The Senior Leagues 2009-2010

A summary of the 2009-2010 league season

This page summarizes the league games involving Cornish clubs in the Championship and National League 1 that took place in the 2009-2010 season. (There were no Cornish clubs in National League 2 or National 3 SW this season.)




Report from the Western Morning News

It may have taken almost a three year wait for the Cornish Pirates to win again on Nottingham soil, but when yesterday's 24-13 victory finally came it was worth every tortuous moment of that long drawn-out period in the club's recent history.

Many have suspected that the Pirates have been steadily building towards better things during a summer of huge change at the Mennaye Field, and a trip to Nottingham was always going to be a big test of how far the club have actually come since the dark dismal days of last season. After 80 minutes of totally committed rugby from both sides, the early prognosis is looking good.

Speaking after a breathless final quarter when Nottingham camped deep in Pirates' territory and threw the proverbial kitchen sink at their Cornish visitors, coach Ian Davies said: "It was a really good performance from the whole team. We struggled a bit in the first half and played about 15 minutes without the ball, but in the second half we really performed.

"We worked all week on speed off the line in defence and we certainly put a lot of pressure on them during the game. We knew that if we took the lineout away from them they would panic and that is what we did do. I thought Blair Cowan and Chris Morgan marshalled the forwards really well today."

He added: "Getting a try a minute into the second half was a huge boost and we could have had a couple more too with a bit more composure. But that will come with playing together more."

The Pirates were forced into late team changes as Jimmy Moore withdrew due to family reasons and Rob Elloway injured himself in training. Richard Bright and Dave Ward deputised and there were also changes on the bench as the club's injury headache took a turn for the worse.

Ryan Storer stepped up as Carl Rimmer suffered a back problem and coach Harvey Biljon was forced to re-register as a player to provide cover in the backs.

Despite this the Cornish Pirates started brightly. However, it was Nottingham who took an early lead as Tim Taylor linked well with wing Jack Cobden down the Pirates' left flank. With the try-line at his mercy, the Leicester Tigers loanee made no mistake and Dave Jackson's conversion increased the lead to 7-0.

Moments later the Pirates replied with a penalty from Jonny Bentley and the young Kiwi fly-half struck again on the quarter hour as the Pirates' aggressive scrapping in the loose drew another penalty.

Jackson briefly extended the home advantage to four before Bentley claimed a hat-trick of first half penalties following a huge collision in which Cowan utterly demolished charging Nottingham lock Ian Nimmo.

Nottingham's 10-9 lead lasted just 60 seconds of the second half as the Pirates squeezed a home lineout yards from the home side's line. Tom Youngs overthrew the ball and amidst the consternation and hesitation in the Green and White ranks, No.8 Cowan scooped up the loose ball to score for the Pirates.

Nottingham became increasingly frustrated with the decision of the referee to allow the breakdown to be a competitive area at all times and as the Pirates began to steal Nottingham ball with increasing regularity, tempers began to flare. Replacement lock Phil Eggleshaw was sin-binned after just eight minutes on the field, while skipper Craig Hammond was fortunate not to follow him on several occasions.

Bentley's boot extended the Pirates' lead to seven with his fourth penalty before Jackson's kick from almost halfway brought the match back to 13-17 in favour of the Cornish team with half an hour to play.

Then a razor sharp break from Bentley saw him held up by desperate defending as he forced his way over the Nottingham line. However, from the resulting five-metre scrum, Cowan scooped up possession, charged at the Nottingham line, spun off the challenge of Greg Tonks and cantered behind the posts to score. Bentley made no mistake with the conversion.

In a frantic final quarter, Nottingham piled forward with wave after wave of attacks, but could never get behind the disciplined Pirates' defence. As their frustration reached fever pitch Taylor's 76th minute crossfield chip to the left wing should have found an unmarked Andy Savage to score, but instead it was hooker Tom Youngs waiting for the ball. With neither the pace or ball skills of a winger in his repertoire, Nottingham's best chance of the second half went begging.

Instead it was the tireless tackling and immense work rate of the Pirates which disrupted Nottingham to the final whistle and left the visitors with the perfect start to the new Championship season.



Report from the Western Morning News

It was the perfect start to the Cornish All Blacks' new season in a new National League One – a 32-19 win away against Cinderford at one of the toughest venues, a bonus point, four tries all from the backs, and a hat-trick for a winger.

The Forest of Dean club pride themselves on their uncompromising play and having hard men in the pack. So they got a bit of a shock when the Launceston pack achieved a dominance which allowed them to release their pacy backs.

That said, there was only one score in it until the last quarter when the superior fitness of the Cornishmen's forwards and backs combined to pull them away from tiring opponents.

On the hour the Foresters were a point in front, 19-18. But then the All Blacks took off – their ambitions boosted by the sin-binning of home skipper, scrum-half Paul Knight, after a punch-up.

In the last ten minutes they scored 14 points without reply. Fly-half Tony Yapp (who finished with a personal haul of 12 points from the conversion of all the scores except left wing Kieron Lewitt's second try, plus three penalties) broke and linked with full-back skipper Mal Roberts who released Jason Luff for the right wing's scorching pace to take him clear and round to the posts.

Yapp then lofted a diagonal kick which Lewitt in space took on the full, repeating the move of his fellow winger and touching down to bag his hat-trick.

For a stunned Cinderford, suddenly 13 points adrift with just four minutes left, there was no way back.

Last season in National Two in their first term in the league the Forest of Dean men had finished two rungs above the All Blacks and, after having been beaten by two points at Polson, had then inflicted a crushing 46-15 defeat on them in the return game.

So this Saturday's result was very sweet revenge for the Cornishmen.

Forwards coach, Keith Brooking, quietly delighted at having such a confidence-boosting start to the season, said: "Away in our first game of the season it was an excellent result, very pleasing, especially at Cinderford who have a good home record.

"Our fitness told in the end. It was hard work in training paying off. Cinderford are renowned for having a good pack and abrasive backs, but our pack was excellent and matched them in everything. However, we gave away some silly penalties and we needed to tidy up a few things defensively, especially round the ruck area in the first half.

"But we sorted that out and started to win the breakdown, turned them over and secured our ball, and started to dominate in the scrum. The backs looked sharp and made space with the quick ruck ball. Four tries from the wings says something too."

The first half, however, was a bit scrappy and marked by errors from both sides. Yapp and home full-back Ali Bressington (who posted 14 points with his boot) swapped penalty goals before Cinderford struck with the game's first try, hooker Nigel Matthews going over from a five-metre scrum after some sustained forward pressure for Bressington to convert. But that was to be the Foresters solitary touchdown. They could only keep in touch thereafter with penalties.

Launceston centre Ed Lewsey broke neatly and released Lewitt to race in, Bressington landed a penalty, and at the interval the home club led 13-10.

In the second half Bressington and Yapp again traded penalty kicks. The only real danger in the home backs was pacy centre Dewi Scourfield, who always looked sharp but who was well policed.

The Launceston backs were the real McCoy and given a bit more support might well have increased the margin of victory.

Just short of the hour Lewitt repeated his first try, released by centre Ryan Westren and Lewsey. Bressington made it four home penalties with a fine kick, and then the All Blacks went into overdrive.



Report by Bill Hooper, at the Recreation Ground, Redruth

In the final analysis a draw was probably a fair result in this absorbing, at times abrasive, opening league encounter. Cambridge, for many favourites for promotion to the Championship next season, were the first to settle, ably led by their skipper and open side flanker Darren Fox, and marshalled out wide by player coach and former Pirate, James Shanahan, at fly-half.

With the pitch looking immaculate and the weather ideal for rugby, Cambridge kicked off playing down the famous slope. The visitors gave early notice with some crisp passing along the backs as they looked to stretch the Reds' defence. It came as no surprise that they should open the scoring after only four minutes through their prolific try scorer, winger Chris Lombaard, who rounded off a fine move up in the Piggy Lane corner of the ground. Centre Craig Evans, charged with kicking duties, missed with his conversion attempt. It set the tone for an indifferent goal kicking display by both sides.

Play was frenetic, with neither side giving an inch, and with Fox continually making himself a nuisance at the breakdown. Tempers occasionally boiled over, as both sides looked for that crucial edge upfront. Redruth pegged back three points, earning a penalty as the visitors killed the ball following a pick up and drive to the 22 by No 8 Gareth Evans. Mark Scrivener kicked the penalty; sadly it was to prove to be his sole success of the afternoon.

Redruth looked to pin Cambridge back with their kicking game, which had to be accurate -- otherwise the visitors' rapid counters sent alarm bells ringing in the Reds' defence.

Scrivener spurned a penalty after 21 minutes from 25 meters, whilst centre Steve Evans made an important tackle moments later on Cambridge full back Tom Wheatcroft as play flowed from one end to the other.

With half time approaching, Cambridge multiplied their attacks and were eventually rewarded with a second try scored by the elusive Wheatcroft. A quickly taken tap penalty by scrum-half Dan Hunter just inside the Redruth half saw the ball moved at pace along the line, allowing Shanahan to set up his fullback for the score in Hell Fire corner. Evans once again missed the conversion.

A further penalty chance for the Reds went wide just on half-time. However, Redruth were still in touch, only seven points adrift.

An early Redruth indiscretion in the second half went unpunished as Evans was once again wide of the posts with his effort. Slowly but surely Redruth began to build up momentum through their forwards, laying siege to the Cambridge line down in Hell Fire corner. The forwards pounded away with Gareth Evans, Richard Carroll, Darren Jacques and Peter Joyce all involved, before flanker Brett Stroud barged over for a try on 55 minutes to enormous cheers from the grandstand and around the ground.

However, shortly after Cambridge increased their lead to five points as Reds' Herbie Stupple was penalised for not rolling away, Ben Patston kicking the penalty.

With the game now well into the final quarter Redruth brought on fresh legs as they looked to snatch the win. Nathan Pedley thought he'd scored a try, only to see the Assistant Referee's flag held high! Redruth's reward came though, as Lewis Vinnicombe scorched into the Piggy Lane corner to score a fine try to level the scores following good work from Brett Rule, Gareth Evans and Mark Richards. Rule couldn't add the extras and neither could Patston convert a drop-goal attempt shortly after, to win the game.

Speaking after the game, Redruth's head coach Nigel Hambly conceded that on the balance of play he was satisfied with a share of the spoils. "Generally I was fairly pleased, I think a draw was a fair result. First game of the season and we came up against a full-time outfit in Cambridge. I don't think there was too much between the sides today. I think we showed a lot of spirit to come back as we did, trailing by five points with five minutes to play. We've got a draw so we've got something to build on going forward."

Hambly was also pleased with the way his recent signings played, with a special mention for the new back row. "I thought Fraser Clilverd had an outstanding game, very solid. He got through a tremendous amount of work, much of it the unsung type. Brett Stroud was everywhere, and Gareth Evans picked up the man-of-the-match award for his performance."

Hambly also had a word of praise for his new centre Steve Evans. "I thought he grew into the game. He did a lot of good work, especially in the second half. He defended well and put in a couple of decent kicks as well."

Turning his attention to next Saturday's Cornish derby against Launceston at Polson Bridge: "They've had a good win today (at Cinderford). We've never won up there so it's going to be tough. After today they will be massive favourites. We'll have to be very disciplined otherwise Tony Yapp will punish us. It'll be tough but we will travel with spirit and I know we will compete for eighty minutes. We've got some weapons of our own, we'll prepare well this week and we'll see what happens on the day."

Redruth 13 pts:tries Stroud, Vinnicombe; penalty Scrivener

Cambridge 13 pts: tries Lombaard, Wheatcroft; penalty Patston

Redruth: P Thirlby, L Vinnicombe, C Bonds, S Evans, N Pedley, M Scrivener (B Rule 72), M Richards; D Jacques (capt, A Morcom 72), O Hambly, P Joyce (S Heard 57), R Carroll (C Fuca 72), D Cook, F Clilverd (M Stupple 57), B Stroud, G Evans

Cambridge: T Wheatcroft, J Hinkins (B Patston 56), A Dodge, C Evans, C Lombaard, J Shanahan, D Hunter (S Liebenberg h/t); T Laws, S Pearl, B Cooper (S Croall 56), K Rudski, R Hurrell, D Legge, D Fox (capt), D Archer (T Powell h/t). Replacement (not used) M Otter

Referee: Mr. P Knowles (RFU)

Crowd: 1026




Report from the Western Morning News

Usain Bolt maybe the quickest man on the planet, but even the Jamaican speedster would have been proud of the blistering start the Cornish Pirates made to their first Championship home game of the season.

With visiting Moseley embedded in the starting blocks, it took Chris Stirling's side just 61 seconds to propel themselves into the lead, No.8 Chris Morgan claiming the first of nine touchdowns in a 57-24 victory for the Duchy's finest.

However, if that was a speedy opening to proceedings, what followed was down right rapid as the Pirates blitzed their rivals from the Midlands with an opening salvo that left not only those at the Recreation Ground purring with delight, but also the many who were tuning into the game on the club's new TV channel.

Morgan certainly set the tone for the home side, the back-row forward applying the easy finish as Moseley struggled to counteract a powerful opening surge from the Pirates, who a week earlier had opened their account for the season with a fine victory at Nottingham.

Fly-half Jonny Bentley stroked over the extras to that try and a second which followed in the fourth minute courtesy of winger Jimmy Moore, who dotted down after the impressive Tyrone Holmes had snapped up a loose line-out throw from Adam Caves.

The South African's quick-thinking at the tail of the line saw him ship the ball to Bentley, who in turn fed Mark Ireland at pace. As Ireland drew in the Moseley cover, all the centre had to do was offload a simple pop pass to Moore, who needed no reminding where the line was.

Somewhat dazed, maybe even confused by what had hit them, Moseley's afternoon would get no easier. Another loose line-out, this time on eight minutes, was again snuffed up by the Pirates who, in a similar move to the previous score, worked the ball at pace along their back division to full-back Wes Davies, who crossed to make it 19-0.

By 17 minutes, the bonus point was already in the bag. This time a home line-out on the left was taken by Sam Betty, half-backs Gavin Cattle and Bentley combined, the latter of which released the onrushing Rhys Jones, who cantered in under the sticks for Bentley to convert.

With the Pirates already in danger of running up a cricket score which the watching Nick George would have been proud of, Moseley's misery was further compounded when, on 26 minutes, having advanced their way into the home 22 for the first real time in the contest, they were turned over superbly by the Cornishmen and Moore's booming right-foot clearance was totally misread by the dithering Nathan Bressington.

The subsequent loose ball could not have fallen any sweeter for the chasing Aisea Havili, the Tongan winger collecting the bouncing egg to glide over for a fifth score, again converted by Bentley to make the score 33-0.

The relentless onslaught from the Pirates showed no sign of abating and they went even further in front on the half-hour mark when, following a quickly taken penalty from Cattle, more sublime handling from the home backs released Davies for a second score.

Already battered and bruised in every sense, Moseley could easily have surrendered and waved the white flag there and then. The fact they didn't was a credit to them and as the half drew to a close, they finally made their first impression when a spell of pressure created space for skipper Andy Hall, who in turn fed Bressington to jinx his way over for the first of their four tries on the day.

With both sides forced into changes at the break, the Pirates withdrew Alan Paver in place of Carl Rimmer, while Moseley's Terry Sigley exited for Rupert Harden. The second half had a somewhat subdued opening compared to that which has been experienced in the opening half.

Still, it did not take the Pirates all that long to kick back into overdrive – the home side working the ball cleverly off a scrum in midfield through the hands of Bentley and Davies, the latter of whom was able to release Welshman Jones for a second time to make it 43-5.

With things looking decidedly rosy onboard the Pirates' ship, disaster struck on 54 minutes when skipper Cattle was forced from the field with what appeared a serious-looking knee injury.

Cattle's departure subdued proceedings momentarily, but it was not long before the home faithful were again aroused, Morgan crossing for converted try number eight following a slick combination of passes involving Rhodri McAtee, Ireland and Havili. Moseley countered with a quickfire score from centre Andrew Borgen, but then immediately shot themselves in the foot from the resulting restart with a howler from former Plymouth Albion winger Justin Mensah-Coker.

As was the case on quite a few occasions during his spell with the Devon club, the Canadian international is somewhat prone to being a little susceptible under the high ball. Yesterday, his fraility was exposed once more, his blunder this time gifting a debut try, which was converted by Jones, for Pirates' replacement Carl Rimmer to make it 57-12.

With the game seemingly over, the Pirates shut off and in a sluggish conclusion they were twice picked off by their rivals for scores which at least ensured Moseley of a losing bonus point.

For Stirling, though, it was hardly the conclusion he would have wanted from his troops. No.8 Ryan Wilson was first over the whitewash for Moseley. Mensah-Coker followed shortly after when he rounded off a clever attack. Both scores were converted by fly-half Tristan Roberts.

Afterwards, High Performance Manager Stirling remarked: "We had a great start and got out of the blocks really well. However, we then lost our shape towards the end of the first half and then leaked too many points in the second. If someone had said to me before the game we were going to come away 57-24 winners, I would have taken that because I was rather anxious with our injury state.

"The people who came today will have been pleased. We scored nine tries, so you have to be happy with that, but I'm a pretty hard man to please. I think the boys deserve a big pat on the back because I felt they came out and made a statement."

Stirling knows, however, that stiffer test lie ahead and with his squad literally down to its bare bones, Friday's trip to Doncaster is going to be another massive hurdle to overcome.

"Doncaster will be waiting for us," added Stirling. "It's going to be tough, especially with a four-day turnaround. Ideally we'd like to get three or four training sessions in during the week, but we'll be lucky to get one a half in this week. That's OK, though, it's probably a good time for the boys to kick back a bit, take stock, and get rid of a few of those bumps and bruises."

One man certainly nursing a bruise or two will be Cattle. Last night Stirling feared the injury to his skipper could be bad one, although the player will undergo a full medical assessment today.



Report by Bill Hooper, at Polson Bridge

Blue skies, warm sunshine, and a Polson pitch in fine condition set the scene for a pulsating National League 1 Cornish Derby last Saturday afternoon. Whilst the crowd may have appreciated the late summer sunshine, for the players playing a lung-busting game in such heat was no picnic. There were many heroes for Redruth on the day, but for this observer Richard Carroll gave another towering performance, with a lot of hard, unsung work around the park. For the Cornish All Blacks scrum-half Lewis Webb gave a performance to enhance his growing reputation at this level.

On the balance of play the Cornish All Blacks deserved their win, but it could also have been Redruth's day as the visitors clawed back a 20-0 half-time deficit to give themselves a chance of more than just the two bonus points they left with, leaving both coaches, Jon Hill and Nigel Hambly, bemoaning crucial defensive lapses from their charges at the final whistle.

It was the period just before half-time which ultimately proved costly for the visitors. Trailing 6-0 to two Tony Yapp penalties, Redruth looked set to turn around well placed for the second half. Instead, Redruth were caught out by two quick tries scored by the dangerous All Blacks' winger, Keiron Lewitt, both down in the Lanson suite corner. The first try came from a penalty kicked to the scoreboard corner. With lock Bryn Jenkins securing the line out, the ball was moved swiftly along the back line, with Ryan Westren's pass allowing Lewitt to cross. The second, scored moments later, was manufactured by a sweet kick through from 10 meters out by scrum half Webb, which Lewitt gleefully pounced on. Both scores were converted by fly-half Yapp, who added to the penalties he had kicked after 27 and 34 minutes, leaving Redruth with a mountain to climb in the second half to get anything out of the game.

By and large both defences had ruled the roost during the opening half an hour, though both sides had early chances. For Launceston, No. 8 Sam Hocking knocked on with the whitewash looming. For Redruth, winger Lewis Vinnicombe broke out of his own 22 after 12 minutes, putting his scrum half Mark Richards clear. He looked certain to score until he was caught five meters from the line by All Blacks' skipper Mal Roberts. Richards managed to get the ball out to Owen Hambly in support but the hooker couldn't hold the pass with the line begging.

Redruth suffered further disruption when they lost centre Sam Parsons to injury after only 18 minutes, Herbie Stupple coming on as a replacement.

At half-time Hambly rang the changes, replacing both props; skipper Darren Jacques looked to have picked up a knock as the half ended. Redruth's injury jinx continued at the start of the second half as winger Nathan Pedley was helped off the field with a nasty ankle injury, Brett Rule coming on, the youngster again showing some fine touches with the ball-in-hand.

Redruth's hard work was rewarded with a fine try from centre Craig Bonds after 46 minutes, the centre showing nifty footwork to dance through the home defence. A fine kick to the scoreboard corner from Richards set up a Launceston line out that Redruth managed to disrupt to earn a scrum. The ball was fed out to Bonds, who cut a lovely angle to score under the posts. Scrivener's conversion gave the Redruth faithful who had made the trip up the A30 hope.

The next score would prove crucial, and it went to the All Blacks. Following a sustained attack on the Redruth line, Launceston's centre Ed Lewsey scored after 53 minutes. Yapp's third successful conversion made the gap 20 points once more.

Undeterred, Redruth struck back with two quick scores; the first, after a forward drive, scored by Hambly after 58 minutes, which Scrivener converted. The second followed pressure down in the All Blacks' 22: Richards took a quick tap penalty, getting the ball out wide, enabling Vinnicombe to score five minutes later. Scrivener couldn't add the touchline conversion but suddenly Redruth were back in with a sniff at 27-19.

Both sides looked for the fourth try as time began to run out. The All Blacks pressed deep in the Reds' 22. With full back Paul Thirlby caught up in a ruck, Richards offered himself as cover for the relieving kick. He took a fraction too long and Hocking was on him like a rash, charging down his attempted clearance. As the ball bounced over the try line the No. 8 claimed a simple fourth try for his side. Yapp's conversion looked to have put Launceston well clear.

Yet there was still time. Suddenly Launceston found themselves reduced to fourteen men as prop Tim Mathias was shown a yellow card by referee Mr. Kelly for a professional foul. With a numerical advantage, Redruth managed to score a fourth try through Thirlby out wide as the All Blacks ran out of cover. With Scrivener adding the conversion, they were now only six points adrift.

In a frenetic finale The Cornish All Blacks looked to have scored a fifth try through the irrepressible Lewitt, only for Mr Kelly, following consultation with his assistant Mr Spong, to rule a knock on in the lead up to the score, much to the home crowd's displeasure!

The final whistle brought to an end an epic Cornish derby which left everyone around the ground buzzing with excitement. The Cornish All Blacks will be pleased with their five league points before travelling to Richmond to tackle London Scottish, but Redruth will be happy to take two points back down the A30 as they prepare for Esher this Saturday.

After the match Redruth's head coach Nigel Hambly felt his side had missed an opportunity and rued their defensive slip up just prior to half-time. "We went to sleep for five minutes, we stepped off the gas and let them in for two soft tries. When you're up against the quality of players that Launceston have got in their side you can't afford to do that. We were approaching half-time just 6-0 down then suddenly we have a bad five minutes and we're 20-0 down and you are playing catch up. That's not to take anything away from Launceston. On the day I think they deserved it, but you've got to feel gutted, having fought back as we did that we didn't get more from the game."

Redruth were dogged again by injury, which disrupted the pre-match game plan. "We brought on Sam Heard and Peter Joyce at half-time and I felt that gave us more impetus in the scrums. We had to introduce Herbie Stupple early in the backs after Sam Parsons was injured. We'd hoped to bring Herbie and Fraser Clilverd on during the second half in the back row to give it a little bit of a boost, as we 'd done the previous week against Cambridge with Fuca and Stupple."

Asked if he was happy with his side's performance, Cornish All Blacks' head coach Jon Hill was equally nonplussed. "Not really, no. Full credit to Redruth -- 20-0 down at half-time, the tactical substitutions that Nigel made swung the game and they came back strongly in the second half. I was bitterly disappointed with the way we played in general. I felt that our game management in the second half was awful, all the things we wanted to do at half-time we didn't do. We talked about defending the fringe, being much tighter in and around the fringe area. We talked about that during the game at half-time and in training leading up to the game but we didn't do that today and they scored two tries in and around that area, so that's an area we are going to have to work on this week. I felt we gave away far too many penalties in key areas and at crucial times. Full credit to Redruth, they fully tested us and it was a great spectacle for Cornish rugby."

Asked about scrum-half Lewis Webb's performance "I thought Lewis was outstanding. He made two or three turnovers at the breakdown, weaving runs in and around the fringes, box kicked well today. He was involved in some of our build ups and some of the tries, that for me is the sign of a young man who's only 21/22. It was a huge ask today to play against someone like Mark Richards who is a quality player, but Lewis has stepped up to the mark and shaded it in that area. Fair play to Lewis, for me he could well have been man-of-the-match today."

Cornish All Blacks 32 pts: tries Lewitt (2), Lewsey, Hocking; conversions Yapp (3); penalties Yapp (2); yellow card Mathias (75)

Redruth 26 pts: tries Bonds, Hambly, Vinnicombe, Thirlby; conversions Scrivener (3)

Cornish All Blacks: M Roberts (capt), J Luff, R Westren, E Lewsey, K Lewitt, T Yapp, L Webb (J Fabian 68); T Mathias, D Semmens (T Hurdwell 79), B Pow (M Manton 68), B Hilton, B Jenkins (D Chambers 79), J Lord (M Rawlings 68), T Rawlings, S Hocking (B Pow 77)

Redruth: P Thirlby, L Vinnicombe, C Bonds, S Parsons (M Stupple 18), N Pedley (B Rule 44), M Scrivener, M Richards; D Jacques (P Joyce h/t), O Hambly, A Morcom (S Heard h/t), D Cook, R Carroll, B Stroud, C Fuca, G Evans (F Clilverd 55)

Referee: Mr. R Kelly (RFU)

Crowd: 1,437

Man-of-the-match: Tony Yapp (Cornish All Blacks)




Report from the Western Morning News

Blair Cowan has paid tribute to the new structure implemented by compatriot Chris Stirling as one of the main reasons behind the storming start the Cornish Pirates have made to the new Championship season.

After a summer of considerable change for the Duchy's top club side, one in which Stirling was brought in as the club's new high-performance manager, New Zealander Cowan believes the Pirates have never been in better shape to challenge for honours.

Having kicked off their season with victories over Nottingham and Moseley, Stirling's side maintained their 100 per cent start on Friday evening when they downed Doncaster Knights 21-10 on their own Castle Park turf.

It was – according to Cowan – yet another firm indication that the hard toil put in by himself and his team-mates during a punishing pre-season is already bringing rich rewards.

"You can't ask for more than that," said Cowan following their latest victory. "Tonight was a huge challenge for us. We knew Doncaster would target us, especially after the start they've had, and we talked about that all week. We also had a few injuries in the camp, but we weren't going to use that as any kind of excuse.

"What the boys did tonight, though, was dig in real hard and I'm so proud of them for the way they pulled through it."

With Stirling's squad literally down to the walking wounded, plus just a four-day turnaround from their win against Moseley, there were some observers who thought the Pirates may well struggle in Yorkshire.

Crucially for the Cornishmen, no one pulling on a Pirates' jersey was buying into that theory and from the outset it was the visitors who ruled the roost.

"We didn't play our best rugby, but the positive is we still came out on top," added Cowan, whose two tries on the night took him to four for the season.

"We will take everything one game at a time, but this success starts from pre-season where we set such a high standard and the boys have just carried that through to the season. We've had a few injuries, but we've dealt with it and we're not stressing about it.

"I've played with Stirlo for a few years before back home, so I knew exactly what was coming when it came to pre-season. I know all about his organisation and the enthusiasm he brings. I knew he would be excited by the challenge over here and that he would bring in some fresh ideas.

"I think the way he and the other coaches [Harvey Biljon, Ian Davies and Simon Raynes] have structured our environment has been excellent. They have built such a vibe that the players get a hunger for everything and that lifts us all to go out and do well."

Against Donny, the home side certainly struggled to keep tabs on a Pirates' side which had shown three changes from that which saw off Moseley just days earlier. Carl Rimmer and Cowan were brought into the pack in place of Paul Andrew and Tyrone Holmes, while new signing Ben Jones was handed a debut against his former club at scrum-half.

Despite the changes, the Pirates were quickly into their stride and won a penalty after just six minutes. Sadly, Welsh centre Rhys Jones was unable to convert that chance, but he did atone two minutes later to put the dominant visitors 3-0 up.

Jones was afforded a further chance shortly after, but again his long range effort was wide of the mark. At the other end, Doncaster fly-half James Brooks saw a 40-metre effort miss its target after former Pirate Nicky Griffiths – on his home debut – had caused problems with a darting break.

The visitors, though, continued to dominate and, having seen a try from Tongan international Aisea Havili chalked off by referee Andrew Taylorson, the Pirates extended their lead on 28 minutes with a second penalty from Jones.

Brooks countered with a similar effort for the Knights, before the half was brought to a close with a third Jones penalty.

The second half began with the Pirates again on the offensive and – with Donny forward Andy Boyde sin-binned for a professional foul – Cowan was driven over by his fellow forwards for the first try of the game, which Jones converted.

Again Doncaster hit back quickly, former Plymouth Albion forward Adam Kettle dotting down from a pushover scrum for Brooks to convert.

However, the Pirates were not to be denied and, having soaked up more home pressure, they wrapped things up in the dying embers of the game when Cowan emerged from a mass of bodies following a determined drive from the visiting pack.

With three wins out of three, Cowan knows the Pirates could not have asked for a better start. However, he insists the hard work is still to come.

He added: "The standards [within the league] have definitely gone up. Anyone can beat anyone. The levels have raised higher and higher and we've got to keep hitting those levels. We've got Coventry next and that'll be another tough game."



Report from the Western Morning News

Redruth might have lost against National League One favourites Esher at the Recreation Ground, but they certainly took some beating – just six points separated the sides with the visitors getting the better of the 23-17 scoreline.

The home side scored three tries to Esher's two, but it was the boot of visiting full-back Sam Ulph that made the difference in the finally tally. He contributed ten points while a drop goal from centre Neil Taylor gave them the required breathing space as Redruth's late surge threatened to snatch the game.

In truth, Esher were good value for their victory. Their brand of sharp, incisive attacking play and intensity without the ball left the Reds looking unusually vulnerable and hassled in possession. Esher, who were relegated from what is now the Championship at the end of last season, will be strong challengers for promotion this term.

They certainly did not have it all their way. Reds' winger Lewis Vinnicombe gave the hosts a dream start with a well-taken unconverted try down the left wing after five minutes, but the rest of the half belonged to Esher, who looked deadly every time they had possession in the attacking third.

No.8 Shaun Renwick was driven over in Hellfire Corner to bring them level by the tenth minute. Ulph converted before adding a penalty midway through the half following an offside infringement.

Some strong running by centre Seb Jewell set up lock Rod Turner for a try under the posts with Ulph again converting. And Ulph then made sure his side went into the break on a high with an outstanding long-range penalty to give his side a 15-point cushion.

Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly said: "You've got to give credit to Esher, some of that rugby in that 25 minutes was exceptional – as good as I've seen at Redruth for a long, long time."

Redruth fly-half Brett Rule tried to replicate Ulph's penalty from halfway during the opening stages of the second half but failed. And although Esher were being pushed onto the back foot, they claimed three more points on the break with Taylor's drop kick from 30 metres on the hour mark.

The momentum did swing back Redruth's way, and Esher became more ragged in their defensive work with Renwick and replacement Joe Marler shown yellow cards as the visitors persistently infringed.

Hambly made use of his replacements' bench to good effect with Jamie Semmens and Brett Stroud both punching holes through the Esher line on their arrival. Indeed, Semmens' first rampaging run set up a try for centre Craig Bonds under the posts, which Rule converted.

Gareth Evans nearly set up a grandstand finish with a try in 'Hellfire Corner' -- only for referee Michael Tutty to disallow the try for a double movement. However, the Reds did get their third try, but with just two minutes remaining, there was little time to continue the fightback after Rule failed with the conversion.

Hambly said: "I've got pretty mixed emotions to be honest. I'm really pleased with the way we played today. We started off exceptionally well, but then you have to give credit to Esher – they've got pace and power all over the park and if you let them play, they are going to hurt you.

"We let them play a little bit too much in the first half, but they are a very, very good team. I thought all our replacements did well. Fuca and Morcom did really well and that's what replacements are there for. I know a club not too far from here who call them 'impact players' – we still call them replacements, but you want them to come on and make a difference.

"That was Jamie Semmens' first-ever touch for Redruth first team and he's put a try on a plate for Craig Bonds. I thought Steve Kenward did a really good job in the first half as well. There were some tremendous performances from our guys today.

"Ultimately, we lost again and we still haven't won a game yet this season. We've got to win sooner rather than later now. Next week at Nuneaton is a massive game for us now."



Report from the Western Morning News

It is very seldom you hear a rugby coach having a vocal pop at the referee. Compared to their football counterparts they tend to shy away from direct criticism.

However, it's safe to say Cornish All Blacks' director of rugby Jon Hill and Darren Gamage, who officiated in their 42-13 National League One defeat against London Scottish, will not have enjoyed a cheeky pint after the match.

The Cornish All Blacks were completely outclassed, something Hill admitted after the game. But what had his blood boiling was the decision by Gamage to give Ed Lewsey a straight red card for what he deemed a spear tackle on Exiles' flanker Ben Lonnergan.

It was a decision Hill described as "ridiculous". And while conceding that his side deserved no better than the scoreline reflected, he hit out at the decision to send off Lewsey.

"As soon as he showed it the game was over as a contest. It was a nine-point game and competitive until that point," Hill said. "I don't think anyone in the ground thought he was going to show a red. There was nothing wrong with it. It is a hard tackle and out of nowhere a red card is shown.

"Everyone watching this game other than the referee deems that to be a ridiculous decision and exactly the same incident occurred five minutes later and not even a yellow card [is shown]. When that happens you start to ask a few questions."

If the All Blacks are to bounce back to what is now the Championship next season, games against the likes of London Scottish are the ones that will make or break that dream. On Saturday it was more of a nightmare. Scottish, who ended a 28-game unbeaten run last week against Cambridge, ran in five tries against the visitors, marking the first serious challenge to the Duchy men's promotion ambitions.

To all intents and purposes they are the Notts County of rugby. From lofty times when their side once boasted the likes of Gavin Hastings, they fell on hard times and were forced to reclimb the leagues. Now they have money behind them, and their rugby was as free-wheeling as their spending. Their backs, led by full-back Frankie Neale, gave the All Blacks' defence a torrid afternoon.

Three Exiles' tries before half-time, including a quickfire double in three minutes just before the break condemned the All Blacks to their first defeat, indeed their first dropped points, of the season.

Though they did hit back through a try by debutant Lewis Paterson on the stroke of half-time, it got worse for the Cornishmen in the second half. Two further penalties for the Exiles were followed by the red card for Lewsey after 58 minutes.

The man advantage then allowed Scottish No.8 Willie Lipp to crash over on the right wing and replacement Rory Demant to add a fifth. Game over for the Launceston club.

Hill didn't limit his criticism to the referee, he was also scathing at his team's performance. "They never really showed patience or respect for the ball. We gave the ball away very easily and struggled to plug territory," he added.

With full-back Mal Roberts also awaiting a disciplinary hearing, the Cornish side will be hoping the referee rescinds the red shown to Lewsey, to avoid leaving them short in the back department. As it was they ended the game with back rows playing on the wing and at centre. A hamstring injury to wing Jason Luff added insult to injury – he will be out for three to four weeks.




Report by Bill Hooper, at the Recreation Ground, Camborne

You really can't ask for much better as the Pirates completed their September program with four wins out of four, in second place in the league table, just one point behind early pace-setters Bristol, the next side to venture west of the Tamar in two weeks time.

Before that, of course, there is the little matter of the Pirates' trip to Plymouth Albion next Saturday, always a mouth-watering prospect. Quite what the on-watching Graham Dawe will have made of the Pirates' performance yesterday will no doubt occupy his mind for the rest of the week as he seeks to plot their downfall. Albion will be buoyed by their promising performance in defeat against Exeter Chiefs on Saturday.

Coventry's director of rugby Phil Maynard had made a few interesting observations on the Pirates in the local Coventry press in the week leading up to the fixture. Such actions merely serve to motivate the opposition even more, the reading of the table should prove sobering!

Proving the point that the Pirates were well motivated was skipper Blair Cowan's big hit on Coventry's blindside flanker Henno Venter after barely 3 minutes on the clock. The poor chap didn't know what day of the week it was as he eventually got shakily to his feet, having to be helped from the field.

Despite the early setback it was Coventry who had the first scoring opportunity as full-back Ben Russell missed a kickable penalty on 4 minutes.

Following a penalty kick to the park gate corner by fly-half Jonny Bentley, the Pirates set-up a good drive towards Coventry's line. As the ball went wide Pirates' No.8 Laurie McGlone drove powerfully over the gain-line and, with Coventry infringing, Bentley had the chance to open the scoring with a well-struck penalty after 8 minutes.

Coventry, however were out to prove that they are a much-improved side from last season. They certainly contested well in the set-piece and loose, frustrating the Pirates as the half wore on. They were rewarded with a drop-goal from their Tongan fly-half Fangatapu Apikotoa on 16 minutes.

Buoyed by this success the visitors continued to press. Scrum-half Micheal Walls went close to scoring a try as Coventry pounded the Pirates' line, whilst full-back Wes Davies had to be alert as Coventry's dangerous French winger Romain Plantey looked to get in down at the scoreboard corner.

Coventry did get some reward before half-time as Russell kicked a penalty. Stung, the Pirates roared back at their opponents, hooker Rob Elloway kicking on towards the line only for Russell to get back just in time. Further Pirates pressure saw Coventry's skipper Jamie Miller sin-binned for his side's persistent infringing. Despite the man advantage the Pirates couldn't add to their score before half-time, though Bentley thought he'd scored, only for referee Mr Doyle to signal a double movement.

Half-time entertainment was provided by an excellent Under 10s match between Camborne and Wadebridge Camels, as well as a display from the Cornish Comets gymnastic display team. As ever, wonderful entertainment from our Cornish youngsters.

Upon resumption of play the Pirates set the ground buzzing with a wonderful score. The ever-alert Bentley chipped cleverly ahead for centre Nick Jackson, who took the ball before releasing Davies, who ran in to the clubhouse corner after barely 30 seconds of the second-half. Bentley couldn't add the extras from out wide, but he was on cue 5 minutes later as he converted his own dazzling score as he showed wonderful balance and stepping to waltz his way through the Coventry defence to score under the posts, putting the Pirates 15 - 6 up.

Play ebbed from one end to the other. Bentley again cross-kicked for winger Rhodri McAtee but the Welsh winger was held. Coventry attacked up at Hubert's Hill corner through Plantey, who was well tackled by lock Luke Collins, who managed also to strip the ball from the winger -- great play from the giant Cornishman.

Both sides looked to their benches for that extra impetus. It was the visitors who made the breakthrough, with skipper Miller claiming a try following a big drive form his forwards. Russell failed with the conversion, but he made amends shortly after with his second penalty with five minutes left on the clock to set up a grandstand finish.

Some fine play from the Pirates saw replacement centre Mark Ireland put McAtee in for the Pirates' third try in the clubhouse corner. Bentley couldn't convert but he'd already done enough to earn the man-of-the-match accolade.

Coventry threw everything into the final moments to try and snatch the win. However, the Pirates had the satisfaction of turning the ball over to snuff out the final threat.

Following the game Pirates' backs coach Harvey Biljon was delighted with a fourth win on the trot: "I said before the game we'd take the win, even if it was ugly. Quite clearly today there was one team out there trying to play rugby and one team trying to kill the game.

"Obviously their ploy before the game was to slow everything down so that we couldn't play the tempo game we wanted to play. At the same time, a game like that today was what we needed: there are smart teams out there in the Championship who are streetwise and we've got to look at ourselves to make sure we find a way to combat those slowing down tactics.

"We shall now sit down and review our first four games and re-set our goals for the next portion of the season. I am happy with the win today, but I would have liked to entertain a little more all the supporters we had here today. They were quite rightly frustrated with the numerous stoppages during play from our visitors.

Turning his attention to next Saturday's derby match at the Brickfields, "Good to see Dawsey at the game today. Not too sure what he would have taken from today's performance. The boys will know it's going to be a massive game next week and I am sure we will have a massive following of supporters going up there. We as coaches have got to make sure this week the new players that have come into the squad understand the history and what a game like this is all about."

Cornish Pirates 20 pts: tries Davies, Bentley, McAtee; conversion Bentley; penalty Bentley

Coventry 14 pts: try Miller; penalties Russell (2); drop-goal Apikotoa; yellow card Miller (39)

Cornish Pirates: W Davies, J Moore, N Jackson, S Winn (M Ireland 57), R McAtee, J Bentley, B Jones; C Rimmer (P Andrew 57), R Elloway (D Ward 57), R Brits ( A Paver 68), L Collins (S Betty 76), R Labuschagne (M Evans h/t), B Cowan (capt), S Betty (T Holmes 52), L McGlone
Replacement not used: R Jones

Coventry: B Russell, J Lewis (W Hurrell 54), P Mackenzie, C Lewis, R Plantey, F Apikotoa (O Winter 51), M Walls; D Maddock (K Davis 35-40), J Merrigan, J Hall ( R Dugard 62), S Herrington, L McGowan, H Venter (R McMillan 3, S Roberts 40), B Pons (B Dechartes 80), J Miller (capt)

Referee: Mr J P Doyle (RFU)

Crowd: 2,695



Report from the Western Morning News

The Cornish All Blacks won handsomely on Saturday to record their third five-point victory of the season, but spurned the opportunity to rack up at least 50 points in front of their own supporters.

The hosts looked distinctly shaky in the closing stages of their 35-29 victory over League One opponents Stourbridge, resulting in a tense final 20 minutes and some relief at the final whistle, by which time the game should have long since been over as a contest.

Stourbridge had looked dead and buried midway through the second half, trailing 35-12 and with their big pack beginning to blow, but two soft tries brought them back into the game and reinvigorated their desire as they raised their sights from the likelihood of snatching two bonus points to the very real possibility of winning the game itself.

The Cornishmen found themselves stretched as their strong-running opponents began to spread the ball. Missed tackles, poor passing and an alarming tendency to stand off the rucks gave Stourbridge the opportunity to take something home from a match in which they were clearly the second best team on the field and director of rugby Jon Hill was unimpressed.

The All Blacks boss said: "Once again we've let opponents leave here with two bonus points having been massive points up. We did the same against Redruth and today our defending in the last 15 minutes was woeful; we knew they would play for the full 80 minutes but we stopped defending and I don't think the scoreline reflected our dominance. We knew they were chasing the bonus point and were going to play with width; we knew they wanted the game but we didn't defend according to what we knew they were going to do and that's disappointing and something we've got to look at in training this week."

But despite the faults highlighted by the coach, the Cornishmen served up an exhilarating brand of attacking rugby for the Polson faithful and were 17-0 up after 25 minutes through tries from flanker Tom Rawlings, driven over with the pack on the left, Lewis Paterson touching down in the opposite corner for a debut score, and the outstanding Mal Roberts, who set the ball rolling with a try on five minutes, capitalising on good work by Paterson and No.8 Sam Hocking. Fly-half Tony Yapp, confusingly wearing 12 on his shirt, converted one of the tries.

Stourbridge had enjoyed the early territorial advantage without scoring, while the All Blacks made every attack count with the kind of determined finishing that, if replicated over the full 80 minutes, would have saved them and their supporters some anxious moments in the final quarter.

However, the visitors were always dangerous in attack – their pack was bigger man for man than that of the All Blacks, and they possessed an eager back line in which high-stepping winger Chris Tennuci and full-back Craig Richards posed all sorts of questions – and they hit back with two tries of their own: centre Ben Barkley touching down at the posts after the All Blacks had been penalised for failing to release the ball, with the extras added by fly-half Jon Higgins, before Richards steamed down the left touchline for an unconverted try and a 17-12 half-time score.

The All Blacks started the second period with fresh legs in the pack, former Mounts Bay favourite Ben Hilton replacing the hard-working Damien Chambers, and they immediately swept into Stourbridge territory, Roberts agonisingly close to scoring in the right-hand-corner corner before referee Keith Lewis called the players back for an earlier Stourbridge knock-on in front of their posts and Yapp slotted the penalty to increase his side's lead to 20-12.

Centre Ryan Westren notched the All Blacks' bonus-point try on 46 minutes, zipping through an obliging gap in the visitors' cover to calm home nerves. Stourbridge were wobbling and although Yapp missed the conversion attempt, he was on target with a penalty shot six minutes later as Stourbridge offended at the ruck.

Hill piled more pressure on the visitors by committing Jason Bolt to the fray for loosehead Tim Mathias and, with the home pack now dictating and Yapp and Roberts running superb lines through the middle and kicking well from hand, Stourbridge's ability to defend plummeted as their penalty count rocketed, culminating in a yellow card for Higgins, after the visiting number ten had deliberately strayed offside in an attempt to stem the Black tide.

That in turn led directly to a terrific length-of-the-field try for Roberts – initiated by full-back Jon Fabian and carried on by Paterson – but the 35-12 scoreline marked the high-water mark of the All Blacks' effort and by the time Lewis Webb had replaced Ed Lewsey at scrum-half on 63 minutes the tide was turning.

Stourbridge full-back Richards scored a breakout try to narrow the gap and the All Blacks were dealt a blow after 75 minutes when Paterson was forced to leave the field with a head injury. And with the last replacements, Dave Kimberley and Tom Hurdwell, recently added to the mix, Hill's 14 remaining men faced a closing quarter against revitalised opponents with a shock victory in sight.

The All Blacks were now looking ineffective without the ball and starting to chase their opponents around the field instead of building their own phases and Stourbridge took immediate advantage, scrum-half Tom Richardson's converted try closing the gap to 35-24 before the dangerous Alistair Hunter Blair steamed over in the left-hand corner to complete his side's scoring and set up the nail-biting finish.

Hill was prepared to take the positives out of a performance that clearly displeased him. He said: "We've taken another bonus-point victory so there are no complaints with the result; it was a fantastic attacking display but we were very poor defensively. The difference between us and the top three sides in the division is the fact that we're not converting all our chances and the key thing is, that with some big challenges coming up, we learn from our mistakes."



Report from the Western Morning News

Redruth shrugged off the mounting pressure of a winless start to their National League One season with a dominant 35-22 victory against free-scoring Nuneaton at Liberty Way.

After thrashing Manchester and then over-turning a 17-point deficit to beat Cinderford last weekend, Mike Umaga's side started as favourites in Warwickshire. However, after a ponderous opening to the game from both teams Redruth took control and returned home with maximum points with a four-try display.

Having witnessed his side start slowly in each of their three previous league games, Redruth coach Nigel Hambly was clearly pleased not just to see his side win but also with the application and endeavour they displayed throughout.

He said: "It's been a very tough start for us with the games we have had up to now against the likes of Cambridge and Esher. It's been an indifferent start, but we have taken positives from all the games and to come up here and win today was firstly about the result, with a performance then to follow.

"We really wanted to get a mark in the win column and now perhaps we can build a bit of a winning run. I thought our pack, the front five especially, were outstanding. They were manfully backed up by the back row. We scored two or three fantastic tries and a couple off set-pieces which is always pleasing, but overall I thought we controlled the game well.

"Nuneaton were very dangerous on the turnover and hurt us a bit there because they have got some pace in the backs, but we bossed the game up front and our pack laid the foundations from the start."

Indeed the Reds' pack, where Richard Carroll was at the forefront of everything they did, set up the first try with just five minutes played. A solid platform deep in Nuneaton territory allowed scrum-half Mark Richards the luxury of a blindside break, and he had enough gas to capitalise on the element of surprise to score in the corner. Mark Scrivener posted the extras with a well-struck conversion.

Scrivener nearly released Paul Thirlby with the Reds' next attack, but a fatal moment of hesitation in releasing the pass thwarted a certain score. Then, with 18 minutes played, the Redruth pack again drove deep into the home half and quick ball coupled with a silky smooth three-quarters move released Lewis Vinnecombe to race home. Scrivener again converted and the Reds were cruising.

A brief flurry of activity around the half-hour mark allowed Nuneaton to edge back into the contest as first wing Elliot Brown was released to score at the posts by a dubiously forward pass, before Huw Thomas added a conversion and a penalty to reduce the deficit to four points. Redruth then re-asserted their almost total control and two penalties from Scrivener left them 20-10 in front at the break.

Another fast start from the visitors after Nuneaton had surrendered possession at the restart yielded two tries in the next nine minutes.

First came a try from Fraser Clilverd after good driving by the pack and superb linking play from Thirlby. Then a fine break from Jamie Semmens tore a huge hole in the Nuneaton rear-guard and, as the pack again arrived in force, flanker Herbie Stupple was driven across the line to secure the bonus point. Scrivener's 54th-minute penalty seemingly left the hosts dead and buried trailing 35-10.

But the Nuns threw caution to the wind, with the direct running of Brown and Aaron Takarangi a serious threat. Then, with 20 minutes to go, Ben Avent capitalised on hesitant tackling to barge his way home. The Reds may have felt that play should have been called back with at least one clear knock-on and forward pass in the move leading to the score, but the referee disagreed.

Eight minutes from time Brown raced down the right wing for his seventh try of the season to give Nuneaton some hope of an unlikely comeback, but with their lead reduced to 35-22 the Redruth pack again took control.

The final stages of the game were played with Nuneaton pinned deep in their own 22 as lock Carroll marshalled an aggressively offensive finale.




Report from the Western Morning News

They say sometimes you can learn more about a team in defeat than in victory. Well, if that's the case, Plymouth Albion's Graham Dawe may just have found the answers after a somewhat spluttering start to the new Championship.

Stomach-churning one week, a euphoric high the next – everybody take a ticket to board the Albion rollercoaster.

Having kicked off their campaign with a rousing home win over Birmingham-Solihull, successive defeats to Rotherham, Bedford and arch rivals Exeter Chiefs had left Dawe's young squad in need of a timely lift.

Bouncing back to winning ways, however, was going to be no easy task, particularly as the unbeaten Cornish Pirates were the next opposition to sail into town.

But whereas in recent weeks Albion have been guilty of starting slowly, Saturday saw them roar out of the traps with a vigour that had been carried over from their creditable display against the Chiefs the week previous.

Inside a minute the Devon club were afforded their first chance of the afternoon when the visitors – not for the only time during the contest – were penalised by top-flight referee David Rose for not rolling away at the tackle area.

Sadly, Albion skipper Kieran Hallett could not lap up the opening, firing his 40-metre penalty wide of the sticks. He did, however, make amends just minutes later when the Pirates infringed for a second time.

It was the ideal start for Albion, but the Pirates – who were without influential New Zealanders Blair Cowan and Jonny Bentley – were continuing to fall foul of Mr Rose.

Unlike other games this season where their discipline has been first class, the Pirates were guilty of too many unnecessary infringements at the Brickfields. Not only did their actions offer genuine scoring opportunities for the home side, but at other times hard-earned territory was quickly surrendered by a booming Hallett clearance.

Albion's skipper was afforded a third penalty chance on 11 minutes when he was the victim of a late hit by South African flanker Tyrone Holmes. Again, though, Hallett failed to hit the target and the Pirates were momentarily spared.

Albion were growing in confidence, however, and with Dawe having gleaned plenty from his reconnaissance trip to Camborne the week previous, the home side had clearly pin-pointed areas on which to expose their Cornish counterparts.

Finally Albion's efforts were rewarded midway through the first period when, following a spell of sustained pressure deep inside the Pirates' 22, prop Danny Porte burrowed over from five metres out to score the game's opening try.

Initially there was some confusion as to whether Porte had grounded the ball correctly, but following consultation between Rose and touch judge Lloyd Jackson, not only was the try awarded, but Pirates' centre Nick Jackson was dispatched to the sin-bin for a professional foul.

Hallett failed to land the testing touchline conversion, whilst at the other end opposite number Rhys Jones saw his first attempt at the posts sail agonisingly wide.

That effort did at least trigger some life into the Pirates, who looked a pale shadow of the side which had secured four successive victories this term.

Another decent break out from the visitors helped to release Wes Davies at pace, but as the full-back looked to pick his way through the home defence, he was felled by a crude high tackle from Keni Fisilau.

The Tongan, like Jackson before him, was sent to the sidelines for a ten-minute reflection on what he had just done. Jones punished him further by firing over the resultant penalty to make it 8-3.

With playing parity soon restored, Hallett and Jones both failed with speculative drop-goal chances. The former, it seems, was merely using his effort to find his range. With the half all but up, Hallett preceded to blast over a thunderous drop-goal from just inside his own half to restore Albion's eight-point cushion at the break.

The second half started with the Pirates looking for a response of some kind. Although they huffed and puffed in the early exchanges, as has proved the case so often in this fixture in the past, Albion happily absorbed the visiting threat, before countering with a second try of their own.

Another bone-crunching hit from Fisilau – who again impressed alongside compatriot Sione Tu'ipulotu in the home midfield – saw the ball spill loose to recalled winger Ben Mercer, who picked up the pieces before sprinting his way to the whitewash.

The Pirates, though, were far from finished and with ten minutes remaining they gave themselves a hint of a lifeline when, following a slick handling move, they released the impressive Davies at pace into the line. As the former Doncaster player, now in his second spell with the Cornish club, drew in the home cover, he skilfully offloaded to his right where the onrushing Rhodri McAtee took over and skipped his way over to score.

With Jones having now been replaced, Rob Cook – on his first league start for the Pirates – was handed the kicking duties. Sadly, his first effort in the Black & Gold colours was not one to remember as it floated wide of the mark.

Even then the Pirates still harboured hopes of claiming only their second ever league win over Albion on their own patch. Unfortunately for them, there was to be no repeat of their success during the 2005/06 season.

Instead, Dawe's miserly hosts took stock of proceedings, kept the ball tight and drove themselves to various parts of the pitch, before using the boots of both Hallett and Gary Kingdom to pen their rivals into the corner.

There was to be no way back for the Pirates who, by their own admission, were well beaten on the day. For Albion, meanwhile, the seeds of recovery these past two weeks are encouraging, the task now is to ensure they blossom into something more fruitful.



Report from the Western Morning News

At the end of the 25-23 National League One victory against Newbury on Saturday, Cornish All Blacks' head coach Jon Hill had his players personally thank the small knot of travelling supporters who made their way up to the Home Counties from Cornwall.

It was a nice touch for those who made the journey to Berkshire to see his side grind out a victory in difficult windy conditions.

They witnessed a gritty, hard-fought performance from an All Blacks side much maligned for its defensive frailties in recent weeks. However, they held on despite playing the whole game without a tighthead prop after the side's poor luck with injuries continued when Bruce Pow pulled a hamstring in the warm up.

It was a loss that could have had huge ramifications. With Tim Mathias swapping sides to a position he has little experience of, the All Blacks pack was outplayed and outclassed all afternoon. After a slightly shaky first half, their defence held firm in the second, aside from a penalty try, to allow them to take the spoils.

Hill was jubilant after the game, hailing his side's defensive display in challenging conditions, after a period when their defensive displays have come under scrutiny.

"It was a huge victory. We took our chances when we had them and we had a clinical edge," he said. "In the last couple of weeks the players have come under a lot of criticism from us as coaches in terms of our defence. We have been a little bit soft around the fringes and missed some soft tackles. I don't remember us doing that today."

The suspension of captain Mal Roberts meant a shuffle in the All Blacks' back line, with Ed Lewsey coming into the centre and Lewis Webb placed at scrum-half. However, it was in the pack where the All Blacks felt the heat. With the onomatopoeic Pow out, replaced in the front row by Jason Bolt, it meant forwards coach Keith Brooking was named among the replacements. It would not have boded well if he had to make an appearance – Hill after the game admitting he had been at a "social event" the previous evening and was in no condition to play.

A first half in the blustery conditions at Monks Lane saw the Cornishmen playing against the wind.

A converted first-half try against the strong breeze by Ryan Westren was cancelled out by a score by the home side – eighth at the start of play – that resulted from sloppy defending. Blues' wing Chris Ridgers coasted across the line after full-back Matt Williams crashed through tackles and offloaded. Eleven points from fly-half Mitchell Burton made the score 16-10 at half-time.

With the wind in their favour in the second half the Cornishmen added two more tries from wing Ben Turner – the second arriving from a lovely free-flowing backs move. Though fly-half Tony Yapp was finding it difficult with the boot, they just managed to hold on, despite massive pressure in the final ten minutes, when the home side were mostly camped in their 22, leading at one point to a penalty try after an offside in the midfield. However, they did enough to hold on, almost scoring a breakaway try of their own at the death.

"We knew our set-pieces would be under massive pressure and would tire at the end. So we found ourselves defending for long periods. From that point of view, wow, it is unbelievable to come here with some of the problems we have had and leave with victory," Hill added.

"It is a huge team performance. When it is backs to the wall and you are under pressure at the scrum its shows how strong a squad you are. We didn't buckle under pressure, we pulled together and we played for each other."



Report from the Western Morning News

Redruth's ability to adapt was tested and their patience stretched, but they rose to the challenge on both counts to record a second successive bonus-point victory.

The 30-12 success against National League One opponents Blaydon was a hard-fought, bruising encounter in which scrappy forward exchanges were interspersed with some flowing rugby across the field as the Reds ran in four splendid second-half tries after leading 6-0 at half-time through two Mark Scrivener penalties.

A powerful Blaydon side took a lot of breaking down but Redruth's pressure and fitness eventually told and by the end the visitors were battling to keep their game together. Tries by Darren Jacques, Lewis Vinnicombe, Chris Morris and Jamie Semmens helped propel Redruth to mid-table after a challenging start to the season. And although head coach Nigel Hambly termed it "the good, the bad and the ugly show" he was delighted to take five points off a team that have won three times already and that asked some awkward questions.

He said: "There were some good things: we scored some lovely tries and we defended quite well, especially in the first half, but our decision-making was poor and we took a lot of bad options.

"Our ugly game was in dropped passes and some poor line-outs, but overall another five points and two wins in a row is pleasing. We've got a massively tough one next week at Wharfedale, but hopefully we'll get it right up there. We'll train hard this week, assess our injuries and get stronger as we go on."

Redruth spent the first half sticking to a tight gameplan that was continually frustrated by Blaydon's ability to smother play at the breakdown, but the hosts widened their horizons after the break and used their strong runners to take the ball away from Blaydon's expert spoilers. The visitors were penalised throughout for infringements in the forward exchanges but escaped with just one yellow card – loosehead prop Robert Kalbraier banished to the cooler on 32 minutes shortly after their dangerous winger James Dehaty had seen a try disallowed for a previous forward pass – but Hambly's counter-measures proved equally streetwise and the northerners found it hard to cope with the change in pace after the break.

The first try was scored four minutes after the resumption as the Reds capitalised on a string of unforced Blaydon errors to rumble upfield and drive skipper Jacques over for a converted try that extended their lead to 13-0. It was a dream start and seemed to vindicate Redruth's change in tactics, but Blaydon were not yet reading from that script and went straight back onto the offensive, No.8 Jason Smithson crossing in the left corner from a line-out.

Redruth had by now started to drip-feed renewed vigour into their game from a power-packed bench, with highly influential scrum-half Mark Richards and forwards Peter Joyce and Brett Stroud making immediate impacts. Blaydon paid dearly for a knock-on deep in home territory as the ball was hacked on and a mass of Red shirts rampaged upfield with the Blaydon defence desperately trying to regroup but disintegrating rapidly under the onslaught. Winger Vinnicombe finished off the move on the right to increase his side's lead to 13 points and suddenly the balance of power had shifted radically in favour of the hosts.

In the 66th minute, Blaydon were ripped apart as a rollicking 30-metre break by Reds' lock Damien Cook carved a furrow through the midfield. The big forward was never going to get anywhere near the try line – a comparative lack of pace further compromised by the weight of Blaydon's would-be tacklers going along for the ride – but there were plenty of less muscular men in support and winger Morris was the ultimate beneficiary, crossing for try number three, with Scrivener's second conversion of the day locking the visitors out of the game at 25-5 with just 20 minutes remaining.

Hambly added more pace to the mix on 65 minutes, with Steve Kenward replacing the hard-working Vinnicombe, and with Blaydon conceding penalties freely in their attempts to stem the flow, Redruth quickly claimed their all-important fourth try with centre Semmens charging over in the right corner for his team's fifth bonus point of the season.

Blaydon had the last laugh, though, and it was perhaps fitting that, having taken advantage of referee John Meredith's generosity all afternoon, James Fitzpatrick's last-gasp try appeared to result from a double movement over the line.

However, the points were in the bag and although Hambly's day was marred by the ankle injury suffered by promising flanker Herbie Stipple early in proceedings, the coach was satisfied that his team had acquitted itself well in a potentially dangerous encounter. Hambly said: "No-one comes to Redruth and lies down for us and it can be very difficult against sides like these. We're still a work in progress and there's maybe a lack of confidence, but that early season rustiness is going and we want teams to know they're in for a hard time when they come here.

"You could look at our results and say we've played some of the better sides now: Cambridge, Esher and Launceston, but we want to be top of the tree as well. I'm not saying we're going to be but we want to be pushing all those sides. We still need to put together 80 minutes of consistent rugby but we've got some good competition for places and we're building again."




Report from the Western Morning News

Whilst there are plenty across Britain who have reason to question the decision-making of a certain Scotsman at No.10 in the capital, it appears London Welsh have no such concerns regarding their leader named 'Gordon'.

Recruited in the summer from Guinness Premiership outfit Saracens, Gordon Ross has quickly settled into office with the Exiles at Old Deer Park.

The former Scottish international was one of a number of high-profile signings made by the Londoners during the close season. His capture was, apparently, a signal of their intent to raise the profile of a club who many observers believe could be dark horses within the Championship this season.

His new start, however, was hardly one Ross would have imagined. With Welsh placed into administration following the withdrawal of a major backer, the very future of the Dragons seemed unlikely until a last-minute rescue package helped to save the day.

Assurances were still needed from the Rugby Football Union as to the longevity of the famous club, whilst penalties were also dished out following the club's financial mess. In the end, it meant Welsh started the new Championship season with a five-point deduction.

Successive defeats to Bristol and Nottingham in their opening two fixtures compounded their early woes but, slowly but surely, things are beginning to look upwards for the club as was proved in the way they dispatched visiting Cornish Pirates 34-10 on Saturday.

Not surprisingly, Ross was the instigator of much of their excellent work. Given an armchair ride by the juggernaut Welsh pack, all he had to do was pull the strings as the hosts helped themselves to six tries.

That it was just six was somewhat of a relief to the Pirates who, after an impressive start to their season, have now suffered three successive league defeats. This latest drubbing, though, was capital punishment at its most gruesome.

For sure, the Cornish club can bemoan a lengthy injury list which has deprived them of some key personnel so far this term. However, there are other areas within their game that High Performance Manager, Chris Stirling, will need to address sooner, rather than later.

"That was not the performance or the outcome we were looking for," bemoaned the Kiwi at the end. "Well done to London Welsh, they definitely came and played a wide, fast, expansive game. However, there were aspects of the performance for us that were poor – and there were aspects that were good."

Starting with the good, the Pirates can at least take heart from the fact that they finished the contest the stronger of the two sides – and the displays of Mark Ireland, Dave Ward, Rhodri McAtee and Jimmy Moore, the latter as a replacement, were all notable.

The negatives, though, did out-weigh the positives and Stirling is well aware he and his squad have a busy week ahead of them as they look for solutions ahead of Sunday's visit of lowly Birmingham-Solihull to Camborne.

Among the chief concerns will be the amount of times they kicked away decent possession, plus the amount of times the visitors committed too many men to the breakdown area.

Correct those faults – plus a few others here and there – and the Pirates faithful should see their side back on the straight and narrow after a stormy few weeks.

"For me the next game can't come quick enough because I'd like to get out there and put right what was wrong today," added Stirling. "It's time like this when the character of the side starts to come out.

"We are still growing that culture and team character, as well as the strength and the ability to hang tough when the going gets tough. The pleasing thing for me was that we created numerous opportunities in the second half. We didn't finish them all, but we did get some go forward, we broke up the middle, and our support lines off that were good.

"I felt there was a definite want to put right what was wrong in the first 40 minutes. Before the break we hammered their line, but once again we went to a style of play that we don't play, which is the pick-and-go game. The boys were blasted for that at half-time and we put that away in the second half and we started to control the game a wee bit better."

By then, however, much of the damage has already been done by Welsh who stormed into a 12-0 lead thanks to tries from Rob Lewis and Dominic Shabbo, the latter of which was converted by Ross.

Pirates fly-half Rhys Jones briefly cut the deficit with a penalty, but it was the home side who went further in front when Lewis was able to race over for a second time, the scrum-half darting through a line-out for Ross to convert once more.

Although the visitors countered with a decent spell of pressure just before the break, they were unable to find a way through the stubborn Welsh rearguard.

And their failure to turn their dominance into points came back to bite them when, in injury time, former Pirate Simon Whatling capitalised on a spillage from former team-mate Matt Evans on halfway to gallop his way over to make it 24-3 at the turn.

It was a harsh conclusion to the first period for the Pirates, who were then made to pay yet further when a well flighted penalty from Ross set up the home side to add a fifth score through prop Dorian Williams on 44 minutes.

Winger Errie Claassens merely rubbed salt into the exposed wounds of the Pirates when he scorched over three minutes later to make it 34-3.

Fresh impetus from the bench did help to ignite the Pirates in the final quarter. Their efforts were duly rewarded when Wes Davies, who had earlier spurned a golden opportunity, glided over from an Ireland pass. Moore added the difficult conversion to complete the scoring.

Next up for the Pirates is the visit of the beleaguered Bees this weekend. One can only hope the Duchy's finest are stung back into action.



Report from the Western Morning News

Of the 16 tries scored at the Recreation Ground on Saturday, none was cheered more loudly than Manchester's solitary score on 77 minutes when winger Cergio McCabe raced home in Hellfire Corner.

"I hate conceding tries, but I applauded them all the way back to the halfway line for that one," said Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly after watching his side record a 91-5 victory over the National League One strugglers and climb two places to sixth in the table. "I'm almost glad they scored: for their guts and character they probably deserved more scoring five points than we did for scoring 91."

Hambly fielded a team showing 11 changes to that which came close to winning at Wharfedale last week and although he was not wholly satisfied that his experimenting had provided him with the answers he was seeking, he was in no doubt that Manchester were courageous opponents and there few in the ground would disagree with him.

The match had little relevance in rugby terms, though, with Redruth able to do pretty much as they pleased with almost total possession. Apart from two good attacking positions, one shortly before half-time and the other 15 minutes from the end of the second period, virtually the only time Manchester penetrated Redruth territory was following restarts from the 15 tries conceded.

Hambly was in the rare position of knowing before the match that his team would win by a Cornish mile and so had the luxury of a free hand in team selection. He took the opportunity to rest half a dozen first-team regulars, introducing second row Stuart Crew and loose-head prop Luke Varney for their debuts in a Redruth pack that also saw Matt Gidlow at hooker and Lewis Calder and Herbie Stupple starting in the back row.

Centre Steve Kenward captained the side and continued his promising midfield partnership with Jamie Semmens, while later in proceedings Hambly introduced forwards Will Penny, Tom Duncan and Richard Brown as he considers his options for the sterner challenges that lie ahead.

The coach said: "The aim was to get five points and that's what we got with no major injuries. We've taken the chance to make changes too and a lot of those guys have come in and done a decent job, and that's all I was interested in."

On the try-scoring front, Varney and Duncan made the most of the opportunities handed to them by the coach by scoring two each, and there were braces for Lewis Vinnicombe, Nathan Pedley and Lewis Calder, with Wihan Neethling, Nick Simmons and Chris Morris grabbing one apiece. Forwards Sam Heard and Chris Fuca also touched down, meaning Redruth's pack outscored the threequarters. Former Plymouth Albion full-back Neethling made his long-awaited debut in a red shirt after suffering a wrist injury in pre-season and booted eight conversions.

Hambly, meanwhile, is happy that the fixture gave him the opportunity to gauge the strength of his squad and judge the ability of players to follow the plan. Against a notoriously disruptive Cinderford side next week it is crucial that the Reds maintain cohesion under pressure. The tried and trusted XV is well drilled and suited to that task and, after Saturday's tinkering, Hambly may now be loath to tamper with that discipline at Dockham Road.

He said: "We wanted to give some key players a rest so we've rotated a bit, brought people in, and I've learned a few things. Perhaps you learn more when you ask people to stick to game plans and the game is as disjointed and one-sided as this one was. Everyone knows it's going to be tough at Cinderford and the best thing we can do is be tough with it. We've got four massive games coming up and a few guys have put their hand up for selection, but not as many as I hoped to be honest."

Manchester team manager Elaine Vassie -- in charge on Saturday in the absence of a travelling coach -- had absolutely no qualms about her own players. "You can't buy the spirit and commitment these guys have got," said Vassie of a team that included a number of senior colts and only three replacements due to the mass exodus of players and officials from the cash-strapped club. "All credit to them because there's not many players would put themselves in that situation but they'll keep going and challenging themselves."

Vassie also paid tribute to Redruth. She said: "We know Redruth is renowned for being protective of its home ground, but the atmosphere was great, very welcoming and the supporters respectful of the rugby that's been played. We've been beaten badly, but we've enjoyed our rugby."



Report from the Western Morning News

Cornish All Blacks director of rugby Jon Hill accused his side of "committing suicide" after they suffered a shock 20-19 defeat at second-from-bottom Blackheath in National League One.

The All Blacks appeared to be cruising to victory as they led 19-3 with only seven minutes of normal time remaining. The only question seemed to be whether they would score a fourth try before the end to add a bonus point to their victory – but then they pressed the self-destruct button.

Two stunning converted tries in the space of eight minutes from wingers Tyson Lewis and Danny Caprice, aided by some poor defence, brought the Londoners to within two points of the Cornishmen.

Then, with only seconds left on the clock, All Blacks' lock Ben Hilton was deemed to be offside at a ruck on halfway, and Blackheath full-back Paul Humphries banged over a superb 50-metre penalty with the last kick of the match to spark wild celebrations amongst the home players and their disbelieving supporters.

"We completely gifted Blackheath the game. We were 19-3 up and there was only one side ever going to win it," said Hill. "After 65 minutes I actually felt we were going to nil them. Our defence was very strong and our shape was great.

"We were camped in the attacking third for long periods in the second half, and we couldn't quite get that final score for a bonus-point victory, then all of a sudden we are left with only a losing bonus point, and that is pretty hard to take, because I felt we were pretty dominant in the game.

"We were closing the game out quite well towards the end, but a couple of missed tackles and defensive mistakes really cost us. We completely let them out of jail, and we committed suicide in the last 15 minutes.

"We gave away three penalties, the last one crucially on halfway, and fair play to their kicker, but I don't know what we thought we were doing.

"You don't give the referee any opportunity to give a penalty against you when you are two points up, yet we did it three times on the bounce.

"I think we showed a lot of immaturity, that's individuals and not the team, and that's something we will have to look at when we analyse the game."

The All Blacks must have been kicking themselves all the way back down the M4.

Fine defence helped them survive a difficult opening 20 minutes against a side who played nothing like a team who had only won one match all season, and they then turned on the style either side of half-time.

Hilton's line-out steal on halfway in the 34th minute set up the chance for flanker Josh Lord to make huge inroads into the Blackheath defence, and centre Ryan Westren popped up on his shoulder to accept the scoring pass.

A 5-0 scoreline at the break became 12-0 after 44 minutes, with winger Ben Turner taking a pass from Steve Perry to score under the posts after captain Mal Roberts' initial break, with Tony Yapp converting.

Humphries opened Blackheath's account in the 63rd minute with a 40-metre penalty, but scrum-half Ed Lewsey grabbed try number three just four minutes later and, with Yapp adding the extras, it should have been game, set and match – but then Blackheath introduced replacement winger Lewis.

He scorched his way past several All Blacks defenders for a try in the 73rd minute, which Humphries converted, and later put in an enormous hit on Westren to prevent an almost certain touchdown.

Home left winger Danny Caprice then raced 60 metres down the touchline, around Roberts and behind the posts for a second score, which Humphries again improved, and the hosts appeared to have the consolation of a losing bonus point, but they kept believing, and were rewarded with Humphries' monster last-gasp effort that stunned the Cornishmen.




Report from the Western Morning News

When the Rugby Football Union launched the new Championship division amid the backdrop of their vast Twickenham HQ, it was supposed to signal a new dawn for the future of the English game outside of the top flight.

Just two months down the road and already that bright vision has been shattered with the likelihood that Birmingham-Solihull are to be no more come the end of this week.

With the club in crisis and the Inland Revenue among others closing in on an outstanding debt of £93,000, the Bees are set to become the latest casualty of the so-called "professional game".

There is, however, possibly one last hope for them and today player-coach Russell Earnshaw is set to hold talks with the new owners of Birmingham City Football Club in a last-ditch attempt to save the beleaguered club.

"I have got a meeting with Carson Yeung's right-hand man [Sammy Yu]. It's a real long shot, but I got hold of his mobile number on Friday and rang him, and we will see what happens when we meet," said Earnshaw following yesterday's 62-10 defeat to the Cornish Pirates at Camborne.

"We will see if we can offer something that is good for both sides. City obviously had a fantastic win on Saturday, so I am hoping he is in a good mood!"

Although there may be a chance of something being put into place, the likelihood is the Bees have now played their last competitive fixture.

If that is the case, Earnshaw can be rightfully proud of the 22 players, himself included, who turned out for action against the Pirates. Although well beaten on the day by their Cornish hosts, who ran in nine tries, their never-say-die attitude was commendable right to the death.

The standing ovation afforded to the Midlanders as they trooped off the Rec was heartfelt – as was the healthy collection of cash the home faithful donated during the half-time interval and again at the final whistle.

But whereas the Bees are sadly struggling in the current climate, the Pirates are in a much healthier state of affairs, both on and off the field.

Not surprisingly the difference was clear to see as Chris Stirling's side brought to an end a three-game losing streak by running riot against their lowly counterparts.

Skipper Gavin Cattle, Nick Jackson and Wes Davies all crossed for two tries apiece, while Rob Cook, Blair Cowan and replacement Aisea Havili – with his very first touch of the ball – also weighed in with tries, seven of which were converted by the boot of Jimmy Moore.

In response, the Bees countered with a converted try from flanker Chris Brightwell, plus a first-half penalty from centre Ronnie McLean.

However, it was Moore who opened the game's scoring in the fourth minute with a penalty after visiting fly-half Rod Petty had strayed offside in front of his own posts.

A similar effort from McLean levelled the game up on ten minutes, before the Pirates slowly began to move through the gears. Cattle was the first to cross in the 21st minute, quickly followed by South African centre Jackson five minutes later. Moore converted both touchdowns.

Davies was the next over, the full-back rounding off an excellent handling move, which had been instigated initially by a break out from the returning Cattle.

Moore superbly added the extras to that score and a second from Davies on 32 minutes as the Pirates threatened – at that stage – to rack up a hefty cricket score.

To their credit, the Bees held firm for the remainder of the half and then started the second period the brighter of the two as hooker Jack Preece caused an early scare in the home defence with a searing break down the right touchline.

Felled just short of the line, the chance was lost and it was the Pirates who soon kicked back into the life. Significant home pressure brought about a yellow card for McLean on 57 minutes – and with the man advantage, the Duchy's finest added to their tally.

Cattle sniped in for his second of the game two minutes later, before Cook – with his maiden Championship try – Cowan and Tongan international Havili helped to squeeze the last semblance of air out of the visiting challenge.

In a fitting last hurrah, the Bees did get a consolation score when Brightwell barged his way over from ten metres out. However, it was Jackson who concluded the day's proceedings when he latched onto a pass to scorch over for a ninth score, which was again converted by Moore.

"We were back where I liked to see us," remarked Stirling afterwards. "It's now up to us to back this up and put up a performance on the park again next week [at Rotherham].

"We played with a lot of tempo and that was really pleasing. The width, the way we shifted the ball wide, it was all good. We had worked hard all week on running what we call under lines. Watching the game from the end, like I do down here, I thought Steve Winn and Nick Jackson were superb in running those lines and creating space outside.

"However, the actual key component came from us running hard and straight at them and engaging the opposition defence, I thought Jimmy [Moore] did a fantastic job there."

A return to winning ways was certainly what the doctor ordered for Stirling and his troops, but the Kiwi is well aware his side will face much tougher challenges than that which they came up against yesterday.

"We are going to have to go away and look at a couple of areas and sharpen up," admitted Stirling. "With no disrespect to the Bees, we are going to face much stronger opposition than that."

Stirling did, however, have praise for the work put in by the visitors. He added: "It was a little bit sombre right at the end. It was sad to see the players possibly closing off their season like that. It was fantastic, though, to see the support of the Cornish people towards them."



Report from the Western Morning News

There was one word on Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly's mind as he left Cinderford following his side's 23-15 National League One defeat on Saturday – "Why?"

Why did his team lack their usual spirit and application? Why did so many key decision makers in Red shirts fail to obey common sense?

And most importantly, why did Redruth leave the Forest of Dean without any league points when, at the very least, one losing bonus point was in the bag deep into stoppage time?

"It's just one of those things," said Hambly. "You just think 'why?' – I think that word just about sums it up.

"My biggest thing today is that we had too few doing too much. There are a lot of guys that perhaps went missing today – perhaps they're happy to sit at the back of the bus, but I want them up the front driving. I want people that want to play at Redruth and want to improve their careers.

"We've lost a game of rugby and it's pretty disappointing, but it isn't the end of the world. There are a lot of people worse off than us. We just have to be a little bit more professional and make sure we work a little bit harder."

In an attritional first half playing against the elements, the Cornishmen fought back from three Brett Turner penalties with a Richard Carroll try just before the interval, and they seemed certain to take control after the break with the wind at their backs.

However, the hosts went further ahead through winger Ruben Haile. And while fly-half Mark Scrivener scored with a penalty, and then converted Paul Thirlby's try, to bring the scores back to 16-15, the visitors literally threw it all away in one inexplicable lapse of concentration in stoppage time.

Replacement Wihan Neethling decided to take a quick line-out inside his own half, but instead of finding one of his team-mates, he picked out Cinderford lock Chris Jones, who showboated his way over the try-line, hardly believing his luck.

Hambly initially opted to "do a Wenger" when asked if he saw that late incident unfold, but he did indicate that a pretty stern post-mortem occurred in the Reds' changing room afterwards.

"I didn't see it," said Hambly, before adding: "I thought their guy knocked the ball on when they gained possession beforehand after we tried a chip over the top for some reason. So I was asking around, then all of a sudden they are under the posts.

"It was pretty intense in the changing room afterwards. I've asked a few searching questions. To be fair to the guys, it wasn't just about what happened at the end – it was the 80 minutes that preceded that."

The Reds were behind after just three of those 80 minutes when Turner kicked Cinderford in front, much to Hambly's frustration judging by his version of events. He said: "We had a line-out five yards out, we had a penalty, we kicked to the corner – we messed that line-out up and they've kicked it out. We then messed that line-out up on the halfway line and they kick us back into the 22, and then we messed that line-out up as well and gave away a penalty. Suddenly we're three points down and those are the times when you question what you're doing and the decision makers."

Things got worse before they got better as Redruth continued to turn try-scoring opportunities into open invitations for Cinderford to counter- attack.

Two more Turner penalties by the 32nd minute put the home side nine points ahead, but Redruth did give themselves a platform to build on when lock Carroll touched down, with the help of his fellow forwards, just before half- time.

However, it was Cinderford who looked brighter on the restart and they extended their lead when Haile darted through a gaping hole in the Reds' defensive line just short of the hour mark.

A Scrivener penalty turned some momentum back in the visitors' favour and Thirlby – along with Scrivener's subsequent conversion – got the scores back to within a point when he touched down unopposed on the right after the home defence had been drawn to the ball under the posts. But as the Reds scrambled to find those last few vital points, the edges of their game became even rougher.

Not long after Scrivener missed a late, potentially game-deciding penalty, a Reds' midfield chip was charged down and opposition hooker Chris Hall hacked the ball into touch. But then confusion reigned after Neethling's aberration that effectively gift-wrapped another seven points for the hosts.

Hambly began the inquest, adding: "Perhaps a few of the guys are just going through the motions, they are just taking little bits and pieces for granted. I just think we have to knuckle down and do the hard work.

"There are quite a few guys in that changing room who, if they are honest with themselves, didn't give 100 per cent today and, to me, that's not acceptable at Redruth. Perhaps some players need a swift kick in the rear and hopefully they learn from that and we build.

"We've got two home games now, but obviously Otley aren't going to be easy next week. Then we've got a massive game against London Scottish. It's going to be an interesting couple of weeks for us. Where we are in the table is realistic for how we're playing at the moment – we're around mid-table and that's a fair reflection of us at the minute."



Report from the Western Morning News

The Cornish All Blacks had the energy sucked out of them at Polson Bridge by more powerful opponents with a greater hunger for the points.

Sedgley Park belied their lowly position in National League One with a vigorous display of running and aggressive rucking that left the hosts struggling to get on the front foot, frequently turned over and, ultimately, grateful to salvage a losers' bonus point from a last-minute penalty conversion that narrowed the score to a flattering 20-14.

The basement club proved formidable across the field, where their dominance at the breakdown and line-out ensured the All Blacks supply of clean ball from both loose play and the set-pieces was limited. Behind the forward exchanges, the All Blacks were forced to over-commit in defence and, with players sucked in trying to contain the Tigers' big runners, they were duly exposed wide out.

The Manchester-based side managed only three tries, one scored with just 14 men on the field following the sin-binning of flanker Garth Dew, but given the All Blacks inability to generate genuine power in defence, could probably have won by a more handsome margin.

"Sedgley Park were buzzing with energy from start to finish, while we drifted in and out of the game and didn't have a buzz for anywhere near 80 minutes," said All Blacks director of rugby Jon Hill. "In all honesty, I think the players felt they had a divine right to win the game, but it was a poor performance and we need to have a long hard look at ourselves."

After the frustration of the 20-19 setback at Blackheath last time out, Hill had been looking for a quick riposte ahead of next week's perilous trip to Cambridge, but while the All Blacks performed well in defeat at the Rectory Field, on Saturday they were punished for being second best and now face the possibility of a third successive defeat against a Cambridge side spoiling for a fight after their own surprise 17-12 defeat at Otley.

Sedgley Park laid down a marker early in proceedings and dominated the opening ten minutes, shocking the All Blacks with their power up front – where Ed Norris and Paul Williams in the second row and No.8 Ben Lloyd were the biggest men on the field – and testing the home defence down the line.

An All Blacks defensive lapse on 11 minutes paved the way for Tigers' centre Chris Hall to scamper over in the corner, full-back Steve Nutt converting for an early 7-0 score. Home fly-half Tony Yapp booted a penalty to reduce the arrears, but for the next 15 minutes his side were largely on the defensive as the visitors took the initiative at the breakdown and were clearly superior at the line-out.

A good spell of All Blacks pressure was halted on 31 minutes as visiting winger Tom Blackwell crossed in the right corner and the Cornishmen were given a let-off five minutes later as their defence opened up for Jones to cross unopposed before referee Ed Turnill brought the players back for an earlier knock-on and the sides changed ends with the visitors leading 12-3.

The All Blacks looked a rejuvenated side in the first ten minutes of the second period with a splendid sequence of phases on their opponents' line culminating in Dew's dismissal for persistent infringements in the tackle area, with the ball quickly shipped out to Jon Fabian on the left wing for a hard-earned try.

Yapp's conversion attempt failed after taking a circuitous route back into play off both the crossbar and a post and although the hosts were growing in confidence and looked the better side, Sedgley Park hit back six minutes later with a try for winger Phil Largon.

The touchdown took the score to 17-8 and marked a turning point as Dew returned to the field and Hill's men found themselves chasing the game with the clock ticking and their big opponents showing no signs of tiring.

The All Blacks were forced into wholesale changes: Bruce Pow and Tim Mathias thrown into the action on 58 minutes, with Lewis Webb replacing Ed Lewsey at scrum-half. However, the visitors looked more like a side that belonged in the Championship from which they were relegated last season and a Nutt penalty on 66 minutes virtually wrapped it up.

Hill committed Dave Kimberley and George Fleming to the fray in a bid to turn it around but the visitors never looked in danger in the closing stages.

Yapp's 68th-minute penalty was all the All Blacks had to show for some desperate last-gasp attacking and in the end they were obliged to settle for a single bonus point from Yapp's last kick of the game: a penalty awarded in the second minute of injury time. With a hot shower beckoning and the points in the bag, the Tigers had gone deliberately off-side. It was that sort of game.

Hill was left to ponder his side's failings and plot a comeback. He said: "We've had a good start to the season and today is the first time really we've failed to entertain our crowd. We're well aware you have to work extremely hard to get anything out of any game in this league and we simply didn't put in that graft in the first half. We weren't sharp or precise in anything we did and all of those things have to change for next week."




Report from the Western Morning News

Chris Stirling insists his Cornish Pirates squad must not lose sight of the big picture after crashing to their fourth Championship defeat in five games.

However, having watched his side crash to a 29-20 reverse against Rotherham Titans, the Kiwi coach may well have to go away and re-tune his battle plan after this latest setback at Clifton Lane.

If the Pirates picture was colourful in the first month of the season, it has certainly blown a tube in the past few weeks. What was so bright and breezy in September has now been replaced with a somewhat overcast outlook come the end of October.

Of course there are mitigating factors for the change of fortune – there always are – but having laid a solid foundation in the early weeks of the new season, the Pirates have since paid the penalty for allowing a number of costly errors to creep into their game.

It was therefore kind of apt that on Halloween the Pirates played out a bit of a horror show in South Yorkshire. Error ridden and at times ill-disciplined, hosts Rotherham simply lapped up the opportunity to inflict another untimely blow on Stirling and his side.

Recalled fly-half Jon West did much of the damage for the Titans. He plundered 21 points on the day as he happily stuck the boot firmly into the hopes of the Duchy visitors.

Six penalties and a drop-goal were the highlights of an impressive kicking display. However, even his on-field efforts were overshadowed by a sublime 50-metre drop-goal from team-mate Mike Whitehead just past the hour mark.

"We made too many errors and at key stages in the game," said Stirling afterwards. "Our set-piece wasn't that bad, but our scrum malfunctioned at crucial times. There were other crucial errors as well.

"We carried the ball well at times, but then lost it forward in the tackle and that is something we haven't done all year. Whether that was because of the pressure put on us by the opposition or whether it was lack of concentration on our part, I just don't know. I will have to look at that on the DVD."

Whatever Stirling does glean from watching the game back again, you can bet certain things will be hammered home to the Pirates players in training this week.

"It's a game which we should win nine times out of ten – against a team we should beat nine times out ten," added Stirling. "We didn't and there are a number of reasons for that. They [Rotherham] kicked superbly both out of hand and at goal. Jimmy [Moore] kicked well for us, but some of our other general kicking was not to the standard we need at this level.

"Also, I felt our level of aggression wasn't quite what it should be. At times we showed it and at other times we didn't. It's that consistency that I've harped on about and the guys have got to get it into their game. If we get that consistency, I'm sure we will come out the other side all right."

And with Bedford Blues next on the agenda at Camborne this Sunday, Stirling is now looking to his team to find a timely response.

"I've just had a chat with the boys and told them not to go away and over analyse things," he added. "We will get the DVD, that is for us coaches to go through. For the players, the important thing has to be that they don't lose sight of the big picture.

"After results like today, there are two ways you can use the disappointment and the pain they are feeling. You can either let it consume you – or you can use it as a positive. I am sure they will do the latter."

However, if the Pirates players are to heed the words of their leader, they will have to address the amount of penalties they concede. Just three minutes had been played on Saturday when West struck the first of his healthy points haul.

The response from the Pirates, though, was immediate, as straight from the kick-off a delightful move down the left saw lock Ben Gulliver gallop his way along the touchline before feeding James Doherty to cross for his maiden score, which Moore duly converted.

West countered with a second penalty before Rotherham regained the lead on 17 minutes. With the Pirates in possession of a scrum just five metres from their own line, the home pack combined superbly to push their rivals off their own ball and there was former Pirate Neil Chivers to dot down from close range.

Again the visitors hit back with Moore cutting the deficit with a penalty. However, they should have reclaimed the lead on 32 minutes when, following an excellent driving line-out, skipper Blair Cowan inexplicably spilt the ball forward right on the home line.

Rotherham made the most of the let-off to finish the half the stronger as West inflicted a third telling blow in stoppage time, this after Pirates centre Steve Winn had been sent to the sin-bin.

On the resumption, West and Moore traded penalties apiece before the Yorkshire outfit stretched their advantage to ten points with two drop-goals in as many minutes. Whitehead struck the first with an audacious blow from halfway, then West followed suit with a much closer effort.

The Pirates, though, were hardly dead and buried and when skipper Cowan atoned for his earlier faux pas by scoring from a similar line-out move – again converted by Moore – the contest was set for a gripping finale.

Sadly it was not to be for the visitors as West closed out the game with two late penalties.

In an unsavoury conclusion to the game, former Redruth centre PJ Gidlow – on his debut for Rotherham – was caught up in an ugly skirmish with at least two Pirates players. His actions are currently being scrutinised by the visitors and submissions to the game's authorities may follow.



Report from the Western Morning News

Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly said before kick-off that the result was more important than the performance but he may nonetheless be disappointed with his players after a poor display in front of a bumper home crowd.

Redruth beat Otley 11-10 in this pivotal National League One clash but the Cornishmen were dire in the first half and did their best to give it away in the closing ten minutes when, leading by one point against a team fighting tooth and nail for a victory they probably deserved, persistently booted their limited possession back to players who all seemed to have graduated with honours from the Yorkshire academy of touch-kicking. While the visitors fielded their opponents' clearances with ease and returned them with interest, Otley fly-half James Murray was constantly finding gaps deep in Redruth territory and making the Cornishmen turn time and time again.

It was a frenetic game with no pattern and few phases, a free-for-all developing at the breakdown, both sides constantly penalised for holding on and both captains sin-binned for infringements in the chaotic tackle area. Redruth won courtesy of Mark Richards' fifth-minute try and two penalties booted by Mark Scrivener in the second half but it was uninspiring stuff, mitigated only by the all-important four-point haul and the enormous relief felt by Reds' players and supporters alike at the final whistle.

With some understatement Redruth skipper Darren Jacques said: "We're not firing on all cylinders at the moment but we'll take winning ugly and it's something to work on for next week against London Scottish. We weren't brilliant but you have to give credit to Otley; they didn't let us play well. Their ten kicked us all round the field and it's hard when the ball's kicked behind you and you're having to defend for long periods. But we needed four points before anything else and we got that. It was an ugly performance but the grit and determination were there and we'll take that any day.

"We could have easily fallen away in the last ten minutes but we've managed to dig deep and we've come through," added Jacques, whose team was hampered by the late loss through injury of hooker Owen Hambly, Matt Gidlow stepping into the front row from the start, and the need to play Lewis Vinnicombe at full-back given Adryan Winnan's continued absence and Wihan Neethlings' dearth of league combat over the past 18 months.

Vinnicombe gave a good account of himself on the break but was less comfortable dealing with a bouncing ball in his own 22 and clearing his lines.

Following last week's disappointing defeat at Cinderford and ahead of next Saturday's home clash with potent London Scottish, the Reds needed to lay down a marker to restore confidence and reassure the fans. Hambly was undoubtedly disappointed at his side's inability to impose order and create disciplined phase rugby against disruptive opponents, but he will have been pleased with individual performances.

Second row Richard Carroll's vast experience was crucial at the breakdown, where he was one of the few players constantly to make the ball available in the tackle, while fellow lock Damien Cook produced another Herculean performance before departing with a shoulder injury after the break, when the club's well-documented problem in that area finally came home to roost and replacement Tom Duncan was forced into a position alien to him.

The performance of Kiwi No.8 Mark Bright was also a positive as he slotted seamlessly into place at the back of the scrum on his return from duty with Tasman Makos, but it was Nathan Pedley who emerged with most credit. The fiery winger was full of running throughout and produced bone-crunching tackles in all parts of the field, including one titanic hit on powerful Otley No.8 Oliver Stedman who was steaming towards Hellfire Corner with a two-man overlap at his shoulder before a crunching collision with the Redruth back left him uninterested in subsequent proceedings. "You know what you're going to get with Peds: he plays only one way and that's what you saw today," said Jacques.

The game started well for Redruth, as an orthodox kick for the corner by Scrivener followed by line-out possession and neat interchange between Bright and Richards saw the Redruth scrum-half cross in the left corner. Murray missed a shot at goal six minutes later before Redruth spurned the chance to increase their lead, a late knock-on costing them a second try.

But by now Murray was imposing himself and the Reds were penalised several times for failing to release the ball.

Redruth looked more organised on the resumption and Scrivener booted a quick penalty to extend the lead to 8-0. However, a powerful run by Otley centre Joel Gill resulted in more confusion at the breakdown and Jacques seemed to bear the brunt of the accumulated ire of referee Michael Tutty and had the misfortune to be awarded the Reds' first yellow card of the season.

Murray booted the penalty to narrow the gap to 8-3 but Otley were soon reduced to 14 men themselves, skipper Howard Parr following his counterpart into the cooler after throwing a punch at Carroll and then, amusingly, refusing to shake the mocking Redruth lock's proffered hand before trudging off. Scrivener's boot extended his side's lead to seven points.

Having earlier juggled his replacement resources, Fraser Clilverd briefly stepping in for the injured Brett Stroud before himself being replaced by Peter Joyce, Hambly sent on the returning Gareth Evans at hooker for Gidlow, before exposing Duncan to his first taste of life in the second row, and then completing the merry-go-round in the pack with Heard making way for the returning Jacques.

Disorganised it might have been, but the game was exciting up to the final whistle and Redruth got just the finish they didn't want when Stedman broke through in the 72nd minute for a try under the posts that Murray converted to set up a final frantic ten minutes when neither Otley's desperate attempts to break through nor Redruth's seeming determination to throw the game away had any effect on the scoreline. London Scottish will not have been alarmed.



Report from the Western Morning News

Cornish All Blacks coach Keith Brooking summed up his side's National One 22-8 defeat at Grantchester Road in one sentence: "Cambridge were well-organised and we gifted them the opportunity to play their own game."

All teams have their hallmarks and one of the All Blacks' is that they often only show their true colours in the second half, by which time they are playing catch-up – and that's what happened at Cambridge. By half-time they trailed 3-22 and had it all to do. Even just getting within touching distance was going to be tough.

During the interval skipper -- full-back Mal Roberts -- gave his players a stern talking-to and they came out at the re-start a different team.

They prevented the East Anglian club from scoring any further points, yet their attacks foundered and they couldn't close the gap. If they had succeeded in muzzling their opponents' attacking game, their defence remained stubbornly solid and all the All Blacks got for going up a gear and for their sustained efforts was a try in the last minute.

Replacement lock Dave Kimberley was the man who crossed in the corner after concerted pressure in the Cambridge 22 and some fine handling moves swinging left and right across the field.

The visitors came close again in the dying moments, but a score eluded them and time ran out.

"We failed to put any pattern on our game and we allowed Cambridge to play too much," Brooking said. "Our first-up tackling wasn't good and having got turnover ball, we often just handed it back. In the second half we played much better. In fact we won it 5-0, but in the first half we didn't really perform well anywhere."

The All Blacks' only other score was a penalty goal kicked by fly-half Tony Yapp four minutes before half-time when they were beginning to exert pressure. However, the rest was frustration at what might have been, coupled with that old cliché "too little too late".

Cambridge went determinedly about their business from the word go and had points on the board within a minute, centre Craig Evans kicking a penalty awarded for holding on.

The All Blacks fought back to the Cambridge end but without reward and in the 15th minute their hosts surged back and, after a series of scrums, wheeled for scrum-half Stefan Lieberberg to go over and Craig to convert.

Play now swung back and forth, with Cambridge looking the more dangerous, and shortly after the half-hour they mounted a succession of rucks and mauls close in, from which flanker Matt Edison touched down under a pile of forwards.

The All Blacks cause was further weakened when loosehead prop Tim Mathias was shown the yellow-card. In the resulting reshuffle Jason Bolt was brought into the front row, while openside flanker Tom Rawlings went off.

Yapp then finally got his side on the board with his penalty, but this boost was nullified just before the interval when Lieberberg crossed again, this time cutting an angle inside to the posts for Evans to add the extras, making it 22-3.

The second half saw a vastly improved, attacking All Blacks. They did come close twice with three-on-ones and the line beckoning – but their hopes were dashed against the wall of a resolute home defence, with their only consolation Kimberley's late try.




Report from the Western Morning News

Halloween may have been last week, but you can bet Bedford's Myles Dorrian will be reliving his Cornish nightmare for a little while yet.

With just two minutes of an absorbing showpiece remaining, the Blues' fly-half was thrust into the middle of the Recreation Ground stage and given his golden opportunity to deliver a stand-out performance.

Sadly for Dorrian, when the spotlight shone on the 26-year-old back, he endured an untimely bout of stage fright, fluffed his lines completely, and gifted the headlines to his opposite number, Rob Cook, who claimed the man-of-the-match award as the Cornish Pirates returned to winning ways in the Championship with a narrow 25-24 victory.

Yesterday's win, a sixth of the season for Chris Stirling's side, helped lift the Pirates to fourth in the table, level on points with the visiting Blues, who themselves are desperate for a pick-me-up after now suffering three successive league defeats.

For the Pirates, though, a return to winning ways was just what they needed following a disappointing October. The Duchy's finest won just once in five fixtures, the last of which was a 29-20 reverse away to Rotherham.

In the aftermath of that setback at Clifton Lane, Stirling called upon his side to show a more aggressive approach to their play. Yesterday, the New Zealander got just what he asked for as his players tore into their Bedford counterparts with a gusto which has been sadly lacking in recent weeks.

But having solved one problem, it now seems Stirling has others to address, especially when it comes to first-up tackling. Countless times the Pirates were guilty of this particular crime and that will need to be addressed this coming week, especially as unbeaten league leaders Exeter Chiefs are next on the agenda.

However, when push came to shove in the dying embers of this latest tussle, the Pirates' rearguard action crucially held firm. Digging deep into their reserves, they bravely withstood wave-upon-wave of attacks from the visitors. Their reward, I suppose, was Dorrian's costly miss at the end.

"The heart was definitely going with that last kick," conceded Stirling at the final whistle. "I was right behind it, he hit it nice and straight, but he just placed it outside the post and that's where is stayed. It was good for us, but unfortunate for him."

However, had Dorrian sunk the Pirates with his last-gasp effort, it would have been somewhat unlucky on the Cornish club, who had worked their way back from 17-7 down at the break.

Not surprisingly, Stirling was "delighted" with the effort of his troops. He added: "It was a good, gutsy effort, I can't say anymore about the effort the guys put in.

"The intensity and the aggression was what we wanted, the accuracy was not. It's like you fix one thing, but another thing malfunctions. It is a matter of putting the pieces of the puzzle together bit by bit and trying to get that perfect performance. At the moment we are a long way off getting that consistency, but in terms of the aggression and the attitude, it was what we asked for."

Up against a howling wind in the first half, the Pirates – who made five changes to the starting line-up on duty at Rotherham – were soon into their stride and they fired their first warning shot as early as the seventh minute, when a darting break from Nick Jackson helped to release winger Rhodri McAtee at speed.

Sadly, the Welshman's intended pass back inside eluded the follow-up runners and it allowed Bedford to clear their lines.

The deadlock, though, was finally broken five minutes later when a poor clearance from home skipper Gavin Cattle got caught up in the blustery conditions, a handful of Pirates strayed offside, and up stepped Dorrian to fire over a lengthy kick to give his side a 3-0 lead.

Within minutes the Pirates had a response as a sustained spell of pressure finally paid dividends when centre Mark Ireland was on hand to feed the ball to Blair Cowan, who thundered his way over for a try, which Cook duly converted.

Bedford, however, were continuing to cause problems. Dorrian saw a second penalty chance cannon back off the post, while a fantastic line-out steal from Pirate Ben Gulliver – just five metres from his own line – robbed the Blues of a glorious attacking opportunity on the half-hour.

But with the half all but up, the Blues stole a march on their rivals with a quickfire try double. First over was centre Liam Roberts, who made the most of some wishy-washy defence from Ireland, then winger Ian Davey added a second as he too exposed a gaping hole following a quality burst from Duncan Taylor. Dorrian converted both to put his side 17-7 up.

A response was needed on the resumption and the home side duly delivered it as first Cook plundered a penalty, before adding the extras to a try from Cattle – the Welshman burrowing over after Dave Ward had profited from a loose Bedford line-out to drive within inches of the line.

By the hour, the Pirates were then in front when quick-thinking from McAtee at a line-out saw him feed Gulliver who, with ten metres to go, wasn't going to allow Bedford's Luke Fielden to stop him from claiming a first-ever score for the Pirates.

Bedford refused to lie down and they regained the lead on 64 minutes with a converted try from prop Sam Walsh, who barged his wave over following a series of attacking phases.

It was end-to-end stuff and when Cook's right boot put the Pirates back in from almost straight from the restart, it was again 'Game On'.

Cook saw a further penalty strike the upright with just ten minutes remaining – and then with just two minutes left it was the turn of Dorrian to step forward and save the day for his side.

With the home faithful fearing the worst, groans of displeasure were turned to cheers of joy. It was a costly miss.



Report from the Western Morning News

A faultless afternoon with the boot and his unerring game direction made fly-half Tony Yapp the All Blacks' star and sparked a sustained display at Cross Green which earned them a deserved and valuable 33-29 away win against a club who hadn't lost at home this season.

Otley lay a few rungs below the All Blacks in National One and were not only unbeaten on home turf but also fielded a very young and very energetic team which relished attacking rugby.

Two minutes after the re-start Launceston looked to have a virtually unassailable 20-point lead, ahead 30-10, but ten minutes and two converted tries later they had let this advantage slip to a fragile six points. However, they kept their heads and steadied the boat, and when home fly-half James Murray missed a kickable penalty on the hour and then five minutes later Yapp responded with a superb long-distance goal to take his side two scores in front, the All Blacks breathed a sigh of relief.

Otley weren't finished yet, though. Deep in injury time their full-back Christian Georgiou grabbed an opportunist try, hacking on, gathering a lucky bounce and crossing in the corner. A successful conversion would have left his side still two points adrift, but it failed and the All Blacks triumphed.

Jon Hill, their director of rugby, said: "Otley were unbeaten at home before today, so it was a huge scalp for us and a huge performance, a hard-working performance.

"The key decision-makers, Tony Yapp, Lewis Webb at scrum-half, Mal Roberts in the centre and No.8 Sam Hocking worked well together. Tony Yapp's game management and kicking for field position made a big difference. I'm really pleased with him. His kicking was flawless, seven out of seven, and he also made sure that we were ahead with points on the board.

"We were much more threatening this week compared to the two previous weeks. However, Otley had a couple of driving line-outs which we were disappointed to have lost, but that's not taking away from our performance. To come a long way to Otley and win is an achievement. I'm well pleased."

Both sides came out attacking and the handling game was the order of the day. There was not a lot of difference up front with the All Blacks having the edge and retaining the ball more efficiently.

It was evenly matched approaching the half-hour: Yapp and Murray traded successful penalty kicks early on before the All Blacks seemed to start pulling away.

The pack drove 20 metres and mounted a rumbling, rolling maul, pinning Otley on their line. The ever-alert Hocking shot over for Yapp to kick the extras and then add two quickfire penalties to give his side a 16-3 lead.

Otley surged back immediately. Their wing Oliver Denton rounded his man and then linked again with his backs, and blindside flanker Joe Quinn scored out on the wing with Murray converting. Undaunted, the Launceston side rallied, with wing Jason Luff snatching up a bobbling ball from loose play and racing in from the ten-metre line. Yapp kicked two more points and at the interval the visitors led 23-10.

They started the second half at tempo, picking and driving and interpassing and increasing their advantage almost immediately to 30-10 – lock Dave Kimberley linking with flanker Josh Lord, who crossed wide out for Yapp's conversion to hit an upright and go over.

Three minutes later came the Otley 14-point double whammy. First, lock Howard Parr touched down and Murray added the extras. Then No.8 Oliver Stedman was over, with Murray again adding the two points to reduce the All Blacks' lead to 30-24.

The crucial penalty kicks which were to follow – Murray's missed one and Yapp's successful shot – determined the final result.



Report from the Western Morning News

Redruth worked their socks off to establish a 10-0 lead and then made the mistake of trying to close the game down on a side that simply could not afford to lose.

London Scottish are by far the biggest spenders of all the promotion contenders in National League One, with an avowed goal of a return to the top tier of English rugby within the next three seasons and, on a day when leaders Esher were hosting high-flying Cambridge, the second-placed Exiles knew that defeat was not an option if they were to maintain their eventual Premiership aspirations.

With all that at stake, what resulted on Saturday was a titanic battle in exhausting conditions at the Recreation Ground, where the visitors squeezed home 11-10 courtesy of full-back Frankie Neale's 76th-minute penalty conversion.

It was gut-wrenching for the Reds, who played themselves into the ground in the final 20 minutes and who once again proved more than a match for the best in the division. Another crowd nudging the 1,000 mark went home disappointed at the result but satisfied with their money's worth from an absolutely belting match.

"What we did for the first 65 minutes was outstanding, but when you're 10-0 up you don't close the game down; that's when you need to take it by the scruff of the neck, keep playing and make them chase the game," said Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly. "It's a bitter pill to swallow because I thought we dominated the game against a side that's tipped for top honours. But we took our foot of the gas and I think we lost it more than they won it. To be honest, they're no better than we are."

Hambly did all he could to help his players with regular replacements – Sam Heard, Damien Cook, Jamie Semmens, Gareth Evans and Nathan Pascoe were all introduced – but energy-sapping conditions underfoot and a strong wind that constantly changed direction gave the replacements on both sides little time to adjust to the tempo of play that was both frantic and disjointed, and their impact was limited.

London Scottish scored all of their points in the last quarter – two penalties either side of a try by potent winger Charles Broughton and Hambly knows that all of his side's tremendous efforts beforehand were negated by a handful of late lapses. "They've won 15 minutes of the game and won the game," said the coach, who saw his team win by the reverse scoreline 11-10 against Otley last time out.

He added: "Last week I though we were pretty good in the last ten minutes and played the game out and I was hoping we could do that today. They kicked a lot better than us and used the ball better and we a panicked a bit and lost our heads, which is disappointing. The most important thing is that we learn from it, train hard this week and prepare for next week."

The Reds laid the foundations for probable victory by slugging it out against the wind in a first-half that saw the visitors' Simon Amor and Redruth flanker Lewis Calder sin-binned in quick succession. Pirates' on-loan lock Don Labuschagne and full-back Lewis Vinnicombe were influential for the hosts, but the only points on the board were through Mark Bright's breakaway try under the posts to give Brett Rule the easiest of conversions.

The young fly-half, part of an all-Cornish back-line that was more than a match for their more experienced opposite numbers throughout, booted a penalty 13 minutes after the restart and, with a 10-0 lead, the Reds looked on course for success -- even as the wind was conspiring to aid the Exiles as it had done in the first half.

However, a marked change of pace signalled that Redruth had switched to defensive mode and the Scots were quick to take advantage, setting up camp in their opponents' half but seeing their pressure nullified by a succession of knock-ons in the slippery conditions and the home side's solid defence.

However, the Scot's persistence paid off in the 58th minute as Redruth were penalised at the ruck and Neale put points on the board with his conversion attempt from 28 metres. The home team were wobbling, with their line-out proving fallible; while Scottish half-backs Amor and James Brown were running good lines and making better use of their possession than their opponents, who were cavalier with ball in hand at a time when the game was crying out for retention and control.

Redruth became further disorganised when the Exiles committed replacement Broughton to the fray and the muscular winger, sporting a jarhead haircut and bright red boots, justified his flamboyant appearance with a try in Hellfire Corner as the visitors recycled the ball right, away from a crowded left corner where the Reds had been defending en masse.

It was anybody's game in the last ten minutes and it was the Scots who sealed it with Neale's late penalty. Hambly said: "They've won fair and square and you're always disappointed to lose, but as a coach I always want my players to give 100 per cent and they did that today. It was a great game of rugby and hopefully the crowd have gone away proud of the boys."




Report from the Western Morning News

Given the great strides that have been made at Sandy Park over the last 12 months, it's difficult to know what Exeter Chiefs supporters want more. The new year to arrive, or 2009 to never end.

However, as the Chiefs continue their canter towards the Guinness Premiership, the growing sense of belief that Exeter may be a top-flight club this time next year is beginning to gather momentum after they claimed an 11th straight Championship victory over the visiting Cornish Pirates.

Saturday's 22-15 success over their counterparts from across the Tamar not only helped extend a now club record run of league wins for Rob Baxter's side, but it ensured the Chiefs have defeated every one of their Championship rivals in the opening half of the new campaign.

Sadly for the league leaders, the absurd new Championship format means that even should they replicate their impressive feat over the second part of the season, it will count for diddly squat as a new ball-game will start come February and it will be back to square one for all and sundry.

That said, Baxter's boys have demonstrated enough this term to show they are more than capable of overcoming whatever hurdles are thrown in their way. Indeed, what could be their biggest danger in the months that lie ahead is ultimately themselves – and by that I mean their failure to truly convert their dominance when it really matters most.

Against the Pirates, the Chiefs held the upper hand for large parts of the contest with an authority around the park that was clear to see. Yet for all that superiority, particularly up front, they were never truly able to shake off their resolute visitors who, even with the game deep into injury time in the second half, could still have snatched a share of the spoils had they claimed a converted late score.

For it to be like that, the Pirates must take some credit for the way they kept themselves in contention. The Duchy visitors improved dramatically after the break following a testing first half in which their scrum was dismantled at will by the marauding Exeter pack of forwards, whose front-row triumvirate of Brett Sturgess, Simon Alcott and Chris Budgen were the stand-out figures.

From the outset, however, it was the Chiefs who set the tone. With three changes to their line-up from that which beat Nottingham the week previous – James Hanks, Paul McKenzie and Sean Marsden were drafted into the starting XV – it took precisely one minute 20 seconds for the home side to make their mark in the derby encounter.

Experienced prop Budgen did the initial donkey work by turning the Pirates over, from which the ball was fed out to fly-half Gareth Steenson, whose deft chip-kick over the top was completely misread by the visiting defence and the ball was duly snaffled up by centre McKenzie, who crashed over under the sticks for the opening score, which Steenson duly converted.

If it was a dream start for the Chiefs, it was somewhat of a nightmare opening for Chris Stirling's side, whose inclusion of young prop Paul Andrew for the injured Rudi Brits was their sole change from the side which narrowly defeated Bedford Blues the week previous.

Despite the early blow, the Pirates wasted little time in offering a quick counter – fly-half Rob Cook dispatching the first of five penalties with a testing effort on five minutes after the home side had been penalised for infringing at a ruck.

The ding-dong nature of the opening period continued apace as former Pirate Steenson traded successful kicks with Cook to make it 10-6 with ten minutes on the clock.

The Chiefs, though, were posing the greater on-field threat and with their scrum bullying the Pirates into a sense of submission the pressure began to mount. Unfortunately for the hosts, the normally reliable Steenson was unable to turn that into points and twice he saw penalty shots miss the mark.

In fairness to the Irishman, the howling gale blowing around Sandy Park meant it was always going to be a testing day for goal kickers, although Cook made light of the problem as he added a third penalty in first-half stoppage time following a sustained period of attacking pressure from the Pirates.

With just a point separating the two sides at the break, it was the Chiefs – this time up against the wind – who were first to show as hooker Alcott surprised the visitors with a training ground line-out that enabled him to gallop 20 metres up the left and into a prime attacking position. Again, the Chiefs tried to over complicate things a little too much and the chance went begging.

And it seemed another opportunity was spurned when, following another powerful scrum from the Chiefs, they somehow failed to touchdown from five metres with the whitewash in sight. In the ensuing play, however, Exeter recycled the ball well enough to create the opening for skipper Richard Baxter to charge over in the left-hand corner. Steenson obliged with a testing touchline conversion.

Worse was to follow for the Pirates, as first hooker Dave Ward was dispatched to the sin-bin for deliberately slowing the ball down then, with the man advantage, Exeter scrum-half Haydn Thomas sniped away from a scrum to release winger Matt Jess who, despite being held short of the line, was able to set up the platform for Sturgess to dive over in the right-hand corner to make it 22-9.

To their credit, the Pirates refused to buckle and with Cook once again reducing the arrears with another penalty just past the hour, they continued to remain alive and kicking.

Exeter, though, could smell a bonus point and as they continued to lay siege on the visiting line, a combination of some heroic defence from the Pirates, plus an over eagerness in attack, meant they were guilty of wasting a number of decent attacking chances.

Buoyed by this, the Cornishmen did finish with somewhat of a flourish. Cook slotted a fifth kick to ensure a creditable losing bonus point, whilst the last embers of the game were to be a little nerve-racking for the home faithful as the Pirates backs looked to expose any kind of hole in the Exeter defence.

In the end, the Chiefs rearguard was – as it has been numerous times this season – rock solid.



Report from the Western Morning News

Few sides could have lived with the Cornish All Blacks in this thunderous battle at Polson Bridge.

The hosts' commitment over 80 minutes was awesome and in the final analysis, League One leaders Esher were desperately relieved to leave with the points from a 10-6 victory that was in the balance up to the final whistle.

The game hinged on ten pulsating minutes in the second half as the All Blacks hammered away at their opponents' line with the game in the balance at 3-3 and Esher's vaunted defence creaking. Repulsed in the right-hand corner, the hosts switched play to midfield and then to the opposite corner where the opposing packs fought each other to a standstill.

A score then would surely have provided the Cornishmen with the momentum to go on and finish the job against the divisional leaders, but a cruel turnover enabled Esher to clear their lines. Play shifted rapidly to the other end of the field; home lock Ben Hilton was promptly sin-binned and Esher's enormous pressure eventually ended in a soft try for Esher winger Richard Briggs that proved to the decisive score.

All Blacks fly-half Tony Yapp booted his second penalty to close the gap and the hosts ended the game attacking and looking the better side but, finally, the Launceston side were left to ponder what might have been and take solace from a losers' bonus point. It was scant consolation.

"We fought for every inch and to a man the players put their hands up and said this is what it is to be a Cornish All Black," said director of rugby Jon Hill. "It's hard to take that we've lost when we've played so well but the guys will take it on the chin and we'll take a lot of positives from it. We've set a benchmark for our performance standards: now we've got to make sure we're consistent with those standards for rest of the reason. Today, I couldn't have asked the guys for any more."

Hill accepted that the All Blacks' failure to break down the Esher door and loss of possession during that critical phase early in the second half ultimately represented the fine line between victory and defeat, but found it hard to find fault. He said: "Perhaps we made one or two errors then but I don't want to take anything away from our guys. We had opportunities and we didn't take them – but for the other 79 minutes I thought we were exceptional.

"The next challenge is for us to convert those opportunities from five metres and if we can do that we will win games like this. But we put in some fantastic tackles and kept our defensive line intact and that's an area of our game where I feel we have moved on."

Playing with a strong wind, the All Blacks put the only points on the board in the first half, Yapp's penalty from 35 metres bisecting the posts where an earlier attempt had bounced back into play off an upright.

Understandably, given the conditions, both sets of forwards were happy to kill the ball in the loose and Esher proved especially adept at slowing the game from the base of their potent scrummage. But there was also plenty of running rugby, with All Blacks' fly-half Tony Yapp putting in some booming kicks from hand with the wind and centre Ed Lewsey a constant threat; and the All Blacks started the second half in good heart knowing they were a match for the visitors all over the field.

Both sides used their full complement of replacements as the pace of the game took its toll in the latter stages and all of the hosts' benchmen played significant roles in the closing exchanges that produced some exhilarating rugby and came agonisingly close to producing a home victory.

Lewsey and flanker Mike Rawlings both came off for early blood injuries, the former eventually replaced by Ryan Westren, with fellow replacements Neil Bayliss, James Walter, David Kimberley and Tom Rawlings all thrust into the forward cauldron in the final quarter.

The pace was unrelenting during those closing stages and although the All Blacks had only Yapp's three-pointer to show for their endeavours, there can be no doubt that Hill's men finally strung together the 80 minutes of consistent, quality play which he has been demanding all season.



Report from the Western Morning News

Redruth's trip to the Black Country to meet Stourbridge in National One on Saturday was not a happy one. In their second consecutive league reversal, the Reds were outscored by four tries to three before finally going down 22-20.

Head coach Nigel Hambly, however, was full of praise for his players' efforts after the narrow defeat. He said: "The biggest thing for me today was that the guys gave 100 per cent. They could not have tried any harder, their effort was outstanding and you have got to take your hat off to that."

The Reds opened the game impressively with the wind at their backs. After receiving the kick-off they retained the ball for two minutes with some great team play before Mark Bright went over for a try in the left hand corner, Brett Rule converting from the touchline.

However, indecision in the Redruth defence then saw Kurt Johnson chase down a kick ahead and create a try near the posts for Stourbridge centre Ben Barkley, with Tom Richardson's conversion hitting an upright.

Rule struck a 40-metre penalty well to increase the Redruth lead, but was off target with two other kicks at the sticks.

A good spell of pressure by Stourbridge had the Redruth defence fully stretched and three players were queuing up to touchdown as former Wales 7's international Craig Richards went over in the left hand corner for an unconverted try to level the scores after 24 minutes.

The Reds pushed ahead again when a long pass from Nick Simmons created space for Lewis Vinnicombe to go over for a try in the right-hand corner after 29 minutes.

Successive penalties just before the interval allowed Stourbridge to pin Redruth in the scoreboard corner. Eventually hooker Ben Gerry finished off a catch-and-drive move to level the scores once more.

At the start of the second half Redruth took the game to the hosts, but Vinnicombe lost the ball as he went to touchdown. However, the winger atoned in the 51st minute when he claimed his tenth try of the season after good play by Simmons and Bright.

The powerful teenager from Wadebridge, Herbie Stupple, playing in the centre, made a number of strong runs for the Reds that pulled in the home defence. On some occasions it took three defenders to pull the youngster down.

With the wind behind them Stourbridge kept the Reds in their own 22, with replacement Richard Carroll doing well to stop burly Simon Homer from going over in the corner – although he was shown a yellow card for rolling away too slowly in the 63rd minute.

Stourbridge took advantage as successive forward drives sucked in the Redruth defence and Richardson spotted a gap to dive over for Stourbridge's fourth try in the 64th minute. There was a delay while Richardson, who was "winded", received attention, but Sam Robinson waited calmly and coolly put the ball between the sticks to put the hosts ahead for the first time with what proved to be the match-winning score.

The Reds finished on the back foot as the powerful home pack tried to extend their lead, but Nathan Pedley put in some fearless tackles to limit the damage.

In the seventh minute of stoppage time Redruth were awarded a penalty 35 metres out wide on the right – too far out in the conditions to go for goal and with precious few seconds on the clock Darren Jacques' decision to take a scrum seemed a sensible one.

Although Stourbridge leapfrogged the Reds, who dropped to 11th, Hambly remained positive: "We made a dozen or so line breaks today but we are not putting them away and building a gap, that is what is killing us.

"Losing games like this one means that pressure builds. I am confident in the players we have got, confident in myself and the coaching staff. We're going to start turning things around.

"We have a week off this week, then it is home to Newbury. That is going to be a massive game."




Report from the Western Morning News

It wasn't quite Everest or Kilimanjaro, but the mountain the Cornish Pirates scaled on Saturday was just as impressive as they dug deep into their reserves to pull off a famous 20-19 victory at Moseley.

After a torrid first half at Billesley Common – one in which the Duchy visitors trailed 19-0 at the break – the Pirates conjured up a spirited second-half showing to record their seventh Championship win of the campaign.

Rob Cook's conversion to an injury time try from South African back Nick Jackson capped a remarkable fight back for Chris Stirling's side who, it has to be said, refused to throw in the towel.

"I'm absolutely delighted," declared Stirling at the final whistle. "Victories like this are twofold. One: they can set you up to move forward with real confidence. Two: they bring out the character that is within. For me, that stuff is priceless because that is what we have been hunting for all season."

However, if Stirling's mood was one of contentment come the close, the face of thunder he portrayed as he headed for the changing rooms at half-time told a much different story.

With his side 19 points down, the Kiwi coach admitted he was ready to tear into his troops following their below-par first-half display. Sadly, Stirling had to wait before offering his stinging rebuke.

Already club captain Gavin Cattle had begun dissecting the first 40 minutes, delivering a cutting assessment to his fellow team-mates on where exactly the Pirates needed to improve.

"I couldn't talk to start with," explained Stirling. "Gavin took the lead – as he often does – and his tone was far from passive. The words he used were far from printable, but they were all accurate. What he said revolved around whether the goals we set before the game were just words on a piece of paper – or whether they were words that were really important and ones we bought in to. I think we saw the answer in the second half."

Having come into the game on the back of a narrow 12-10 defeat to Leinster in the British & Irish Cup the week previous, the Pirates could hardly have wished for a worse start to this latest encounter in the Midlands.

Just 30 seconds had been played when fly-half Jonny Bentley's attempted clearance was charged down by Moseley's Chevvy Pennycook, the No.8 latching onto the loose ball before touching down for the opening try, which Tristan Roberts duly converted.

It was hardly the start the Pirates had envisaged, but things were to get decidely worse as the half progressed. Fly-half Roberts extended Moseley's lead on seven minutes with a penalty from 25 metres out – and he repeated the feat twice more to put the home side 16-0 up in as many minutes.

At that stage, Moseley were threatening to run away with things. Roberts was enjoying an armchair ride in the number ten jersey, while a distinct lack of discipline was compounding the problems for the visitors.

By the half-hour mark, Roberts' trusty right boot had added a fourth penalty to edge Moseley further clear as conditions overhead worsened by the minute.

Thankfully for the Pirates, they survived the remainder of the half and headed for their half-time bunker still relatively in touch.

"We weren't playing well and our discipline really let us down," said Stirling. "That said, we did create a couple of really good opportunities which we didn't take through a couple of handling errors. At 19-0 down, yes it was a mountain to climb, but the guys believed they could do it – and they did."

As part of the fight back plan, Stirling replaced prop Carl Rimmer with Scott Franklin and the move worked a treat as the Canadian international not only helped shore up the struggling Pirates' scrum, but also provided another hard-hitting ball carrier.

Franklin wasted little in getting involved in the action when – with three minutes of the second half played – the Pirates initiated their response with their opening try. Having punched their way into the Moseley 22 through some dogged work up front, the ball was worked out to the backs, where Bentley combined to send Rhodri McAtee scampering in by the sticks for Cook to convert.

Buoyed by the score and some inspired running from the outstanding Blair Cowan and Dave Ward, the Pirates continued to chip away at the deficit as Cook landed penalties on 47 and 58 minutes to leave just six points in it.

Time, however, was ticking by and with Moseley – who briefly lost scrum-half Gareth Taylor to the sin-bin for a high tackle on Mark Ireland – content to see out the game with an 'up the jumper' approach to proceedings, it seemed the Pirates' charge was to be thwarted.

That was until injury time when, following some determined work at a ruck, they turned over the home side and worked the ball neatly across their back line to Jackson, who slid his way over the whitewash to make it 19-18. With it all to do, it was left to Cook to step forward and thunder over an excellent conversion from the right touchline.

In front for the first time all game, the Pirates could not have timed it any better, as just two minutes later referee Luke Pearce called a halt to proceedings.

"That is the stuff that bonds a team and drags it through to the next phase," added Stirling. "To come back from 19 points down was a terrific effort from all the boys.

"Now, we have to build on this. We have Doncaster at home next week and that will be tough. At the moment we are six and one at Camborne, we want to make that seven and one. It's our fortress and we want to make it a venue that teams who come there won't want to enjoy too much.

"We have identified the four weeks prior to New Year as being crucial to us – and if we can come out the other side with the right amount of points, it will give us a chance not to take our foot off the accelerator, but it will give us a chance to try and play a different style of rugby without that pressure of trying to make the top eight."



Report from the Western Morning News

The Cornish All Blacks are making a habit of bagging bonus-point wins and they did it impressively again at Polson on Saturday with a 34-3 National League One win against Blaydon.

The Durham club lay one rung below them in sixth place in the table and must have targeted the game with at least a degree of optimism. Any such hopes had been dashed by half-time when the All Blacks were away and almost clear, leading 17-3.

Skipper and centre Mal Roberts, who scored an impressive try himself, was delighted with the result. He said: "We lost narrowly to the leaders Esher three weeks ago when perhaps we should have won and I feel that we turned a corner then.

"We've now had two bonus-point wins in a row which is really good, especially in the appalling conditions. Since the Nuneaton game the boys have got the bit between their teeth and we seem to be dominating packs. Our backs were patient as well.

"In addition Jon Hill, our director of rugby, has been giving us some time off which seems to have helped too. The confidence in the side is really good."

The conditions at Polson on Saturday were atrocious – sheeting rain, wind, an increasingly muddy pitch and a slippery ball. The northerners made the big, if understandable, mistake of keeping it tight and trying to take the All Blacks on up front. Fatal error. There is nothing the Launceston side enjoy more than a forward battle. They are masters of that game, as a bewildered Blaydon had discovered by the interval.

It was all of 30 minutes before the visitors managed to mount an attack worth the name on home terrain. So much of the game had been played in Blaydon territory that the Launceston ground staff could happily have come on with mower and roller to work in the All Black half with little danger of being disturbed.

The All Blacks were 14-0 up in 14 minutes. Attack after attack was rewarded in the seventh minute when hooker Darren Semmens shot inside to score near the posts after a relentless series of drives and rucks close in.

Faultless fly-half Tony Yapp, who did not miss a kick all afternoon and notched a personal tally of 14 points by converting all four tries and landing a penalty per half, added the extras.

The All Blacks kept coming, the forwards storming on, and from time to time allowing a patiently waiting back line to widen the game. In one of these threequarter moves full-back Jon Fabian (man-of-the-match and unerring fielder of a bombardment of high balls) joined the line and sent through a perfectly weighted grubber kick. Captain Roberts, carbon-copying his Olympic pace and move of last week, blitzed past the defence and touched down in the corner.

There was a momentary hiccup in the All Blacks' progress as lock Ben Hilton was yellow-carded for an unspecified offence. Blaydon occasionally determinedly broke out with dangerous-looking threequarter moves, but the home defence was solid and just before the half hour the visitors went over the top and Yapp kicked a superb penalty.

The Northerners posted their only points just before the break when the All Blacks were penalised for handling on the ground after the visitors had taken play to the home 22. Full-back Adam Armstrong landed the simple goal.

After the break, Blaydon turned their strategy upside down from a forward to a running game and should be given credit for their spirit, bravery and constant counter-attacking when hope was all but gone.

The All Blacks comfortably absorbed the onslaught and constantly countered, left wing Kieron Lewitt shooting down the midfield and almost getting clear; Yapp putting over his second penalty for an offside offence in front of the posts.

Conditions really deteriorated but still the home side attacked. Wing Jason Luff broke through and went on one of his dizzying runs, and, after a flurry of replacements just before the hour, the pack rumbled over the line – but the referee was unsighted. Undaunted, they repeated the drive and this time Hilton was slipped the ball close in and roared over to make it game over at 27-3.

The icing on the cake came three minutes from time, when the chance of a fourth try and bonus point seemed to have slipped away. Centre Ryan Westren hacked on from halfway, raced on, gathered 20 yards out and, tackled on the line, flipped the ball up to Lewitt who touched down triumphantly.



Report from the Western Morning News

Redruth may have returned home pointless from their long trip north for their National League One encounter with Tynedale, but head coach Nigel Hambly was pleased with his side's efforts as they succumbed 32-15.

"I'm disappointed with the score," he said. "But the performance and effort was outstanding. I think the players have done the club proud today.

"I'm disappointed with the result, but the performance bodes well. In some areas we were excellent. We had a couple of chances at the end of the first half which we did not take, though to be fair they were pretty tough calls.

"When you look at it you can say Tynedale were the better team, but we had a few chances today and just didn't take them."

Tynedale's ground was in good condition despite heavy overnight rain as Redruth got off to a flying start on a calm, mild day.

Good handling by the Redruth backs – aided by Mark Bright – saw Craig Bonds draw the defence to give winger Lewis Vinnicombe a run in from the 22-metre line for his 11th touchdown of the season in the third minute.

After this Redruth were on the back foot for a long period. Mark Richards put in some important cover tackles and Bright was getting through a lot of work, but home skipper Joe Graham touched down under the bar after 13 minutes with Stuart Hall adding the extras.

When Peter Cole sped over in the right-hand corner after 20 minutes for an unconverted try, Redruth looked to be in for a long afternoon.

A further blow followed for the Reds when England Counties hooker Owen Hambly limped off with a recurring ankle injury after 23 minutes. The injury is not thought to be serious, but it is an ongoing problem that the club will have to monitor.

A close-range penalty from Hall in the 26th minute opened up a ten-point lead, but going into half-time Redruth started to get more possession and exerted a spell of pressure on the home side's line without any real reward.

At the start of the second half, Vinnicombe put in an important tackle on Charlie Ingall at the corner flag, but patient build up from the hosts ended with flanker Grant Beasley going over near the posts for Hall to convert after 44 minutes.

A penalty from the 22-metre line by Hall following a back foot offside opened up an ominous 20-point lead with over 30 minutes to go. However, the Reds showed pride in the famous red shirt and dug in to have the better of the last half hour.

A well executed catch-and-drive from a five-metre line-out brought a well-deserved touchdown for skipper Darren Jacques after 57 minutes.

Redruth fly-half Brett Rule put in a number of fearless tackles, but he could not prevent Cole going over for his second score after 74 minutes, Hall converting from the touchline.

Finishing the game strongly in injury time, another powerful driving maul ended with Bright touching down Redruth's third try. From the restart Redruth went for the bonus-point try. Bonds running out of his 22 in thrilling fashion was well supported by Chris Fuca, but the ball went to ground and the chance was lost.

"It is always going to be tough coming to Tynedale but the boys gave 100 per cent. Right to the end they did not stop trying," Hambly added. "You cannot ask anymore than that as a coach. I said to the players after the match that they can be proud of their efforts today.

"Possession and territory wise we were on the back foot, but we did not look to be in too much trouble a lot of times. Their number ten [Gavin Beasley] was excellent coming back after injury; I think he makes a huge difference to Tynedale. They are a decent team and they have some excellent players."




Championship. Report from the Western Morning News

Carry on like this and supporters of the Pirates could well be suffering from bouts of motion sickness come the New Year -- such is the up-and-down nature of the Cornish club right now.

On a high following their last-gasp victory at Moseley the week previous, Chris Stirling's side were brought back down to earth with a bang yesterday as visiting Doncaster Knights headed home with some much needed bounty following their 12-10 victory at the Recreation Ground.

In a contest which is unlikely to live long in the memories of those in attendance, it was the travelling Yorkshiremen who ultimately prevailed, thanks to second-half tries from Andy Wright and Steven Lawrie, the latter of which was converted by their fly-half Ali Warnock.

Donny's determined on-field efforts just about gave them the nod in a closely fought encounter, one which the ringside judges would probably have awarded them on a narrow points decision.

That said, the Pirates will today wake up kicking themselves after they failed to land a knockout blow of their own in the final minutes of the Camborne bout. Having hauled themselves back into contention with a converted Rhodri McAtee try and a penalty from Rob Cook, they twice spurned decent scoring opportunities to win the contest late on.

Those missed chances meant that instead of moving into the Championship's top four, the Pirates have instead slipped to sixth in the standings, much to the disappointment of High Performance Manager Stirling.

"I knew the game would be a war of attrition," said Stirling at the final whistle. "I knew it would be a physical, brutal battle – and it was. The result wasn't what I expected, but the game itself was.

"Doncaster are a quality side and in no way are they a side who should be second bottom in the table. All credit to them for their win, they came here and did what they had to do and they did it well. They stopped us from playing for long spells.

"Defensively there was no space for us to attack in to. We pushed some wide spaces that weren't there, but we were lucky that we were able to recycle the ball and get away with it.

"In the end, I think 12-10 is a pretty fair reflection of the game, but it could have gone either way. As I said, I'm disappointed with the result and the fact that we didn't quite get enough authority to play the style of rugby we wanted to play."

From the outset, Doncaster quickly set out their game plan – much of which was based around causing chaos at the breakdown area.

The robust, in-your-face approach from the visitors caused real problems throughout and it was not until the last quarter that the Pirates finally looked like a decent attacking threat.

Early doors, though, it was Doncaster who were given the first scoring chance of the game. Just two minutes had been played when home flanker Sam Betty was penalised for not rolling away at a ruck. However, Warnock was unable to punish Betty's indiscretion, screwing his penalty chance from in front of the posts wide of the mark.

That was the only real chance of an opening quarter which was based largely around the battle for supremacy up front. Neither side were willing to give an inch – a point underlined when Donny centre Bevon Armitage floored Pirates' winger James Moore with a crude high tackle.

Although Armitage survived the wrath of referee Roy Maybank, home prop Paul Andrew did not follow a similar path as he was sin-binned on 24 minutes for a needless shoulder charge. Despite the man advantage, however, Donny were unable to find a way through the home defences as the half concluded with the scoreboard untouched.

On the resumption, the visitors were again first out of the traps. Just 40 seconds has been played when, following a powerful forward charge, the ball was worked back to Warnock, whose sublime cross-field kick saw right winger Andy Wright out jump Moore to touchdown in the right corner.

In response the Pirates countered with a penalty from full-back Rob Cook on 57 minutes, before Doncaster stretched their lead on the hour mark when skipper Steven Lawrie picked a lovely line to run onto a pop pass from Armitage and score under the posts. Warnock obliged with the extras for a 12-3 lead.

With the crowd having been starved of points in the opening half, all of a sudden there was an avalanche of them as the Pirates hauled themselves back into contention with their first try. Quick ball enabled Mark Ireland and Nick Jackson to combine in midfield, the latter feeding the ball to Welsh winger Rhodri McAtee, who sped along the right flank to dot down. Cook banged over the tough touchline conversion to leave just two points in it.

Sensing another possible late success, the Pirates threw caution to the wind late on. However, Cook failed with a penalty chance, whilst Jonny Bentley's last-gasp drop-goal also missed its intended target.

It was a disappointing conclusion for the home side, who must now ready themselves for Friday's Championship trip to Coventry.



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

Having tired of playing attractive rugby and losing, Redruth dispensed with the frills and ground out a workmanlike victory at the Recreation Ground on Saturday.

Their 11-6 victory over League One rivals Blackheath was ugly but highly effective and gets the Reds back on track following last week's defeat at Tynedale, where an excellent performance went unrewarded and the Cornish club's position in the table was starting to look precarious.

"It wasn't pretty but it's not always going to be strawberries and cream and after playing well in our last two losses and not getting anything out of them I'm pleased without being ecstatic," said Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly. "I'm delighted for the boys and for the effort they've put in. Overall I think we deserved to win and sometimes you learn as much about people winning ugly as you do winning well. Our performance today was more about determination and courage than skill and flair and there's a lot of coaches would like to be sitting here on an 11-6 scoreline after a hard game like that."

Hambly had indicated before the match that Redruth were at a crossroads, where victory would point the way out of the lower reaches of the table and defeat would condemn them to an early dogfight with the strugglers at the bottom. The result lifts the Reds to eighth in the table ahead of next week's trip to Sedgley Park and the New Year derby against the Cornish All Blacks, and the coach is relieved to have bagged a vital victory.

He said: "It hasn't been a great year both on and off the field but I'm pleased for the club that our last home game of 2009 has produced a victory. It was a tough game of rugby."

Although Redruth scored the only try of the game they could certainly have added to that tally and increased the margin of victory if they had taken all the chances that came their way. Time and again they broke through Blackheath's defence to set up good attacking positions, with Mark Bright, Jamie Semmens and Richard Carroll all initiating good attacks. But their only reward came just before half-time when Kiwi No.8 Bright crossed in the left corner. The Reds were trailing 6-3 at the time after their young fly-half Brett Rule had succeeded with his second penalty attempt in reply to two early three-pointers off the boot of opposite number Paul Humphries.

The build-up to the try was indicative of Redruth's confidence in their forward power as they spurned the chance of a kickable penalty from 30 metres and instead kicked for the corner, softening up the visitors' defence with a series of scrummages before Bright steamed over the line.

Rule's conversion attempt missed narrowly to the left, but Redruth were happy to go in at half-time 8-6 up.

Blackheath lost potent tight-head prop Des Brett early in proceedings, replaced by Richard Paddick after a lengthy spell of treatment on the field, and the mishap proved costly later as the visitors' weakened front-row buckled under the fresh muscle power provided by Redruth replacement prop, Peter Joyce.

He was joined in the pack by fellow benchmen Richard Brown and Tom Duncan, while Paul Thirlby took the place of the excellent Steve Kenward in the centre.

And all the while Redruth were creating without profiting. Soon after the restart Blackheath were penalised for not rolling away in the tackle and, almost immediately, punished again for a knock-on.

Redruth took a quick tap penalty from the first offence and a scrum from the second, before launching a superb running move down the left wing. Blackheath's defence was steadfast and the Reds switched play to Hellfire Corner, where winger Lewis Vinnicombe was only kept out by some desperate tackling on the line. No matter, referee Phillip Davis called the players back for an earlier Blackheath knock-on in front of their own posts and Rule stepped up to provide his team with the five-point advantage that they were able to defend through the remaining 20 minutes.

Blackheath had their chances to steal it, especially with the home line-out looking alarmingly disorganised throughout, but the Londoners' poor handling and Redruth's fitness and power in defence combined to deny them. Scrum-half Mark Richards' superb kicking from hand kept his team on the front foot, constantly winning territory with his booming touch kicks and turning the opposition with little grubbers to the corner.

"It wasn't vintage but we had the character and the courage to see it through," said Hambly. "A lot of sides would have capitulated with things not going their way: pointing fingers and asking questions, but we didn't do that; the boys played for each other and we prevailed."

The coach will be looking for another hard-nosed performance next week. He said: "Sedgley Park are the only team to have beaten Esher this year, but we're not going to take a backward step. We'll train hard then look forward to going up there and taking them on."



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

An emphatic 25-14 National League One victory over Wharfedale was summed up by the All Blacks' director of rugby Jon Hill as "a complete team performance".

The All Blacks' triumph at Threshfield was a considerable feat, not simply because it was an away win, but because any success against these Yorkshiremen on their home patch is notoriously hard to pull off.

Hill said: "Everyone contributed. You don't often get any easy scores up here. You have to work very hard to get them. The team really pulled together and were very determined. It was a fine team effort."

He singled out centre Ryan Westren for praise, but added that double try-scoring No.8 Sam Hocking, and any number of other players, could just as easily have taken the laurels.

He added: "We won the try-count 3-1 and were sorry to have let Wharfedale in for a late try against the run of play. It's an indicator of just how far our team have come, and of their ambition, that they were almost more disappointed not to have got the bonus point than they were pleased to have won. We're on a roll but we've got to keep our feet on the ground."

On a roll indeed. The All Blacks' match record in the four weeks running up to Christmas looks set to be: played four, won four – because no one in their right mind would expect Manchester, the league's whipping-boys, to win at Polson Bridge this Saturday.

It was clear from the start that the All Blacks were highly motivated. Their pack imposed itself imperiously from the word go, dominating scrum, ruck, maul, loose play, and line-out.

Yes, the Wharfedale men were a little short of full strength and missing one or two up front, but even with a full eight they would have found it very hard to combat the drive and co-ordination of the Cornish forwards.

With the Yorkshiremen shoved and driven all over the park there was plentiful All Black possession, which an eager back line – also on cracking form – made exciting and creative use of.

Wharfedale were living off crumbs from the visitors' table, their only real chance a breakaway or a bit of luck against the run of play. Pressure soon saw the hosts concede a penalty 25 yards out which All Black fly-half Tony Yapp kicked.

Wharfedale were then fortunate to win a penalty themselves which, in turn, their fly-half Mark Bedworth landed. From then on the half was dominated by the visitors camping on the home line.

The forward pressure was so relentless that something had to give and it did, Hocking touching down after a 20-yard driving maul.

All Black lock Ben Hilton was sin-binned for a reckless challenge (these yellow cards of his are now almost an integral part of an All Black performance), and the second quarter became scrappy and querulous.

Bedworth kicked two more penalties as the All Blacks found themselves momentarily forced to devote their energies to serious defence, and at the interval the Yorkshiremen, to everyone's surprise, had a fragile one-point lead.

However, from the turnaround it was clear the All Blacks had sloughed off any doubts or nerves they had and really began to turn the screw.

A fumbled clearance and a scrum 15 yards from the home line allowed the All Blacks to storm forward, rucking and mauling over the line, with Hocking again awarded the try. Yapp converted and it was now all Cornish attack and Yorkshire defending their own territory.

Just before the hour they were caught offside and Yapp landed a fine second penalty, 18-9 to the visitors.

Then came the most exciting and masterfully executed move and try of the game: the All Black backs put together a marvellous passage of handling, incorporating every kind of pass and feint and ending with the skipper, centre Mal Roberts, crossing wide out. With Yapp landing a touchline conversion the Cornishmen were away and clear, ahead 25-9.

Only their determined preoccupation with securing a fourth try and bonus point, by throwing caution to the wind, allowed Wharfedale to snatch an intercept, replacement centre Simon Horsfall racing clear for an unconverted consolation try.




Championship. Report from the Western Morning News

Not even the big freeze which is currently sweeping across the country could stop the Cornish Pirates from warming the hearts of their supporters after they defeated Coventry 27-12 at an arctic Butts Park Arena.

A week after crashing to defeat at home to Doncaster Knights, the Pirates responded in style with a workmanlike display against the Midlanders, whose very future within the Championship remains, in doubt such are the mounting financial problems at the club.

Last night, however, Phil Maynard's troops put those problems to one side as they put up a creditable fight against a Pirates outfit which had shown four changes to their starting line-up from the week previous.

Despite the reshuffle and the rock solid, icy conditions underfoot, the Pirates started the contest brightly and were ahead inside seven minutes when full-back Rob Cook fired them in front with a penalty after Coventry had been penalised for handling in a ruck.

Two minutes later, Cook doubled his tally as he fired over another routine kick after home centre Fangatapu Apikotoa had strayed offside in midfield.

The early points had provided the Cornish club with the ideal platform from which to play. The forwards were dominant up front, while behind, the Pirates' back division were continually unlocking the Coventry rearguard with ease.

Sadly, the visitors were unable to turn their pressure into more points, as twice they spurned glorious opportunities to add to their tally. First, South African centre Nick Jackson spilt the ball just inches from the line, then Tongan international Aisea Havili was held up over the line by some great cover defence from the hosts.

Finally, they did find their way over the whitewash when, following a slick handling move, recalled centre Rhys Jones picked his way through the home line to score the opening try, which Cook duly converted from wide out for a 13-0 lead at the break.

Coventry – as they had shown a fortnight ago against Bedford, when they came back from a 15-0 half-time deficit to draw 15-15 – are made of stern stuff, and within five minutes of the second half they had hauled themselves back into contention.

A sustained spell of pressure from the home side saw them work the ball across the field, then back again, where Apikotoa was able to release fellow centre Phil Mackenzie to charge over for a try, which winger Ollie Grove converted.

The score appeared to ignite the home fires briefly, but the Pirates soon extinguished the Coventry flames when they added a second touchdown on 51 minutes.

Having positioned themselves deep inside the home 22 following a line-out, they drove the ball back inside, from where skipper Gavin Cattle was able to feed Tyrone Holmes.

With ball in hand, the South African flanker – on as an early replacement for Rob Elloway – stole a march on his rivals to burrow over from close range. Cook once more obliged with the additional two points.

With Holmes elevated to hero status with his score, he then blotted his copybook shortly after when he was shown a yellow card by referee Mark Wilson for a professional foul.

Although down a man, the Pirates rallied round superbly and, with Coventry pushing, Cook intercepted a telegraphed pass before galloping – from halfway – under the sticks for a third try, which he also converted to make it 27-7.

Seemingly in cruise control, the Pirates gave themselves a mini scare when, almost straight from the restart, they allowed home flanker Aaron Carpenter to peel off the back of a scrum and barge his way to the line for a second try.

That would, however, be the end of the scoring as the Pirates then dug deep during the final quarter to keep the home side at bay.



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

The surprise at Polson Bridge on Saturday was not the score – the Cornish All Blacks were always going to win handsomely against weak opponents -- but the fact that the match was played at all.

The touchlines were still being repainted and blown clear of snow right up to the delayed kick-off and blizzards swept across the ground intermittently through the match, but not even the weather can stop the All Blacks these days.

The efforts of groundstaff and players were rewarded with a 66-0 victory over League One strugglers Manchester that took to 19 the number of points collected by the Launceston club in their last four games and ensures they go into their New Year derby against Redruth propelled by a full head of steam.

On a ferociously cold day the All Blacks ran in ten unanswered tries and took the opportunity to run their eye over some of their emerging players. Lloyd Duke and Adam Collings both performed well after replacing No.8 Mike Rawlings and winger Jason Luff respectively, while Jake Murphy gave a composed performance at fly-half when stepping in for Tony Yapp shortly after the restart. Jamie Salter made his first start for the club at hooker.

Director of rugby Jon Hill knew he was not going to learn anything about his players against the least proficient team in the league but was delighted to bag the points on a day when only one other Division One fixture was completed.

He said: "Today was about getting a bonus point and that's exactly what we've done. We've built up some momentum in recent weeks, our changing room is buzzing and today we've brought on some youngsters who have done well and that's a positive thing."

Manchester were better in the second half than the first in which they conceded a constant stream of penalties up front as they came under pressure from the rampant home pack, their collapse almost as dramatic as that of the snowman constructed in front of the main stand, the latter catastrophe arousing the most sympathy from a big crowd in festive mood.

All the while Yapp was kicking for the corners, and tries followed for full-back Jon Fabian, winger Keiron Lewitt, scrum-half Lewis Webb, and forwards Tom Rawlings and Dave Kimberley, with Luff rounding it off in the 38th for a 38-0 lead at the break. Yapp converted four of the touchdowns.

The All Blacks' cohesion slipped slightly in the second period but no team has found it easy to stick to a gameplan against a Manchester side with little to offer in defence.

A string of devastating breaks, most especially from blockbusting centre Ryan Westren, rendered the All Blacks' gameplan obsolete as the home players fought for their share of the ball and chaos reigned at the breakdown. The visitors' lack of shape was not helped by the early loss of their skipper Jon Doney, whose presence at the back of the scrum was sorely missed after the big No.8 was injured within the first 20 minutes and was replaced. A yellow card for centre Matt Rockey late on further handicapped their efforts to contribute to the game.

The All Blacks' remaining tries were scored by Westren and fellow centre Andy Perry, with Kimberley bagging a second and Manchester conceding a penalty try on 50 minutes after failing to absorb a lengthy spell of home pressure in their left-hand corner.

Murphy was spot-on with all four conversion attempts and will have impressed Hill with his performance as the All Blacks prepare to make a push for the title in the New Year.

While acknowledging the complications presented by both the demanding conditions and opposition that presented somewhat less of a challenge, Hill recognised that his players could have been more clinical. He said: "I felt we butchered seven or eight scoring opportunities and we were certainly a lit bit loose in second half.

"In the first period we had to work for some of our scores and displayed some patience to get them, but in the second half I felt we weren't patient enough and a little bit too loose; hence we only scored four tries and that's pretty disappointing. However, it's a great result just before Christmas."

The All Blacks have now completed their 2009 fixtures and are next in action at Redruth on Saturday January 2, when Cornwall's best known rugby rivalry will resurface at what is sure to be a packed Recreation Ground. While the Reds missed the chance to generate their own momentum ahead of the match following the cancellation of their scheduled match at Sedgley Park on Saturday, Hill believes that disadvantage is mitigated by his own side's looming inactivity.

He said: "We would prefer to be playing them next Saturday, such is the momentum we've managed to generate; and of course we might lose a bit of that over Christmas, so it's down to our players to make sure they prepare meticulously."




Championship. Report from the Western Morning News

There has been a lot of positive talk about the Plymouth Albion maul in recent weeks, but it was the Devon men who were on the end of a mauling at Camborne yesterday with the Cornish Pirates running riot in a 46-7 Championship victory over their great rivals.

The Pirates were unstoppable, running in seven tries to Albion's one – the result was never in doubt from the opening minutes until the last.

Two tries from Rob Cook, combined with scores from Chris Morgan, Aisea Havili, Gavin Cattle, Blair Cowan and Jonny Bentley, blasted the home side to victory, with Albion gaining just the single consolation try from Matt Hopper midway through the second half.

Nobody from the Albion camp would take anything away from the Pirates' outstanding performance but there were mitigating circumstances for Graham Dawe's men – their back-row, in particular, took on a slightly ungainly shape from previous, more successful, weeks.

Wayne Sprangle, Darren Clayton and Kyle Marriott fulfilled the roles from six to eight during their victory over the Exeter Chiefs last weekend – Albion's fourth consecutive Championship win. But with injuries to the latter two, lock Mike Lewis was forced to play at flanker with James Waterhouse, while Sprangle took over at No.8.

But if Albion had unavailability problems – which also saw them without Rory Watts-Jones, centre Sione Tu'ipulotu, and prop Martin Rice – the Pirates took advantage in clinical fashion right from the off.

The Pirates kicked off into the Albion half and kept the visitors pinned in for the best part of half an hour, the only brief respite coming from penalty decisions and handling errors from the home side.

The pressure first began to tell in the seventh minute. Pirates' fly-half Bentley hussled his way through the Albion line and touched down under the posts. However, referee Terry Hall had spotted an infringement in the build up, giving Albion a chance to clear temporarily.

However, the opening score would soon come for the Cornishmen. With 12 minutes gone, and with Albion still yet to gain possession within the Pirates' half, flanker Morgan finally found some space near the right corner and bashed Albion winger Liam Gibson aside for the opening try. Full-back Cook added the extras with an excellent conversion from close to the touchline. From there, they never looked back.

The complete domination continued, with the Pirates straight back on the front foot. Skipper and scrum-half Cattle combined with Morgan on the break to get their side as far as the Albion 22 – the latter then off-loaded smartly to the onrushing Havili, who juggled the ball before gathering safely and speeding clear under the posts.

Cook again made the conversion, this time from a straight-forward position under the posts.

More than 20 minutes had passed before Albion made inroads into the Pirates' 22. A trademark Albion maul followed, making more than half the remaining distance to the try-line.

The ball was then fed back to fly-half Alex Davies who lifted a kick out wide towards Gibson – the kick was good, the catch was good, but Havili was on hand, dumping his opposite number into touch before the ball could be grounded.

This very moment in the game could have been a turning point for Albion: the tables were now suddenly turning in their favour, with a prolonged period of pressure forcing the Pirates to defend by any means necessary.

However, the home side's disruption tactics did the trick and the visitors fumbled possession, before eventually being penalised for coming in at the side after a scramble for the loose ball.

The frustration was palpable for Albion, spilling over into a mini brawl, although referee Hall only deemed it necessary to speak to Davies and Pirates' No.8 Cowan once order had been restored.

The Pirates then rubbed salt into the wounds with another lightning break, slicing through the Albion defence with pace and precision.

Within a blink of an eye Bentley was powering towards the line, drawing in what remained of Albion's tattered defensive line before releasing Cook to his right at the perfect moment. The former Nuneaton back touched down before adding the conversion with a low thud of a drive arcing over the posts.

Even then there were opportunities to wrap up the fourth try for the bonus point before the interval. Albion were fortunate to get to half-time with their pride merely dented but still intact.

The danger for Pirates was always going to be complacency on the restart, and Waterhouse nearly exposed the hosts within seconds of the sides kicking off, brushing aside several weak Pirate tackles before the Cornishmen brought the defensive line taut once more.

And once that platform had been established, the Pirates advanced again, gaining a penalty for offside as they ventured as far as the Albion 22. They opted to kick for goal with Cook maintaining his poise to add three points.

There was simply no let-up for Albion. The Pirates won their bonus point with 30 minutes to spare, Havili finding Cook in space on the right and he blasted to the corner as white shirts were slipping and sliding in a doomed effort to make a tackle. The conversion was missed on this occasion, however.

Albion points did finally come on the hour. Replacement Kieran Hallett found a rare gap and played in centre Hopper – albeit with a slightly forward-looking trajectory to the pass – to get a consolation score under the posts. Hallett added the close-range conversion.

Any subdued celebrations were to be shortlived, however. On their next attack the Pirates added a fifth try through Cattle, who broke clear on the right – with Cook again adding the conversion.

Perhaps the final insult for Albion came in the 70th minute. An easily kickable penalty chance was turned down, with Bentley instead aiming for touch. The Pirates won the line-out and drove for the line, 'Albion-esque' with Cowan peeling off to score the hosts' sixth try.

With five minutes remaining, Bentley added another score to the rout, dummying a pass to his outside and then bursting through himself after some good work in the build up from Havili and hooker David Ward.

It's Moseley at home for Albion next, and they will hope to restore their battered pride by then. The Pirates, meanwhile, will feel there may never be a better time to take on the might of Bristol than this Friday.




Championship. Report from the Western Morning News

The Cornish Pirates slipped to their seventh defeat of the Championship season with a 31-15 loss at league leaders Bristol.

The Pirates, who deservedly won the second half 10-5, gave themselves too much to do after the hosts broke clear during the opening 40 minutes.

Visiting scrum-half Gavin Cattle brought the scores level after Lee Robinson’s opener for Bristol. However, further scores from former Plymouth Albion player Tom Ascott and Dan Norton (2) gave the former Premiership club a commanding half-time lead.

The Pirates battled well during the second half and reduced the deficit through a Rob Cook penalty and a try, although James Phillips did cross for Bristol’s fifth and final try.



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

A New Year it may well be, but the past rivalries that exist when it comes to clashes between Redruth and the Cornish All Blacks still simmer nicely whatever the time of the year.

Like two prizefighters slugging it out in the ring, when these two giants of the Duchy's rugby scene collide, you can guarantee the match-up is one that is sure to whet the appetite.

Saturday's latest bout was, as you would expect, another keenly contested affair – one in which neither side were willing to give an inch. Indeed, for 80 minutes the two happily traded blows in their search for victory in League One.

In the end, however, it was left to experienced All Blacks fly-half Tony Yapp to floor the Reds with a telling blow five minutes into injury time.

The former Exeter Chiefs, Worcester and Bedford back had – until that point – enjoyed a somewhat mixed afternoon with his normally laser-guided right boot. That said, when his side needed him to produce the goods, the 32-year-old duly delivered as he secured a narrow 9-7 victory for his side at the Recreation Ground.

His last-gasp effort may have dribbled over the home crossbar, but it did not matter to the visitors from Polson, who headed back up the A30 celebrating not only success on the day, but also a league double over their near neighbours.

For the Reds, their scant reward from a hard day's toil was a mere losing bonus point. The truth is, however, the real positive they should glean from the occasion is much more encouraging – play like this for the remainder of the season, and head coach Nigel Hambly will have few complaints.

From the outset, the home side – spurred on by a bumper crowd of 2,010 – tore into the All Blacks with a real gusto: the tone set with the first significant tackle of the day, Redruth centre Steve Evans felling All Blacks' flanker Tom Rawlings like an axe-man chopping down timber.

However, as Rawlings was left counting his ribs on the deck, play was allowed to continue. Unfortunately for the Reds, the ensuing action afforded the opposition their first points of the day when referee Michael Tutty penalised the home side for infringing at a ruck.

After a brief scuffle amongst the rival forwards, order was restored and up stepped Yapp to fire his side in front with a 25-metre penalty.

Almost immediately Redruth were gifted the opportunity to restore parity, this after All Blacks' prop Bruce Pow was penalised for going over the top. Sadly, Brett Rule could not copy Yapp's earlier effort, his punt flying wide of the left upright.

Back roared the home side as another attacking opportunity saw right winger Lewis Vinnicombe cut in off the flank to get within touching distance of the visiting line. Good scramble defence from the visitors thwarted him, before the All Blacks finally cleared their lines.

At the other end, Yapp failed with a 15th minute penalty chance, before the Reds – who will not have been happy with their first half penalty count – were briefly reduced to 14 men when lock Nathan Pascoe was sin-binned for punching Ed Lewsey.

Although down a man, the Reds rallied superbly and claimed the lead on 25 minutes when livewire scrum-half Mark Richards charged down Lewsey's intended clearance, before scooping up the loose ball and darting over the line for Rule to add the extras.

Yet more penalties, however, threatened to take that advantage away from the Reds, who were spared two minutes later when Yapp miscued a second kickable chance short and wide.

The All Blacks, though, were slowly beginning to build up a head of steam. Twice they declined kickable penalties, instead opting to try and muscle their way over in 'Hellfire Corner'.

Initially it looked as though the visitors may glean some reward from this very tactic. The All Blacks pack huffed and puffed, but were defiantly held at bay by some outstanding Reds defence. Then, when the visitors switched to moving the ball wide, Rule's bone-crunching hit on Mal Roberts sent shockwaves reverberating around the Rec.

The All Blacks' skipper, it has to be said, would not be the only player to feel the force of the diminutive home fly-half. Visiting centre Ryan Westren will today still be nursing a hefty hit to his midriff.

Into the second half and Redruth were dealt an early blow when Paul Thirlby was forced from the field. The home full-back charged into a tackle, only for referee Tutty to immediately call a halt to proceedings.

After a brief spell of treatment, Thirlby rose to his feet. His legs, though, resembled a bowl of jelly and, quite rightly, he was led from the field nursing a bloody nose, bobbed lip and – you can bet – the mother of all headaches.

Thirlby's departure meant Nick Simmons was brought onto the right wing, with Vinnicombe switching to the number 15 jersey.

Despite the re-jig, Redruth continued to press forward in search of further points. This time, however, it was the All Blacks who showed their defiance in defence.

As replacements from both sides littered the second half, it was the All Blacks who began to step the pace of the contest up a notch. Steve Perry's introduction from the sidelines was certainly instrumental as he helped to get the visitors moving into wider areas.

By the hour mark, the deficit was down to a point as Yapp atoned for his two earlier misses, this time punishing Reds' lock Damien Cook for not rolling away at the tackle area.

Shortly after, the former England A international then tried his luck with a long-range drop-goal chance. His bludgeoned effort, however, was well off target. Yapp, though, would not be denied and, as the Blacks' attacking wave gathered momentum in the dying stages of a hard fought battle, there he was to sink Redruth's brave resistance.

Having worked the ball to within strike range through a series of forward raids, Lewsey spun the ball back into the hands of Yapp who, in the blink of an eye, drop kicked his side to win number 11 of the season. It may have been harsh on the Reds, especially given their earlier endeavour, but – as Hambly stated at the close – "if you pay that sort of money, you get that sort of player."




Championship. Report from the Western Morning News

The Siberian cold snap of the past fortnight may be thawing, but there was an icy blast lingering in Cornwall last night as Pirates' coach Chris Stirling reflected on his side's latest showing in the Championship.

Seemingly cruising against basement club Birmingham-Solihull – the Pirates were 31-17 up entering the final quarter of yesterday's tussle at Camborne – Stirling watched on with disbelief as his side skidded out of control late on to allow the struggling Midlanders to claim an unlikely share of the spoils.

Centre Will Lawson delivered the sting in the tail for the visiting Bees as he raced away – with a minute of normal time remaining – to claim a late touchdown, which fly-half Ben Patston converted superbly from the right touchline to seal a famous fightback.

For the Bees, it was a result to savour at a venue which, earlier in the season, they had been handsomely thumped 62-10 by their Cornish hosts. Yesterday Russell Earnshaw's troops dug deep into their reserves to deliver in the heat of battle. Their brave on-field efforts not only ended a 14-game losing streak in the league, but at the same time highlighted some areas of concerns for Stirling, who admitted at the final whistle a gruesome post-mortem of the contest would be undertaken at first light this morning.

"I'm very disappointed," said the Kiwi afterwards. "On our part it was a game of missed opportunities in attack and a game of missed opportunities to put the game away. We should have put it away numerous times, but we didn't. Defensively, we had a lack of workrate, which was disappointing.

"We probably made some of our best hits of the season at times today, but those were few and far between. In between all that we missed some terrible defensive tackles and it came back to bite us in the end."

Stirling knows the match review for him and his players will make for uncomfortable watching, but he is promising such a showing will not be replicated. He added: "We allowed the game to lack structure today. We have actually become a team that plays good, structured rugby and also we are good in the broken play as well. Today, though, we were not as good as the opposition and that is where they scored their points.

"The try which brought them back to within seven points should have been a try at the other end. Unfortunately a lack of execution and all of a sudden they are in under our posts. That gave them a sniff, so full credit to them for the way they played on.

"That said, I have just spoken to the guys in the changing rooms and I said apart from the fact they have taken years off my life, I said we have been here before, we've had this feeling and we know how to deal with it. We will be back in again tomorrow and the hard work starts again right from that moment."

Without a game since their defeat to Bristol on New Years Day, the Pirates started brightly and took the lead inside seven minutes when, following a turnover at a Bees scrum, they worked the ball along their back line to release full-back Rob Cook to crash over in the left corner. Unfortunately, he was unable to land the tough conversion attempt.

The lead lasted just six minutes, however, as the Bees struck back with a try of their own. Working the ball inside from a line-out move, scrum-half Johnny Williams fed the ball to half-back partner Patston, who eased over for the score, which he also converted to make it 7-5.

Back roared the Pirates, who used their dominant scrum to claim a second touchdown, No.8 Blair Cowan peeling off the back of one particular set-piece to brush aside the attentions of former Pirate and Exeter forward Chris Cracknell to dive over, Cook converting.

The Cornish club could not build on their advantage and, with Tyrone Holmes sin-binned for a late tackle by referee Wayne Barnes, the Bees struck on 33 minutes when centre Cameron Mitchell picked off a telegraphed pass from James Doherty to race almost the length of the field and dive in under the posts for Patston to make it 14-12 at the break.

On the resumption, the Pirates were again first to show. Having positioned themselves deep into Bees territory with a series of scrums, the pressure finally paid dividends when referee Barnes penalised the Bees for collapsing the scrum one too many times with a penalty try, which Cook converted once more.

Patston's left boot briefly reduced the arrears with a penalty, only for Holmes to claim a fourth Pirates' try when he crashed over with a charging run on 57 minutes. Cowan followed suit when he dropped down on a pushover score, Cook converted once, and with it the Pirates seemed home and dry at 31-17.

Then, however, the Pirates seemingly shot themselves in the foot. The impressive Patston danced over for a second try, which he converted, then Lawson delivered a telling late blow when he outpaced Cook for a fourth score. Even then Patston had to convert with a testing kick.

Next up for the Pirates is Sunday's visit of Rotherham, a game which Stirling will no doubt be seeking a response from.



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

The All Blacks might soon be in the running for the National League One title. This well-deserved, four-try, bonus-point 26-22 win at Stourbridge was their sixth on the trot and completed the double over the Midlanders.

In their last six league matches the Cornish club have posted 190 points and conceded 49 – that's 32 points per game with a paltry eight against them.

All Blacks' director of rugby Jon Hill said: "Victories away from home are very hard to come by and I was delighted with our performance.

"We looked a bit out of sorts in the first half, some of our timing wasn't quite there, and we made some errors and missed some scoring chances. But our pack's performance was tremendous. That's six wins on the trot. We're on a roll."

This was again an impressive team display. The All Blacks soaked up the pressure and when they applied some of their own, Stourbridge didn't have an answer. The Midlanders had a big pack and clearly thought they could play a game of attrition and win it up front. They hadn't reckoned with the ceaseless momentum and well-oiled power of the All Black eight.

That said, it did take the Cornishmen some time to get up to speed and take the game to their hosts. When they did, in the second half, theirs was the controlling hand.

However, things didn't start to plan and against the run of play Stourbridge went 8-0 in the opening 20 minutes. Full-back Ali Bressington kicked a penalty for offside, All Black wing Jason Luff was sin-binned for killing the ball, and then home wing Chris Tennuci scored an opportunist try after the visitors mishandled.

The All Blacks finally opened their account as first-half injury time approached. They applied the screw with slick recycling and polished control and when the Midlanders thrice collapsed a scrum on their 22, the referee had no hesitation in awarding Launceston a penalty try, which fly-half Tony Yapp converted to leave his side one point adrift at the interval, 8-7.

From the re-start it was quite another story. The All Blacks' forward momentum was relentless while their opponents were forced to live off scraps. And yet, once more against the run of play, Stourbridge went further ahead. From a maul 15 metres from the visitors' line they broke through close in and No.8 Mark Evans touched down for Bressington to add the extras.

Just before the hour the All Blacks sent a kick into touch 25 metres from the home line. All Black lock Bryn Jenkins won the line-out and the pack drove fiercely over with hooker Darren Semmens touching down.

Yapp's conversion attempt for once failed but within minutes a neat interpassing move from the backs saw centre Ryan Westren blitz down the wing and cross, with Yapp converting to put the All Blacks into the lead for the first time, 19-15.

When Stourbridge replacement prop Andrew Lawrence was sin-binned for killing the ball, the All Blacks struck again, lock Ben Hilton winning a line-out to set up an unstoppable 13-man maul and then Luff broke away to score. Yapp again added the extras and the visitors were 11 points ahead with less than ten minutes remaining.

The Midlanders unexpectedly managed to get back into the visitors' 22 deep into injury time and were awarded a penalty try when Jenkins was yellow-carded for killing the ball in front of the posts. It was a hollow score. The All Blacks were clear and worthy winners.



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

It was "mission accomplished" for Redruth in a five-try victory over Nuneaton at a rain-soaked Recreation Ground.

The Reds started slowly but rarely looked stretched, hitting top gear in fleeting moments with tries from Mark Bright (two), Lewis Vinnicombe, Herbie Stupple and Chris Morris securing the bonus point in a comprehensive 34-3 win.

Another strong defensive display laid the foundations, with head coach Nigel Hambly delighted to see his side complete their second consecutive National League One match without the loss of a try.

He said: "I'm really pleased with today, we haven't conceded a try again – that's two games in a row. At the end they spent five or six minutes in our 22 and it would have been very easy to let them score but we kept making our tackles and kept scrambling."

Although they achieved a similar shut-out in their previous league match against the Cornish All Blacks, they lost the game 9-7. However, the winning response, complete with a bonus point, left Hambly well satisfied.

He said: "You can't get any more than that today, it's five points and mission accomplished. Nuneaton were very dogged and they tried very hard but we defended well."

The Reds' defensive capabilities were tested to the full early on. And although the Cornishmen prevented the visitors from crossing the whitewash, scrum-half Huw Thomas booted a long-range penalty to give his side the lead.

That was as good as it got for Nuneaton, however. Within a minute, Redruth No.8 Mark Bright smartly intercepted a loose midfield pass and ran clear to the line. Brett Rule converted before adding a well-struck penalty three minutes later.

Vinnicombe benefited from the forwards' relentless pressure in front of the Nuneaton posts in the 26th minute, finding space on the right as more and more visiting players were drawn in to prevent the Reds rumbling over the line.

Redruth applied yet more pressure after the half-time break, getting within range before Bright passed short to his left, allowing Stupple to crash over for try number three. Rule made a superb conversion from out wide, judging the wind to perfection.

Bright got his second try off the back of another close-range scrum just before the hour-mark to open up a 24-point gap between the sides.

Nuneaton never gave up and fought their way into a good position in the closing stages. Redruth defended manfully once more and scored their fifth try off some quick thinking from skipper Craig Bonds, who intercepted the visitors' attempt at a quick line-out.

Bonds made a dash for the line but thought better of it as he broke – at rapidly decreasing speed – into the Nuneaton half. Fortunately, Morris was free to his right and lit the afterburners once the ball was safe in hand, speeding clear to the try line with Paul Thirlby converting.

Hambly said: "I'm pleased with the way we finished, seeing Chris run in from there was very pleasing. Bondy hit those imaginary steps that appear whenever you run 40 yards – I think he's had enough of the ribbing about that already.

"It is just testament to how switched on and committed he is. He was in the right place at the right time – that doesn't happen by chance, it is because he reads the game and works hard. It just shows what a good player Craig Bonds is."

The Reds will need Bonds and Co at their best again this weekend with a tough trip to Blaydon up next.




Championship. Report from the Western Morning News

He demanded a rapid response – and that's exactly what he got.

Spewing after seeing his troops surrender a healthy advantage to draw against lowly Birmingham-Solihull the previous week, last night the smile returned to the face of Cornish Pirates' coach Chris Stirling.

Yesterday's five-point bounty – courtesy of a 29-24 victory over visiting Rotherham Titans – not only erased the disappointment of seven days earlier, but – in turn – effectively booked Stirling's side their place in this season's Championship play-offs.

Add into the mix a revenge mission for an earlier seasonal defeat by their visitors, who won the corresponding fixture at Clifton Lane 29-20 back in October, and it was little wonder the New Zealander had much to rejoice about at the final whistle.

"I'm really pleased," said Stirling. "Rotherham we knew would pose a big test for us, but we've come through that and at the same time picked up five very big points.

"The performance was definitely a big improvement on last week. We knew we let ourselves down badly against the Bees, but today there were a lot of good aspects to our play. Again there were areas we need to go away and work on, but those are relatively small and today it was only for small periods. Last week our defence was a mess for 80 minutes.

"If I have one concern this week, it would be that our discipline at certain times gave Rotherham the opportunity to use their one and only weapon, which was their line-out drive from close quarters. They scored two tries from that and it kept them in the game.

"That said, the way we started the game – especially the first quarter – and also the way we closed out the game late on were very good. Today I saw more maturity in our play, especially in the closing stages. The Pirates of three or four weeks ago would probably have spun the ball under their posts and run the risk of a possible interception.

"This time we didn't do that and we kept our heads very well. Just speaking to JB [Jonny Bentley] afterwards he said we could have scored and that we had a man over, but it simply wasn't worth the risk."

Although Rotherham put on a valiant display at Camborne, the visiting Yorkshiremen were always up against it, particularly after shedding 22 points in as many first-half minutes.

Bentley instigated a stunning first quarter for the home side, the Kiwi fly-half crossing inside 59 seconds for the opening try, which was duly converted by Rob Cook.

Cook banged over a sixth-minute penalty, before winger Richard Bright was the beneficiary of some neat approach work from Bentley and Paul Devlin to claim a second try just three minutes later.

It was a rampant opening from the Cornishmen who, having pinned their counterparts by the neck, then exposed the Rotherham jugular with a third try on 19 minutes.

Pressing home their authority up front, the Pirates' pack combined as one to produce a five-metre scrum which – it has to be said – murdered the very life out of the opposing Titans. As the visitors wilted under the extreme pressure, referee Rob Debney had no option but to run under the posts for a penalty try, which Cook again converted.

To their credit, Rotherham regrouped and with it came their opening points of the game on 26 minutes. Skipper Mike Whitehead drilled a penalty into the corner, No.8 Jon Skurr won the resulting line-out, and prop Nigel Conroy did the rest as he burrowed his way under a mass of bodies to score in the right corner. Whitehead obliged with the extras.

The fightback continued five minutes later when, following a slick handling move involving Ross Batty and Brad Hunt, winger Jon Feeley latched onto a pass from the latter to cross for a second try.

Within minutes, though, the Pirates were back on the offensive and with it came their all-important fourth try. Some fancy footwork from Devlin saw him expose a yawning gap in the Rotherham rearguard before brushing aside the attentions of both Hunt and Whitehead to score.

Even then an eventful first half had more to offer. From the subsequent restart, Rotherham positioned themselves back inside Pirates' territory. And when another penalty was kicked to the corner, they conjured up another line-out move from which No.8 Jon Skurr took the accolades.

A 12-point buffer at the break was just reward for the Pirates. However, they were unable to add to that tally during a somewhat pedestrian start to the second period.

By the hour mark, though, Rotherham were pressing hard as they looked for a lifeline back into the contest. As the pressure mounted, so the Pirates began to fall foul of referee Debney. Indeed, when home prop Alan Paver was sin-binned for a professional foul, the visitors smelt blood. But unlike the first half where they banked on their line-out drives to bring rich rewards, this time round they opted for a succession of five-metre scrums. In truth it was the wrong option to take as the Pirates did everything in their power to repel the threat of their rivals.

As Rotherham rued the missed opportunity, so the Pirates did their level best to close the game out. The visitors, though, were far from finished and when Tom Allen crossed for a late converted score, home nerves began to jangle for a second successive week. This time, thankfully, the Pirates had enough in the tank.

"After today I believe we've probably done enough to be in the play-offs," said Stirling. "That said, no one will be taking their foot off the pedal. Some guys may get a much-needed rest over the next few weeks, but we go to Bedford next week and that will be another big opportunity for us to show what we are all about."



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

A difficult week ended with more heartbreak for the Cornish All Blacks after an injury-time penalty brought their six-game winning run in National League One to an end.

Visitors Newbury trailed for most of the game at Polson Bridge, but they stuck to their task and punished the All Blacks in the fifth minute of injury time when fly-half Mitch Burton sealed a 25-24 victory.

For the All Blacks – who this week disclosed that their players were hoping to raise £20,000 to overcome a financial shortfall – it was another bitter blow as five league points turned into just two in the blink of an eye.

Those two league points – for scoring four tries and finishing within seven points of the winners – were scant reward for a performance that contained plenty of courage, if not composure and poise.

A shattered All Blacks director of rugby Jon Hill said: "We've lost in the last play of the game, that's criminal, we've made some errors and we've been made to pay. Newbury have come here and they've done a job on us, they've been competitive from start to finish and taken the opportunities that they've been given.

"We failed to clear our line and generate some territory in the last ten minutes – that's what has come back to haunt us. The effort was magnificent today, it was 110 per cent shown by absolutely everybody. You can't fault that.

"But we weren't precise enough in a lot of things we did today, and some of those things we got away with because of our effort. We've got work to do, but we've won six on the bounce before today so that's pleasing – we've taken two league points from today as well so it's not all bad."

In fact, the first half was mostly good. Centre Ryan Westren opitomised the Launceston men's spirit and determination: he was bright and alert to intercept Newbury No.8 Scott Witcomb's midfield pass and break for the line in the tenth minute.

Although he didn't quite make it all the way, the territorial gain was significant. Fly-half Tony Yapp took advantage, feeding a grubber kick into the corner which lock Bryn Jenkins chased down to score the opening unconverted try.

Burton showed that he had his kicking boots on with a penalty midway through the half, but the All Blacks stretched their lead to nine points when full-back Jon Fabian crafted an opening on the left wing, rounding behind the try-line to set up an easy conversion for Yapp.

Newbury were always a threat on the break, and, although the hosts defended resolutely, Witcomb sneaked over off the back of a five-metre scrum on 30 minutes.

The All Blacks came out strongly after the half-time break with Josh Lord rampaging down the right flank for a quick-fire try – Yapp cruelly hitting the post with the conversion.

However, Newbury caught the Cornishmen napping on the restart with winger Chris Ridgers running through for a fine individual try, converted by Burton. His side then took the lead for the first time shortly after prop Jason Bolt had been shown a yellow card for a rucking offence. Lock Dan Hodge crashed over the line as the visitors began to dominate, with Burton again converting.

A penalty try was awarded to the All Blacks when referee Richard Kelly lost patience with the Newbury men coming in at the side to prevent them scoring at close range. Yapp converted to give his side a two-point lead.

The hosts defended that lead doggedly but an infringement five minutes after the full 80 minutes had been played gave Burton his big chance after failing with a drop goal moments earlier. He took it brilliantly, leaving the All Blacks cursing themselves.

Hill said: "We had a very similar scoreline up there but we came out on top. They had drop goal opportunities to win the game up there and took the wrong options and I thought it was going to be a similar story today with five minutes to go when Mitch Burton missed that drop goal.

"We did have a guy in the bin and lost a little bit of momentum in the game, there's no doubt about that. Maybe it cost us, maybe it didn't."

Hill's men face a gruelling trip to Tynedale this weekend. He said: "You don't tend to get much off them without working hard and that's going to be a huge test for us."



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

Redruth's dismal away form continued with a comprehensive 42-10 defeat to Blaydon in National League One.

The six tries to two loss in the north east left Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly frustrated. "A real tough afternoon not helped by a pretty average performance by us," he summed up. "Fair go to Blaydon, they were very good, it was their day. They threw a couple of speculative passes inside and they went to hand. It is going to happen on some days.

"On top of that it was a pretty average performance from us right across the board. A lot of people did not really front up and a lot of people went missing today."

The Reds started badly, and frankly got no better. They were perhaps fortunate to trail only 18-5 at the break.

After Redruth conceded ground from the kick-off, early Blaydon pressure ended in a penalty in front of the posts for an offence at a ruck. Adam Armstrong kicked an easy goal for the hosts.

The first Blaydon try after 11 minutes summed up Redruth's plight. Under pressure, a speculative Redruth kick down field gave Blaydon plenty of options to counter-attack. Scott Riddell fed powerful centre James Fitzpatrick, who brushed off a tackle on the Redruth left-hand touchline and made ground to get behind the Reds' defensive line, before passing inside to flanker Kerry Wood. With the Redruth defensive cover turning this way and that, wing Simon Barber touched down near the posts for Armstrong to convert.

For the next ten minutes Redruth had plenty of procession, aided by four penalties. But with little structure in attack the Reds turned over the ball cheaply and did not put the Blaydon defence to any real inconvenience.

After Blaydon missed a certain score through a knock-on with the Reds' defence broken, Armstrong kicked a second penalty for offside after 27 minutes.

From the restart Blaydon hit the Reds with an outstanding try, backs and forwards combining for the marauding Wood to touch down an unconverted try.

On the stroke of half-time, in Redruth's best bit of play, Luke Collins, on loan from the Pirates to get game time while he recovers from injury, gave the Reds some forward ball in the Blaydon 22. Swift passing down the threequarter line gave Lewis Vinnicombe space to go over for his 12th try of the season.

Hambly summed up a catalogue of Redruth errors in the first half: "We dropped the ball from the kick-off. Someone called and did not take the ball; the mess started from there. We were putting ourselves under pressure. Our kicking game was particularly poor, we did not set too many targets. We knocked the ball on when we had it."

Fitzpatrick, who was a pain to the Redruth defence every time he had the ball, set up a try for Armstrong early in the second half which put an end to any thoughts of a Redruth revival.

The bonus point try came after 49 minutes, Wood crashing over wide out on Redruth's left for an unconverted try.

Player-coach Richard Carroll came on as a replacement and breathed some life into the Redruth pack, touching down a try following a catch-and-drive move from a line-out after 56 minutes.

More good handling and support play saw Andy Baggett go over for Blaydon's fifth try after 63 minutes as the home side played some irrepressible rugby. The Reds, to their credit, showed some spirit to keep the score down.

After replacing Vinnicombe, who injured his back, Nick Simmons was pushed into touch near the corner flag in a rare attack by the Reds.

The final play of the game saw Blaydon No.8 Gavin Jones brush off tackles down the left wing to touch down a try that Armstrong converted.

Hambly said: "For some players it is all too easy when people come to us at home. I asked for some real character today and I don't think some players showed it. Some did. I thought Mark Bright was tremendous again, he did a massive amount of work. We did not give up and we did not capitulate, but it was a pretty poor performance by us.

"It is done and dusted, we have got to pick ourselves up. We have got Wharfedale at home on Saturday and they are a pretty useful side. It is going to be a tough week in training. We are a better side than we showed today."




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

Nigel Hambly didn't quite get the reaction he was looking for from his players following last Saturday's heavy defeat at Blaydon, as Redruth gave their poorest home display of the season against visitors Wharfedale, who on the day ran out worthy 34-13 winners at the Recreation Ground.

"That wasn't the reaction I was looking for," confessed a disappointed Hambly as he emerged from the home dressing room some 40 minutes after the final whistle. "We seemed to have hit a bit of a rut, things just don't seem to be going right. It doesn't take too much at this level with little things not functioning well to allow things to fall over. We've had a chat in the changing room and I've told the boys when you fall over, you get up and dust yourself down and get back on it. We've got a lot of games left, with a double stint next weekend in the northwest - against Sedgley Park and Manchester. Last week was dreadful and to be honest this week wasn't much better. Today was a coach killer day." Hambly has now got to pick his side up prior to next weekend's double-header.

With fly-half Brett Rule not having recovered from last week's bang on the head, Hambly gave Aaron Penberthy his first start for the senior side. Young Penberthy certainly didn't let the side down as he gave one of the few shining performances on the day, which earned him the Redruth man-of-the match award. Hambly was understandably delighted with his nephew's display: "Yes, he played reasonably well. He's only seventeen and learning all the time. He kicked well from hand and got us in some good positions. With the family connections it's tough on him, but I thought he coped well today and looked accomplished, a ray of sunshine on a pretty dismal day. And with two games next weekend he'll probably be in the mix."

Flanker Chris Fuca marked his 100th appearance for the club by leading out the side.

Redruth had an early scoring opportunity as Wharfedale were penalised at the breakdown, but whilst Penberthy made a good connection with the ball his 45-metre kick drifted wide of the uprights.

The young fly-half was soon in the thick of the action again. Following a forward drive to the visitors' 22, as the ball came out he coolly dropped a fine goal to open the scoring. Three minutes later Penberthy doubled his side's score with a penalty goal. That was to prove to be as good as it was to get for the Reds.

Despite the Reds' early successes Wharfedale had already shown the danger they possessed out wide with a more than useful back line full of running. Centres Chris Malherbe and Andrew Hodgson were asking questions of the Redruth defence, whilst in the forwards lock Alistair Allen caught the eye.

It was no surprise that Wharfedale's pressure finally told as they scored three first half tries in a ten minute spell full of incident. Full back Luke Gray came into the line to finish off a move after 17 minutes. The Yorkshiremen then capitalised on a mis-kick from Nathan Pedley, which fell kindly to winger Iain Dixon, who ran in a second score barely three minutes later. With prolific points getter Mark Bedworth adding both conversions, Redruth found themselves 14-6 down before further disaster struck as No.8 Mark Bright was sin-binned by referee Luke Pearce for a foul tackle.

Down to fourteen men, Redruth were further rocked by a third Wharfedale try, which had a hint of controversy about it: Redruth stopped playing, believing Mr. Pearce had called "tackled held", but winger James Ticknell carried on playing to score with referee Pearce signalling the try, a schoolboy error, which summed up the Reds' day!

Clearly rattled, Redruth allowed themselves to get embroiled in a round of handbags following a tackle near the grandstand touchline on Penberthy. The result amongst all the swinging Red and Green arms was that Lewis Vinnicombe was singled out as the culprit and shown a yellow card.

Now down to thirteen men, Redruth saw out the half without conceding any further points. Penberthy had a chance to cut the deficit but his penalty effort went wide.

Wharfedale continued to dictate after the break, with Gray adding a drop-goal from 40 meters to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Redruth's day went from bad to worse as a triple replacement left them momentarily with sixteen players on the field! Then on-loan lock Luke Collins was forced to leave the field with an ankle injury, which will be of concern to the Cornish Pirates. However, for Redruth the only replacement left was back Chris Morris! It caused a re-jig witch saw Pedley joining the forwards.

It didn't bother Wharfedale as they ran in two further tries to clinch the bonus point. Ticknell grabbed his second of the game, after fine interplay between Malherbe and hooker Gavin Hindle set up the winger, then flanker Latu Maka'afi crossing in the Piggy Lane corner following pressure from the forwards. Bedworth's third conversion completed the visitors' haul.

Redruth were left with just pride to play for. Following a tap-and-go from scrum-half Mark Richards, play was taken into the Wharfedale 22. Quick ball from the forwards saw Richards feed Bright, who crossed for a consolation score which Penberthy converted. By then many of the crowd had already gone home, to leave Wharfedale to savour another win at the Rec, whilst Redruth will now start looking anxiously over their shoulder as the relegation scrap edges a little closer.

Redruth 13 pts: try Bright; conversion Penberthy; penalty Penberthy; drop-goal Penberthy
Yellow cards Bright (25), Vinnicombe (32)

Wharfedale 34 pts: tries Gray, Dixon, Ticknell (2), Maka'afi; conversions Bedworth (3); drop-goal Gray

Redruth: L Vinnicombe, N Simmons, C Bonds, P Thirlby (S Evans 22), N Pedley, A Penberthy, M Richards; D Jacques (capt), M Gidlow (O Hambly 45), S Heard (P Joyce 45), L Collins (C Morris 50), D Cook, N Pascoe (R Carroll 45), C Fuca, M Bright

Wharfedale: L Gray, J Tincknell, A Hodgson, C Malherbe, I Dixon (S Horsfall 61) M Bedworth, S Cottrell (D Matthews 65); A Mason, G Hindle (S Graham 61), C Steel (M Chivers 54), O Renton (R Brown 19), A Allen, L Maka'afi, D Solomi, R Baldwin (capt).

Referee: Mr. L Pearce (RFU)

Crowd: 708



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

Tynedale got their revenge over the All Blacks in the National League One game at Corbridge, ensuring a 38-22 victory with a three-try blitz in the second half after the Launceston team trailed at the break by only six points, 21-15.

Tynedale had their strongest side of the season out, and their pack gave the Cornish eight, who are used to dictating proceedings, a lot of bother in the tight – although some lax refereeing didn't help the All Blacks' attacking play.

All Blacks' director of rugby, Jon Hill, clearly felt that it might well have been another story had his team had the rub of the green.

He said: "It was end-to-end stuff, there were wide open spells of play. Tynedale took their chances, and our conversion rate wasn't as good as theirs. It could have gone our way but it didn't.

"We made a few errors at crucial times and we left with nothing. It's hard to take, we deserved something and we played at a fast pace. We went in search of a fourth try and it probably cost us the game."

The 400-mile journey back to Cornwall from just below Hadrian's Wall and the Scottish border must have seemed a very long one.

The All Blacks started so well, dominating the opening 20 minutes, but then Tynedale seemed to get stronger and stronger and began to get much more possession, with their handling and recycling in the backs outstanding. That said, the All Blacks never for a moment eased up, let alone gave up, and scored three good tries of their own – with a likely fourth denied only because time ran out.

It was an end to end game and very close throughout the first half.

The All Blacks were 7-0 up in the opening five minutes. Right wing Jason Luff shot away on a run, the pack took it on and from a ruck and maul lock Nathan Hannay – a new signing from Sidmouth making his debut – burst clear to score, with fly-half Tony Yapp adding the extras.

Then home centre Peter Belgian, who went on to score 18 points, kicked two penalties in quick succession after the visitors had handled in a ruck and strayed offside.

The Northumbrians took the lead, which they retained thereafter, in the 14th minute. Left wing Sep Visser went over in the corner from a set-piece with Belgian converting.

Back came the All Blacks to narrow it to a single point, Luff blitzing away on a 50-yard run and setting up a ruck. The ball was spun wide left and centre Ryan Westren scored.

Within minutes Belgian and Yapp had kicked tit-for-tat penalties, and with five minutes to go before half-time Tynedale No.8 Alistair Murray finished off a superb interpassing move with his side's second try.

The All Blacks felt they had the upper hand in the first half, but Tynedale responded with a dominant forward display and some superb handling. Following a scrum, a recycling and some confident passing, scrum-half Dominic Shaw went over in the corner with Belgian sending a touchline conversion sailing through the posts.

It was 28-15 and the Northumbrians were pulling away. Within five minutes they were gifted a lucky score – All Black skipper, centre Mal Roberts, saw his clearance kick from the 22 charged down and go straight into Tynedale hands. There was another quick recycling and Belgian had crossed on the overlap to make it 33-15.

The All Blacks did hit back just after the hour with a fine try. Yapp kicked a penalty to the corner. There was a catch-and-drive with the home pack driven back, and then Hannay peeled off a maul to link with replacement hooker Jamie Salter who went over, Yapp adding a fine conversion.

The All Blacks were still just about in touch, but ten minutes from the end Tynedale made victory safe with their fifth try, Visser going over for his second touchdown.




Championship. Report from the Western Morning News

Whilst there are some clubs using the final weeks of the Championship's first stage to sit back and take stock, there are others who are adopting a different stance as the season builds towards the business end.

The inaugural promotion play-offs may be just a month or so away, but already strategies of varying kinds are being implemented by rival coaches across the land.

It seems – at this moment in time – that no one is really willing to reveal their true hand. Instead, everybody is adopting their own unique plan in a complex game, the prize of which will be a place at English rugby's top table.

High-flying Exeter Chiefs have made no secret of their intentions to tackle the elite of the Premiership. Having stormed through the first half of the season with an unblemished record, a mini stumble just after Christmas has since been overhauled by a four-game winning streak.

The latest success story for Rob Baxter's side came yesterday in Cornwall when the in-form Chiefs sunk the hosting Pirates 30-15 with a powerful display at the Recreation Ground.

In recent weeks, Baxter has made no secret of the fact that he wants his side to hit the play-offs with 'real momentum'. Successive victories over Rotherham, Nottingham, Bedford – and now the Pirates – mean the coach should get his wish.

Having rested and rotated his squad to the full earlier in the campaign, Baxter has more recently reverted to a settled pack, loaded with many of his frontline aces.

On the other side, opposite number Chris Stirling has assessed the season a little differently. With his side also guaranteed a top eight finish, the Kiwi has mixed and matched in recent times – the aim being to try various tactical ploys, as well as keeping his opponents guessing right until the final moments.

Both, it appears, have their own merits. Although which coach in the division has devised the best plan of attack will not be known until the Championship crown is finally decided.

Yesterday, however, these old Westcountry rivals still had plenty to prove to each other. Still hurting following a 22-15 defeat at Sandy Park back in November, the Pirates sought revenge against their Devon neighbours.

The Chiefs had other ideas and, with a stiff breeze at their backs in the opening half, they set about inflicting further misery on Stirling's side.

With just three minutes on the clock, the visitors were afforded their first opening when referee Rowan Kitt penalised home prop Ryan Storer for not binding at a scrum. Up stepped former Pirate Gareth Steenson – back in the Exeter line-up following a bout of shingles – to take the resultant penalty. However, the normally deadly Irishman pushed his effort wide of the posts.

Although that effort failed to hit the mark, Steenson atoned for his earlier miss on 18 minutes when he drilled over a much easier effort from 22 metres out.

The Chiefs continued to rule the roost as the half ticked by. But despite dominating both possession and territory, they failed to make head way on the scoreboard. Far too often they knocked on in crucial areas, whilst some dogged defence from the Pirates also thwarted their advances.

A second Steenson penalty on 34 minutes helped double their lead, before the Pirates gift-wrapped a crucial try for the visitors right on the stroke of half-time.

With Nick Jackson having pulled off a terrific try-saving tackle to thwart Neil Clark in the left corner, the Pirates then proceeded to make a right hash of the resultant line-out, Rob Elloway's loose throw sailing to the rear of the line where Exeter flanker Andy Miller snapped up the loose ball to cross for the opening try, which Steenson converted for a 13-0 lead at the break.

On the resumption, the Chiefs again had the chance to add to their tally when they opted for the corner following another penalty. Sadly for them, their intended drive for the line spluttered and the Pirates were able to clear their lines.

Indeed, the home side made the most of the turnover as they trundled back down field where – from a five-metre scrum – Matt Evans combined neatly to put back-row colleague Blair Cowan over for his 11th try of the season.

Although lifted, any hopes of a Pirates' revival were extinguished within minutes as first No.8 Richard Baxter barged his way under the posts for a converted try on 57 minutes, then hooker Clark – on his 100th appearance for the Chiefs – made it 25-5 when he burrowed over from a well-drilled line-out move.

To their credit, the Pirates continued to batter away at their rivals. But when Baxter capitalised on a fumble from Bentley to gallop from his own 22 to the Pirates' line, the home crowd knew it was not going to be their day.

Still the Cornishmen refused to lie down and, in a valiant last stand, their sterling efforts were rewarded with late scores from skipper Ben Gulliver and replacement Dave Ward.

Sadly for the home side the damage had already been inflicted and it was the Chiefs who were smiling all the way back to Devon last night.



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

Redruth showed an improvement on recent performances in the first of their two National League One encounters in Manchester over the weekend. However, although they could hold their heads high in terms of effort and work rate against Sedgley Park on Saturday, they still ended up on the losing end of a 30-18 scoreline.

"After the last two dreadful performances that was a massive improvement and I'm really pleased for the guys," was head coach Nigel Hambly's summation.

"We looked more of a team than we have done in the last month, but the bottom line is that we lost. Sedgley Park are a lot better team than their league position suggests."

Experienced full-back Steve Nutt was the home side's man of the match, scoring 20 of his side's points including a penalty from near the halfway line in the second minute.

Good play down the left hand touchline by Paul Thirlby should have brought a try for the Reds, but his pass to Nathan Pedley was intercepted by Lisiate Tafa a yard from the line.

Park made Redruth pay for being careless at looking after the ball at a ruck in midfield with a turnover that led to a try for Nutt -- which he also converted -- after 17 minutes.

Brett Rule pulled three points back with a penalty three minutes later to keep the Reds in contention before powerful running and good support play ended with Garth Dew touching down a try after 26 minutes. Nutt landed the conversion to open up a 14-point lead.

Redruth showed their spirit when Pedley counter-attacked down the left wing. A clever chip over his opposite number and a well-timed inside pass gave Craig Bonds space to beat the cover in a 40-metre run to the left-hand corner in the 35th minute.

Rule hit the crossbar with a 40-metre penalty attempt as the Reds went into the interval trailing by nine points.

A penalty early in the second half by Nutt was an important score, but, playing down the slope, Redruth were very much in the game with Richard Carroll and Mark Bright having tremendous games in the pack.

With Sedgley's Tafa in the sin-bin a powerful charge from skipper Daren Jacques took play to the Tigers' line and, after a patient series of pick-and-drives, Damien Cook forced his way over for an unconverted try in the 49th minute.

A strong run from Mike Roberts set up a try for Chris Hall that Nutt converted after 57 minutes to restore Parks' 14-point advantage. Immediately after the score Hambly made a quadruple substitution to give the Reds fresh legs. A series of pick-and-drives in the Sedgley 22 ended with Pedley diving over for a try in the left-hand corner after 64 minutes.

Teenager Aaron Penberthy, on as a replacement, hit an upright with the conversion attempt and was denied by the same woodwork with a 40-metre penalty attempt five minutes later.

Nutt, who kicked six out of seven, gave Sedgley some comfort with a 72nd-minute penalty.

Redruth certainly deserved a bonus point and were very close to getting two when in the final play of the game a break by Nick Simmons, carried on by Chris Fuca and Matt Gidlow, ended with a knock on in front of the posts.

"When you lose it is the way that you lose [that's important]," Hambly said. "Today we played with a lot of pride and endeavour. We lost eight points off the posts. I thought we were worth at least a losing bonus point, possibly two if we had got that try at the end."



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

After a promising losing performance against Sedgley Park in their first of two matches in the north-west on Saturday, Redruth went one better yesterday to beat Manchester 52-14.

The Reds were simply too physical for bottom-of-the-table Manchester as they ran in eight tries.

"Manchester have improved massively since we played them in October," said Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly. "Some Cornish clubs could learn a lot from them – they are taking their medicine. If you play against good opposition week in week out and test yourself against tough opponents you will improve. Even when we ran in our last try they ran back for the kick off and were ready to get on with it.

"At a time when club rugby is going through a difficult stage they are a credit to the game and a lot of people could learn from their spirit.

"Today was about playing two games in two days which is difficult to prepare for. Credit to our guys for the rehab stuff they did last night and prepared well for today. Credit to our fitness and conditioning and to our mental strength.

"Today was a good solid team performance. We made it hard for ourselves in the first half but to be fair this was Manchester's cup final, and with us playing two games in two days this was probably their best chance of a win."

Redruth got off to a flying start with Adryan Winnan, in his first game since October, and Chris Morris giving good passes for Lewis Vinnicombe to go over in the corner in the opening minute.

Five minutes later Greg Goodfellow, on loan from the Pirates, took advantage of a dominant scrum to run in a try under the posts which Aaron Penberthy converted. Teenager Penberthy added a penalty in the 17th minute to put the Reds 15 points clear.

After this Manchester, playing with composure and determination, had the better of play for a long period, culminating in the award of a penalty try when the Reds killed the ball near the line, Richard Hopkinson converting.

Penberthy added a penalty but the hosts were playing tidy rugby and winger David Moore took advantage of a missed touch kick to run in a good individual try that Hopkinson converted. A second try for Vinnicombe saw the Reds go into the break leading 14-23.

Goodfellow scored a brilliant try after a 40-metre run seven minutes into the second period. The Reds did not have it all their own way, with Manchester proving to be spirited opposition, but Vinnicombe completed his hat-trick in the 56th minute before going off with a leg injury.

In the final quarter Redruth added tries by Mark Bright, Peter Joyce and replacement Tom Cowan-Dickie on his debut. Penberthy converted one before referee Brendan Fitzmaurice blew for no-side seven minutes early.

"It was job done," Hambly said. "The minimum we wanted from this weekend was five points and we have done that"




National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

Facing the prospect of a third successive league defeat and a tumble down the standings, the Cornish All Blacks instead went on the rampage at Polson Bridge, dismantling Blackheath 41-18 to reaffirm their National One promotion aspirations.

Blackheath arrived in Cornwall in good form, having run London Scottish close last week and buoyed by their victory over Saturday's hosts before Christmas. However, they had no answer to the All Blacks' power up front and conceded a penalty try and three yellow cards in their desperate efforts to stay in the game.

Time and again Blackheath pulled down the All Blacks' all-conquering maul and spoiled at the rucks, but just as often they were penalised by referee Philip Davies. The Launceston club led only 17-3 at the break but cut loose in the second period with a four-try display that will have set the alarm bells ringing at next opponents Sedgley Park and Cambridge.

"I think that was our best performance of the season, regardless of scores we've put on other teams," said director of rugby Jon Hill. "The complete package was there for everyone to see: we mixed it up, scored some driving maul tries, scored wide, scored through the middle and our defence was pretty rock solid. For me the foundations were all about the work ethic of the team and our ability to play for each other and to really work hard for the result."

Collectively the All Blacks were unstoppable and on a day when a number of big-name players were sidelined through injury, some fine individual performances will give Hill a selection headache ahead of the spring programme.

Lock Nathan Hannay was awesome in just his second first-team appearance and, apart from dominating at the rucks showed a willingness to tackle and carry the ball with purpose, while Jason Bolt and Darren Salter started in the front row and must be hopeful of doing so again in the coming weeks.

In the backs, wingers Ben Turner and Jason Luff both excelled, the former scoring two tries and claiming the man-of-the-match award and the latter terrorising the visitors' defence at every opportunity.

"It was an all-round performance and the-man-of-the-match award could have gone to any number of players," said Hill. "We had a real attacking intent today and our ability to keep the ball alive, offload in contact and keep the tempo really high meant we reaped the rewards. When we generated momentum I didn't feel Blackheath could live with us, hence the penalties and bins."

The All Blacks led 10-3 on 20 minutes after fly-half Tony Yapp had booted a penalty and converted centre Ryan Westren's try in reply to a second-minute penalty by visiting number ten Paul Humphries. The home set-piece worked well, while in the loose their driving maul continually kept them on the front foot, their final assault of the first half leading to one Blackheath indiscretion too many and the award of the penalty try that gave the hosts their 17-3 interval lead.

Things did not get any easier for the Londoners in the second half, when prop Simon Legg and centre Steve Hamilton were dispatched to the sin-bin, which had been occupied earlier in proceedings by team-mate, flanker Dave Allen. The Cornishmen quickly extended their lead after the restart, Turner diving over flamboyantly in the left corner, with Yapp converting that try and a penalty five minutes later after skipper Mal Roberts had been felled by a straight arm tackle in midfield, leading to Hamilton's ten minutes in the cooler.

Blackheath narrowed the gap to 27-8 on 56 minutes with Humphries' unconverted try but the All Blacks kept their forwards' fuel tank topped up with Neil Bayliss and Mike Rawlings added to the fray and further tries followed for flanker Josh Lord and Turner, who grabbed his second of the match after Luff's charge from the halfway line had split the Blackheath defence. Lord was on hand to take a difficult pass and put the wing over near the posts. Yapp converted both touchdowns for a 41-8 lead.

Blackheath then stirred memories of their late resurgence in the corresponding fixture in London before Christmas, when they rallied from an apparently hopeless situation to win by a single point. Tries by replacement forward James Cleverly and winger Tyson Lewis narrowed the gap to 23 points and they never gave up trying, but the All Blacks proved less generous than the last time the two sides met and the margin of victory was not further compromised.

The visitors made only token attempts to convert their late tries as they battled in vain against the clock for a bonus-point try and in a moment of light farce, prop Keith Brooking was summoned from the bench a second time after earlier blood replacement duty to step in for injured flyer Luff. Fortunately, the new man was not required to show his pace down the wing.

"There's not many teams that will put 41 points on Blackheath this season," added Hill. "I'm really pleased with a bonus point victory in front of the Polson faithful."




Championship. Report from the Western Morning News

There are some folk out there who think the Championship won't really get going until next month's play-offs kick-off. All I'd say in response is: 'think again'.

Yesterday at the Rec, we had it all as the Cornish Pirates moved back into the division's top five with an impressive 47-19 dismantling of visiting Nottingham.

Nine tries, a glut of points, two yellow cards, one red and a televised half-time marriage proposal were just some of the highlights on an afternoon when the Duchy's finest outlined their case for success.

Having defeated Nottingham 24-13 in their seasonal opener at Meadow Lane, Chris Stirling's side ensured themselves of a league double with undoubtedly their best display of the season so far.

In a first half in which the visitors could do little right, the Pirates hammered home a distinct message with a ruthlessness that will make them a force to be reckoned with in the play-offs.

For weeks now, Stirling has spoken about how he is slowly nurturing his squad into a position where they will reach the last eight showdown in fine fettle. On this latest evidence, the work being carried out by the Kiwi and his fellow coaches is clearly paying dividends.

From the first blast of referee Terry Hall's whistle, the ferocious Pirates tore into their rivals like a hungry wolf devouring a quivering lamb. It was a brutal assault and one which Nottingham simply could not handle.

Inside three minutes home full-back Rob Cook had the chance to fire his side in front with a penalty. His effort, however, cannoned back off the left post and the visitors were momentarily spared. Two minutes later, though, Cook atoned for his earlier miss as he fired his side in front with a much easier effort.

At the other end, it was the turn of Nottingham's Greig Tonks to screw a penalty chance wide of the posts on eight minutes.

That, however, would be the best Nottingham could offer in an opening quarter in which they were distinctly second best. Their cause, it has to be said, was hardly helped on 15 minutes when fly-half David Marshall was sin-binned for a cynical late check on Cook as he looked to chip the ball over the top.

Marshall's actions not only saw him sent to the sidelines briefly, but it also curtailed team-mate Phil Eggleshaw's afternoon, the visiting No.8 feeling the force of the collision between Marshall and Cook. With the man advantage, the Pirates wasted little time in adding to their tally as hooker Dave Ward squirmed his way over from close range for the opening try, which Cook duly converted.

Minutes later and the tannoy was blaring again for Ward, who this time applied the finish following some excellent approach work involving Blair Cowan and Jonny Bentley.

At 17-0 down, Nottingham were already staring at a mountain to climb. Their task, however, would get even tougher when, just before the half-hour mark, prop Petrus du Plessis was red carded for stamping on the head of opposite number Carl Rimmer.

Again the Pirates made the Midlanders pay as a succession of forward drives created the opening for Bentley to loop a pass to winger Wes Davies who did the rest.

It was certainly vintage stuff from the Cornishmen, who then preceded to claim their fourth try on the stroke of half-time, Cowan the beneficiary from a pushover scrum, which Cook again was able to add the extras to.

But if Cowan was the hero one minute, he then turned villain the next as he became the latest addition to referee Hall's card club when he was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle.

In Cowan's brief absence, Nottingham finally got their day up and running when centre Tim Streather stole a march on Steve Winn and Cook to glide over for a try in the last action of the half.

The second period, as to be expected, was never going to live up to the same billing and although Cook added penalties either side of a try from Nottingham's Dan White, it was not until the last quarter that the tries started to flow once more.

Replacement Paul Devlin capitalised on some kamikaze style play from the visitors to claim score number five, while at the other end Nottingham's chances of picking up a losing bonus point were briefly enhanced when hooker Tom Youngs worked his way over from a line-out move to make it 40-19.

Even then Cowan was far from finished. As has so often been the case this season, the former Wellington forward was the chief menace in the home ranks and he capped a virtuoso display with his second try – again converted – just a minute from time.

Afterwards, a buoyant Sterling praised the contribution of his team. He said: "That was a very pleasing result. Everything we asked for and we spoke about during the week and again before today's game, the guys went out and delivered on. They had intensity, they had purpose and they continued to develop the areas of our game which went so well at Plymouth the previous week.

"Add into that, they also eradicated the errors and the penalty count which cost us the previous week, so in that respect it was a big step forward all round."

Meanwhile, the Pirates are likely to know the majority of their play-off opponents by Wednesday as a result of the Rugby Football Union's latest controversial promotion proposal.

In the case of sides who have guaranteed qualification for the play-offs after completing 21 league matches, the RFU is now set to disregard the outcome of their 22nd and final regular-season games on the weekend of March 13.

Results involving teams still in with a chance of reaching the play-offs – namely Plymouth Albion, Moseley and Rotherham – heading into that final weekend will still obviously count.

However, teams' specific play-off positions – and therefore their seedings within their respective pools – will now be determined with one league match to play. That means yesterday's victory means the Pirates will be seeded fifth and up against Bristol, Bedford and whoever fills the last play-off spot. The other pool will likely be made up of Exeter Chiefs, London Welsh, Nottingham and Doncaster.

The measure – according to officials at the RFU – is designed to give Championship clubs the maximum time to make arrangements for their play-off fixtures.



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

Six of the best, an away win and another bonus point were all part of the weekend's haul as the Cornish All Blacks cruised to a 42-35 National League One victory over Sedgley Park.

It was sweet revenge. The Park Lane club had won 20-14 at Polson Bridge in October and on their own patch on Saturday were going for a league double. Although that was plenty of incentive for them, the All Blacks had other ideas.

In a pulsating game which provided a feast of rugby 11 tries were run in from all over the field, six of them from the Cornishmen.

All Blacks' director of rugby Jon Hill was delighted with his charges' performance. He said: "When you think that we had about eight squad players missing and were away from home to a club who had won at Polson, it was a huge performance.

"And it was a real tribute to our effort that we got six superb tries. In fact five out of the six would be candidates for our try-of-the-season, and there was some quality off-loading.

"It was the pack who laid really solid foundations to enable us to get fine displays from the wings Kieron Lewitt and Ben Turner and centre Ryan Westren. It was our best attacking performance this season, but some mistackles led to four of Sedgley's scores."

The Tigers who got off to a cracking start, wing Richard Tafa linking with lock Paul Williams who had an easy run-in to the posts, for full-back Steve Nutt to add the extras.

The All Blacks hit back instantly. Some tit-for-tat high balls were followed by Sedgley misfielding and the All Blacks pounced, Turner linking with Lewitt and the wing set off on the counter, dancing and weaving through. He soon had ample support and the impressive Lewis Webb at scrum-half went over for a fine try. Fly-half Tony Yapp, who converted all six Launceston tries, duly added the extras to level it.

It was the visitors who set the pace, developing attacks and retaining and recycling the ball with professional expertise. Webb marshalled his pack superbly and the Tigers were kept on the back foot and finally Westren went over to nudge the All Blacks into the lead.

Back came the Mancunians, scrum-half and captain Chris Wilkinson sniping off the scrum to weave through the defence and score at the posts for Nutt to convert.

But the All Blacks' forwards went up a gear again and linked with a back line which was on razor-sharp form, finding gaps where there hardly seemed to be any.

The home defence was increasingly sucked in by the relentless pounding attack of the visitors and Turner neatly round off the forward effort with a try.

The bonus point came when a poor Sedgley clearance was gratefully taken by Turner, who cantered away to link with Nathan Hannay, and the lock was over in the corner for the first of his two touchdowns.

At half-time the All Blacks were up 28-14 and stayed in front till the end. They went off like a gun from the re-start, determined to kill off the Tigers. Wilkinson tried to clear but Yapp's pinpoint-accurate boot chipped through and Lewitt raced on to it and scored a marvellous try wide out.

The home pack started to rumble and with the All Blacks' defence looking a bit insecure and Wilkinson taking quick tap penalties, the Cornish looked a bit flustered. The result was a try for home centre Chris Hall with Nutt converting.

Home No.8 Juan Crous combined with Nutt but the full-back tried to counter from a high ball and was swamped by All Black tacklers. Hannay emerged to score his second.

The All Blacks were now well in front, 42-21. But they got a bit of a shock in the last 13 minutes when the Mancunians rallied strongly and were rewarded with tries from centre Mike Roberts and Crous, both of which centre Matt Riley converted.

Sedgley were within a converted try of their visitors, but the All Blacks' defence was solid again and they did not let a superb win slip at the death.



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

Redruth needed a win on Saturday for all sorts of reasons and after 80 pulsating minutes their supporters had all sorts of reasons to celebrate a courageous performance.

The Reds saw off National League One hard boys Cinderford 20-21 following a frenetic last ten minutes and a late try from winger Nathan Pedley that finally settled it. Cinderford were allowed a last-gasp attack when referee Richard Kelly signalled there was time for one final play, this after Paul Thirlby had kicked the ball into touch assuming it would signal the end of the game. Cinderford had possession, but Redruth had the points as Mr Kelly halted the drama.

"I'm ecstatic," said Redruth director of rugby Dave Penberthy, team boss in the absence of suspended head coach Nigel Hambly. "We've talked a lot in recent weeks about commitment, guts and character and all those things came to the fore in the last ten minutes. When you've got 800 supporters screaming and shouting for you there's nothing better and I felt quite emotional today. I feel for Nigel and I think the boys would say that this victory was for him."

Hambly is suspended for four weeks after a disagreement with match officials two weeks ago, but he would have been delighted with the efforts of a team packed with ex-colts and facing a highly experienced, battle-hardened Cinderford side that has been going strong in recent weeks.

Surprisingly for a forwards-orientated club, the Foresters proved willing runners, inspired no doubt by their expansive, highly impressive Kiwi number ten Matt James. Unfortunately for the visitors, the other partner of their potent half-back combination, scrum-half Paul Knight, broke down in the fifth minute after straining a hamstring in the warm-up and replacement Danny Pointon proved not to be in the same class.

Redruth's display was not faultless. Their line-out was not at its best, they tended to lose the ball in contact and the kicking was sometimes wasteful but they ran the ball at every opportunity and had enough quality players in key positions: Darren Jacques, Damien Cook and Mark Bright in the pack; Thirlby, Adryan Winnan and Pedley in the backs to keep them on the front foot.

The Reds went toe-to-toe with their visitors in a first half that finished even with both sides scoring converted tries. Flanker Chris Fuca opened Redruth's account after eight minutes with a score under the posts from close range, fly-half Aaron Penberthy adding the extras, before Cinderford replied through prop Stuart Knight, James converting.

Both fly-halves missed penalties (James' 35th-minute attempt bouncing back into play off the crossbar) and it was Penberthy who struck the first blow in the second period, booting a penalty from 28 metres after Fuca's interception and long charge for the line had run out of steam 20 metres short.

Redruth looked to be getting on top after their opponents had been reduced to 14 men, centre Dewi Scourfield binned for a deliberate obstruction on Winnan as the former Pirates' full-back followed up his deft chip ahead. Penberthy slotted the resultant penalty for a 13-7 lead.

However, the Foresters made light of their disadvantage, driving the Reds deep into their own right corner with some powerful forward surges before Knight crossed for his second try on 60 minutes. Redruth were starting to lose shape and they conceded the lead after 66 minutes when full-back Stefan Hawley gathered James' crossfield kick on the right for an unconverted try that made it 13-17 and set up the grandstand finish.

Penberthy and James exchanged penalties as the two sides entered the last ten minutes with the visitors hanging on to a 20-16 lead that looked finally to have killed off home hopes. But Redruth were still full of fight and determined to claim more than a losing bonus point, as has been the case so many times this season.

Replacement scrum-half Greg Goodfellow was putting on a little and large show together with props Sam Heard and Darren Jacques, all three launching damaging attacks before Kiwi No.8 Bright showed his years of experience by shipping a long floated pass left to the waiting Pedley. The compact winger's rollicking running style proved unstoppable against Cinderford's tiring defence and he steamed over in his favourite corner for the all-important score.

Cinderford spurned their final opportunity in the last-chance saloon after Mr Kelly's timekeeping generosity and the drinks were on the home side.

"It took a team effort to win that game and none of our boys gave an inch," said Penberthy. "For the first time in a number of weeks the players have picked themselves up when they were down and when they might have folded in the past. We've ended up with the vital score right at the end and those last three minutes were the worst three minutes I've experienced in a rugby game. We've had a traumatic week and its nice to come out of it with something to show."




National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

The Cornish All Blacks' 26-25 bonus-point National League One victory over Cambridge yesterday was never in doubt, according to director of rugby Jon Hill, although the mischievous grin accompanying that statement said more than words probably could.

Hill's men were sunk without a trace after 20 minutes, 17-0 down and playing with little cohesion or even passion, against the elements to boot. However, that all changed dramatically over the course of the next 60 minutes with two Ryan Westren tries, accompanied by scores from Ben Turner and Tony Yapp, sealing a magnificent comeback.

"The game was never in doubt," said Hill, with a heavy dose of sarcasm. "What we tend to do against Cambridge is give them a massive lead – we did the same up there earlier in the season and we did the same last season."

It was certainly no laughing matter in those early stages of the game. The All Blacks looked as if they were out for a Sunday afternoon stroll as they lined up to defend against Cambridge's rolling maul in the eighth minute. As the visitors marched towards the Cornish line, prop Ben Cooper peeled away to cross in the right corner. Fly-half Lloyd Cole converted well from the touchline, judging the wind expertly.

The situation grew worse for the All Blacks when winger Will Martin scored his side's second on the opposite flank, Cole looping a pass out wide to centre Alex Dodge; he offloaded outside to his onrushing team-mate, who ran clear over the try line. Cole again converted well.

The Cambridge number ten was certainly enjoying his kicking at the time. Having watched and admired England's Jonny Wilkinson strike a drop goal against Ireland in the Six Nations the previous night at their St Mellion base, he decided to have a go himself just outside the All Blacks' 22. He connected well and the ball sailed between the posts.

It took just over 20 minutes for the hosts to make any kind of impression, but they won a penalty for their endeavours, which Yapp dispatched from close range.

But then, after a Cambridge counter- attack, winger Johannes Schmidt caught a hopeful high clearance from All Blacks' winger Turner and charged through several Cornish tackles to feed his full-back William Robinson, who burst through to the line. Cole, this time, failed to add the extras.

The All Blacks launched a counter- offensive of their own before the break. Centre Westren's diagonal run towards the left corner was too fast and powerful to be stopped – sadly, Yapp's conversion attempt into a difficult wind flew well wide of the left post.

However, within seconds, a crossing infringement gave the visitors a chance to get three points back. Cole again failed to connect with his kick but he made no mistake when yet another chance presented itself almost immediately in the same position.

The see-saw then swung back towards the Launceston side with Turner catching a Cole clearance inside his own half. With precious few options available, he deftly ran straight through the heart of the Cambridge defence to the try line. Yapp again failed to find his range with the conversion.

The All Blacks really turned on the style after the break with 13 unanswered points. Centre Steve Perry initiated a fine All Blacks' move 15 minutes into the second half with a long pass out wide to Kieron Lewitt, who then manoeuvred the ball out to Westren in the nick of time for an unconverted score.

Yapp then brought his side back to within four points with a penalty kick, while visiting lock Robert Hurrell was sent to the sin-bin as Cambridge became increasingly desperate in defence.

The decisive fourth All Blacks' try came with four minutes remaining. Replacement lock Toby Freeman did well to catch Perry's long throw wide. He cut inside, ignoring Lewitt on his right, and ran into a Cambridge wall. However, the ball was quickly recycled back out to Yapp who had arrived in support, and he crossed in the corner to snatch the victory.

Hill said: "You can't perhaps put into context the affect that the elements would have had in the first half. We were playing into a massive wind in the first half and that's why we completely dominated in the territorial battle.

"That said, we were soft and there was a fair bit of charity out there. We looked lacklustre and we made some bad decisions. But that is the second time this season that we've 'nilled' Cambridge in the second half.

"We showed what we can achieve in that second half. We showed dogged determination and that was a character test that we came through with flying colours."



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

Richard Carroll's first try hat-trick was not enough to save Redruth from a 22-20 defeat at relegation-threatened Otley in National League One.

Head coach Nigel Hambly, serving his RFU ban from match day activities, cut a forlorn figure standing alone at the back of the terraces unable to have any input to the Reds. It may have been just as well for the Redruth players that he could not go into the dressing room after the match as he pulled no punches with his views.

"I'm really upset with that performance," he said. "That was a poor performance and that is not what Redruth is about. Especially the missed tackles in the first half and the missed tackle for the try in the second half is simply not acceptable at this level.

"We just fell off tackles and did not get in place to make them. It will be an interesting DVD session."

Redruth made a disastrous start, James Murray running through Craig Bonds' tackle to put James Twomey over in the opening minute. Only a good tackle by Nathan Pedley a couple of minutes later saved a try as the young Otley side looked like running the Reds ragged with some open adventurous rugby.

Worse was to follow after eight minutes when Adryan Winnan did well to cover the danger from Chris Georgiou's chip to the corner, but as he fell on the ball it bounced out of his control for Otley skipper Howard Parr to celebrate his call up for the Barbarians with an unconverted try in the right-hand corner.

Gradually Redruth got back into the game with Lewis Vinnicombe tackled into touch near the corner flag. The hosts were increasingly desperate and, after being penalised six times in the opening 20 minutes for offences at rucks, referee Andrew Taylorson sent prop Adam Blades to the sin-bin.

Redruth applied pressure with a series of forward drives on the Otley line before Carroll dived over for his first try that Winnan converted after 22 minutes.

The strong running White -- formerly with Scottish club Watsonians -- ran in from 40 metres after picking a gap in the Redruth defensive line to touch down Otley's third try just before Blades returned to the action.

Winnan struck a penalty from 40 metres on the stroke of half-time as the Reds went in trailing 15-10.

At the start of the second half Otley's backs ran with pace and purpose on some good lines to stretch the Redruth defence, before Georgiou eventually brushed off Brett Rule's tackle to touch down near the posts. Former Exeter student Ben Hough converted, his only success in six shots at the posts.

Redruth had plenty of the game and some good handling put Pedley clear on the halfway line but Ollie Denton raced back to stop the winger in full flight.

Otley continued to come in at the sides of rucks in their attempts to stem Redruth attacks and it was no surprise when England Under-18 international Chris Walker went to the sin-bin after 54 minutes. Again Redruth took advantage of the extra man with a series of patient forward drives on the Otley line before Carroll spotted space and went over the line with three defenders on his back. Redruth continued to press through the forwards and replacement Mark Bennett became the third Otley player sent to the sin-bin for collapsing a maul a few metres from the line.

Once again Carroll made Otley pay, touching down following a powerful catch-and-drive, but Winnan from wide out on the right pulled the conversion that would have levelled the scores across the posts.

Late in the game Paul Thirlby made a break in midfield but he was smothered by the cover and failed to get a pass away to the unmarked Pedley and Aaron Penberthy outside, as Redruth had just a bonus point to take back to the Recreation ground.

"Give Otley a lot of credit, they played with a lot of courage and gave it a go," Hambly added. "They wanted it more than we did. That is the way it is, we have got to front up and face up to it, that was as poor as we have played all season. We have to show more character and desire. I'm really disappointed, especially by some of the senior guys."




National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

Redruth won handsomely on Saturday and may be finding the sort of form that will ease their path to a finish in the top half of the National League One table.

The Reds ran in six splendid tries in their 42-10 victory over Stourbridge and, following last week's battling defeat at London Scottish, they look to have erased memories of their painful defeat at Otley last month.

On Saturday, Redruth were brutally efficient up front where their front row reigned supreme, whilst behind they were full of running with wingers Lewis Vinnicombe and Nathan Pedley both getting on the scoresheet.

Their hunger to make the tackle – noticeable by its absence at Cross Green two weeks ago – has returned in force and their defence stood firm against a highly physical Stourbridge fighting desperately to avoid getting dragged into the basement dog fight.

Head coach Nigel Hambly was back in charge after completing his four-match touchline ban and was satisfied that his team appears to be generating some momentum ahead of a Spring schedule that will decide the club's fate. He said: "It was an excellent performance and looking at other results in the division, it was pretty important that we won.

"At this time of year results are obviously important, but your form and the way you play is real important as well. Our form last week was excellent and we carried it on in the same vein today."

The coach added: "If we continue to perform like we did today and last week – and we stay honest and enthusiastic -- then we are going to win more games than we lose and we can have a really decent end to the season."

However, the Reds have paid the price several times this campaign for a failure to hit the ground running and on Saturday they produced another dozy start as Stourbridge ran in the first of their two unconverted tries in the first minute, winger Ali Bressington taking a long pass on the right to canter home in "Hellfire Corner".

It served as a call to arms and Redruth drew level on 12 minutes thanks to the individual brilliance and power of Vinnicombe, who made his own space to jink over from 20 metres.

The home team then retained possession after the restart and applied pressure through their forwards for hard-working prop Peter Joyce to crash over for try number two and a 10-5 lead. It was a rare reward for a player whose work rate is second to none.

Joyce and fellow front-rankers Darren Jacques and Matt Gidlow had by now established their superiority up front, but all that forward pressure was negated after 23 minutes by a line-out howler in a dangerous position. Stourbridge stole possession and forced the Reds to defend fiercely before flanker James Rodley ensured the mistake was punished with an equalising try.

The Midlanders were on the front foot and came close to scoring another try that might have shifted the game their way, strong-running centre Ben Barkley making a 30-metre break to set up a dangerous attacking position in the left-hand corner.

However, the home defence proved equal to the task and they broke the shackles on the half-hour mark with a sweeping move upfield that resulted in Pedley's try far out on the right, full-back Adryan Winnan converting for a 17-10 lead.

Redruth retained their seven-point advantage at the break despite an unforced handling error on their own line, as the visitors also knocked on from the ensuing scrum when a score looked imminent.

Redruth quickly extended their lead on the resumption, Winnan booting a penalty after Vinnicombe's superb crossfield run had set up an attacking ruck where Stourbridge's handling transgression was spotted and duly punished.

Redruth's pack was given fresh impetus with the introduction of Herbie Stupple for lock Richard Carroll – still suffering from a knock he received in the first half -- and it was the home forwards that made the running for the bonus-point try, Kiwi No.8 Mark Bright stopped just short of the posts before hooker Gidlow applied the final touch in the left corner.

Stourbridge fly-half Sam Robinson missed a kickable penalty on 58 minutes and at 28-10 the visitors might have been expected to fold, but they hit back with a period of sustained pressure in Redruth territory. Barker and full-back Matt Williams were their most potent threats and were only kept out by a solid home defence, Bright winning a number of vital turnovers.

Redruth, however, were proving the fitter finishers, boosted by the arrival of replacement forwards Tom Cowan- Dickie and Tom Duncan, with Jamie Semmens taking the number ten shirt from Aaron Penberthy.

Of all the replacements however, scrum-half Greg Goodfellow was the most effective, constantly punching holes through centre-field with some darting runs that sucked the strength out of Stourbridge's tacklers. The livewire Scot is proving valuable as a man capable of keeping his team on the front foot in the latter stages.

It was no surprise that Redruth's final try was a length-of-the-field affair to which Stourbridge had no answer, Cowan-Dickie claiming the try for Winnan to convert.



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

The Cornish All Blacks will be without their influential centre Steve Perry for the rest of the season after he broke his jaw during the 29-3 defeat by National League One leaders Esher.

All Blacks' skipper, flanker Tom Rawlings, said: "It was very unfortunate. He's only recently come back into the side. He broke his jaw early in the second half going into a tackle. It was a clean break, but I understand it will need special surgical treatment. Steve will be out now for the rest of the season."

Meanwhile, the match scoreline suggests a fairly heavy defeat by the Surrey club. However, it doesn't quite reflect the closeness of the game, at least up to half- time when the All Blacks trailed by only nine points, 12-3.

In the end, Esher won the try ratio emphatically 4-0 as they edged ever closer to a return to the Championsip.

Rawlings added: "Two tries within five minutes of the second half really stung us. At half-time we felt it was still there to be taken, 12-3 wasn't a massive margin, and we thought if we put a bit of pressure on, we could come away with a win. But a couple of silly penalties and it was all uphill.

"That said, the boys played very well. Esher are very good and undoubtedly a Championship side, you could see that. They were very well organised".

The All Blacks knew they would be up against it because the home side are set for promotion and have been able to draw on players from Premiership clubs to bolster an already very competent side.

The All Blacks gave it their all and kept in there from start to finish. The Esher flying defence, though, was very hard to penetrate and on the attack the Surrey men had pace and power, the pick of the bunch perhaps being their centre Seb Jewell, who always threatened to break out and scored a try just after the hour. But, if the visitors' chances of scoring were few and far between, they certainly held their own in scrum, line-out and loose, where lock Ben Hilton and hooker Jamie Salter were both prominent.

In the second minute a long pass from Perry was intercepted by Esher No.8 Shaun Renwick, who ran in from halfway for Sam Ulph to convert.

Twelve minutes on and the Surrey side were over again, hooker James Campbell crossing close in after a forward drive.

The second quarter was a much tighter affair, very much "even-stevens" in both possession and territory. The only other score before the interval though was the All Blacks' one, a 25th- minute penalty kicked by Kieron Lewitt after a fracas which saw props Tom Warren (Esher) and Tim Mathias (All Blacks) both sin-binned.

The second half was another story. Esher went on to add 17 points without reply, and the sin-binning of the All Blacks' fly-half Lewis Webb just before the hour didn't help their cause.

The league top-dogs dominated the half – a pacy breakaway by replacement wing James Copsey ended with a try, which Ross Chisholm converted.

He then added a penalty to give his side a 22-3 lead and just after the hour dangerman Jewell raced right through the All Blacks' defences to touch down, Chisholm again adding the extras.

With the score now 29-3, it was game, set and match before the last quarter had even started.

All Blacks' head coach Jon Hill added: "I think for long periods the game was very evenly contested, but then a five- minute period after half-time really cost us. Esher, we all know, are a quality side and they showed that. Seb Jewell was phenomenal throughout, so we simply have to put our hands up and say we were beaten by the better side. The loss of Steve Perry though is a bad blow."




The Championship Stage 2: Pool A Promotion. Report from the Western Morning News

Cornish Pirates' coach Chris Stirling admitted he was left "gutted" after seeing his side slip to a 19-12 defeat against Bristol in last night's Championship play-off opener at the Memorial Stadium.

Home fly-half Adrian Jarvis did much of the damage, booting four penalties, as well as converting the extras to Ian Grieve's first-half touchdown.

In reply, Pirates' full-back Rob Cook always kept his side in touch with four successful penalties of his own. However, a malfunctioning line-out from the visitors was to cost them dear.

With Stirling having made four changes – one positional – to the side that lost to London Welsh the week previous, the Cornish club started this latest encounter in fine fashion.

Just two minutes had been played when Cook – the club's leading points-scorer this term – slotted over the first of his penalties after Bristol had been penalised for pulling down a maul. It was to prove a shortlived lead as Bristol restored parity within four minutes, former Harlequins back Jarvis punishing the visitors for straying offside in front of their own posts.

On 12 minutes, Bristol – who had topped the Championship standings following the first phase of the inaugural season – took the lead when a series of close-in drives set-up flanker Grieve to burrow his way over the whitewash for Jarvis to convert.

The Pirates, however, refused to buckle and with some outstanding defence – one particular hit from Aisea Havili on Dan Norton stands out – they continued to repel the threat of the home back division. Turning defence into attack, the Pirates reduced the arrears with a second Cook penalty, before Kiwi No.8 Blair Cowan was held up just inches from the line as the half drew towards a close.

After the break, a third Cook penalty reduced the deficit to a point, only for Jarvis to go down the other end to slot a similar effort of his own. Dave Ward, who enjoyed a fine game for the Pirates, was at the heart of most of the home destruction. Sadly, referee Rowan Kitt was not always reading from the same script as the former Northampton and Sale forward, penalising him on a number of occasions, one of which Jarvis again punished to make it 16-9.

To their credit the Pirates refused to lie down and when Cook added a fourth penalty of the night, it set up a thrilling finale to the contest. But just as the Cornishmen looked to press home their advantage, yet another costly line-out cost them vital field position and Bristol trundled down the other end, the results of which saw Jarvis add a last gasp penalty to seal the win.

Afterwards, a disappointed Stirling said: "I'm gutted. It's really disappointing, but at the same time I'm really proud of the guys and what they put into the game. Their attitude, the way they fought and the way they defended were outstanding.

"I'm just really disappointed because it was there for us tonight. If we ever wanted to beat Bristol – we will in the future – today was the day we could have done it. We had them under real pressure, but just couldn't finish the job off. We have a few work-ons from tonight, especially the line-outs, but we'll go away and now prepare ourselves for another massive test against Plymouth next week. We are well aware that they will want to come down here and look to put things right. We're 2-1 against them right now. These play-off games are going to be wars every week and next week will be no different."



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

A breathless game of running rugby was never on the cards in these conditions but the Cornish All Blacks still provided plenty of excitement in a tight 13-12 National League One victory over London Scottish.

The All Blacks fought back superbly from a 12-3 deficit at half-time, with skipper Tom Rawlings’ try supplemented by a conversion and penalty from fly-half Tony Yapp sealing the win at a wet and windy Polson Bridge.

Former Exeter Chief Yapp was a significant influence on his return from a shoulder injury, gratefully building upon the solid platform constructed by his forwards, particularly in the second half.

All Blacks' director of rugby Jon Hill was delighted with his side’s performance against second-placed Scottish in the tricky conditions. He said: “London Scottish were very well drilled up front, we played into a strong wind in the first half and we struggled to plug the territory that we needed. We gave away too many penalties and that was a constant theme throughout the game.

“We’ve got to look at that but we have to take many positives from the game. It’s a mark of how far we’ve progressed and all our dogged determination showed what it means to be a Cornish All Black.”

Yapp took just five minutes to mark his return to the starting line-up, kicking a 30-metre penalty straight between the posts. However, things took a turn for the worse for the home side when hooker Jamie Salter was shown a yellow card for some over-aggressive play in a ruck.

Scottish seized some of the All Blacks’ early initiative back before visiting No.8 Will Lipp slipped off the back of a powerful drive from his pack to put his side in front with an unconverted try.

Then, just before the break the Exiles got their second – a penalty try – awarded after a spell of pressure near the All Blacks’ try line. Fly-half Simon Amor added the conversion.

The home pack regrouped during the interval and came out fighting in the second half. A huge driving maul gained significant ground in the 49th minute before flanker Tom Rawlings applied the finish. Yapp added the extras with an outstanding conversion kick from out wide with a strong wind blowing across him.

Another All Blacks’ drive was halted unfairly just after the hour mark with flanker Ben Lonergan seeing yellow for the infringement. The resulting close-range penalty was kicked through the posts by Yapp to give the home side the lead again.

Predictably, the visitors piled on the pressure in the closing stages – if Amor has been slightly more accurate with his kicking, the scores could have been quite different.

The varying fortunes of the two tens proved decisive but the tenacity of the All Blacks’ team performance was certainly worthy of the result.

Hill added: “When you look at the underfoot conditions and the difference that can have on your goalkicking – it affected Simon Amor but it didn’t affect Tony Yapp. That is the mark of a good goal kicker.

“They scored in the last play of the half and that was really disappointing, especially the nature of the decision – we’ve got no complaints about it.

“I take nothing away from our pack who were magnificent. They were pushed backwards a little bit in the first half on one or two occasions but they showed during the second half with that driving maul for the try that patience is key to being successful and what a fantastic victory for us.”

There is no let-up for the Launceston men, who face a trip to Nuneaton this Saturday, with Redruth in the Cornwall Super Cup on Sunday at Polson. Hill said: “Next weekend is massive for us. Saturday and Sunday, we’ve got a massive Cornish derby against Redruth and that will get the blood boiling. We also have Nuneaton on Saturday and they’ll be looking at it as one of their last opportunities to stay up so it’s a big game for them as well.

“We’re looking upwards now and we’re going to try and catch London Scottish for second place. It’s going to be a big test for us but on our current form we should do well.

"I have no idea why Tony Yapp didn’t get man of the match – he was the clear difference between the two sides. He banged the conversion over from the touchline and he made sure we played rugby in the right areas. He’s worth his weight in gold and has made sure we’ve won a number of our games this season.

"Tony has missed the last two weeks, and last week it was very evident that we missed him sorely and he showed today just why he is so fundamental to our side.

"This team is very special this year, very successful, a winning side and I hope we pull in a big crowd.

"We’ve just beaten second in the table and turned the tables from the first half of the season, where they were by far the better side up at their place."



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly was left ruing missed opportunities and his side's lack of a killer instinct after they slumped to a 28-22 National League One defeat at struggling Newbury Blues.

A lacklustre second-half performance and several first-half opportunities to put points on the board that weren't taken undid the Reds, who were beaten by a Berkshire team who offered little and really shouldn't have come away from the match with a point to their name.

Hambly was critical of his side, suggesting there was a lack of confidence which meant several good scoring positions had gone begging.

A visibly dejected Hambly said after the game that he refused to make excuses for his side's failure to come away with all the points.

"Today was just a game of missed opportunities," he said. "If you are a Newbury player you must feel you got out of jail. They did nothing for 80 minutes and came away with 28 points. They were very limited. It is really disappointing.

"I don't think it was just the first half where we wasted opportunities to score, it was the second as well. It seemed that no one wanted to score the try. One week we tend to be too greedy, the next not greedy enough. But that is probably just a lack of personal confidence in the players."

Despite being 10-7 up at half-time, thanks to an Adryan Winnan penalty and a converted Michael Stupple try, it was the points the Reds didn't score that stick in the mind. Winnan, who was wiped out in the first 30 seconds when he was taken out in the air while catching the kick-off, missed three more. Several kicking opportunities were also ignored in favour of kicking to the corner, but each time Newbury's defence either hung on or managed to turn the ball over.

The best chance fell to winger Lewis Vinnicombe. Showing great pace, he ran from his own 22 into the home 22. But faced with a floundering full-back he elected to chip the ball over him rather than run at him. He got to the ball first – just – and kicked it into the try zone, but Newbury wing Karl Buttle recovered just enough to touch the ball down first.

The play wasn't helped by a torrential downpour just before kick-off that made the ball slippery and the footing sometimes sticky and sometimes the complete opposite. But both sides were having to play through it.

Redruth were made to pay for their lack of killer instinct before half-time. Cruising 10-0 ahead they allowed flanker Jack Bentall to barge over a minute from the break and close the gap to three points at the interval.

In the second half, Redruth seemed to go slightly to sleep. They did, in truth, go further ahead through a power-play try by the impressive Mark Bright, when Newbury lock Dan Hodge was sin-binned for interfering with a pass. But from then on they allowed Newbury to get back into the game and eventually take a commanding 28-17 lead through converted Karl Buttle and Ed Jackson tries and the solid boot of fly-half Mitchell Burton.

Redruth did eventually reply on 80 minutes through Owen Hambly but by then it was too late.

The Reds ended the game with a scrum-half at full-back after Winnan succumbed to the force of being assaulted in the first minute. They also found themselves with a hooker in the back row and a flanker playing at lock. But Hambly refused to use that as an excuse for players failing to perform.

"The glaring one for me was we were 17-10 up, they had a man in the bin, we had a one-on-one and the player decided to pass. It's a classic example of not taking your chances. Normally I take most of the blame, but that game was a coach killer. We should have picked up five points."

He also hit out at referee Ross Campbell over the first-minute foul that eventually forced Adryan Winnan to be substituted. "The first play of the game and he gets taken out in the air. We asked the ref why there was no yellow card and he said it was because it was the first play of the game. Does that mean you can get away with punching someone in the first play of the game?"

Redruth are waiting to assess the fitness of winger Nick Simmons, who limped off with a hamstring injury just before the end. Hambly said it was likely to be a strain rather than a tear.




The Championship Stage 2: Pool A Promotion. Report from the Western Morning News

As is the case in sport – or in life for that matter – fail to take the opportunities afforded to you and you may well live to regret it.

Waking up this morning, Graham Dawe and his Plymouth Albion squad could well be thinking such thoughts as they reflect on yesterday's 17-0 Championship play-off defeat to local rivals Cornish Pirates in Pool A.

With both sides desperate to get their play-off campaigns up and running following first-week setbacks, it was the hosting Cornishmen who ultimately prospered on a mucky afternoon at Camborne.

Chris Stirling's side notched up a vital victory in their seasonal quest courtesy of first-half tries from Kiwi duo Blair Cowan and Jonny Bentley, plus a further seven points from full-back Rob Cook.

That collection of points during the opening 40 minutes, coupled with a determined defensive display throughout, was enough to sink visiting Albion, who have now lost the last three encounters between the two clubs.

Albion, though, will no doubt be kicking themselves for not making more of their spirited showing. Whereas the Pirates were ruthless in attack, Albion sadly suffered a bad case of stage fright as they – Kieran Hallett in particular – fluffed their lines at crucial stages.

The Albion fly-half failed with three first-half penalty chances, whilst club-mate Gary Kingdom was also off target when he screwed another kickable effort wide of the mark. Those chances, it has to be said, need to be taken in games of such magnitude.

Those lost opportunities were clearly significant in how the game – particularly the first half – was shaped. That said, nothing should be taken away from the sterling efforts put in by the Pirates, who having absorbed the early Albion raids, then turned defence into attack.

With both sides having made changes from the previous week, the Pirates had Ben Gulliver, Sam Betty and Paul Devlin back in harness following their loss at Bristol, while Albion recalled Sean-Michael Stephen and Keni Fisilau to their starting XV which went down narrowly to Bedford, it was the Devon side who were the quickest into their stride.

Just three minutes had been played when Hallett's attempted cross-field kick just eluded the onrushing Ben Mercer deep inside the Pirates' 22.

Moments later and Albion were again on the attack, their efforts this time rewarded when referee Llyr Apgeriant-Roberts penalised the home side for going offside in midfield. Up stepped Hallett for the penalty, but the former Bedford and Ulster back fired his effort wide right, much to the surprise of many inside the ground.

It was an early let-off for Stirling's side, who responded themselves by charging back downfield with a series of forward-initiated drives, the latter of which almost saw Cowan dive his way over the top.

Although the No.8's run was thwarted, an earlier infringement meant the Pirates were able to go back for a penalty, the result of which saw Cook punt his side in front from 15 metres out.

With the wind and the Camborne slope in their favour, Albion looked for an immediate riposte. And inside three minutes it almost came as home prop Carl Rimmer became the latest Pirate to fall foul of the officials.

On this occasion it was full-back Kingdom who stepped forward to take on the kicking duties. His effort, however, was to suffer the same fate, before Hallett failed miserably with a third chance on 20 minutes.

Again the Duchy outfit made the most of the misses, extending their lead on 25 minutes when, following a five-metre scrum, Cowan picked up from the base before brushing aside the attentions of Albion back-row duo Sean-Michael Stephen and Kyle Marriott to cross. Cook obliged with the conversion to make it 10-0. That was Cowan's 14th try of the campaign. However, compatriot Bentley has not quite given up hope of catching his old mate, the Pirates' fly-half dancing his way under the posts after Mark Ireland, Laurie McGlone and Cowan had punctured big holes into the Albion defence. Again Cook slotted the extras.

Even then there was still one final chance for the visitors to break their duck. Sadly, Hallett's lengthy effort from the left side was off course and it was the Pirates who held the upper hand at the interval.

On the resumption, Albion – as you would expect – set the early tone. Quickly they positioned themselves into the Pirates' 22, but despite some serious huffing and puffing, they could not blow the home house down.

The stubborn resistance from the Pirates was impressive and, having repelled a number of enemy charges, they countered with the occasional attack of their own.

As conditions overhead worsened and the game descended into a turgid arm wrestle between the respective packs, there was little to write home about in a dismal conclusion to the game.

Indeed, the only real notable point came late on when Albion's Canadian international Tyler Hotson landed a 'cheap shot' on opposite number McGlone.

It was a needless act of on-field thuggery and one which should have been dealt with more severely than the yellow card that was administered. However, McGlone, minus the odd tooth or two, had the last laugh as he trooped off to the applause of the home crowd and the subsequent man of the match award.

For the Pirates, it is Bedford next up at the Rec this Sunday. Albion, meanwhile, have a make-or-break date with Bristol on Good Friday.


Delighted Cornish Pirates' coach Chris Stirling saluted his side's display – particularly in defence – as "outstanding" as they claimed their first victory in the Championship play-offs against visitors Plymouth Albion yesterday.

First-half tries from Blair Cowan and Jonny Bentley, coupled with seven points from Rob Cook's boot, enabled the Duchy's finest to record a 17-0 triumph over their old foes from just across the Tamar.

"I'm delighted with the result," said a smiling Stirling at the final whistle. "In conditions which probably suited the opposition and their style of play, we looked at the game very much as a challenge, one in which we needed to front up.

"Throughout the game I felt we did that. Defensively we were superb all afternoon. There was a time when they [Albion] had three drives at our line from a close range line-out, but they got nowhere and they had to resort to other things. They haven't got a 'B' game and our defence forced them to do things they didn't want to do. In the end it was a pretty comprehensive win for us."

Although Albion started brightly, they failed to make their early pressure pay. Fly-half Kieran Hallett failed with three first-half penalties, whilst team-mate Gary Kingdom was wide of the mark with another effort. Having survived those scares, the ruthless Pirates showed their counterparts the importance of putting points on the board as Cook stroked over an early penalty, before adding the extras to Cowan's close-range score, then Bentley's mazy run under the sticks.

"I thought the first half was pretty special," added Stirling. "We defended when we needed to, then when we got to their end of the field, we took points and that is the most important thing.

"The second half was perhaps a little ugly, I'm not sure what really happened because the game just seemed to go nowhere. We couldn't get our hands on the ball for long periods, lots of the game was played in the middle areas of the field which – in these conditions – it's always going to be difficult to score points from. But, as I said, I'm very proud of the guys."

With unbeaten Pool leaders Bedford next to visit Camborne this Sunday, the Pirates know the relentless action will continue aplenty.

"Bedford will be a totally different game," added the Kiwi coach. "They will give it their best up front, but at the same time they have some very skilful backs. If you look at them, they have a very similar style of play to us. I really enjoy playing against them and I'm sure next week will be no different.

"Defensively, we know we will need to be as good as we were today. As I said, we forced Plymouth to try things they are not used to doing. Because they have only one game – if you shut that off – there is nothing else really there."

One disappointment for Stirling at the close, however, was the injury to forward Laurie McGlone, who will today need dental checks after he was punched in the face by Albion's Tyler Hotson.

The Canadian international was yellow-carded for his act of foul play, although Stirling felt a much sterner punishment should have been inflicted on the lock.

"He may lose a couple of teeth, we're not sure right now," said Stirling. "We'll have a look at it. The officials saw it and called it how they saw it. Personally, I saw it differently. The colour of the card should have been different, but that is not my call. I'm disappointed for Laurie in that respect, but I'm sure he will bounce back."

Whilst Stirling was clearly less than impressed by Hotson's actions, opposite number Graham Dawe remarked: "Obviously he [Hotson] was a frustrated man and Laurie paid the penalty. However, it was Plymouth Albion who paid the ultimate penalty by losing a player."

Even with Hotson on the field, Albion were still unable to find their way through a stubborn home rearguard. Despite dominating possession and territory for large parts of the game, the visitors could not make the breakthrough as they slipped to a second successive play-off defeat.

"Frustrated," was Dawe's immediate reaction at the close. "I'm frustrated that we didn't secure any points in the first half and that a few errors on our part allowed them to get field position. From that they finished off their scores well, so you have to say fair play to them for that."

Although it was testing conditions both overhead and underfoot, Albion were clearly made to pay for not taking their early chances. Dawe, however, refused to blame his goal-kickers.

"On another day we may have kicked a couple of them, but that's life I suppose. They [the Pirates] are quite a wily side, they got three chances and they scored with all three. Certainly when they got front foot ball they managed to keep the momentum going, but at the same time they also struggled when they got boxed in. They found it hard to get out of their own half."

With two setbacks already, Dawe is well aware that his side must win three, possibly four, of their remaining fixtures to stand any chance of advancing into the play-off semi-finals. Next up for them is the Good Friday trip to Bristol, a side that have already sunk them twice this term.

"Bristol will certainly be a challenge for us," admitted the Albion chief. "It is going to take a massive effort to get anything up there, but good things can happen in sport. There is still a lot of belief within this side. I certainly have that belief, but we shall see what happens this weekend."



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

The Cornish All Blacks are motoring – a five-pointer, six tries, and another valuable away win, this time a 36-14 victory over Nuneaton on Saturday. You can't do much better than that.

They remain in third spot in National One but are creeping up on second-placed London Scottish, who lost at Stourbridge, and are now seven points behind the Exiles in the table.

Perfectionists that they are, their skipper, flanker Tom Rawlings, while delighted with the win, had hoped for a bigger victory.

"The challenge was to go up and get five points and we did," he said. "Nuneaton are in the drop-zone so we knew it would be a hard battle.

"Our performance was a little placid. It was frustrating. Nuneaton stuck it out until the end, but we were a much better side and better than our 36 points. If we had been firing on all cylinders we would have beaten them by much more.

"It was scrappy at times and there were forced errors. But our pack was dominant, we outscrummaged them and our line-out was better, but our free-flowing rugby wasn't our best."

The All Blacks touched down three tries per half but in the first they weren't in top gear, there were errors. Ball retention wasn't the best and too much possession was given away. That said, they took the lead from the start and retained it throughout.

The first try was on the board in the 15th minute with some good interpassing that ended with fly-half Tony Yapp sending in right wing Kieron Lewitt with an inside pass and then adding the conversion.

But by just after the half-hour the Midlanders had hit back and narrowed the gap to one point with two penalties landed by fly-half Rickie Aley in the 22nd and 31st minutes.

The exchange of points came to an end with the All Blacks asserting their dominance with the two quickfire tries that saw them start to pull away.

They were putting together seven or eight phases of play and from one of these full-back Jon Fabian made a break and linked with Lewitt, who released scrum-half Lewis Webb to cross in the corner.

Within three minutes the third try was on the board – a penalty try after Nuneaton had persistently pulled down the maul. Yapp added the extras and the All Blacks were 19-6 up at half-time.

Straight from the re-start Nuneaton's Aley dropped a goal and then, with the All Blacks increasingly dominant, Nuneaton's frustrations got the better of them.

Their lock Matthew Aston landed several punches on his opposite number, Ben Hilton. Once the dust had settled, Aston was red-carded with, inevitably, Hilton given a yellow.

The Cornishmen's Webb was sin-binned soon after for stamping. But it didn't phase the All Blacks in the least.

They responded immediately with their fourth try, lock Bryn Jenkins going over close in from a maul.

The Midlanders posted their only try ten minutes later when a clearance by All Black centre Jake Murphy was charged down and home full-back Michael Moore went over for an unconverted score to keep his side just about still in it, trailing 14-24.

Nuneaton's hopes of salvaging something, however, were dashed when their flanker Ben Avent was sin-binned.

Completely in charge, the All Blacks rubbed in their ascendancy in the last ten minutes with their fifth and sixth tries – another powerful maul ending with replacement hooker Darrren Semmens breaking off and going over. Yapp converted.

For a finale, centre Ryan Westren rounded off the scoring when he crossed after finishing off a very well-worked backs move.




The Championship Stage 2: Pool A Promotion. Report from the Western Morning News

The Pirates' supporters don't call him 'Captain Fantastic' for nothing, but once again Gavin Cattle was the hero for the Cornish club as he came to the rescue just in the nick of time.

With his side trailing by a point to visiting Bedford Blues in their latest Championship play-off encounter at Camborne, it was the quick-thinking actions of the Welshman which ultimately ensured a 22-18 success for Chris Stirling's side.

Awarded a penalty just five metres from the visiting line, many inside the Recreation Ground expected Cattle – who celebrates his 30th birthday today – to opt for a five-metre scrum. Instead, the experienced scrum-half took charge of the situation, tapping the ball to himself before sniping his way over for a crucial touchdown.

Cattle's late score triggered an eruption of noise from the majority of the 3,000-strong crowd. However, the decibel levels were raised another notch shortly after as the home side repelled a late attacking onslaught from Mike Rayer's Blues.

In a desperate last throw of the dice from Bedford, it was fitting that the inspirational Cattle – now in his second spell with the Pirates – was at the forefront of things, marshalling his team-mates into a red, white and black barricade, which cemented itself together in unison to repel the late threat.

It was – as Cattle was to remark afterwards – a vital victory for the Pirates, who now sit second to Bristol in Pool A. Paul Hull's side lead the table, albeit on points difference from both the Pirates and Bedford, whilst Plymouth Albion bring up the rear having yet to post a victory in three games.

However, no sooner had the Pirates returned to their bunker under the Camborne grandstand, coach Stirling was already focusing his attentions on this Saturday's re-match with the Blues at Goldington Road.

Although pleased to pick up a second successive play-off victory, the Kiwi leader was far from impressed by certain aspects of his side's play. He said: "Everything that we pride ourselves in – by that I mean our accuracy, our discipline and, at times, our intensity – it wasn't always there today, which is disappointing.

"The one thing we did have, however, was a want and a will to win. Those guys wanted it and once they got a sniff, they were good enough to take it. Going up to Bedford next week, you have to say we can take a lot of confidence from the fact that we didn't play well today, yet we got a win against a very good team.

"As I've said in the past, you have to make the most of home advantage in these play-offs. That's two from two for us now, but now we've got two very tough away trips at Bedford and then at Plymouth.

"There are definitely things we will have to go away and take a close look at. We got penalised far too often by the referee, especially in the first half, and that kind of led to a frustration amongst the guys which meant we made too many errors, our handling wasn't great and we allowed them to get hold of the ball.

"After the first 10, 15 minutes of the second half, we managed to scramble our way into their half, we scored a really good try through Rob Cook and from there we got a sniff and we took it."

Stirling also hailed the impact made by replacements Rob Elloway, Mike Myerscough and Tyrone Holmes in helping the Pirates regain their foothold on proceedings following a blistering start to the contest.

With just one change from the side that defeated Plymouth Albion 17-0 at the same venue a week earlier, the Pirates wasted little time in getting stuck into the Blues. Just four minutes had been played when, following a five-metre scrum, Cattle gathered the ball off Blair Cowan before gliding around the blindside for a try, which Cook duly converted.

Full-back Cook stretched that lead to ten points just three minutes later when he fired over a penalty after former Pirate Dan Seal had been penalised by referee Rowan Kitt for an infringement at a ruck.

It was certainly a dream start for Stirling's side, but they were unable to add to their tally and it was the Blues who hauled themselves back into the contest.

Former Albion favourite James Pritchard cut the deficit with a penalty on 19 minutes, before repeating the feat five minutes before the break when he slotted a second effort, this after home hooker Dave Ward had been yellow-carded for persistent infringing.

Still Bedford weren't finished and – in the final play of the half – a clever attacking move saw Ian Vass feed Pritchard, the Canadian international chipped in behind the home defence and in the sprint to the loose ball, it was visiting winger Luke Fielden who showed a clean pair of heels to the home side, dotting down for the try which made it 11-10 to the visitors at the break.

With the wind at their backs in the second period, Bedford were the the first to show on the resumption. Indeed, just two minutes of the half had been played when Paul Tupai was credited with their second score, the experienced No.8 emerging from a mass of bodies following a well drilled line-out move.

Down by eight and struggling to get hold of the ball, the Pirates needed a pick-me-up. Buoyed by some fresh muscle off the sidelines, it duly arrived on 64 minutes when Johnny Bentley, Cowan and Myerscough combined to send Cook galloping over for a try, which he also converted.

Moments later and Cook had the chance to put his side back in front. However, his penalty from 25 metres out cannoned back off the right post and the Blues were momentarily spared.

Now with the ascendancy, the Pirates tore into their counterparts with a gusto that had been sadly lacking in the first 40. Sustained home pressure brought a succession of penalties, the last of which Cattle was able to sneak over from.

Although Cook saw his conversion strike the same post as earlier, the Cornishmen were back in front, a position they fought valiantly to preserve.



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

Redruth head coach Nigel Hambly had demanded more aggression from his forwards prior to the visit of Tynedale, and he was rewarded with a ferocious display of pack power that halted the potent northerners' unbeaten run and secured a priceless bonus-point victory.

Redruth beat the League One high-flyers 24-14 but the scoreline does not do justice to the Reds' total superiority at the workface, where the home front row demolished their heavier counterparts and where the visitors' big men were pulverised by some crunching tackles in the loose and finally broken on the anvil of Redruth's rock-solid set-piece.

Tynedale flew into Cornwall with 13 victories from their last 16 matches and confident of a fifth successive win against a side low in confidence to boost their challenge for a top-three finish. However, they came up against a Redruth side full of fiery commitment on an energy-draining pitch and were forced to feed off scraps in a game kept so tight that their backs were largely marginalised.

"Our forwards were phenomenal," said Hambly. "To get five points against a side as good as Tynedale and score four tries in conditions like we had today is very pleasing. When we play well and get things right that's the sort of rugby we can play and today's result has given me as much satisfaction as any this season. I'm pleased for the whole team that they can put on a decent show like that. They deserve all the plaudits they get because it's been a long hard season and today they were outstanding."

Certainly some of the tackling on Saturday, especially in the first half, was out of the top draw – skipper Darren Jacques and fellow prop Peter Joyce in particular winning turnover ball from crunching hits all round the field. Excellent body positions in the tackle meant there was no escape for the man in possession.

Tynedale scored two tries of their own but both emanated from rare lapses in the Reds' concentration, the first, after 26 minutes, a soft touchdown in the left corner by winger Charlie Ingall against the run of play and the second, a gifted score after the break when the Reds paid the price for a line-out mistake that led directly to a score under the posts by centre Jack Harrison. At 17-14 that gave Tynedale hope of snatching it in the last 20 minutes, but instead they remained penned in their own half and spent the rest of the game defending.

Redruth led 5-0 after 11 minutes courtesy of lock Chris Fuca's try in the right-hand corner, the conversion attempt by Adrian Winnan bouncing off an upright after the full-back had missed an earlier penalty attempt. The Reds' dominance up front had been established from the first scrum, but they were forced to defend nonetheless for much of the first 20 minutes, after which that succession of big hits set the tone for a game where possession and the need to retain it were paramount.

Redruth proved more adept at both and after the setback of losing the lead on 26 minutes to Ingall's converted try, they hit back quickly with a period of pressure in the visitors' 22 that resulted in a try for centre Craig Bonds and a 12-7 half-time lead following Winnan's conversion.

Tynedale spent the first ten minutes of the second half defending hard as Redruth pressed for an early score, their forwards constantly sucking numbers into the breakdown while outside, livewire scrum-half Greg Goodfellow was a veritable loose cannon, causing all sorts of damage in the visitors' rearguard.

A score was not long in coming, Matt Bowden touching down in 'Hellfire Corner'. The winger, who only returned from Australia last week, was drafted straight into action for last Sunday's Super Cup fixture at Polson and made an early appearance off the bench on Saturday following Lewis Vinnicombe's 31st-minute injury. He has settled in quickly and is sure to play a part in the run-in.

Tynedale closed the gap to 17-14 with 20 minutes to play when they capitalised on the Reds' needless call for a shortened line-out. It was rare possession for the visitors and they made good use of it, Harrison's try converted by fly-half Gavin Beasley from in front of the posts.

However, Hambly was in no mood to let this one slip after so many close calls this campaign and, following Goodfellow's replacement by Mark Richards, he committed forwards Richard Brown, Tom Duncan and Josh Morgan to the fray.

From that point Tynedale remained locked out of the game and, fittingly the Reds completed their victory with another punishing scrum, Kiwi No.8 Mark Bright steaming over the line to complete a memorable victory.

Next up for Redruth is a trip to Blackheath and although he remains critically short of manpower, with men still playing out of position all over the park, Hambly is confident that his team will travel in good heart.

He said: "What we've got here today is just about all the players we've got so we can't make huge changes. Nathan Pedley may be back and our academy boys will be returning from their South Africa trip so they will make us a bit stronger. But after a performance like today you can't make too many changes."



National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

This was a National League One fixture that the All Blacks will feel thay lost rather than one that Blaydon won – and the Cornishmen will probably be kicking themselves after going down 35-26.

To be fair, however, the Newcastle club deserved their win, if for no other reason than that they simply wanted it badly and went for it with all guns firing. The visitors' performance on the other hand was definitely below par and their tackling at times half-hearted. Despite that, they scored four tries away from home to earn a bonus point, and came close to a losers' bonus too.

This match at Crow Trees Ground was entertaining and produced nine tries – no mean feat in this defence-obsessed era.

The All Blacks were in it right to the end and trailed by only two points, 26-28, until literally the last minute, when Blaydon's man-of- the-match, lock Christopher Wearmouth, touched down on the end of some non-stop, mazy, running and passing moves.

Fly-half Andrew Baggett, who converted all five of his side's tries, added the extras and Blaydon looked according to the scoreboard to have won with some comfort.

All Blacks skipper, flanker Tom Rawlings said: "Two or three errors let Blaydon find early success and we were suddenly facing an uphill battle. We got back to 14-14 for about ten minutes in the first half and at half-time we were 14-19 down and chasing the game.

"We should have been up at half-time because our pack were dominant. It was frustrating. Blaydon's two first-half scores were soft ones, and we gifted them the game. But they were a good side and their back line was good.

"Jason Luff started in the centre for the first time when he is usually on the wing, which might have affected our play a little, because on the wing he's a powerful runner. That said, despite our forward dominance, our backs didn't really have a lot of ball."

The game opened with Blaydon scoring in the first three minutes, wing Scott Riddell beating a man on the inside, chipping over All Black full-back Jon Fabian and scoring in the corner.

The visitors hit back instantly, a fluent backs move ending with Tom Rawlings taking a flicked inside pass and crossing for fly-half Tony Yapp to convert.

Within minutes the Newcastle men were back in front, No.8 Jason Smithson on the end of a rolling maul from a line-out and a drive. Back came the visitors again with their No.8 Sam Hocking mimicking Smithson's score, Yapp again adding the extras.

The All Blacks took the lead in the 23rd minute when prop Neil Bayliss powered over from a catch-and-drive, but Blaydon snatched it back soon after with flanker Kerry Wood going over from a driving maul after more well-worked interpassing to make it 21-19 to the hosts at the break.

The second half was again nip-and-tuck all the way. Baggett crossed and converted to put his side two scores ahead and Blaydon pulled out all the stops, stretching the All Blacks' defences.

With Wearmouth yellow-carded in the 69th minute for pulling down, the visitors went over for their fourth try, and the bonus, courtesy of replacement lock Nathan Hannay.

The last word, however, was Blaydon's in the 79th minute as Wearmouth, back from the cooler, forced his way over after some determined and sustained all-round attacking.




The Championship Stage 2: Pool A Promotion. Report from the Western Morning News

The Championship all but ended in the play-offs for the Cornish Pirates as they fell to defeat to Plymouth Albion in their penultimate group match at Brickfields.

The Pirates still hold a mathematical chance of qualification if either Bedford of Bristol lose their final matches heavily but the reality is that they have gone off the boil at a crucial stage and desperately needed to win here.

Albion started positively and led 6-0 after two Alex Davies penalties as the game reached the half hour mark. Then, with the Pirates finally beginning to assert themselves on the contest, the visitors bagged the first try of the night as they pushed Albion back over their own line with a strong driving maul. Flanker Tyrone Holmes claimed the try and Jonny Bentley converted.

However, the home side hit back with a third Davies penalty to take a 9-7 lead at half-time.

Three minutes into the second half Albion broke from deep and released wing Liam Gibson, who raced under the posts for their only try of the game. Davies added the extras.

The remainder of the game belonged to the Pirates as they unleashed wave after wave of attacks. Tom Luke and Nick Jackson were a constant threat and Wes Davies was denied a try in the corner on the say-so of the TV Referee, Tony Spreadbury.

Jonny Bentley`s late converted try was a fair reward for the efforts of Chris Stirling`s side but it was too late to salvage the game as Albion ran down the clock in stoppage time.

Plymouth Albion: Tu`ipulotu, Mercer, Hopper (Kingdom 80), Fisilau, Gibson, Davies (Hallett 80+3), Lewsey, Porter (Rice 80+3), Clark, Hopkins (Morton h/t), Hotson, Skelding, Stephen (Collier 73), Sprangle, Marriott (capt)
Replacements (not used) Owen, Clayton
Tries Gibson; con Davies; pens Davies (4)

Cornish Pirates: Davies, Luke, Devlin (Winn 57), Ireland, Jackson, Bentley, Cattle (capt), Paver, Elloway (Ward 59), Franklin (Rimmer 59), Myerscough (Cowan 52), Gulliver, Morgan, Holmes (Betty 52), McGlone (Storer 76)
Replacements (not used) – Doherty
Tries Holmes, Bentley; cons Bentley (2)

Attendance – 4,141

Referee – D Rose (RFU)



National League 1. Report by Bill Hooper for the Western Morning News

On the afternoon when Redruth’s head coach Nigel Hambly announced that he would no longer be in charge at the Rec next season, his charges made sure that his final home league match ended with five valuable league points, which will hopefully be enough to ensure another season of National League 1 rugby at the Recreation Ground next season, reports Bill Hooper.

Once again it was the Redruth pack who laid the foundations of this vital win, with the front row squeezing the life out of their opposite numbers and bagging two penalty-try awards as just rewards.

A bright start by the Reds was soon rewarded with an opening try as the forwards began to assert their domination in the set-piece, skipper Darren Jacques powering over in Hell Fire Corner after only five minutes.

The Redruth pack went on to have a field day, with man-of-the-match Peter Joyce in the thick of the action, along with Jacques.

Having soaked up a tremendous amount of pressure, Sedgley Park managed to get on the scoreboard after 21 minutes when centre Matt Riley kicked a penalty.

Redruth took the game by the scruff-of-the-neck with two penalty-try awards in the space of six minutes as the forwards totally got on top of the Tigers’ pack.

Full-back Adryan Winnan converted both scores for a useful 19-3 half-time lead.

Sedgley Park threatened a revival early in the second half when the dangerous Riley scored and converted his own try and then kicked a penalty shortly afterwards.

The comeback was swiftly ended as Redruth went on to secure the bonus point try through flanker Herbie Stupple, finishing a fine move in the scoreboard corner.

Stupple was once again on hand to power over from a scrum a few minutes before time to complete his brace. Winnan added both conversions to seal the win and put a fitting smile on Hambly’s face.

Redruth 33 pts:Tries penalty (2), Stupple (2); conversions Winnan (4)

Sedgley Park 13 pts: Try Riley; conversion Riley; penalty Riley

Reds Reaction

Redruth's head coach Nigel Hambly was understandably delighted with his side's fine win and he had no qualms about the two penalty tries that his side were awarded, which he felt were "clear cut". However, the big news was when he announced that he would not be carrying on as head coach next season. "I am hanging my boots up. I won't be coaching at Redruth next season, it's time for a change. I've been in place for eight seasons, nine if you count one as joint coach with James Lancaster. I made my feelings clear to David (Penberthy) at the end of January, beginning of February.

"I feel that it's time for a change. I've been doing this job on my own for a very long time. Although I've had some great support from people like Adrian Edwards, Terry Pryor and Tony Cook, a lot of it falls on my shoulders and it's sometimes very difficult. I think the players need someone different and if I am brutally honest perhaps we have been a little bit stale this season. I always put the club first and in that respect it's time to freshen things up.

"I am very proud of what I've achieved here in my time, culminating last season in the club's highest ever finish in the league structure. I very much hope that the club continues to build on the structures that we have in place. We have some great people in the club who can take it further."

Asked what he planned to do after Redruth: "I am still pretty keen to stay in coaching and if something comes along that interests me then perhaps I'll take it up."

Speaking on behalf of the Redruth club, Hon. Sec. Roger Watson confirmed Hambly's departure. "He did talk to us a while ago about it so we have been looking at options. There are talks going on and we hope to be in a position to announce Nigel's successor in the not too distant future."

Watson went on to pay a fulsome tribute to Hambly. "We were in National League 3 South when he took over and with him we won promotion to this league and have consolidated our position. He always said that he wanted to leave the club in a better state then when he took over, and there is no doubting that he is doing that and we are very grateful for all that he has done for the club."




National League 1. Report from the Western Morning News

The Cornish All Blacks completed their National League One season with a 26-19 home win over Cinderford and finish the season in third place after London Scottish clinched runners-up spot with victory at Sedgley Park.

The All Blacks scored tries through Turner, Jenkins, Westren and Hocking, with Tony Yapp converting three as they picked up the maximum points with what was their 21st win of the season.

Redruth suffered a 15-10 defeat at Cambridge after leading 7-0 at the break with a Lewis Vinnicombe try, converted by Adryan Winnan, who also kicked a second half penalty.

In the Western Counties promotion play-off Wadebridge Camels came out on top by beating Thornbury 25-21 and will play in South West One next season.