to the field as he set a new record for consecutive first-team appearances. It was also to mark the news of his selection for the Barbarians in the annual "Mobbs Memorial" match on April 7th at Bedford against the Bedford Blues.

From the kick-off Waterloo carried an early threat but it wasn't sustained for very long. An early penalty attempt by fly-half Liam Reeve flew by the left hand post before Redruth launched a first attack, which almost brought a try for Rob Thirlby.

Further Redruth pressure brought the hoped for early score as Kiwi No. 8 Mark Bright opened the scoring with a try under the posts with just six minutes on the clock. Mark Scrivener had no problems with the conversion, the first of thirteen successful kicks at goal.

Bright was once again instrumental in the second Redruth try, scored after twelve minutes, as he picked up and drove from a 5 metre scrum before passing to his skipper PJ Gidlow, who crossed for the try.

Lewis then began his exploits with a jinking run that took him through the flimsy Waterloo cover to score at the posts after 21 minutes. The bonus point was safely wrapped up just five minutes later as Lewis Vinnicombe rounded off a fine move involving flankers James Mann and Dave Roberts.

As the half drew to a close Redruth put together some fine flowing movements as they ran the ball from all over the park. A break out from their own 22 saw scrum-half Mark Richards make good ground before off-loading to centre Paul Thirlby, who crossed for the Reds' fifth try on 34 minutes

Lock Luke Collins put in a fine run from his own half, which almost took him to the line after 38 minutes. With the Reds in such fine form it was only a matter of time before Rob Thirlby got in on the act, the winger scoring the Reds' sixth try of the half just prior to half-time for a 42-0 advantage.

Barely five minutes into the second half and Lewis had struck twice more to complete his hat-trick and Mann had also got on the score sheet.

Waterloo got some reward with a fine try scored by winger Neil Kerfoot down in the Strawberry Lane corner after 53 minutes. Lewis then went on to complete his try-scoring feat with further scores after 59 and 62 minutes. Rob Thirlby claimed his second try of the afternoon as he gathered his chip ahead before racing in under the posts.

It was then down to a couple of the Reds' replacements to finish off proceedings. Craig Bonds, on his 200th appearance for the club, ran in try number thirteen, before Chris Fuca rounded off another break by Lewis for try number fourteen.

After the match Redruth's head coach Nigel Hambly was in a happy mood following his side's win. However, he was conscious of the challenges that lie ahead, but realistic enough to focus on one challenge at a time, starting with Tynedale;

"The first half was a little bit scrappy to be honest with you -- it's very difficult to adjust to those sort of teams that haven't really got a lot of structure and they're all over the shop. I thought we got carried away with that a little bit. I said at half-time we didn't need to do that. Get some off loads before going into contact -- we did that in the second half. I feel that in the first half we scored some fantastic tries to go in 42-0 at half-time. I asked them for a performance, I think they have given me a top class performance. I really am pleased with the second half performance, which I thought was excellent. We scored good tries, the forwards worked them over, made some space, really pleased for the boys today.

"We've got four very tough games left now with only one here against Stourbridge (Saturday 18th April). Tynedale next week -- they haven't lost at home all season, that's how hard it is to win there. We've got a massively long journey a good team (to face) and an un-beaten home record, so it's going to be very, very difficult next week, but we are going to give it 100%. We are going to fly out of the blocks try and play the sort of rugby we played today. I don't think we will get that much room or time but that is what we are aiming for. We are at the business end of the season, we've got to get results, we've got to win at Tynedale next week if we want to stay in the promotion race."

Redruth 96 pts: tries Bright, Gidlow, Lewis (5), Vinnicombe, P. Thilby, R. Thirlby (2), Mann, Bonds, Fuca; conversions Scrivener (13)

Waterloo 5 pts: try Kerfoot

Redruth: E Lewis, L Vinnicombe, P Thirlby, PJ Gidlow (Capt, C. Bonds 52), R Thirlby, M Scrivener, M Richards; D Jacques (P Joyce h/t), O Hambly (M Gidlow 60), A Morcom, L Collins (N Pascoe 46), R Carroll, J Mann (C Fuca 58), D Roberts, M Bright.

Waterloo: J O'Brien (M Banahan 46), N Kerfoot, F Payne (M Banahan 30-32), J Duffy (Capt), N Christopherson (A Anderson 34), L Reeve, D McVeigh; M O'Keefe, S Gibney (M Davis), L McLoughlin, J Harrington, M Coyne (J Rylands 46), D Hall, C Nolan, M Bell.

Referee: Mr. S McConnell (Essex-London Soc)

Crowd: 752

Reds Man-of-the-Match: Emyr Lewis



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

With no promotion or relegation preoccupations for either this National Two match in Threshfield was an exhilarating display of running rugby.

The All Blacks had most of the possession and much of the territory but the result went to Wharfedale with left wing David Hall, whose electric pace brought him a hat-trick of tries, scoring the match-winning try in the 66th minute.

However, the most significant aspect of the weekend for the All Blacks was the confirmation that joint head coach Chris Brown has decided to step down from his position due to family reasons.

Brown, who did not attend the game himself, is keen for his departure not to overshadow business on the pitch, but said: "I am stepping down, but there's no real drama about it. The whole thing has been my plan for a while now. I've been under a lot of pressure with my family and my work and I just really need to take stock.

"I've had a fantastic time and I've always put Launceston before everything, but now is the time for me to put other things in my life first. The support from the supporters and the players have made it the most fantastic time in my life."

All Blacks' club captain Keith Brooking will take over forwards coaching for the rest of the season and he was proud of the side's performance at the weekend.

"It was one of those games at the end of the season when both sides want to play rugby with no league pressure," he said. "Compared to the week before it was a vast improvement. The breakdown area was very good, we were committed and the pace was upped. It was just a lapse of concentration which let in two tries which lost us the game really."

The All Blacks started with fierce momentum, endless phases and sweeping play in the home 22, only to be prevented from scoring by their nemesis – Hall. The wing intercepted and shot away 90 yards to score, for his fly-half Mark Bedworth to convert.

The All Black pressure remained relentless until, in a carbon copy of the first try, the Yorkshire side's other wing, Luke Gray, also intercepted and raced to touch down with the All Blacks in hot pursuit. This time there was no conversion but, against the run of play, Wharfedale had taken a 12-0 lead.

The visitors' fly-half Adam Staniforth missed two relatively simple penalty chances, but the All Blacks' persistent attacking verve was finally rewarded with a try from full-back Jon Fabian in the corner after a superb passage of inter-passing play. Staniforth landed a soaring convesion and the All Black pressure was kept up.

Wharfedale, though, benefited when Hall took a quick penalty in his 22 and ran threequarters of the field to score, for Bedworth to add the extras.

Back came the visitors with more exciting handling moves. Fabian and centre Ryan Westren made good ground and young skipper, openside flanker Tom Rawlings, appeared at exactly the right moment to run in to the posts from 15 yards. Staniforth converted and at half-time Wharfedale led 19-14.

The non-stop attacking continued with the All Blacks pressing in the home 22 and being rewarded with a Staniforth penalty. Just after the hour another All Black attacking move ended with flanker Mike Rawlings gathering, chipping the defence, re-gathering and crossing halfway out for Staniforth to add two more points. The visitors were at last deservedly in the lead but their advantage lasted just two minutes as Wharfedale put together a well-worked handling move for Hall to get his hat-trick. Gray converted and the last quarter was persistent All Black attack and a stubborn home defence which held out for the narrowest of victories.




National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly conceded Redruth's promotion dream is "all but over" after his side slipped to 34-25 defeat against Tynedale in National League Two.

"That is pretty much us done now," said Hambly, whose side were hoping to become the first club in two years to defeat their North East rivals on home soil.

"We've still got three games left and will be in there fighting, but after the blip we had in mid season, it was always going to be difficult to pull it back. We knew we had a very difficult run-in and that it would be nip and tuck at the end."

With 20 minutes to go Redruth were sitting on an eight-point lead. However, in a crucial period of play with Tynedale hooker Joe Graham in the sin-bin, the Cornish visitors were held up over the line and scrum-half Ross Salmon looked to get away with just a penalty for kicking the ball out of a scrum as Redruth went for a pushover try.

In the final quarter, England Under-20 star Rob Miller, a dual registration player with Premiership side Newcastle and playing in front of watching Falcons' boss Steve Bates, was involved in all three tries as Tynedale came from behind in a storming finish.

"No complaints from us, we tried hard, we just did not do enough today," added Hambly. "A couple of little decisions did not go our way, but that happens away from home.

"Tynedale are a good team. They had three good chances in the second half and they took them. I thought they were well worth their victory, they played some really good stuff.

"It is no disgrace to come to Tynedale and lose, the reaction of their players and supporters at the final whistle showed how much it meant to them, it was a tremendously tough game."

Making their first visit to Tynedale Park, an idyllic setting alongside the River Tyne, Redruth were shaken as the hosts rattled up ten points in the opening seven minutes.

Just two minutes had been played when full-back Jack Smales, the brother of Cornish All Blacks' winger Hamish Smales, finished off a good run by Charlie Ingall to touch down a try in the left-hand corner.

Left-footed Miller showed how lethal he is with the boot, converting from the touchline and, for good measure, adding a penalty from a similar spot five minutes later.

Redruth, though, soon worked their way back into the game and Hambly had particular praise for 20-year-old Nick Simmons at scrum-half.

"I thought Nick Simmons had an excellent game, probably close to our best player," he said. "He came in and took his chance and he is definitely a real one for the future."

Simmons helped to boss around a Redruth pack whose superiority was shown when referee Andrew Vertigan awarded the Reds a penalty try after Tynedale twice collapsed a scrum five metres from the line in the 27th minute. Fly-half Mark Scrivener added the easy conversion.

At the other end, Miller added a penalty from in front of the posts for an offside offence in the 33rd minute, but Redruth hit back with a brilliant try from the restart. Skipper PJ Gidlow made a half break and then good play from Craig Bonds gave Emyr Lewis the chance to finish off in style under the posts, with the reliable Scrivener again adding the extras.

An action-packed first half was far from over and in injury time Redruth winger Lewis Vinnicombe made an important cover tackle wide out on the left, whilst Miller was off target with a penalty as the Reds went in 14-13 to the good at the break.

In the third quarter Redruth certainly had the better of the play. Scrivener increased the lead with a penalty from in front of the posts after Graham had cynically killed the ball, following a great run from Bonds which opened up the home defence.

However, almost immediately, Miller punished Redruth with a penalty following a high tackle. Again, though, good play from the Redruth forwards ended with No.8 Mark Bright setting up a score in the left corner for lock Luke Collins. Scrivener again converted with a good kick to put the Reds eight points clear after 54 minutes.

With the man advantage, Redruth went for a score that could have closed the match out. Sadly, it did not come and the home side got stronger in the final stages.

Redruth were upset that some stamping on the right touchline went unpunished as Smales ran in his second try wide out on the left.

Then, with 78 minutes on the clock, a break by the impressive Miller set up a chance for skipper Jamie Murray to force his way over for a try that was duly converted by the on-loan Falcon.

Now four points down, Redruth had to chase a try to save the game, but a turnover in midfield gave Miller the space to open up the game and put former Cornish Pirates' loanee Eni Gesinde over for a converted try.

In the end, 35 points is the most that the league's tightest defence have conceded all season, and despite pressing for victory the Reds could not prevail and Tynedale preserved their long-standing record.



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

Furious Cornish Pirates' coach Brett Davey tore into the performance of referee Llyr Apgeriant-Roberts after watching his side come unstuck 33-9 at National League One leaders Leeds Carnegie yesterday.

An absorbing clash at Headingley was finally settled in favour of the Yorkshiremen during an amazing ten minutes of second-half stoppage time, during which time Leeds ran in three further tries to claim a winning bonus point and further strengthen their promotion push back towards the Guinness Premiership.

The result, it has to be said, was somewhat cruel on the Cornish Pirates, who bounced back from recent defeats against Bedford and Esher with a committed and disciplined performance against the title favourites.

Trailing just 13-6 late in the first half, the Pirates appeared to have engineered a chance to go in level at the break as flanker Chris Morgan was put in for a try in front of the Carnegie Stand. However, referee Apgeraint-Roberts called the play back for an alleged knock-on by prop Sam Heard. It was an incorrect decision.

Speaking after the match, Davey was clearly angered. He said: "It's tough to take. We came here with a game plan and for 60 minutes we had that game plan right in place. I have never ever in my life blamed a referee, but the performance of the officials today bordered on embarrassing. I want someone impartial to watch that game and tell me if I'm seeing things.

"The try we scored was a massive moment for us and why was it not given? There was no knock-on. If the referee gives it then he has clearly stated he has seen it. We know we haven't knocked on, so why has he given it?"

Despite the controversy, the game lived up to its pre-match billing as a stern test for a Leeds side who had lost their two previous league matches.

After a bright start by the Yorkshiremen, visiting fly-half Rhys Jones put the Pirates ahead with a sublime penalty from halfway with five minutes on the clock. Leeds, however, stormed back during a first half spent largely contesting the midfield and with 27 minutes played, they had edged ahead through two penalties from former Pirates' favourite, Alberto Di Bernardo.

Then, just moments after the Pirates lost Steve Winn through injury and were forced to re-organise their back division, Leeds flanker Calum Clark found space and released full-back Leigh Hinton for his 14th try of the season. Di Bernardo added the extras.

The Pirates refused to buckle, however, and they reduced the arrears three minutes later when Jones slotted his second penalty.

Then came the moment which arguably decided the match. Good Pirates' pressure stretched the Leeds cover and as Morgan took a scoring pass, the referee amazingly called play back and the opportunity was lost.

Undaunted, the Pirates took the game straight back to Leeds after the break and another monster kick from Jones, this time a drop-goal from 45 metres, pegged the deficit back to just four points.

Leeds responded by bolstering their pack, introducing the imposing Fosi Pala'amo and another ex-Pirate, Vili Ma'asi, to the front row. The power and weight advantage began to tell in the set-piece.

Di Bernardo increased the lead in favour of Leeds to 16-9 after 64 minutes, but the Pirates were still very much in the contest. Good tactical kicking from Jones and massive shifts from the entire back-row kept Leeds in check. Winger Rhodri McAtee was also a constant threat in the loose, while the introduction of Nicky Griffiths at scrum-half also posed problems aplenty for the home team.

Then, with time seemingly up, the Pirates lost possession and conceded a sucker-punch of a try from replacement wing Jon Goodridge.

As the stoppage time allowed by the officials ran on, Leeds winger Lee Blackett scored try number three.

Finally, with almost ten minutes of injury time played, the home crowd, baying for the bonus-point-clinching score, saw a huge drive from the Leeds eight force Danny Paul over the whitewash in what was curiously the last play of the game.

Davey concluded: "There wasn't much between the two sides today until right at the end. The knock-on was never a knock-on in a million years, and we defended well, which we knew we would have to do. It was very disappointing."



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Cornish All Blacks scrum half is tackled by a Cambridge player. Photo by Alex Folkes/

Whitewashed 24-0 on their own patch by a club whom they previously had a 100 per cent record against – that must have been a galling experience for the Cornish All Blacks.

Cambridge, who still have an outside chance of being in the running for promotion – depending on the whim of a maddeningly procrastinating RFU – stood third in National League Two while the All Blacks were fifth.

However, on Saturday at Polson Bridge, the scarlet-clad men from East Anglia justified their league standing. By half-time they had four tries, the bonus point – and, as it proved, the win – already in the bag.

The All Blacks are notorious for their slow starting and this time it proved fatal. They had the slope and a strong wind at their backs in the first half, but crucially didn't capitalise on either.

Cambridge, on the other hand, shot away at kick-off like greyhounds from the trap. Their pack was heavy, but fit, while their backs were a big, fast, straight-running and penetrating lot – as they soon showed.

Their full-back, Luke Fielden, the league's top-try-scorer, looked alarmingly dangerous, racing all over the place through an at times porous defence. His fellow backs, meanwhile, were constantly on the lookout for the counter, snatching up loose ball and accelerating away like Ferraris.

It was therefore not long before the visitors scored. First a series of crossfield runs brought them into the home 22 and, from a subsequent ruck, two charges took hooker Matt Miles over the line for centre Craig Evans to convert.

Six minutes on and they were over again – another handling run to the 22, a ruck, and the ball was quickly fed out to the visitors' accomplished James Shanahan. The fly-half cruised past a bad tackle to score.

There was no let-up and the All Blacks, competing fiercely but to little effect, were soon 19 points adrift as Cambridge again took play close to the home line. From the ensuing scrum, No.8 Tom Powell picked up and broke away to touch down, with Evans adding the extras.

All Black fly-half Adam Staniforth then lofted a good cross-kick which left wing Gary Kingdom latched neatly on to, but he hit the corner-flag as he went for the try.

Finally, on the half-hour as the All Blacks countered from their 22, Staniforth sent out a desperately wayward pass behind his man which Cambridge wing Chris Lombaard grabbed before speeding away to the line and round the posts to touch down for his side's fourth try.

At half-time it was 24-0 to the visitors and the match as a contest was all but over.

To give the All Blacks their due, they won the second half when they were a far more combative and effective unit, taking the game to Cambridge, attacking persistently, and, in addition, preventing further scoring against them – but that was little consolation.

They mounted a few threatening backs moves, the forwards certainly got the better of their opponents in the loose and line-out, while to a man the side's new young players rose to the occasion.

However, the Cambridge defence was like a wall and the Cornishmen's attacks often ended up behind the gain line. That said, so fierce was the All Blacks' competitiveness, especially up front, that it thoroughly rattled the East Anglian eight, three of them getting yellow-carded under the pressure.

For Cambridge, though, their indiscretions and being down to 13 men could not have mattered less. They had secured a vital win.

All Blacks' forwards coach, Keith Brooking, said afterwards: "It was definitely a performance of two halves. They caught us cold. We didn't start and they did. We addressed that at half-time.

"While they were good defensively, we didn't ask that defence any questions and they ran straight and hard. We were trying to go wide and round and they used the touchline as a last defence. We need to run straight, start penetrating and start asking defences questions."




National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

The Cornish Pirates concluded their season on the road in National League One with a deserved, but rather uninspiring, 35-28 victory against already relegated Sedgley Park at Park Lane.

Brett Davey's side returned to the Duchy with maximum points, thus ending a three-game losing streak. They did, however, struggle to find the cohesion so evident at Leeds six days before.

"It was always going to be hard for us after a six day turn around following the Leeds match," said Davey. "But we got exactly what we came for, which was five points. Everyone was unhappy with the first-half performance because it was not of the standard we require, but the right things were said at half-time and it was important we started the second half well.

"Things needed to be said and the players responded to them – they certainly performed for that 25-minute spell after half-time. I was pleased with the response. Although the mental switch-off after that was frustrating for everyone. We got 20-odd points in front and thought that the job was done, but we have to keep on to the end."

In pure business terms, though, it was a case of mission accomplished for the Pirates as they registered five tries in a typically loose end-of-season encounter.

The home side, without a league win since early December, started brightly just 72 hours after a 50-point thumping against Nottingham and were ahead inside 90 seconds.

Simon Whatling's attempted clearance from the kick-off was charged down and the Pirates never managed to snuff out the momentum this generated in Sedgley's pack.

Flanker Adam Newton broke through a feeble Pirates defensive line and fed Mark Atkinson, who took play deep into the Pirates' 22. The fly-half then flicked a delightful inside pass to his full-back, and Matt Riley coasted home for his first try of the afternoon. Atkinson converted for a seven-point lead.

To their credit, the Pirates took play straight back to Sedgley with a move which resulted in an opening try for recalled winger Aisea Havili. The Tongan speedster reminded us what a potent threat he is going forward with the ball in hand as he rounded off a move set up by Heino Senekal and Nicky Griffiths to score in the corner.

Moments later, Whatling atoned for missing the conversion by slotting a 20-metre penalty to edge the Pirates ahead by a single point.

However, their insistence in playing open rugby before they had the game under control quickly began to hurt them as mistakes crept back into their play.

Atkinson should have scored a second try for Park in the 17th minute, but he knocked on inches from the line when clean through. Although Park's leading points scorer, Phil Jones, did briefly restore the lead with a penalty before Whatling countered for the visitors.

Havili turned provider after 33 minutes as a superb 40-metre break along the touchline set up Senekal to crash over. However, he became the villain in first-half stoppage time as uncertainty beneath a simple crossfield kick from Jones allowed wing Peter Swatkins to set up Riley for his second try. It remained unconverted to leave the Pirates clinging on to a 16-15 lead at the break.

What came next was 20 minutes from the Cornish side which would have made any onlooker purr with delight. Snappy, direct play with good phases and plenty of support for runners repeatedly blew huge holes in the Sedgley defence. Centre Paul Devlin scored the Pirates' third try just three minutes in after excellent work by Griffiths and Mark Ireland. Whatling converted.

Flanker Blair Cowan should then have rounded off the move of the game with a score, but the Kiwi forward knocked on agonisingly short of the line after ignoring the unmarked Havili on his left shoulder.

Instead Rhodri McAtee secured the bonus point after incisive sniping around the base of a scrum from Griffiths, before both hookers – Rob Elloway and Jonny Roddam – were sin-binned by Devon-based referee Luke Pearce for fighting.

Skipper-for-the-day Mike Burak then stretched every inch of his 6ft 7in frame to add try number five for the Pirates. With an hour played and leading by 35-15 it looked as if the Cornishmen were finally ready to cut loose. Instead they chose to doze off in the afternoon sunshine.

Sedgley rallied and lock Glen Townson was driven over the Pirates' line from a routine catch-and-drive move. Then, with time almost up, Park secured a losing bonus point with their fourth try of the afternoon.

In a moment of uncanny symmetry the match ended as it had begun with the Pirates' defence all at sea and left wing Phil Largan running in unopposed to score.

It was a finale which left Davey frustrated. He said: "Pride plays a big part in rugby to be honest. It's personal when you are on a rugby field and you have levels of performance and pride. When players drop below those levels, well, it's criminal really. There was some good stuff in patches today, but we need to do it on a continuous basis."



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Failure to take chances saw a misfiring Redruth continue to stumble on their run-in to the end of the season with a 21-18 National League Two defeat on the road at Cambridge.

"I'm pretty disappointed, we should have got something out of the game," said head coach Nigel Hambly. "We got a point, but I thought we were the better team here today and should have got a draw or a win.

"We did not take our chances in the second half. I thought we had three or four clear-cut chances through overlaps, but we just did not take them. Our line-out started to function badly at the end of the second half and that put pressure on the rest of our game.

"I'm disappointed we lost, but my coaching belief is that if the players give 100 per cent, then I'm happy. I think anyone at the game would say that Redruth gave 100 per cent."

The hosts got off to a blistering start with former Albion, Exeter and Pirates fly-half James Shanahan creating an unconverted try in the second minute for Luke Fielden in the right-hand corner.

Despite the setback, the Reds rallied and ran in two tries in a five-minute spell in the middle of the half.

First Lewis Vinnicombe came off his wing to take a pass from Brett Rule that split the Cambridge defence wide open to let him touch down an unconverted try after 15 minutes.

Soon after, following an initial break by Rob Thirlby, Emyr Lewis was on hand to cross for a good try under the posts that Rule converted.

"I'm really pleased with Nick Simmons and Brett Rule," said Hambly. "Last year they were playing together in the Colts, now they are starting in a top-of-the-table National Two game and not looking out of place. Two 20-year-olds, they were excellent – that bodes well for the future."

Cambridge hit back on the half-hour mark with former Northampton Saint Darren Fox powering his way over wide out on the right for an unconverted try.

Although Redruth were unable to get out of their own half for a long period, the defence was excellent, with Mark Bright, James Mann and David Roberts getting through a lot of work, forcing several turnovers in the rucks.

However, the Reds were caught napping when a quickly taken penalty by scrum-half Stefan Liebenberg saw powerful South African Christian Lombaard dive over in the left corner for his 19th try of the season just before the interval for Cambridge to take a 15-12 lead into the break.

When play resumed, Redruth started without skipper PJ Gidlow who had picked up an ankle injury. However, Rule levelled the scores with a well-struck long-range penalty after 51 minutes.

Cambridge used the breeze well to kick long. When they kept the ball in hand Fielden and Lombaard took a lot of stopping. Points soon followed as replacement Ben Patston added penalties in the 58th and 62nd minutes to open up a six-point lead.

After Rule had to leave the field with blood pouring from his mouth – this after a brave tackle on the Redruth line – replacement Mark Scrivener kicked a penalty from just to the right of the posts.

In the last ten minutes Redruth dominated territory, but with the try line in sight chances again went begging. Two line-outs were lost and in injury time Scrivener's penalty attempt into the breeze from the left-hand touchline was just wide.



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

The Cornish All Blacks are not quite back to winning ways just yet, but their 18-18 National League Two draw with Blackheath at Polson Bridge definitely pointed towards brighter days ahead.

Jon Hill's side were keen to make amends for the previous weekend's dire 24-0 home defeat by Cambridge and started well – leading 18-5 by the opening minutes of the second half – fly-half Adam Staniforth's boot and centre Gary Kingdom's hard running doing the damage.

However, a strong finish from the visitors restored parity over the course of the next half-hour, with both sides missing opportunities to win the game throughout.

Hill, though, was happy with his side's performance, if not the end result. He said: "We were winning for 70 minutes of the game. We took some really good chances in attack, we defended exceptionally well for long periods, but our scrum was under so much pressure from start to finish.

"Of course it's disappointing, with the 18-all draw, but ultimately today was all about a performance, it was about bouncing back from last week. It's not often that we get nilled on our own pitch but that's what happened. To bounce back with the defensive display that we showed today was pleasing and I just felt we looked dangerous whenever we got the ball into a wide channel."

The Launceston men seized control in the early stages and took the lead with Staniforth's well-struck penalty after Blackheath were penalised for diving in, and moved back a further ten metres for mouthing off.

Staniforth doubled his tally just two minutes later with another sweetly-hit penalty and set about creating an opportunity for his side's first try, kicking into the corner, hoping to take advantage of lock Mike Myerscough's dominance at the line-out.

Sadly this did not materialise, but Myerscough took matters into his own hands with a rampaging run down the left wing moments later – he was forced out of play but the All Blacks quickly regained possession and set up camp near the Blackheath try line. But again the chance came and went without extra points being put on the board.

The Cornishmen were made to regret their profligacy when visiting No.8 Gareth Jones picked the ball off the back of a scrum deep in the All Blacks' half and worked the ball right through winger Thomas White and finally full-back Matt Vaughan, who touched down in the corner for an unconverted try.

Both sides created chances before the break, but the home team left the field ahead with the score 6-5.

However, once play resumed the All Blacks extended their lead through Kingdom, who powered his way through the Blackheath defensive line from midfield to score under the posts and then convert for the extras.

He performed a similar trick ten minutes later as the visitors were still in a state of flux from a personnel change a few seconds before. Kingdom missed the conversion but it seemed to matter little in the face of such dominance from the home side.

Blackheath had other ideas and fought their way back during the ten minutes after the hour mark. First, replacement No.8 Ken Aseme rumbled over with the pack for a try, converted by winger White. Then two infringements from the home side allowed White two penalty chances, which he took, to bring the scores level.

On the balance of play, Blackheath's comeback seemed a little rough on the All Blacks, but Hill accepted his side were simply punished for their mistakes – and those of referee Richard Phillips.

He said: "We struggled to get some decent first-phase ball at scrum time and we struggled to defend off their scrum ball as well. We know that it's not a key strength of ours at the moment. When we lost Hamish Mitchell we lost the ability to get the right-hand head up on the scrum and that's absolutely no disrespect to Billy Moss – he's not a tighthead prop, he's a loosehead prop being asked to play out of position.

"I don't think we got anything from the referee today. Anything where there was an element of doubt always seemed to go the other way. I won't comment anymore until I see the DVD, but I don't think we had the rub of the green at all but ultimately, what can you do? Nothing, we all make mistakes and we did make some mistakes ourselves today.

"Gary Kindgom's selection at 13 was really a huge plus, he made massive inroads into their defensive line. Jake Murphy again had a solid game at 12. Our wingers Hamish Smales and Marc Dibble saw a fair bit of ball today and looked as though they were going to do some damage. It's very pleasing in terms of some of our play today and the fact that we've got a solid foundation to build from.

"We set the performance standard out there and it's important that we build on that in the coming weeks. We've been inconsistent over the last couple of months, there's no doubt about that and that's something that we've got to improve. Today we showed something and we have to make sure we take advantage of that."



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Mounts Bay proved that their outstanding spirit remains undimmed with a battling 40-26 defeat against Cinderford at the Mennaye Field.

Trailing 26-0 at the break and 40-0 12 minutes into the second half, Bay staged a remarkable rally after the break to outscore their opponents with a bonus-point try tally and by the tenth minute of time added-on were in total control. After being bullied up front throughout the first half, the home side rediscovered their self-belief in a second period where the Forest of Dean sluggers were outmuscled and their fitness levels found wanting.

Cinderford were never in danger of losing the match after racking up their huge lead but the final scoreline was reminiscent of similar epic contests between the two sides in recent seasons and bodes well for the future of the Cornish club, despite its problems on and off the field.

"Its really difficult with everything that's happening at this club at the moment and although we lost I'm delighted for the boys and for our die-hard supporters who follow us no matter what," said head coach Adrian Bick. "I think we produced a second-half performance that we can be proud of, and the players can hold their heads high.

"I asked the boys for some commitment and passion and it took us one half of the game to realise what we could actually achieve. We went back to basics, stuck at it and got our reward."

Bick knows that the result will go down in the record books as another heavy defeat in a disastrous season that has seen the club relegated after one season in National Two, but it will also be remembered as a gallant display from a team where the cupboard is now well and truly bare.

On Saturday, the Bay could name only two replacements, were forced to field two flankers in the threequarter line, with loanee Jamie Semmens at full-back. Indeed, they were only able to cobble together a recognised front row after the 11th-hour loan signing of Cornish Pirates' hooker Wayne Davey. And all that under the black cloud of financial strife currently hanging over the Mennaye.

Bick said: "For a Division Two side it's frightening really. We've come through the season on sticky plaster, but we're pretty buoyant at the moment. We'll have a few of the boys back for our final two games and I'd like to think we can finish the season with two wins."

Cinderford's early dominance in the match was all too apparent. Their power up front meant half-backs Freddie Burns and Paul Knight were given a free-hand behind the scrum and superb on-loan Gloucester fly-half Burns continually pinned the Bay into their own left-hand corner with punishing kicks from hand.

Cinderford inevitably took the scrum option on penalties awarded by referee Nick Williams and three tries followed in the first 25 minutes through winger Jake Carter, scrum-half Knight and centre Dave Knight, full-back Dan Trigg converting two of them.

The home side enjoyed a purple patch after half an hour, Ed King and Davey combining well in a break that Cinderford did well to halt, but could not convert pressure into points and the Foresters finished the half strongest, former Pirates and Bay forward Adam Nicholls crossing for a converted try and 26-point advantage.

Cinderford extended their lead after the break with touchdowns for Trigg and winger James Copsey, but by now the Cornishmen were beginning to assert themselves up front with flanker Steve Dyer and prop Tim Mathias – who has announced that he will be playing for the Cornish All Blacks next season – less than overawed by the Cinderford pack. And all the while, fly-half Dan Hawkes, now with the wind at his back, was turning the tables on the visitors with his own damaging kicks to the corner.

Potent loose forward Fraser Cliverd appeared to be relishing his role as a makeshift centre, showing pace and good hands on the break as well as slowing down Cinderford's momentum in midfield. His powerful presence continues to be a cornerstone of the team's efforts.

Mathias was rewarded for his efforts with a try in the 75th minute, sandwiched between a brace for former Albion team-mate Brett Stroud. Cinderford were in some disarray on the stroke of full-time when Bick was denied a score of his own as the visitors went deliberately offside on their own line to concede a penalty try. Hawkes booted his third conversion.

Bay's injury woes were exacerbated after the game by the confirmation that centre Sam Parsons has suffered a badly dislocated shoulder, but the problem is mitigated by the likely return of backs Josh Matavesi, Richard Bright and Steve Johns for next week's trip to Waterloo and the season-ending home fixture against Tynedale.

Bick is confident that Saturday's fightback will stand the team in good stead over the closing weeks. He said of Saturday's display: "In the first half we played like a side that has been under the cosh for several weeks, which we have been; there was no confidence and we lacked that wining feeling that we've had here for so many years. But when you're in the groove you can win games and when you're in a rut you're going to lose games.

"I'd like to think we can fancy our chances against Waterloo and Tynedale: we will be more positive after this result, and we'll have some of our guys back in action," added the coach.




National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

Cornish All Blacks' head coach Jon Hill bemoaned a succession of missed tackles as the key factor in yesterday's 35-16 defeat to National League Two leaders Birmingham-Solihull.

Although the Launceston club fared well for large parts of an entertaining encounter at Polson Bridge, far too often they were found guilty of some powder-puff defence, which allowed the visiting Bees to sting with deadly effect.

"I felt for 65 minutes the game could have gone either way," said Hill at the final whistle. "But I felt for the last 15 they dominated and you would expect that from a full-time side. Their fitness levels certainly showed towards the end, but the difference between the two sides for me was that we slipped off too many tackles in the first half.

"I think we missed three one-on-one tackles and it led to three scores. You simply can't gift the opposition 21 points, which is what we did today."

Hill was not wrong in his blunt, yet truthful, post-match assessment of his side's showing. The damage, however, began as early as the second minute when visiting winger Simon Hunt picked up just inside his own half before setting off on a powerful run.

Hunt – it has to be said – should have been floored on at least three occasions. The fact he wasn't merely underlined Hill's frustrations as he cantered his way past some hapless home tacklers to score under the posts for fly-half Mark Woodrow to convert.

Despite the early setback, the All Blacks regrouped well and when fly-half Adam Staniforth cut the deficit with two successful penalties in the seventh and 10th minutes, the home side began to grow in confidence.

Willing to attack from deep, the Cornish club sliced open the Birmingham rearguard with a quality move on 17 minutes. On-loan Exeter Chiefs' back Gary Kingdom was at the heart of things with a powerful midfield break – and when he offloaded to Marc Dibble, it took a last-gasp tackle from Mitch Culpin to thwart the All Blacks' winger from scoring in the right-hand corner.

Moments later and lock Tom Skelding, another loanee from Sandy Park, was held up on the line following yet another intriguing passage of play from the home side.

With the pressure building, it was no surprise that the All Blacks finally made it pay when half-backs Lewis Webb and Staniforth combined to feed the ball to Kingdom, whose quick scissor-switch in the centre created a gaping hole for Ryan Westren to charge over, with Staniforth adding the extras.

Sadly, that would be the only time the All Blacks would lead in the game and it was the high-flying Bees who hit back with two converted tries just before the break. Again poor tackling – this time from Staniforth and Tom Rawlings – allowed Hunt to glide over for his second of the game, before good approach work from Rod Petty set up Birmingham full-back Reece Spee to touchdown and make the score 21-13 at the interval.

Despite that double hit late in the first half, the All Blacks re-emerged still very much in the game and looking to claw their way back into the contest. Twice Staniforth had the chance to cut the scoreline with lengthy penalty attempts, but on both occasions his efforts failed to hit the target.

Just past the hour mark, however, the former Exeter Chiefs back did find his range when he slotted his third penalty of the game after the Bees had strayed offside in midfield.

With the game evenly poised heading into the final quarter, it was the Bees who finally stubbed out a battling All Blacks display with a powerful conclusion to the match.

Their all-important fourth try came on 67 minutes when replacement Rob Connolly was able to dot down following a slick handling move – but it could have been a whole lot worse for the Cornishmen as twice referee Rowan Kitt chalked off further scores because of forward passes.

In injury time, however, the Bees did cross the whitewash once more. Webb was turned over superbly deep inside the Birmingham half – and the ball was switched at pace to Connolly and Culpin, who between them teamed up to send the scampering Jack Preece under the posts.

The experienced Woodrow once more obliged with the additional two points to ensure he finished the clash with an unblemished record.

Although disappointed to lose, Hill – who must now ready his troops for a league battle at Blackheath this Tuesday – said there were a number of positives to take from the match.

"I have to say our attacking display in the first half was awesome," he said. "We showed a lot of intent to attack from deep and we looked to keep the ball alive at every opportunity. I felt we looked to play with a lot of width and we certainly asked questions of their defence.

"At times I felt we had them on the rack, but we couldn't build on that in parts in the second half. That's a real shame because the foundations were definitely there. Our scrum was better than it was last week [against Blackheath], we had decent ball from the lineout at times, and in the wider channels we looked deadly. That said, I thought they looked deadly as well and in the end one or two lapses in concentration, defensive shape and execution, had proved the difference."

One concern for Hill was an injury to young prop Andy Knight. Already he is doubtful for Tuesday's game, although Ben Moss – who missed yesterday's match because of England Students duty – is expected to return.



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

If the alarm bells weren't ringing last week, you can bet they will be now after Plymouth Albion's dire run of form in National League One continued with yesterday's 30-14 defeat to the Cornish Pirates at Camborne.

With just one win in their last eight league games, Graham Dawe's side are not only desperately lacking in confidence, but they are now staring relegation firmly in the face following this latest setback at the Recreation Ground.

These are – it has to be said – extremely worrying times for the Devon club, who now know they have just two games remaining to save their status in English rugby's second tier.

With no game to contend with this Saturday, the first of those two daunting challenges comes in a fortnight at the Brickfields when newly-crowned champions Leeds arrive in town. Then, just days later, a similar hurdle awaits at fellow relegation scrappers Moseley.

Dawe knows his side must secure some kind of reward from one – if not both – of these impending fixtures, whilst at the same time hope results elsewhere also go the way of the Brickfields outfit.

The omens, however, are not looking good for an Albion side who were outgunned in nigh on every department by their Cornish counterparts. The Pirates – who had not tasted league success over their near neighbours since the 2005/06 season – not only outscored their local rivals, but they out-smarted them with a game plan that was dispatched with ruthless efficiency.

Albion, though, were duly warned at the tail end of last week that the Pirates were keen to buck the recent trend. In the build-up to the contest, coach Brett Davey has hinted that lessons had been learnt from the previous clash between the two clubs back in November. And so it proved as Welsh fly-half Rhys Jones did much of the damage, helping himself to a 20-point haul that included a try, two penalties and three drop-goals.

Albion, though, hardly helped their own cause at times. Countless errors, numerous turnovers, together with some garbage kicking, continually handed the initiative back to the home side, who made hay in the sun.

That said, Albion gave themselves the ideal opening to the game when – with four minutes on the clock – skipper Arthur Brenton won the race to a Liam Gibson chip over the top to score the game's first try, which Ross Laidlaw converted.

Jones countered with a penalty five minues later, before the Pirates snuck in front on 26 minutes when, following an initial break from full-back Adryan Winnan, the ball was worked back at pace across the field to flanker Blair Cowan, who bulldozed Gibson out of the way for a score in the left corner.

Although Jones failed with the touchline conversion and a lengthy penalty moments later, the former Sale youngster edged his side further in front when he stroked over the first of his three sublime drop-goals.

With half-time approaching, the visitors were given a boost when the Pirates lost Heino Senekal to the sin-bin for stopping Greg Nicholls from taking a quick tap penalty. However, Albion were unable to make the numerical advantage pay both before or after the interval.

Instead it was the Pirates who prospered on the resumption, a second Jones drop-goal, quickly followed by another penalty, helped to stretch their lead to 17-7 with 50 minutes on the clock.

Although Albion looked for a way back into the contest, far too often they were guilty of crucial turnovers and costly knock-ons. Chief culprit was Canadian winger Justin Mensah-Coker who, despite possessing many key attributes in his imposing physical frame, again gave a rather lousey impersonation of a circus juggler. Not surprisingly, the try-hungry Pirates seized upon most openings like a hawk hovering above its prey.

Snaffling the ball up just inside their own half, quick hands off the deck created space for prop Alan Paver, who in turn fed Rhodri McAtee. As the Welsh Whippet darted towards the space in front of him, drawing in the Albon cover as he sped clear, he slipped a perfectly timed pass to Paul Devlin, who himself needed no reminding where the line was.

With the Albion challenge slowly wilting in the afternoon heat, a rapid response was needed of some kind. Alex Davies and Kyle Marriott were thrown into the fray and immediately they helped give a fresh impetus to Plymouth's play.

One booming kick from Davies created the ideal platform from which Albion sensed a crucial opening. Using their tried-and-tested driving maul, some persistent infringing from Pirates' prop Scott Franklin was finally punished when referee Adrian Hartwell sent the Canadian to the cooler with ten minutes left.

Once again Albion went for broke in search of a fightback try. The lineout tactic was clearly working and when Hartwell eventually lost patience with the unruly tactics of the Pirates, a penalty try – converted by Davies – reduced the arrears to 22-14.

However, any hopes of a gripping finale fell somewhat short when Albion centre Matt Hopper departed proceedings with a nasty-looking lower leg injury. The ten-minute hold-up dampened Albion's fire and it was the Pirates who finished the match much the stronger.

The impressive Jones served up 'game, set and match' by first dropping a third goal, then diving onto Nicky Griffiths' clever kick to claim a deserved third try.

At the conclusion, a delighted Davey paid tribute to his players for a "very satisfying" outcome. He said: "I thought we were really dominant and we played some really good stuff. In the end we got what we came for, which was a W [win].

"For me, the most pleasing thing today was that we always came away from their 22 with something, even if it was just three points."

He added: "It's a great result for us, especially because it's a local derby. It's bragging rights and all that kind of stuff, but I also think it's means a little bit more than that. The players have had to put up with some nonsense this year, so it's always good to answer your critics with a good performance.

"As I've said before, they are a really good bunch of players and they are doing things the right way at the moment and there is a very good balance. All I have been trying to do is build something here and now I think we're starting to see the beginnings of it.

"I have seen a lot of development in a lot of players and they are getting better and better. Sometimes, though, you need a little patience and I think if people can just be patient a little bit more than what they probably are, I think you will see a very good side in 18 months' time."

But whilst Davey and the Pirates were able to celebrate, opposite number Dawe was left to reflect on another tough day at the office.

"We had a good start and played some nice stuff, but that probably woke the Pirates up and after that they played a very smart game," said Dawe. "They kicked the ball very well – they probably outkicked us during the game as a whole – and they put a lot of pressure on us, so full credit to them.

"Obviously we knew coming to the Pirates was a tough fixture. There is never going to be any gimmes down here. We hoped we would win the game and we worked as hard as we can, but Pirates are a quality side and we didn't nail our chances and made far too many errors to win a game of rugby."

Although Dawe was refusing to press the panic button yesterday, the Albion chief knows he and his team face a real battle in the closing weeks.

"We have two very tough ties left," he admitted. "It could only be harder if we were playing Leeds away. It's not an ideal situation. We feel for the club and for the fans, but we are working as hard as we can and all we can do is give it a good shout against Leeds."

Times are indeed tough for Albion, but even they can still dream. And, like Disney's Seven Dwarfs, a hard day's toil could yet bring about a fairytale ending.




National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News.

Brett Davey admits he remains as baffled as anyone by the Jekyll and Hyde characteristics his Cornish Pirates side continue to show.

A week ago the Duchy's finest were in dreamland following a 30-14 victory over near neighbours Plymouth Albion. Yesterday, that joy turned to despair as the Pirates were humbled – for the first time ever in the National Leagues – by visiting Doncaster Knights 33-23 at the Recreation Ground.

The joy on the faces of the Yorkshiremen come the close was clearly evident. However, it's safe to say that had the Pirates replicated the same kind of showing as they produced against Plymouth, their proud record would still be intact for another season at least.

The difference in the two performances – it has to be said – was a marked one. Whereas everything against Albion worked like clockwork, yesterday the Pirates were guilty of a series of cardinal errors, including poor discipline, shoddy tackling, hesitancy in attack and, in some cases, a clear lack of focus.

Today, Davey will head up yet another post-match inquest into how the same Pirates personnel can produce such differing displays.

"I don't recognise the side that played today was the same as last week, it was like two different teams in seven days, which is pretty disappointing," said the Welshman afterwards.

"Our skill levels weren't quite where they needed to be, but the bizarre thing is we created enough chances to score more points than we did. We were just short of what we needed to be.

"I can't excuse our discipline today, it was awful. It is something we have really focused on over the last seven games or so. Last week [against Plymouth] we gave away I think five or six penalties, this week it was like chalk and cheese. Shocking."

Whether or not Davey – who it has now been confirmed will be heading for pastures new following Saturday's final game of the season against London Welsh – finds the necessary answers in this next week, only time will tell.

If he does, then all well and good for Saturday's final run-out against the Exiles. If Davey doesn't, however, incoming coach Chris Stirling can expect to start his new post with a mountain – probably the size of Everest – of questions that will need to be answered ahead of next season's new look Championship campaign.

Currently such answers – it seems – are indeed elusive for the Pirates' coaching team. Davey, who earlier in the week had called on his side to build on their Albion victory, added: "We haven't had back-to-back performances all season, so it's no surprise to me that we haven't today.

"It's massively frustrating because the players are more than capable of doing it, but for some reason we just don't do it. I have been quite frank with them after the match and a couple of them have come back with some good points and some good answers as well.

"What was hard to take today was the whole thing just seemed to lack effort in some phases and that isn't us. Now we've got a game again on Saturday which obviously focuses our attentions, so we want to finish with a performance. To do that, though, we need to put it in."

Although Davey is remaining tight-lipped about his intended destination for next season, the 36-year-old has expressed his disappointment that his impending departure has been leaked to a wider audience a little earlier than he intended.

"I asked for it to be kept quite private, so it's disappointing it has come out," he said. "The best thing I can say at this time is that I won't say anything until the end of the season. I will, however, give my viewpoint back because already one or two people have said things that I'm certainly not happy about. I think I have a right to reply, so I will take my time and consider it all quite carefully."

For now, though, Davey's immediate attentions will be solely focused around nailing down one final win against the visiting Dragons this weekend.

A starting point – I suggest – for the impending game plan for the visiting Welshmen will be to erase much of yesterday's match-day DVD and instead start afresh. OK, there were times against Donny when things did click into place, but those bright moments were far too often outweighed by a catalogue of ugly errors from the home side.

It began almost immediately as the Pirates found themselves defending their line following a sloppy set-up from Jamie Lennard's kick-off. Although they beat off that initial thrust, they soon found themselves trailing as Lennard – the league's top points-scorer – started to orchestrate proceedings with aplomb.

He booted his side in front with a ninth-minute penalty, before following that up with a sublime crossfield kick – three minutes later – that fell comfortably into the arms of winger Wes Davies, who crossed for the opening try of the game.

The Pirates briefly countered with a penalty from their own number ten, Rhys Jones, who shortly after saw a second effort float wide of the mark on 21 minutes.

However, it was Doncaster's dominance up front – particularly at scrum time – which was causing no end of problems for the below-par Pirates. A succession of scrums saw referee Terry Hall lecture the home pack several times for collapsing, and then when it happened once more, the Kent-based official had little hesitation in running under the sticks for a penalty try, which Lennard duly converted for a 15-3 lead.

It was the first of several big calls made by Hall who, in the space of two minutes, dismissed Pirate Matt Evans for a stamping offence on Neil Cochrane, then Doncaster's Adam Kettle for a punch aimed at Tom Luke. Others on duty could also count themselves lucky not to see a yellow card for certain misdemeanours.

The latter's indiscretion was duly punished by a long-range penalty from Jones, who then just failed with a drop-goal attempt four minutes into added on time. Even then an eventful first half was far from over as the Pirates worked a delightful move, one which started from a line-out on the left, across the field through Nicky Griffiths and Brian Tuohy to Fijian full-back Marika Vakacegu, who was able to dart over in the right-hand corner to make it 15-11 at the break.

After a slow start to the second period, Doncaster again flexed their muscles, flattening the Pirates with a 15-point haul in seven minutes that not only secured them a deserved bonus point, but effectively the match as well.

Lennard started the ball rolling with a well-taken drop-goal, before tries from scrum-half Matt D'Arcy and a second for Davies – who is believed to be heading back to the Pirates next season – made it 30-11.

To their credit, the Pirates refused to throw in the towel. Instead, they countered with two tries of their own. First over was the lively Griffiths, whose non-stop running was again reminiscent of that of a Duracell Bunny. The Welshman collected a simple tap down from team-mate Chris Morgan before darting 25 metres to the line for Jones to convert.

Four minutes later, it was the turn of Heino Senekal to follow him over the whitewash, the Namibian powerhouse brushing aside some desperate Donny defence to leave just seven points in it.

Sadly, that would be as close as the Pirates would get in a scrappy final quarter, one which should be discarded to the divisional bin-bag. Although both sides huffed and puffed late on, all that came from a dour conclusion was a second Lennard penalty.

Hopefully, some better fare will be served up by the Pirates in the season's finale.



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

It wasn't one for the purist and at times Redruth seemed to have thrown the coaching manual out of the window altogether, but it was another great spectacle that delighted a bumper crowd at the Recreation Ground and sent them home with memories to cherish over the summer.

Redruth's 18-14 victory over Stourbridge kept them on course for a top-three position in National League Two and was achieved in cavalier fashion against muscular opponents hell-bent on securing vital points to haul themselves clear of the relegation scrap.

Indeed, for the final 20 minutes the visitors went at it hammer and tongs in a bid to overturn Redruth's four-point advantage and were rebuffed by some heroic defence. Forwards Luke Collins and Darren Jacques were among those putting in massive hits all around the field and Mark Bright, normally the Reds' anchor at the back of the scrum, was drafted in at first centre to help stem the bullocking Blues. All this was orchestrated by two 20-year-olds at half-back – Brett Rule and Nick Simmons – who were immune to the pressure.

Amazingly, given the amount of rugby played, there were only two tries apiece for each side but the visitors will surely feel that their efforts deserved more than the point they took away from a heaving Recreation Ground in which 'Hellfire Corner' was thronged with dozens of their own chanting supporters.

"I wouldn't say the match summed up our season, but the last passage of play summed up what Redruth is all about," said head coach Nigel Hambly. "It was about sheer hard work and determination; it wasn't an outstanding spectacle but there were lots of good things and one of the biggest things is that we played for each other, we believe in each other and we showed that in large measure against a really good Stourbridge team. I think we deserved to win but if Stourbridge had got more than one point out of it, I would have had no complaints."

Earlier in the season Hambly might have been less than impressed with the lack of structure shown by his players and the subsequent narrow margin of victory, but the season is all but over and Redruth have achieved their highest place in the National Leagues and the coach was prepared to be charitable.

He said: "The game was played in the right spirit, it was very competitive, fast and furious and awesome for the fans and they've gone away with a great memory of a fantastic season. Whatever happens at Birmingham next week, we've given it our best shot and the boys can hold their heads high."

The first 20 minutes were full of energy and endeavour with both teams attacking and defending in equal measure, Stourbridge drawing first blood when full-back Alistair Bressington crossed for a try on the right after the ball had been recycled from the visitors' forward drive in the other corner.

Bressington booted the conversion and although Redruth rallied immediately, a knock-on deep in Stourbridge territory saw a good chance go begging and a long period of pressure was rewarded with just one Mark Scrivener penalty.

However, the Cornishmen's nerves were finally settled by a dazzling break from Simmons, the scrum-half showing an electrifying turn of pace to streak under the posts from broken play on the visitors' 22-metre line. Stourbridge were aghast at the reverse after they had seemed to be in command. Redruth were cockahoop and Scrivener added the extras for a 10-7 lead and a less worried look on the coach's face at half-time.

Scrivener gave way to Rule at the start of the second period and the young fly-half who, like Simmons, a player who started his career at the Recreation Ground as a six-year old, made a quick impression, slotting a 44th-minute penalty via the upright for a 13-7 lead. A few minutes later it was 18-7 as full-back Rob Thirlby finished off a flowing move that saw the ball recycled across the width of the field from right to left.

However, Redruth were now losing sight of the patterns that have seen them dismantle so many teams this campaign and it was Stourbridge that looked stronger, winning turnover ball and stretching the defence of a Cornish side whose 11-point buffer did not seem adequate against very fit opponents.

Bright took his position in midfield after Hambly sent on fresh muscle power in the form of lock Damien Cook at the expense of threequarter Paul Thirlby. However, Stourbridge earned their reward for relentless pressure with a try under the posts by centre John Holtby, the superb Bressington converting to narrow the gap to four points and set up a frantic finish.

Jacques returned to the fray after receiving treatment off the field and it was all hands to the pump as the Midlanders pressed for a winning score, spurning a kickable penalty late on with a last desperate kick to that renowned corner populated by their own supporters where, fittingly, the Reds finally turned the tide.

After a match that marked the farewell home appearance of second row veteran Richard Carroll, and probably that of full-back Rob Thirlby and several other senior players, Hambly paid tribute to the players that took the club to the brink of promotion.

He said: "They've always given 100 per cent and we've punched above our weight all season but that probably told and at the end of the day Birmingham are the champions, they've lasted the course longer than us and you've to take your hat off to them for that. I said to the guys that if we're good enough to go up we've got to be good enough to stay up and although it would have been challenging, I would like to have had the chance. It just wasn't meant to be."

Man of the match Carroll was mobbed by fans in the traditional last-match shindig. The battle-scarred lock had been gigantic in the Redruth line-out all afternoon, but accepted the time was right to hang up his boots. "I'm not a very good rugby player," he said, a comment which might be disputed by some of his bruised opponents over the years. "What I do have is that I give everything for Redruth. But if my body can't do it anymore there's no place for me. The boys are bigger and stronger than me now; they can run faster and its time for them to step up."



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

End-of-season scorelines tend to reflect relegation fears and promotion ambitions. In early December the All Blacks crushed Westcombe Park 45-19 at Polson, this weekend at Goddington Dene with only their pride at stake but relegation threatening their opponents, the result went the other way.

That said, 34-0 down with just ten minutes of this National Two game left, the All Blacks suddenly went for it with all guns blazing, posting three tries and all their 19 points. It showed what might have been.

Player-coach Keith Brooking said: "Westcombe Park had to win to have any chance of surviving and we had our pride to re-establish – so it meant a lot more to them and they raised their game and we didn't perform. That's really the story of the second half of our season – going through the motions instead of standing up and being counted.

"In the last ten minutes we threw caution to the wind and played as we can, and when we play like that we can beat anyone. What we're lacking at the moment is self-belief and the ability to play rugby right from the start of a game."

The sides were evenly matched in the first half with the Kent club going in at the interval with a slender 7-0 lead from a try by flanker Gareth Inches after a turnover, which fly-half James Whittingham converted. The All Blacks were making errors and sliding off tackles and weren't helped by sustaining two early injuries – lock Jon Brandling-Harris (knee) and influential No.8 Sam Hocking (rib).

Despite poor finishing, they might still have been ahead at the break after good pressure had brought three penalty awards, but fly-half Adam Staniforth failed to convert any of them.

The killer blow for the All Blacks came straight from the re-start. In 30 minutes Westcombe scored five tries to put the match out of Launceston's reach.

No.8 Thomas Hayman was on the end of a breakthrough to score, with Whittingham adding the extras, and, supported by the big home pack -- who gave the All Blacks problems in the tight -- he was over again ten minutes later.

Replacement flanker Douglas Abbott crossed after another forward drive down the midfield. 24-0. Right wing Richard Lankshear then touched down from a well-worked threequarter move. Finally, hooker Joseph Bonner picked up in the loose after a penalty award and crossed halfway out to make it 34-0.

Things went from bad to worse for the All Backs as they were reduced to 14 men when centre Ryan Westren was injured with all the replacements used up.

Astonishingly, they suddenly turned it on. Slick handling in the backs led to Staniforth jinking in neatly to the posts to convert his own score. The electric pace of replacement centre Jason Luff saw him shoot away from halfway and round the last line of defence to score.

Then, flanker and skipper Tony Roques touched down after a series of penalty awards and drives with Staniforth adding the conversion.

The All Blacks finished camped on the home line and although pride was salvaged, it was another defeat in the record book.



National League 2. Report from the Western Morning News.

There was little consolation to be taken from this game for Mounts Bay, as they slumped to a seventh straight defeat [51-31] at Blundellsands against fellow National League Two relegation candidates Waterloo.

Forced into last-minute changes following the withdrawal of scrum-half Greg Goodfellow, and without Josh Matavesi and Nick Burnett, Bay's beleaguered troops were forced to dig even deeper as they toiled in the sun.

They may have scored four tries themselves, but 21 points in seven minutes late in the game killed off any lingering Bay resistance as No.8 Brett Stroud received a yellow card and the home side ran riot.

Mounts Bay coach Adrian Bick said: "I've always tried to look adversity in the face and be positive this season, but the last quarter was just appalling. It just shows a club in the death throes of National Two rugby. Some of our decision making and defensive work was poor, but it was an error-strewn match from start to finish. It was a poor game of rugby and frustrating to watch. We gifted them the game in the last 20 minutes."

Waterloo took a sixth-minute lead as they stole possession on the Bay 22 and quickly exploited a four-man overlap on the left flank for full-back Neil Kerfoot to score. Dan Hawkes, an emergency scrum-half on the day for the Cornish side, slotted a penalty shortly afterwards only for home fly-half Liam Reeve to restore the five-point cushion as Bay were caught offside.

With 22 minutes on the clock Hawkes declined a penalty shot at goal and kicked to the corner. From the resulting line-out and drive, Bay were rewarded with the lead as Stroud crashed over the line to score. Hawkes converted but the advantage lasted just 90 seconds as Bay were penalised at the restart deep in their own half. Adam Anderson's quick tap found their defence asleep and prop James Hall charged over. Reeve added the extras for a 15-10 home advantage.

Richard Bright was next on the score sheet as he broke through some weak midfield tackling from Waterloo to run in from half-way, but moments later a good blindside break from flanker Tom Davies again found Bay wanting in defence as Waterloo went in at half-time with their noses in front.

Another quick-tap penalty from Anderson just two minutes into the second half extended the home lead as he scampered home from 20 metres out before Bay enjoyed a purple patch camped deep in the Waterloo half. As the pressure built Steve Dyer was held up over the line, whilst Stephen Johns saw a try called back for a forward pass.

Reeve added a penalty before Bay finally did score, Duke Seymour driven over the line. Then with just six points between the sides, Stroud was carded for an offence at the breakdown and Waterloo finally cut loose. A try on either wing for Matt Williams either side of a long-range interception score from Freeman Payne destroyed Mounts Bay in the closing minutes.

Tim Mathias powered over for a stoppage-time consolation try for the visitors, but the match ended with Bay again wondering what might have been.