A summary of the 2001-2002 league season
This page summarizes all the league games involving Cornish clubs in National League 3 (South) and SW2 (West) that took place in the 2001-2002 season. (There were no Cornish teams in SW1.)
In National League 3 South, Penzance/Newlyn got off to a good start at the Mennaye with an impressive 58-15 home win over Blackheath. The result bodes well for Pirates' prospects this season; apparently Blackheath received a large cash injection in the summer and have been on a spending spree -- their pack has been almost totally replaced, for example. For their part, Pirates fielded new signing Martin Haag (ex-St Ives, Bath, and England).
In a closer match at Polson Bridge, Launceston too got of to a good start with a 23-16 win over Norfolk side North Walsham, who are always a hard side to beat. Redruth were not so lucky. In a close match, they eventually went down 9-12 away to league newcomers Camberley.
There were no games in SW2 (West).
In the RFU Senior KO Cup (Preliminary round), Truro lost away at Stroud 39-15.
It was a good day for all three Cornish clubs in National League 3 South. Penzance/Newlyn carried on from where they finished last week, defeating Clifton 48-21 away. Launceston had the closest match, eventually running out winners by 9-5 away at Blackheath. One probably shouldn't read too much into the fact that Pirates beat the same club 58-15 only last week. This week, Blackheath were playing at home, and were probably desperate to erase the memory of the mauling they received last week.
Redruth got their first points of the season with a convincing 28-6 win at home to Cinderford.
Two weeks into the season, the only undefeated clubs in NL3(S) are Pirates, Launceston, Camberley, and Barking. Of these, Barking seem to pose the greatest threat to the top two Cornish clubs. The next few weeks will give us a better idea of Cornish promotion prospects: Pirates and Launceston play Barking on 22nd September and 6th October, respectively. One shouldn't write off North Walsham either, despite their defeat by Launceston on the first day of the season; they are always a difficult club to beat, and this week gave notice of their intent with a 57-10 trouncing of Old Colfeians.
In the local derby in South West 2 (West), Truro swept aside Camborne 36-0. The result was not entirely unexpected. Camborne have lost several players from last year's squad, while Truro were unfortunate to be demoted from South West 1 at the end of last season, because of the restructuring of the leagues.
After 3 league games, Penzance/Newlyn and Launceston are now the only unbeaten sides in National League 3 South. Even at this early stage of the season, it seems reasonable to hope for a Cornish side winning promotion this year. Pirates had another emphatic win, defeating Barking 54-10 at home, while Launceston defeated Clifton 39-5 at home (see report below). Redruth were not so lucky, going down 33-17 to Lydney at home.
Pirates' win, in particular, gives grounds for promotion hopes. Barking are one of the league's strongest sides, with a powerful set of forwards. Having rebuilt their pack during the close season, adding the likes of Martin Haag, Pirates seem to have fixed the weakness that has been apparent for the last two seasons; they seem at last to have a set of forwards to match the strength of their backs.
In a disruptive match that brought little cheer to the spectators, Launceston proved to be much too skilled for their robust opponents. Clifton tried hard to stop Launceston's normally rampant forwards from getting into their stride, which resulted in not only a stop-start affair of a match but brought the visitors two yellow cards and one red. Surprisingly Clifton's best spell was, when down to 13 men, they tried moving the ball out wide and scored. Other than that it was not a question of who would win but by how many. Scorers for Launceston were tries: Dyer (2), Trinder (2), Hammond, Risdon: Penalties: Birkett; Conversions: Sloman (2), Birkett.
In SW2 (West), Camborne, who have lost a few of last season's squad, lost 23-13 away at Berry Hill. Truro, unfortunate to be demoted from SW1 last season when the leagues were restructured, continued their campaign to return to SW1 by defeating Cleve 17-12 away.
There were no games in National League 3 South, today being set aside for Round 2 of the Senior Knockout Cup.
In SW2 (West), Truro seem intent on making a swift return to SW1. This week, they defeated Gloucester Old Boys 75-3 at home. After three games, Truro and Hornets are the only undefeated teams in the league, with Truro heading the table on points difference. Camborne struggled at home to Cleve, eventually going down 12-22.
In National League 3 South, Launceston made it four wins out of four with a good away win (27-19) over Barking, who are considered to be one of the strongest sides in the league. Penzance/Newlyn also kept their 100% record with a 45-33 away win against Tabard. The two Cornish clubs remain the only undefeated sides in the league.
In contrast, Redruth's miserable start to the season continued when they lost 42-18 away ar Westbourne Park. Elsewhere, North Walsham issued a warning to the rest of the league with a thunderous 85-5 win over lowly Cinderford. Although they lost narrowly away at Launceston on the opening day of the season, "Walsh" are clearly a force to be reckoned with, as they proved when dumping Pirates from the RFU Senior KO Cup last week.
In South West 2 (West), Truro maintained their unbeaten record (just) with a 13-13 away draw against bottom club Matson. Truro now head the league on points difference. It's tight at the top, though -- there are three clubs (including Truro) on 7 points and two on 6. Meanwhile, Camborne recorded a welcome away win, their first of the season, by defeating Gloucester Old Boys 22-17.
There were no league games in National League 3 South or SW2 (West) this week, due to the cup competitions.
In National League 3 South, both Launceston and Penzance/Newlyn continued their winning ways, with emphatic wins over Tabard and Old Patesians, respectively. (See match reports below.) Redruth lost at home, 19-26, to a powerful North Walsham side, but not before they had given the Norfolk side cause for concern.
In SW2 (W), Truro beat Torquay Athletic 43-19 at home, making it four wins and one draw out of five matches played. They lead the table, on points difference, from Brixham and Berry Hill. Camborne recorded their second win with a 22-16 home win over bottom club Matson.
In ideal sunny conditions at the Mennaye, the Pirates put on another fine display of attacking rugby. One would think from the scoreline that Old Pats were an easy touch but, until they became dispirited towards the end of the second half, this was not the case. Their powerful pack had the edge on the Pirates in the set scrums, and their backs often moved the ball at speed, producing some slick handling moves. Indeed, one of these moves produced an early score, Old Pats going ahead after only 3 minutes with an unconverted try. Pirates were swift to respomd with a try from winger Rocky Newton, followed by further tries from Mark Richards, Victor Olonga, and Newton again. Laka Laka Waqanivere scored Pirates' final first half try, while Nat Saumi, having an almost faultless afternoon with the boot, converted all five to make the score at the break 35-5.
More Pirates' tries followed early in the second half. To their credit, Old Pats never gave up. For a while they put the Pirates under pressure, and were eventually rewarded with a push-over try of their own. This, however, had the effect of spurring the Pirates to even greater efforts. In the final quarter, Pirates' superior fitness told. Playing fast, 15-man rugby, they seemed able to threaten the Old Pats' line almost at will. There were some fine charging runs through the centre from Haag, Waqanivere, and young Danny Clackworthy.
The final try count was 11-2 to Pirates, with Saumi converting nine. When he eventually missed a conversion (it must have been about number eight), a disbelieving groan went up from the crowd, to the kicker's obvious amusement.
Having made some shrewd summer signings, Pirates have clearly progressed since last season. They seem a more rounded outfit, with the pack, in particular, strengthened by the arrival of (among others) Haag, Hodge, and Waqanivere. Their defence, organised by Haag (who had a fine game) seems much more solid. The tactic of playing Olonga at fly-half, with Saumi at inside centre and young James Hawken at full back, seems to work.
In National League 3 South, it was a good day for the Cornish clubs. Both Launceston and Penzance/Newlyn maintained their 100% records. Launceston defeated Old Patesians 34-22 away, while Pirates beat fourth-in-the-table Lydney 34-14 at home. Redruth recorded only their second win of the season, away at Blackheath, by 20-15.
In SW2 (W), Truro lost their unbeaten record, and their leadership of the league, when they went down 20-15 at Brixton. (See match report below.) Camborne, who so far are not having the best of seasons, also lost, 22-15 away at Torquay Athletic.
This was a match that Truro lost rather than Brixham won. Faced with one of the best goal-kickers in the South West, Chris Aitkinson, Truro give away too many kickable penalties at crucial times. Two penalties in a first half dominated by forward play gave Brixham a 6-0 lead at half-time. The second half started well for Truro with tries by Matt Begley and Simon Enoch, the latter being converted by Ian Hambly before Atkinson kicked Brixham level with two further penalties. Truro nosed ahead again with a Kevin Thomas drop goal only for Aitkinson to level the scores again with yet another penalty. Deep into injury time, with a draw looking likely, Kevin Thomas dropped the ball in his own 22, from which Brixham snatched the ball to score a try in the corner. Atkinson's conversion attempt was just wide as the referee signalled the end of the game and a 20-15 victory for Brixham.
Match of the day in National League 3 South was undoubtedly the top-of-the-table local derby between Launceston and Penzance/Newlyn at Polson Bridge (see match report below). Prior to the game, both sides were undefeated in the league. In the equivalent fixture last season, the All Blacks had squashed the Pirates 31-5, overwhelming them in the mud.
Redruth won for the second time in two weeks, when they beat Clifton 24-17 at home.
There were no league games in SW2 (West).
In a game full of excitement Pirates emerged worthy winners. Launceston, particularly up front, were more that a match for the Pirates in the first half, but in the second half the fitness of the Pirates, and the bringing on of fresh legs, started to take its toll and gaps appeared in the Launceston defence. Launceston already without the influential Mark Fatialofa lost two players in the first ten minutes when Andy Birkett went off with a dislocated shoulder and new signing Barnaby Vorster with a nasty blood injury. A patched up Vorster returned just before half-time.
At the interval Launceston led 9-5 with three Danny Sloman penalties against a try by Rocky Newton. Pirates then scored straight after the interval when James Hawken put Newton away for his second try. Pirates used their replacements well in bringing on fresh forwards Joe Bearman and Richard Carroll, and it was Bearman who scored the Pirates' next try. This was converted by Nat Saumi. Two more forward replacements followed in Brian Andrew and Dan Seal. Pirates enhanced their score with a penalty by Saumi and a try by Laka Laka Waqanivere. Once again Saumi put over the conversion. Then, with time running out, Vorster intercepted to race away for a try for Launceston to end the match.
In National League 3 South, Penzance/Newlyn continued where they left off a week ago. Following last week's hugely-important win over the Cornish All Blacks at Polson Bridge, this Saturday Pirates made no mistake in despatching foot-of-the-table strugglers Old Colfeians 62-7.
As expected, Launceston bounced back from last week's setback with a 21-13 win over fourth-placed Lydney. Redruth were not so fortunate: at Barking, always a difficult away venue, they were unlucky to go down 35-31.
In SW2 (West), Truro bounced back from their loss at Brixham with a resounding 56-18 home win over Cheltenham North. Camborne's disappointing season continued when they lost 12-36 at home to Brixham.
In National League 3 South, Penzance/Newlyn just managed to preserve their 100% record with an unconvincing 23-20 away win at Camberley (see report below). Launceston too didn't have one of their best days, managing to win by only five points (23-18) away at struggling Old Colfeians. Redruth, on the other hand, were much more emphatic in seeing off Tabard 49-10 at the Rec.
In SW2 (West), Truro maintained their promotion challenge with a good away win, 48-0, at Crediton. Camborne, struggling this season, went down 17-10 at Cheltenham North.
This was a game that Penzance/Newlyn could easily have lost. Indeed, were it not for some wayward goal-kicking from Camberley, they probably would have done. Perhaps Pirates underestimated the opposition, whose record so far this season has not been inspiring. Whatever the reason, Pirates started with three first-team regulars -- Haag, Waqanivere, and Saumi -- on the bench.
Camberley, demoted from National League 2 at the end of last season, are rebuilding. They soon showed themselves to be a young, fit side capable of playing hard, fast rugby. They scored first with a penalty. Before long, following a mazy run by Olonga, Pirates replied with a converted try, followed by a penalty. Camberley came back with an unconverted try to make the score at the break 10-8 to Pirates.
At the start of the second half, coach Kevin Moseley brought on Nat Saumi at full back in place of Adam Redgrave. Saumi immediately made his presence felt with some surging runs. Camberley, however, refused to lie down. Midway through the half, on came Waqanivere and Martin Haag and Pirates started to look more solid. Soon after, however, Haag had to go off for a long spell for repairs to a gashed head.
At 23-13 with fifteen minutes to go, Pirates seemed to have the game sewn up. The travelling Pirates' supporters waited for the opposition to tire and for Pirates' superior fitness to tell, as it usually does in the final quarter of a match. It didn't happen. Camberley pinned the Pirates in their own half and attacked with determination and no little skill, eventually scoring and converting a deserved try to make the final score 23-20 to Pirates.
Both defences were solid. Both sides showed good attacking skills, though perhaps the Pirates were not at their best. Two areas in which the Pirates were superior were goal-kicking and lineout. Richard Carroll at lock had a fine game, often winning opposition ball.
In National League 3 South, Penzance/Newlyn made it 10 wins out of 10 by defeating bottom-of-the-table Cinderford 27-10 at the Mennaye. Launceston, also playing at home, made it 9 wins out of 10 by seeing off Camberley (whom Pirates had struggled to beat last week) 29-18. In a high-scoring game at Old Patesians, Redruth finished up on the wrong end of the 62-35 scoreline.
There were no games in South West 2 (W).
In National League 3 South, Penzance/Newlyn dropped their first point of the season when they drew 17-17 away at Blackheath. Pirates left it late to save the game. They drew with the last kick of the match - a conversion by Saumi after an injury time try. Things are beginning to look slightly ominous for the Pirates, who beat the same London club 58-15 in the first game of the season. Since their impressive display in beating Launceston at the beginning of November, their away form has dipped -- they were lucky to win at Camberley -- though it has to be said that coach Kevin Moseley has taken opportunities to blood young players.
Launceston, also playing away, completed the double over third-placed North Walsham when they beat the powerful Norfolk side 21-13. The win takes the All Blacks to within one point of Pirates at the top of the table. If away form eventually decides the league title, look for Launceston to win it.
In a game in which play swung from end to end, Redruth came out top after a gritty display by their forwards. Behind the scrum Camberley looked dangerous and were only contained on a couple of occasions by last-ditch tackles. Up front, early pressure initially saw Redruth easing towards a comfortable lead only for Camberley to get back into the game with successive tries coming from breakout moves from their own half by their backs. However, the Redruth players kept their composure to pull away again in the end. Redruth's scores were tries: Sincock, Bonds, Boase; penalties: Chapple (2); conversions: Chapple.
In SW2 (West), Camborne lost to Crediton 8-25. Truro maintained their title challenge by beating Hornets 17-10.
In the local derby in National League 3 South, title challengers Launceston did just enough to quell Redruth, eventually running out winners by 33-29 (see report below). Meanwhile, Penzance/Newlyn stormed back to form (after dropping their first point of the season last week) when they overwhelmed third-placed Westcombe Park 32-7 at the Mennaye. These two results (together with Launceston's win over North Walsham last week) mean that the Pirates and the All Blacks have pulled away from the rest of the field; Pirates lead the All Blacks by one point, with Westcombe Park still in third but now a full 6 points adrift of Launceston.
In SW2 (West), Truro maintained their position at the top of the table with a good away win, 30-13, against Taunton. Camborne lost away to Hornets, 36-5.
Cornwall's rugby match of the day, Launceston v Redruth, lived up to everything a local derby should be. Over sixty points scored, play - and fortunes - swinging from end to end, and all played in a hard but good-tempered manner. Launceston were firm favourites to win and looked odds on after going ten points up in as many minutes. But Redruth dug deep and got themselves back in the game with a well worked try, only for Launceston to pull away again to open up an 8 point gap at half-time. Eight minutes into the second-half, the Reds struck back once again with a try from captain Ian Boase and then, with Launceston on the back-foot, snatched the lead from a rolling maul. Launceston stepped up a gear and pressured the visitors into mistakes that led to a penalty kick, a penalty try, and a touch down for an eleven point gap. Redruth once again came back against the Cornish All-Blacks with a touch down and a conversion, and the last few minutes of the game saw Launceston hanging on against an all-action attack from the Reds to preserve their four point lead until the final whistle.
Launceston: tries, Fatialofa, Vorster, penalty try, Dyer; penalties; Sloman 3; conversions, Sloman 2. Redruth: tries, Kirman, Bowes, Veale, penalty try; penalty, Chapple; conversions, Chapple 3.
For the first time this season, Penzance/Newlyn are off the top of National League 3 (South) and Launceston are the leaders. Not entirely unexpectedly, Pirates went down 18-7 at North Walsham, who also beat them in the Cup. Meanwhile, Launceston were putting together a good (32-16) away win against solid Kent side Westcombe Park.
Redruth ran in seven tries and Old Colfeians four in an entertaining match. Star of the day was Redruth Colt Nathan Pedley, 18, who marked his home debut by scoring two tries from the full-back position. With play swinging from end to end, all the Redruth's tries were scored by the backs with the forwards sometimes struggling hard to keep up with the play. The visitors from Kent played their part in the flow of the game and, after losing an early lead, kept closing the gap on Redruth before the Reds finally pulled clear in the closing stages. Scorers for Redruth were: tries, Pedley 2, Veal, Edyvean, Chapple, Sincock, Bonds; penalties, Chapple; conversions, Chapple 5.
Launceston and Penzance/Newlyn have pulled away from the rest of the chasing pack at the top of National League 3 (South). With both Cornish clubs winning, and North Walsham and Westcombe Park both losing, second-placed Pirates are now a full 8 points clear of third-placed North Walsham. So it looks like being a battle between the two Cornish clubs for the league title. Currently, the All Blacks hold a one-point lead, but Pirates have a better points difference. It could all come down to their confrontation at the Mennaye on 26th January. Although Launceston's away form, more consistent than the Pirates', could have a bearing too.
Match of the day for Cornish fans was undoubtedly the local derby between Penzance/Newlyn and Redruth at the Mennaye (see report below). Defeat would have been a massive blow to the Pirates' title hopes. In the event, they ran out fairly comfortable winners by 38-22. Meanwhile, Launceston disposed of bottom club Cinderford 39-23.
In South West 2 (West), Truro and Camborne continued to experience contrasting fortunes. Truro disposed of third-placed Berry Hill by 28-17, and now lead the table, on points difference, from Brixham. Camborne lost 19-50 to middle-of-the-table Taunton, and prop up the foot of the table. They've won only twice in the league this season.
Pirates won a deserved victory in this local derby, but not before Redruth had pushed them all the way. Positive attacking play by Redruth right from the start had the Pirates on the defensive with the Reds back-row forwards setting the example, and at half-time they led 22-12. However, the Pirates rallied in the second-half as their forwards started to contain the Redruth attacks and the power and pace of the Pirates' backs began to tell as they ran in four tries with none conceded. Scorers for the Pirates were: tries, Evans 2, Saumi, Waquanivere, Hawken, Durrant; conversions Saumi 4. Redruth: tries, Douch, Withecombe, Boase; conversions, Chapple 2; penalties, Chapple.
In National League 3 (South), almost all matches were postponed because of frozen pitches. In the one game that did take place, Redruth, playong at home were narrowly beaten 28-29 by Old Patesians.
In SW2 (W), Truro maintained their position as league leaders by beating Hornets 27-15 away. Camborne's miserable season continued when they lost 42-11 away at Crediton.
In National League 3 (South), it was a good day for all three Cornish teams. Launceston, playing at home, demolished London side Old Colfeians 57-12 (see report below). Penzance/Newlyn, having struggled to beat Camberley at Camberley in November, made no mistake at the Mennaye, flattening the Surrey side 52-7. Redruth had one of their better days too, beating Tabard away 20-17.
In SW2, with rivals Brixham losing, Truro extended their lead at the top of the table to two points by defeating Crediton 47-0. It was a good day for Camborne too: they chalked up their third league win of the season by beating Cheltenham North 25-22.
In an all-action game, Launceston ran in nine tries and conceded two. And much credit went to the visitors, who never gave up and contested strongly for ever ball right up to the final whistle. For the first third of the game Launceston were held to a seven-all score, but the pattern of the play dictated that the floodgates would sooner or later open, and when they did the spectators were treated to some thrilling tries as the All Blacks' backs ran in some scorchers. Launceston scorers: tries, Vorster (2), Nancekivell (2), Fatialofa (2), Tucker, Yates, Uglow; conversions, Vorster (6).
In National League 3 (South), almost all matches were postponed because of frozen pitches. In the one game that did take place, Redruth, playong at home were narrowly beaten 28-29 by Old Patesians.
In SW2 (W), Truro maintained their position as league leaders by beating Hornets 27-15 away. Camborne's miserable season continued when they lost 42-11 away at Crediton.
It was another good day for the Cornish clubs in National League 3 (South). For the second week running all three won. Pick of the results was Redruth's 27-3 home win over Barking, who are never a pushover. (See report below.) As the three teams above them all lost, this win moved Redruth three places up the table.
Launceston, consistent as ever, beat Lydney 30-3 away. Penzance/Newlyn maintained their push for promotion by crushing Old Colfeians 56-19 away. The crunch comes next week, when the All Blacks travel to the Mennaye... The result could well decide the League title.
Redruth posted a convincing win over visitors Barking with a good team display. Center Craig Bonds was awarded the man of the match after scoring three tries, while kicker Steve Larkins was successful with five of his six attemps. Redruth led 10 - 3 at half-time and, with the back row being particularly effective, did not allow Barking another look in as they scored seventeen more points. Scorers for Redruth: tries, Bonds (3); penalties, Larkins (2); conversions, Larkins (3).
In the key local derby in National League 3 (South), Penzance/Newlyn completed the double over Launceston and moved back to the top of the table (see report below) . Don't write off the All Blacks yet though. Pirates are only one point clear and face some difficult away matches towards the end of the season. Launceston's consistency, and Pirates' relative lack of it, could yet see the All Blacks through.
Redruth's match at Clifton was rained off due to a waterlogged pitch.
In SW2 (West), Truro beat Cheltenham North 56-8 away. Camborne's match at Brixham was called off.
The Pirates leap-frogged over promotion rivals Launceston after completing the double with a display of pace and precision. The match, one of the few not postponed due to the weather and played in paddyfield conditions, attracted the biggest crowd by far to visit the Mennaye Field this season.
The Pirates led 13 - 3 at half-time with a Joe Bearman try following a kick-on and a drive by the front five. In the second-half, Rocky Newton crossed the line twice for the Pirates, while Chris Hammond scored the consolation try for the visitors from a line-out catch and drive. Nat Saumi had a fine kicking day, scoring 17 points despite the atrocious conditions.
In the final analysis, the steadily improving Pirates' forwards, led by former England and Bath player Martin Haag, were equal to the Launceston forwards on the day, while the Pirates' outsides were stronger and faster and mastered the underfoot conditions better. Both teams and the match officials deserved the generous applause they received as they left the field.
Pirates: tries, Newton (2), Bearman; conversions, Saumi; penalties, Saumi (5); Launceston: try, Hammond, penalty, Sloman.
Many matches were called off due to waterlogged pitches caused by the atrocious weather of the past few days. Of the three Cornish clubs in National League 3 (South), only Redruth played. They made it three wins in a row by defeating Blackheath 24-20 at home (see report below).
In SW2 (West), Camborne and Truro's matches were both postponed.
This match, watched by a four-figure crowd, was one of the few matches in Cornwall not to fall foul of the weather and, despite the conditions, it produced a good game of running rugby. Redruth had the first use of the wind and opened up a ten point lead at half-time and held out in a thrilling second-half to record a deserved victory. For the visitors Cornishman Chris Trace caught the eye with two tries, a conversion and a penalty. Redruth's scorers were: tries, Wateford, Lancaster, Croker; penalty, Larkins; conversions, Larkins (3).
In National League 3 (South), Penzance/Newlyn maintained their one point lead at the top of the table by defeating Old Patesians 26-20 away. The match was played in mudbath conditions, in a howling gale. Despite leading 20-8 at half-time and having the advantage of the wind, Pirates could add only 6 points in the second half.
Launceston, seemingly the only club with a chance of catching Pirates, beat Tabard 26-9 away to keep the pressure on the leaders.
After three wins in a row, Redruth went down 23-3 away at North Walsham, who are a tough proposition on their own patch. (They're the only club to have beaten Penzance/Newlyn in the league this season.)
In SW2 (West), Truro will be disappointed to have lost, 27-12, away at mid-table Torquay Athletic. Truro remain top of the league, but only on points difference from second-placed Berry Hill. Camborne lost away at Matson, 37-7.
In National League 3 (South), Penzance/Newlyn successfully negotiated their second trip to Gloucestershire in as many weeks by running out winners at lowly Cinderford, 32-19. Meanwhile, Launceston were emphatic 38-16 winners at Camberley.
With away games against Lydney, Barking, Redruth, and Westcombe Park still to come, plus a home game against North Walsham, Pirates only need to slip up once to be overtaken by the All Blacks.
In SW2 (West), leaders Truro did not play. Camborne lost away at Brixham by 36-3.
It was a good week for all three Cornish sides in National League 3 (South). Launceston kept up the pressure on league leaders Penzance/Newlyn by overwhelming Barking 74-7 at Polson Bridge. This was no mean feat against the Essex side who, although not having the best of seasons, are never a pushover. Meanwhile, the Pirates were doing a similar demolition job (76-11) on Tabard at the Mennaye.
At the Rec., Redruth beat fourth-placed Westcombe Park 19-10 to make it four wins in their last five outings.
In South West 2 (West), Truro beat Matson 15-0 at home. They still top the league, on points difference from Brixham and Berry Hill. Camborne lost 7-22 at home to Gloucester Old Boys.
Despite some stubborn resistance from the visitors the Pirates hit top form and ran in 12 tries, 6 in each half. It was a wet and very windy day but that did not stop a large crowd from turned out to see two sides who were willing to run the ball, and they were not disappointed. Three of Victor Olonga's four tries were classics and each was given generous and deserved applause by home and away supporters alike. Scorers for the Pirates were: tries, Olonga (4), Richards (3), Newton, Waquanivere, Ma'asi, Durant, Hawken; conversions, Saumi (6), Evans (2).
In National League 3 (South), Penzance/Newlyn safely negotiated their third visit to Gloucestershire in recent weeks by beating Lydney 41-28. Launceston did not play, so Pirates are now 3 points clear of the All Blacks at the top of the table. However, the latter have a game in hand and seem to have the easier end-of-season run-in. With away games against Barking, Redruth, and Westcombe Park still to come, plus a home game against North Walsham, Pirates only need to slip up once to be overtaken by the All Blacks.
In the closest of matches, Redruth continued their run of good form by beating Clifton 34-33 away.
In SW2 (West), Truro stay top after beating Gloucester Old Boys 22-3 away. Camborne lost away at Cleve. 38-0.
In National League 3 (South), Penzance/Newlyn came through a potentially dangerous away fixture at Barking with some aplomb, eventually overwhelming the Essex side 37-10. Despite some difficult games still to come (including a home game against North Walsham, who have beaten Pirates twice already this season, albeit on their own patch) it's beginning to look as if it really could be Penzance/Newlyn's year this year. The only side in with a chance of catching them are Launceston, who kept up the pressure by beating Clifton 24-10 away.
Redruth had another close match. Alas, after beating Clifton 34-33 last week, this time they were on the wrong end of the scoreline, going down at home to Lydney 22-24 (see report below).
In South West 2 (West), Truro were also involved in a close match, but in their case they ran out 14-13 winners against Cleve. Camborne lost at home to Berry Hill, 14-22.
This match was played in near gale force conditions and it was a credit to both teams that so much good clean rugby was evident. The spectators had good value for their money with both sides scoring 4 tries. It was the vital 2 conversions for Lydney to 1 for Redruth that decided the winning margin.
Scorers for Redruth were: tries, Arnold, Larkins, Waetford, Withecombe; conversion, Larkins.
Launceston's win ensures that Cornish clubs will be first and second in National League Three (South). No other team can now catch them. Who will be top of the league? Probably the Pirates on their present form, but both teams have banana skin games coming up. Both have to visit Redruth for a start. Pirates also have to play third-placed North Walsham at home and fourth-placed Westcombe Park away, while Launceston also have to play fifth-placed Old Patesians at home, bottom placed Cinderford away, and Westcombe Park at home.
With two games to go, Truro's moment of reckoning will probably come on the 6th April when they visit Berry Hill. Both teams are tied at the top of South West Two (West) with Truro having the better points difference. After that Truro are at home to mid-table Taunton while Berry Hill are away to third-from-the-bottom Torquay Athletic.
Exmouth look like they may well pip Penryn for top spot in Western Counties (W). They are two points clear of Penryn with two games to go but another Cornish club may have the final stay when Exmouth visit St. Just for the last match of the season.
In the Cornwall and Devon League, St. Ives are the leaders with two games to go but Paignton are just two points behind with a game in hand and a better points difference. The very last match of the season will be St. Ives v Paignton.
Bude beat Bodmin away from home by 34 points to 9 to be assured of promotion from Cornwall One, and St. Day won at home to Veor by 34 points to 15 to be assured of promotion from Cornwall Two.
In National League Three (South), Launceston moved to within one point of the Pirates with a convinvcing win over the visitors, Old Patesians. Mark Fatialofa scored four tries, two in either half. Other try scorers were Barney Vorster, Andy Birkett, Matt Trinder and Lee Thomas. Vorster converted seven of the tries to bring his points tally for the match to nineteen, while the Old Patesian score came from a penalty by Scott Pollock.
In South West 2 (West), Truro moved two points clear of promotion rivals Berry Hill when the latter lost away to Gloucester Old Boys by 14 points to 22. Both Truro and Berry Hill have two games left to play.
In the Cornwall and Devon League, St. Ives did not have a league match but their nearest rival for promotion, Paignton, went down 15-20 away to Wellington. Both teams now have two matches to play, with St. Ives two league points to the good.
In the vital local derby in National League Three (South), Penzance/Newlyn held on to their 1-point lead at the top of the table by disposing of Redruth in no uncertain manner (see report below). Although they have two potentially difficult matches still to play -- against North Walsham (who have already beaten them twice this season) and Westcombe Park -- on this form Pirates look unstoppable.
In bright sunlight and on a day made for running rugby, the Pirates, watched by a three thousand plus crowd, put on a superb display by running in eleven tries. It was not that Redruth played badly, more that the Pirates hit top form. Redruth scored first with a try in hell-fire corner but after that the Pitates' try machine took over and had a half-century of points on the board in the first thirty minutes of the game. As the match progressed, Redruth tightened up and managed, after a fashion, to restrict the Pirates attack to a further twenty-six points, but by then the result was a foregone conclusion. Redruth to their credit never gave up and the four tries they scored reflected that effort.
Redruth: tries: Withecombe, Navin, Bonds, Douch; conversion, Larkins. Pirates: tries: Waqanivere 3, Olonga 2, Richards 2, Saumi, Hawken, Hilton, Newton; conversions, Saumi 9; penalty, Saumi.
Barring an upset in their final league match, away at Westcombe Park next week, Penzance/Newlyn are certain of taking the National League Three (South) title. This week they exacted sweet revenge by disposing of bogey team North Walsham 64-7 at the Mennaye.
Meanwhile, Launceston (who have lost only to the Pirates all season) were beating Westcombe Park 43-14 at Polson to remain one point adrift of the Pirates. Whatever happens next week, the two Cornish teams are assured of finishing first and second in the table. The top team will win automatic promotion to National League 2. The second-placed team will play the second-placed team in National League 3 (North) for promotion. So it's possible that we shall see two Cornish teams in National League 2 next season. If Launceston finish second, it will be the second time in two years that they have made the promotion-playoffs.
Redruth lost away to Old Colfeians, 44-22.
In the South West 2 (West) promotion race, leaders Truro lost a vital game when they went down 26-20 at second-placed Berry Hill. This result leaves Truro top, but now only on points difference. Both sides have one more league game to play, and Berry Hill have the easier task, away at third-from-bottom Torquay Athletic next week. Truro's last game is on Saturday 20th April, at home to third-placed Brixham. If Truro win that one, they are more-or-less guaranteed to finish top because of their vastly superior points difference. Anything less than a win will almost certainly mean that Berry Hill will be champions.
Penzance/Newlyn clinched the National League Three (South) title (and promotion!) when they finally overcame a spirited Westcombe Park side at Orpington. The Pirates started at speed and, following good interchanges between the forwards and backs, were 14-0 up after 10 minutes, through two tries both converted by Saumi. At this stage the result looked a foregone conclusion. However, playing with a slight wind and slope advantage in the first half, the "Park" dug in and penned the Pirates back in their own half for long periods. Before long they had scored two converted tries of their own to even the scores. The sides exchanged penalties and tries and at half-time the score was 24-24.
In the second half the game developed into a war of attrition between the forwards, in which the Pirates' hooker, Viliami Ma'asi, was outstanding. Playing like a Tongan Keith Wood, time and again he charged into the heart of the Park defence, always making yards and often committing two or three defenders. If the game was less open than in the first half it was because both defences were uncompromising. Whenever the ball was spun wide attacks were snuffed out. Saumi landed two penalties for the Pirates against one for the Park.
With ten minutes to go, at 30-27 to the Pirates it was still anybody's game. Centre Joe Bearman was sin-binned and Pirates were down to 14 men. Then Pirates broke out down the left to score an unconverted try -- 35-27 and Westcombe needed to score twice to win. With time running out, the Park pressurized the Pirates' line. Just as they looked likely to score, Pirates' fullback Victor Olonga jinked away to score a long-range try, which Saumi converted with the last kick of the match. This was the cue for Pirates' travelling support to start the promotion celebrations! Final score: 42-27 to Pirates.
Launceston won this match with a fine display of forward power which set up a platform for the attack players to exploit. It was not that Redruth played badly -- in fact they defended resolutely -- but that Launceston were firing on all guns and in all departments. Redruth had a fair amount of possession but struggled to penetrate the cast-iron Launceston defence, whereas Launceston used their possession wisely as well as having a fair amount of turn-over ball. For the large crowd watching the match it was a fine, sunny day, and for the Launceston supporters a sunny trip home.
Redruth: tries, Hymans, Bonds; conversion, Larkins; penalty, Larkins. Launceston: tries, Uglow 2, Fatialofa 2, Hammond, Goldsmith, Burkitt, Trinder, penalty try; conversions, Vorster 7, penalty, Vorster.
In South West 2 (West), Truro are at home to third-placed Brixham next Saturday. A win will give Truro the South West Two championship. Anything less and Berry Hill, who have completed their matches, will be champions.
In their final league game, Truro clinched the championship of South West 2 (West) and promotion to South West 1 by beating third-placed Brixton 20-14.