A summary of the 2002-2003 league season
This page summarizes all the league games involving Cornish clubs in National League 2, National League 3 (South), and SW1 that took place in the 2002-2003 season.
At last the season's started and, for the big boys, it was a mixed set of results.
In National League 2, pride of place must go to Penzance & Newlyn, who kicked off the season at the Mennaye with an emphatic 46-7 win over Bill Beaumonts old club, Fylde (see report below). Let's hope this is just the start of more of the same! Next Saturday, the Pirates journey to Esher. Maybe by the end of next week's game we'll have a better idea of their chances in this new league.
Meanwhile, Launceston travelled to Bracknell and ended up on the wrong end of a 16-9 scoreline. Let's hope this isn't a sign that the All Blacks will struggle in this league. One thing's for sure -- if effort and commitment count for anything, they'll survive.
In National League 3 South, Redruth were at home to The Club, Blackheath. It will be interesting to see how the Reds fare this season, with their mixture of experience and youth, and out of the shadow of the Pirates and Launceston. In this game, they went down 27-13, which may or may not be significant. At the start of each season, it's notoriously difficult to assess what standard of side Blackheath are.
Pirates celebrated their arrival in National League Two with a powerful victory over Fylde in front of a four-figure crowd. In ideal conditions for running rugby, the Pirates centres Nat Saumi and Victor Olonga had a field day, ably supported by new signing full-back Ian Hambly. With the rest of the team responding, the crowd had full value for their money. Fylde, to their credit, never gave up, but the Pirates let them have little room to manoeuver and their seventh minute converted try was all the Pirates allowed them.
Scorers for the Pirates: tries, Waqanivere 2, Carroll, Olonga, Durant; penalties, Saumi 5; conversions Saumi 3.
In National League 2, Launceston emulated Penzance & Newlyn's feat of last week by trouncing Fylde by exactly the same scoreline -- 46-7. Meanwhile, Penzance & Newlyn were forced to work hard for a 31-26 victory at Esher (see report below). (Perhaps this means that Pirates aren't quite as good and the All Blacks not quite as bad as last week's scorelines suggested.)
This, as they say, was "a match of two halves". Penzance/Newlyn, playing against a slight breeze in the first half, were 24-5 up at the break and looked to be in charge. Pirates' supporters confidently expected them to cut loose in the final quarter and run up 40 to 50 points. It never happened. In fact, Esher had the better of the second half, scoring three converted tries to the Pirates' one. (Though Pirates did have another well-executed try disallowed for an off-the-ball offence.)
In warm sunshine and good conditions, the crowd were treated to some entertaining running rugby, particularly in the first half. Esher are a good all round side, with no obvious weaknesses, and it was they who scored first, with an unconverted try after 5 minutes. Pirates replied almost immediately, with a well-worked try converted by Saumi. Pirates moved further ahead when Saumi kicked a penalty and number 8 Waqanivere broke free to score near the posts. Another fine move brought another converted try, to make the score 24-5 to Pirates.
A little before half-time, Pirates' kicker and influential centre Nat Saumi damaged his knee ligaments and had to be replaced.
In the second half, with Saumi off Pirates seemed to lose their rhythm. Coach Kevin Moseley made several changes, but to no avail. The play became more attritional. Pirates had their moments, scoring one try and having another disallowed. However, the half belonged to Esher. Pirates' defence suddenly began to leak points, and at the end Esher were only one try adrift.
Penzance/Newlyn team: Whitcombe, Lambert, Saumi, Fatialofa, Hawken, Evans, Becconsall, Paver, Ma'asi, Steel, Carroll, Hodge, Bearman, Penrose, Waqanivere.
In National League 3 (South), Redruth gave a gutsy performance against Rosslyn Park (see report by Bill Hooper below).
Despite going down to a second consecutive home defeat, this young Redruth side gave a gutsy performance against a Rosslyn Park side that will be pushing for promotion.
On a dry sunny afternoon with a stiff breeze blowing down into the Piggy Lane corner, the visitors, playing down the slope, got off to a flying start with a try from their full back Richard Jackson on 3 minutes. Jackson was to prove to be a constant threat to the Reds all afternoon with his well timed runs from deep. The conversion was missed and the wind was to prove awkward for goal kickers on both sides all afternoon.
Soon after, Park were reduced to 14 men when their scrumhalf was yellow carded for use of the elbow on his opposite number at the put in. The Londoners continued to enjoy territorial advantage and after 19 minutes they scored a second try through their No 8 Ben Thirwell after a catch and drive from a line out in Hell Fire corner.
Redruths youngsters were stung into more urgent action and, from a scrum 5 meters out, full back Nathan Pedley was on hand to score Redruths first try of the afternoon. Park were soon back in the Redruth 22 and their third try came from No5 Lee Gibson, who was driven over close to the posts. This time, Stuart Hibbert converted the try. Just before half time, Redruth cut the deficit with a fine try from Craig Bonds in the score board corner after some good work from forwards OSullivan and Hawken. Half time and 17-10 to the Park.
The Reds came out firing on all cylinders after the break and took the game to the Londoners. Steve Larkins was stopped just short of the line. The third Redruth try came from a move initiated deep in their own 22 by Larkins, who broke Parks three quarter line and fed centre Mark Richards who outsped the cover to score in the Piggy Lane corner. Redruth were now within 2 points of Park but that was the closest they would get on the scoreboard. Park scored their fourth try on 68 minutes when scrum half Mike Friday got the first of his brace, Hibbert converting to stretch Park away again. The Reds skipper Bede Brown was at last successful with a couple of penalties to bring Redruth back to a deficit of 3 points. In injury time, Rosslyn Park sealed their victory with Fridays second try and ran out worthy winners by 29 to 21.
Redruth: Tries, Pedley, Bonds, Richards. Penalties, Brown (2) Rosslyn Park: Tries, Friday (2), Jackson, Thirwell, Gibson. Conversions, Hibbert (2)
In SW1, newly-promoted Truro lost their first league match of the season 42-23, away at Cheltenham.
In National League 2, Penzance & Newlyn's good start to the season continued as they beat Newbury 35-19 at home. They were without skipper Nat Saumi, who injured his knee ligaments in last week's game at Esher. He was replaced at centre by Zimbabwean Victor Olonga. Victor's return meant that fellow centre Mark Fatialofa, who had a good game last week, had to give way to Paul Gadson. (National League teams are permitted to field only two foreign players. Saumi and Lakalaka Waqanivere have British Residency status, and Olonga's is in the pipeline. Fatialofa and Ma'asi are classed as "foreigners". This means that, currently, only two from Olonga, Fatialofa, and Ma'asi can play.)
Launceston were not so fortunate, losing at home to Kendal, 28-32. (See report below.)
In National League 3 (South), Redruth's disappointing start to the season continued when they lost 43-22 away at Lydney. However, according to our correspondent there are grounds for hope. (See report below.)
In SW1, Truro recorded their first league win of the season by beating Ding's Crusaders 12-5 at home.
In a match marred by an injury to Launceston full-back Scott Martin, who was air-lifted to Derriford Hospital by the Cornwall Air Ambulance with a neck injury, steetwise Kendal just deserved the spoils. The first-half was very much a stop-start affair with a procession of injuries to both sides, but as the second-half progressed Kendal built up a healthy lead. Launceston then found some drive after Dean Shipton came on at number eight and whittled away at the points difference but, even with nearly ten minutes of stoppage time, could not get that last vital try that would have turned the gamer in their favour.
Scorers for Launceston: tries, Nancekivell, Tucker (2); conversions Martin, Hill; penalties, Martin, Hill (2).
Despite the fact that the Reds have now lost their 3 opening fixtures in the league, the performance of this young side still allows hope. A win will no doubt boost their confidence and lead to results going their way.
The learning curve is steep and the Redruth cause was not helped by three players being shown the yellow card during this match. Redruth were rocked by 3 first half tries from Lydney, with full back Adam Westall scoring 17 points in a 27 point haul. All the Reds had to show in the first half was a Bede Brown penalty.
Redruth played better in the second half and scored 3 well worked tries through Dave Guffick, replacement Luke Ellis, and James Lancaster. Bede Brown slotted 2 conversions. Lydney scored 2 more tries themselves in this half to run out comfortable winners overall.
Next Saturday its Powergen Cup Rugby with the Reds travelling to the Memorial Ground Penryn to take on an in-form Brough, winners at St Ives this weekend, 34 5. It promises to be some match!
Scores; Lydney: 5 tries Vine (2), Scriven, Westall, Jenkins. 4 pens & 3 cons Westall Redruth: 3 tries, Guffick, Ellis, Lancaster. 1 pen & 2 cons Brown
In National League 2, Penzance & Newlyn preserved their unbeaten record (just) when they squeezed past Stourbridge, 24-22, away.
The first half saw Pirates go 12-3 down, receiving a couple of yellow cards and Stourbridge having most of the possession. Five penalties to one and a quick Stourbridge try early in the second half made it hard work for the Pirates at 22-3 down. Then a blistering display of good phase rugby saw Pirates draw level with the last play and a touchline conversion sent all Pirates and exiles totally barmy! This is the second good win at Stour, where Cornwall U21 won earlier in the year in similar fashion............how they love us Cornish! (Thanks to Stu Hoy for this report.)
Their fourth win in a row was sufficient to move the Pirates into second place in the league, after Harrogate lost to leaders Henley. Henley and Penzance/Newlyn are now the only teams who remain unbeaten. It seems that Henley and Harrogate are the teams to beat in this league. Pirates will need to be at full strength when they visit Henley in November. (Pirates are currently without their two Fijians, Saumi and Waqanivere, both out with knee injuries; and, until Victor Olonga's British Residency status is confirmed, only two out of the three "foreigners", Olonga, Fatialofa, and Ma'asi, can play together.)
Meanwhile, Launceston's uncertain start to the season continued when they lost 41-23 away at Esher.
Redruth were playing in the Powergen Cup.
It was a good day for the leading Cornish clubs. In National League 2, Penzance & Newlyn made it five wins out of five by beating Sedgley Park 42-16 at the Mennaye. After a spate of injuries, the margin of the victory augurs well for Pirates' success in this league; along with Esher, Sedgley Park are probably the most accomplished side Pirates have faced so far. Their next league game, away to Harrogate on 12th October, will be a sterner test.
After a disappointing start to their campaign, Launceston came back with a vengeance, recording their second league win with a 36-7 demolition of Newbury at Polson Bridge.
In National League 3 (South), Redruth notched up their first win of the season with a convincing 39-13 triumph over newly-promoted Havant. (See report below.)
In SW1, Truro made it two wins out of three by beating Keynsham 11-6 away.
Launceston got back on track with a convincing win over a robust Newbury team. With Launceston playing fifteen-man rugby, Newbury had no answer to the all-action home team, who ran in four tries -- with the only suprise of the match being the Newbury push-over try scored while they had two players in the sin bin. Launceston's achilles heel so far this season has been at No. 8, but this was solved for this match with the return from semi-retirement of Launceston's coach Dean Shipton, who brought an aggressive and penetrating edge to the back row.
Scorers for Launceston: tries, Burnett, Soper, Mihajlovic, Prendergast; conversions, Hill 2; penalties, Hill 4.
The Reds recorded their first league win of the season with victory over a plucky Havant side. On a glorious Cornish afternoon and playing up the slope in the first half, Redruth fell behind after 13 minutes when Havants second row Nick Allica crashed over in Hellfire corner following a break from scrum-half Grant Morris. Morris fed skipper Joe Duffett, who set up his second row colleague Allica. Flanker Dave Archer was unable to add the extras.
This score stirred the Reds and they replied immediately with a Steve Larkins try in the scoreboard corner. Bede Brown, who had earlier missed with a penalty attempt, slotted the conversion to put the Reds in front.
Redruth attempted some risky long passing in midfield and twice Havant were fingertips away from intercepting. Bede Brown stretched the Redruth lead on 20 minutes with a penalty from 40 meters in front of the posts. Center Mark Richards then scored the first of his two tries of the afternoon, again in the scoreboard corner, following good work from Larkins and Bonds, who got his pass to Richards from the deck. Bede Brown missed the conversion.
Allicia, who had seen an earlier penalty strike the post, cut the deficit with another successful kick to bring Havant back to 15-8. The Reds then enjoyed a moment of good fortune when an attempted chip by a Havant player in front of the grandstand rebounded off Mark Richards into a clear field. The Reds center calmly gathered the ball and sped off gratefully to score. Bede Brown rubbed salt into Havant with the conversion sailing between the uprights. Havant had the last say of the half when, having camped in Hell fire corner, they worked the ball wide for their full back Anton Petzer, who caused Redruth problems all afternoon with his running from deep. Allica missed the conversion and the half-time score was 22-13 to Redruth.
The second half saw Havant camped in the Redruth half for long periods of the opening 20 minutes. Petzer was again close to scoring. However, the score remained the same until 59 minutes, when Bede Brown slotted another penalty, only for Allica to do likewise for Havant shortly afterwards.
As the game entered the final quarter, Redruth got down to Hellfire corner and orchestrated a well-worked try for skipper James Lancaster under the posts. Brown converted. Havant must have said something to the referee, as Redruth were awarded a penalty from the restart. Larkins put the pressure back on with a monster kick into Hell fire corner.
Soon after, Lancaster was over again to complete his brace of tries. Bede Browns conversion sealed Redruths win.
A fine game and a fitting tribute to Redruth stalwart Andy Hawken, who prior to the kick-off received a presentation from Redruth club President Bill Bishop marking 200 league appearances for the Reds.
Scores: Redruth; Tries Lancaster (2), Richards (2), Larkins. Pens; Brown (2), Cons: Brown (4) Havant; Tries Allica, Petzer. Pens; Allica (2)
In National Division 2, Launceston returned to wining ways , with a fine 3228 win at basement club Stourbridge. Leading 246 at half time, the Cornish All Blacks had to withstand a determined fight back from the home side. Centre Phil Predergast scored what was to prove a vital score to keep the Cornish side's noses in front. Launcestons other scores came through tries from fly half Lee Thomas, centre Jimmy Tucker, and prop Steve Rush. Scott Martin with 3 conversions and 2 penalty goals completed the scoring for Launceston.
Also in National Division 2, the Pirates travelled to Yorkshire and came a cropper 31-29 at Harrogate, defeated by a last gasp conversion to lose their unbeaten record. Penzance will feel particularly aggrieved at having squandered a 15 point early lead, after Fatialofa had scored a try and Nat Saumi had kicked a penalty and converted a penalty try awarded to the Pirates. Harrogates revival was not long in coming, and 19 unanswered points saw them 19-15 to the good at the break. The Pirates scored two tries in the second half through scrum half Gary Becconsall, both of which Saumi converted. However, Yorkshire grit and determination had the final say and winger Farrars third try of the afternoon set up Lee Cholewas match wining conversion.
Despite the loss, the Pirates remain in second spot in the table, ahead of third-placed Bracknell on points difference. At this early stage of the season, Henley seem favourites to win the league, with Pirates, Bracknell, and Harrogate competing for the second promotion place.
In National League 3 (South), there was bitter disappointment for Redruth, who suffered a heavy defeat away to Basingstoke by 50 15. After a bright start to the match and at one point leading 15-3 after scoring tries through hooker Sam Harrison, second row Matt Bray, and flanker James Lancaster, Redruth fell apart, conceding 7 tries, with 42 Basingstoke points coming in the second half. The Reds skipper Bede Brown was shown the yellow card, as was replacement James Geraty, as frustration set in. Redruth will hope and need to bounce back next weekend at home to Old Patesians.
In South West 1, Truro secured a fine win away at Marlow 14-13. Speedy winger David Coombes got the all-important try, and Jamie Caruana kicked 3 penalty goals, in a fine display that puts the city side 4th in the league, level on points with 2nd and 3rd-placed sides Dings Crusaders and Cheltenham.
It was Powergen Cup day, so few league games were played. In National League 3 (South), Redruth slipped to yet another league defeat, (12-37 at home to Old Patesians) and are now third from bottom in the league with only two pointless clubs below them -- Barking and Camberley. Reds points came from two tries scores by Craig Bonds and Nathan Pascoe, Steve Larkins notching one conversion.
With Henley Hawks surprisingly going down at home to Nottingham, the Pirates had the chance to join the Hawks and Bracknell at the top of the table. However, it was not to be as the Yorkshire boys were determined to go home with a positive result.
The Pirates were caught cold as Wharfdale scored a couple of tries in the first ten minutes, through winger Craig Ecclestone and centre Chris Matherbe, both converted by Jonathan Davies. Nat Saumi cut the deficit first with a penalty and then a try as both sides were reduced to fourteen men, with Fatilofa for the Pirates and Hargreaves for the visitors sin-binned. Wharfdale scored a third try after 21 minutes with Ecclestone grabbing his second try of the game; Davies was again successful with the conversion.
The omens looked bleak as Nat Saumi had to leave the field with an injury. Nevertheless, the Pirates' pack began to boss the game. However, it was Wharfdale who stretched their lead once more via a drop goal from fly half Baggert. Trailing 8 24, the Pirates needed to score before half time. They succeeded twice. Mark Fatialofa and Villiami Maasi both went over and Ian Hambly slotted the conversions to bring the Pirates back to within 2 points of the visitors.
The Pirates went ahead for the first time in the match when Ian Hambly scored a fine try, which remained unconverted. They seemed to have the match in hand following their fifth try scored by James Hawken, Ian Hambly adding the extras to put the Pirates in the driving seat at 34-24. However, Yorkshire grit and determination saw Wharfdale draw level first via a Davies penalty and finally from a fine try scored by replacement George Smithson, which Davies converted.
Both sides were given a rousing reception at no side for a fine game in which a draw was a fair result.
Scores: Pirates-Tries, Saumi, Fatialofa, Maasi, Hambly and Hawken Pen, Saumi. Cons Hambly (3) Wharfdale: Tries Ecclestone (2), Matherbe, Smithson. Drop goal, Baggert Pen, Davies, Cons, Davies (4).
In a fast and fluid game, Launceston allowed the visitors to build too big a first-half lead as they struggled to contain the strong-running Sedgley Park backs. Nonetheless, two of the visitors' tries came through handling errors by Launceston as Park built up a deserved 28-16 half-time lead. Launceston launched a second-half rally to narrow the points difference to just three points, before a breakaway try by Sedgley Park just before time put the seal on the match. Still Launceston did not give up and were rewarded with an injury-time try.
Scorers for Launceston: tries, Tucker, Hill, Thomas; conversions, Martin (3); penalties, Martin (3).
Redruth suffered yet another heavy defeat on the road, despite scoring 5 tries. At half time they found themselves trailing by 41 10. The Reds made several changes for this match, one positional change being James Lancaster playing at centre. Reds try scorers were Lewis Vinnecombe, James Lancaster, Bede Brown, Steve Larkins, and Craig Bonds. Larkins notched 2 conversions.
In South West 1, Truro defeated Bridgewater & Albion 22 10 at St Clements.
A bleak day for the four top-ranked Cornish sides, who all lost!
The Pirates travelled to Yorkshire to take on Doncaster and lost their second league match to Yorkshire opposition, going down in the rain by 9 points to 5. Rob Liley kicked three penalty goals for the home side. For Penzance, Scott Withecombe scored a fine try from 70 meters, which put the Pirates ahead at the time. Handicapped towards the end of the match following the sin-binning of forwards Ollie Hodge and James Owen, the Pirates despite pressing could not get the score to win the match.
Also in Yorkshire were Launceston. Alas, they were well beaten by Harrogate, who scored six tries in this fine win. The Cornish All Blacks managed to score a try of their own near the end, courtesy of Jimmy Tucker, to add to the penalty goal from Scott Martin and a drop goal from Andy Birkett.
Following this defeat, the Reds are now perilously close to the foot of the table, with only the pointless Camberley beneath them. The Reds are most certainly involved in some exciting matches. However, the results, especially at home, are just not going their way. They must soon or else it will be too late! That the winning score for the visitors came deep into injury time will only rub salt into the Redruth players and supporters. The Reds led 24 21 and victory seemed on the cards until visiting full back David Lewis went over in the Piggy Lane corner to snatch victory for the visitors.
For Redruth, there were three tries from John Navin, Bede Brown, and Neil Corrin. Steve Larkins converted all three tries and added a penalty goal to complete the scoring for the Reds.
In South West 1, Truro travelled to Oxfordshire and were well beaten by Chinnor 46 5. Back row forward Simon Griffiths scored Truros try during the first half.
With it being an International and Powergen Cup weekend, there was little league rugby played. However, Redruth travelled to Old Patesians and were unlucky to lose 16-15. Lady Luck is not smiling on the Reds. Their luck must surely change at some point! The Reds scored two tries via Bede Brown and Nathan Pascoe, but were beaten by a last gasp penalty, which snatched away a much-needed win.
Truro went down at home to Reading by 33-11 in South West 1. Truros try came from skipper Callum Osborne. Dan Pollard added the conversion and 2 penalty goals.
On an upbeat note, a mention of Penryn, 67 6 victors over Paignton, top of Western Counties West with a 100% record.
A good day for the Cornish clubs, with Pirates and the Cornish All Blacks back to winning ways at home and all the top sides winning.
Penzance & Newlyn enjoyed a 24 19 win over Nottingham at the Mennaye Field. Hooker James Owen went over with an early try for the Pirates and the boot of Nat Saumi kept the home team ahead as Nottingham kept in touch on the scoreboard.
Early in the second half the Pirates scored their second try of the game when from a lineout the pack drove over the visitors' line for Carroll to claim the try. Victor Olongas drop goal sealed the Pirates win.
Pirates are now third in the table on 13 points, one point behind Henley and Bracknell. Next week it's the second of three vital games for Pirates, away at Henley, followed a week later by Bracknell at home.
At Polson Bridge, Launceston paraded their new signing Tony Alatini, a fly-half from Tonga. Launceston led at the break 9 7, courtesy of three Scott Martin penalties. However, Wharfedale took the lead early in the second half, scoring their second try of the match.
The visitors lost their shape when they were forced to reshuffle their pack following an injury to a flanker. The Cornish All Blacks wrested back the initiative and, following another Martin penalty, flanker Nick Burnett broke through the Yorkshiremens defence to set up the backs and a try for Jimmy Tucker in the corner.
Martin stretched the lead with his fifth penalty goal and, following fine play from the forwards, prop Steve Rush set up Jimmy Tucker for his second try of the afternoon; this time Martin converted. Alatinis drop goal put the icing on the cake in an impressive 30 14 win.
Despite the scoreline this was a tight game, but one which Launceston deserved to win. Playing their trademark 15-man rugby, they never really allowed the visitors to settle, even though it was not until the last 10 minutes that they managed to pull clear with a penalty, converted try, and a drop goal. The latter score came from Launceston's newly signed Tongan fly half, Tony Alatini, whose presence augers well for the Cornish All Blacks.
Scorers for Launceston: tries, Tucker 2; conversions, Martin; penalties, Martin 5; drop goal, Alatini.
In League 3 South, the Reds recorded their second league win of the season, defeating Basingstoke 33 6. The Reds scored four tries through Lewis Vinnecombe, James Lancaster, Nathan Pedley, and skipper Bede Brown. In the kicking department, Mark Richards slotted two conversions and a penalty goal, and Martin Strick added two other penalty goals. A very welcome win for the Reds, who will now hope to build on this result and pull away from the foot of the table.
In South West 1, Truro too got back to winning way, defeating Berry Hill 17 6. Enoch and Simpson scored tries and Pollard converted both and added a penalty goal.
In Western Counties West, Penryn continued their winning ways, thrashing Tiverton 83 12. Chris Mann grabbing five tries in a twelve try rout.
Our top two sides travelled and lost. The Pirates were downed by Henley Hawks 16 12 (see report below), while Launceston suffered another miserable trip, going down to Doncaster 40 7. Wing Andy Yates got the Cornish All Blacks try, with full back Scott Martin adding the conversion.
In National League 3 (South), Redruth made it two wins in a row when they travelled to Hooks Lane and came away with a 13 9 win over Havant. Stout defence was the key to this success. The Reds' try was scored by Nathan Pascoe. Steve Larkins added the conversion and two penalty goals. Redruth will now look forward to the visit of Lydney with greater optimism.
In South West 1, Truro travelled to top-of-the-table Cinderford and were beaten 15 0.
In Cornwall, the match of the day was in Western Counties West, where Camborne entertained table-topping Penryn. Camborne built up a 15 point lead inside the first 30 minutes, with tries from Nicholas, Smitham, and Mitchell. However, the Borough stormed back with three tries of their own from Webster, Short, and Kiwi Waetford. Hambly kicked a conversion and a penalty goal to maintain Penryns 100% record in the league.
This was a very close, hard-fought match which Henley just about deserved to win. The difference between the sides lay in the Hawks' skill in kicking from hand and in the Pirates' relative lack of discipline. Time and again, Henley relieved pressure by finding good touch upfield. When the Pirates tried the same thing, they frequently failed to find touch and succeeded only in giving away possession. Three Pirates were sin-binned at various stages of the match, so that for 30 of the 80 minutes Pirates had to play with 14 men -- you simply can't afford to do that at this level. No Hawks were sin-binned.
Henley had the edge in the lines out, while the Pirates' forwards had slightly the better of the set scrums and the loose play. Both sides tried to run the ball, with the Henley backs in particular looking dangerous. However, both defences were solid; the Pirates tackling was ferocious.
After 10 minutes, Pirates opened the scoring when good work by the forwards allowed Victor Olonga, playing on the wing, to run in a try in the corner. Saumi converted from out wide to make it 7 - 0 to the Cornish team. For much of the rest of the first half, Pirates found themselves bottled up in their own half. They seemed incapable of finding a good touch upfield. However, their defence was sound and never looked liked cracking.
After 25 minutes, centre Mark Fatialofa was sin-binned and the Pirates' defence came under even more pressure. However, it held firm and leaked no points during the time he was off the field. On 35 minutes, Henley missed with a penalty attempt, but succeeded three minutes later, to make the half-time score 7 - 3 to Pirates.
Play became more open in the second half, but the defences were in control. Then, on 52 minutes, Henley landed their second penalty, to creep within one point of the Pirates. Soon afterwards, scrum half Mark Roderick was sin-binned, and for the second time in the match the Pirates were down to 14 men. While Roderick was off the field, flanker Vili Ma'asi stormed over for the Pirates second try. The conversion attempt by Saumi slid just wide, so it was 12 - 6 to Pirates.
On seventy minutes, yet another Pirate was sin-binned. This time it was lock Martin Haag and Pirates were made to pay for it. With time fast running out, Henley forced themselves into the corner, near the Pirates' line. Eventually, they forced their way over, to make it 12 - 11. A perfect conversion, from way out on the right touhline, gave Henley the lead for the first time in the match.
Pirates fought back, but on eighty minutes Henley added insult to injury by landing a penalty, taking the score to 16 - 12 to the home side. Still Pirates could have won it. Deep into injury time, they spurned two chances to regain the lead. First, when an overlap had been created, the ball was knocked forward. Then they were awarded a penalty on the Henley 10 metre line. Three points was not enough, so they opted to place the ball near the Henley corner flag and go for a catch-and-drive over. Alas, the attempted kick into the corner was symptomatic of Pirates' kicking all day. The ball sailed far beyond the corner flag and out of play, for a scrum back to Henley.
On this showing, there is very little to choose between the top sides in this division. Certainly, Pirates have shown that they can compete with the best. With Victor Olonga's British residency status now confirmed (making it possible to play him in the same side as the non-Britons Ma'asi and Fatialofa), and Lakalaka Waqanivere due to return from injury shortly, there is cause for optimism. However, Pirates desperately need a player who can, when necessary, play the territorial game, kicking for position from fly-half. And they must sharpen up their discipline.
Penzance/Newlyn team: Saumi, Olonga, Gadson, Fatialofa, Hawken, Evans, Roderick, Paver, Owen, Seal, Haag, Carroll, Ma'asi, Durant, Bearman
Match of the day down west was at the Mennaye, where the Pirates took on high-flying Bracknell in a league 2 clash. After the set backs of recent weeks, it was good to see the Pirates record a fine win by 32 22. For the Pirates, tries were scored by Viliami Maasi, Nat Saumi, Richard Carroll, and Ashley Morcomb. Saumi added three conversions, plus a penalty goal and a drop goal, to complete the Pirates haul. Joe Bearman had a storming game for the home team. The only blemish on the Pirates' performance was another yellow card, this time to Richard Carroll.
Up the A30 at Polson Bridge, Launceston saw off Nottinghams merry men. Dean Shipton led the way with a commanding performance which galvanised his team. The Cornish All Blacks built up a useful half-time lead of 12- 3, with tries from Shipton and Jimmy Tucker, Scott Martin adding a single conversion. Nottingham stormed back in the second half, but a Scot Martin penalty was enough to give Launceston a precious home win 15 13.
There were high hopes at Redruth, where the Reds were going for three wins on the bounce against Lydney. Despite the Reds leading 5-3 at the break, courtesy of a Sam Harrison try, Lydney gained the upper hand in the second half to run out winners by 20 5.
In South West 1, Truro beat Clifton at St Clements 12 8. Callum Osborne and Dave Moyle scored two tries for the city side, with Jamie Caruana adding a conversion.
In Western Counties West, Penryn enjoyed another good win, defeating Ivybridge 52 6 at the Memorial Ground and scoring seven tries.
In National League 2, Penzance & Newlyn shrugged off the effects of a long journey to produce an eight tries feast in Cumbria. In winning 54 - 12 at Kendal, the Pirates remain in fourth spot in the league, only a point behind second-placed Bracknell. Victor Olonga was the star of the match, leading the way with four tries. The other tries were scored by Villiami Maasi, Nat Saumi, Mark Fatialofa, and James Hawken. The Pirates were a yard faster around the park than their opponents and once they had built up a commanding lead they were able to cut loose in impressive fashion.
Launceston travelled to league leaders Henley and were downed by the Hawks 43 13. The Cornish All Blacks had no answer to the impressive Henley backs, who scored five of the home team's six tries. Henley cleverly kept the ball moving or used it at once to prevent the Launceston pack from gaining any momentum. Launcestons cause was not helped when flanker Nick Burnett was yellow carded when the scores were 3-3; on his return his side was trailing 24 3. In the second half Jimmy Tucker crossed for a consolation try, which full back Martin converted to add to his two earlier penalties.
In National League 3 South, Redruth travelled to Roehampton Lane to take on table-topping Rosslyn Park. Despite another gutsy performance, the Reds went down by 36 17. Redruth scored two tries through Nathan Pascoe and Neil Corin. Both tries were converted by Steve Larkins, who also added a penalty goal. The Reds are still second from bottom, tied on six points with Barking, who lead them on points difference.
In Powergen Southwest 1, Truro travelled up to North Devon to take on Barnstaple and lost by 20 14. Truros points came from two penalty tries, both converted by Jamie Caruana.
In Western Counties (West), top met bottom as Penryn travelled to pointless Oakhampton. No surprises as the Borough ran out comfortable winners by 65 15 in another ten try rout, Sheldon Waetford crossing for four ties. Also in this league, St. Ives got the better of old rivals Hayle by 24 21. Camborne won and St. Just lost.
Launceston enjoyed a fine home win against high-flying Bracknell in National league 2. The Cornish All Blacks started the game at pace, scoring two tries in the opening ten minutes through winger Andy Cudmore and centre Ed Nancekivill. However, at half time it was Bracknell who led by 13 10 after a try from Spencer, converted by Novak, who also added two penalty goals.
After the break, Novak kicked a third penalty before Scott Martin tied the scores with a couple of penalties. Bracknell were reduced to fourteen men when second row Andrew Smith was yellow-carded. With greater numbers Launceston were able to capitalize, with Tony Alatini and Scott Martin scoring tries, both of which Martin converted, taking the Cornish All Blacks to 30 16. Bracknell stormed back and scored a second try through flanker Dougie Harrison during the ten minutes of additional time played! A fine scalp for Launceston and a win which maintains their mid-table position.
Penzance & Newlyn enjoyed another successful away trip in the North West, winning at Fylde 33 15. Mark Fatialofa with a brace, James Owen, Ollie Hodge, and Lakalaka Waqanivere all scored tries for the Pirates. Nat Saumi converted four of the tries to complete the Pirates haul. Penzance & Newlyn now lie second in the table, level on points with Esher, who held leaders Henley Hawks 26 26.
All eyes will be at the Mennaye Field next Saturday, when the match of the day will be the Cornish derby with Penzance & Newlyn taking on their East Cornwall rivals Launceston -- a real Christmas cracker!
In National League 3 South, Redruth travelled to Blackheath and put up another gutsy performance before eventually going down 35 17 to the Club. The Reds led 10 6 at half time, thanks to a couple of tries scored by Andy Hymans and Sam Harrison. Blackheaths winger Jon Griffin kicked seven penalty goals and converted both his sides second-half tries. Redruth had a couple of players yellow-carded, while Hawken, Hymans, and Lancaster all picked up injuries during the match. Redruth remain second from bottom. However, the team immediately above them (Barking) won, taking them two points clear of the Reds. The match next weekend at Weston Super Mare, whom Barking beat yesterday, could prove vital in the Reds' season.
Elsewhere, in South West 1, Truro lost at home to Cinderford 21 20. Jamie Caruana scored 15 points with a try, two conversions, and two penalty goals. The other Truro try came from Matt Trevail.
In Western Counties West, arguably the match of the day in Cornwall saw Penryn take on Camborne, and complete the double over the Cherry and Whites by 36 11. The Borough remain on top of the table. Also in this league, it was good to see St Ives and Hayle both score over 60 points in good wins over Devon opposition, and St Just win 23 13 against Tiverton.
The Pirates won the day in this eagerly-awaited clash, played in atrocious conditions in front of a large crowd at the Mennaye Field. The home side elected to face the elements during the first half. From the kick off, tension boiled over amongst the forwards. Launceston settled first. In the third minute, after a fine touch kick into the corner from Andy Birkett, Lee Soper secured the line-out and the ensuing drive from the Cornish All Blacks saw Julian Wilce driven over for the opening try. Scott Martin was unable to add the conversion. Nat Saumi and Scott Martin then exchanged penalty goals, before Martin with his second penalty goal stretched Launcestons lead to 11-3. However, the Pirates enjoyed good fortune when Steve Evans charged down Tony Alatinis kick, the ball fell into a clear field, Evans kicked on and won the chase to the touch down. Saumis conversion cut the deficit to a single point, 11 10 at half time.
With the elements in their favour, the Pirates looked to dominate during the second half. Saumi missed a couple of penalty goal attempts early on, before Victor Olonga calmed the home crowd's nerves by scoring a fine try out wide in the score board corner. Saumi belied the conditions to convert the try from the touchline, making it 1711 to the Pirates. Paul Gadson sealed the Pirates' win in the 78th minute by scoring the home sides third try.
This match, watched by an estimated 2000 crowd and played throughout in heavy driving rain, was a typical local Derby, with no quarter asked or given. Launceston had first choice of the elements and were soon on the score sheet with a try by Julian Wilce in the third minute. The Launceston forwards dominated for much of the first-half but were unable to pull clear of the Pirates and went into half-time with a slender one point lead, 11 - 10.
In the second-half, now with the elements in their favour, the Pirates gradually took the upper hand, scoring two tries while denying Launceston any chance to increase their tally. Nonetheless, it was closer than the score suggests and a nail-biter right to the final whistle.
Scorers for Pirates: tries, Evans, Olonga, Gadsdon; conversions, Saumi 2; penalty, Saumi. For Launceston: try, Wilce; penalties, Martin 2.
In National League 3 South, Redruth travelled to Weston Super Mare with high hopes, which were once again cruelly dashed. Trailing 9-0 at halftime, Redruth were reduced to fourteen men when prop John Court was sent off. Weston then increased their lead with an unconverted try, before Redruth made a spirited come back, denied by an excellent Weston defence on many occasions. Replacement back Mark Scrivenor did score a try for the Reds but, despite other attacks on the Weston line, the home side held out for an important win.
In South West 1, Truro travelled to Berry Hill with a below-strength side and duly lost 19 3. Jamie Caruana kicked Truros points.
In Western Counties West, Penryn only just managed to maintain their 100% record, winning 2624 at Tiverton. The winning Borough penalty goal was kicked five minutes into added time! There were wins also for Hayle (10-8 at Ivybridge), and St. Just (27-13 at Bideford). However, St. Ives lost 20-8 at Paignton.
The Pirates gave debuts to former Chilean International fly-half Sebastien Berti, who played in one of the two regional matches against the England Counties XV last June in Concepcion, and local youngster Matthew Jess on the wing.
Berti landed two early penalty goals to nudge the Pirates ahead, before Mark Fatialofa scored the opening try on 18 minutes, Berti adding the extras. The Pirates were now dominating proceedings and their play was rewarded with another try before half time, this time scored by scrum half Gary Becconsall. Bertis second successful conversion gave the Pirates a healthy 20-0 lead at the break.
Kendal stormed back at the resumption and scored a worthy try through Steve Healey, which Mike Scott converted. The home side soon hit back with a fine try from Ali Durrant, which Berti failed to convert. However, the Cumbria side were not about to lie down without a fight. Tthey released flying wing Luke Landell, who crossed for his side's second try of the game. Scott was successful with the conversion, and Kendal were back to 25-14.
In the final quarter the Pirates superior fitness told and they ran in four more tries, with a hat trick from Victor Olonga and an absolute peach from Nat Saumi . Berti managed to convert three of them. Kendal, to their credit, had the final say with their third try from Mike Scott, which he duly converted.
The Cornish All Blacks gave a gutsy performance against the high-flying Hawks but in the end were undone by Henleys pace and a double strike within two minutes. Launceston were leading 8-6, following a try from Ed Nanckivell and a penalty from Scott Martin, when the Hawks swooped in with two tries from fly-half Barry Reeves, who had scored their two earlier penalty goals, and wing Pete Davies. Reeves added the conversion to the second try. Suddenly Launceston trailed 18-8, and the score remained the same at half time.
Try as Launceston might, they were unable to break down the Henley defence in the second half. Martin kicked three penalty goals to reduce the Hawks' lead. However, in the meantime Reeves kicked his third penalty to stretch the Hawks lead again and hang on for the win.
The Reds got the New Year off to the best possible start with this fine win over North Walsham. Indeed, Redruth had established an 18-0 lead early into the second half, with tries from Lancaster, Bonds, and Larkins. Recent signing Mark Scrivener had also kicked a penalty goal. The team gave a tremendous performance both in attack and defence. The visitors struck back with a couple of tries, one of which was converted, but the Reds hung on for a deserved victory.
Redruth face a vital trip to bottom club Camberley next Saturday, and then host Barking, who are just above them in the table. Maximum points from these two matches will go a long way in helping Redruth secure their National league survival.
Elsewhere, Truro got back to winning ways in South West 1 with a 15-10 win over Chinnor. Truro scored three tries from Callum Osborne, James Allen, and Simon Enoch.
Penryn, no doubt relishing the prospect of taking on Launceston in the next round of the Cornwall Cup, maintained their 100% record in Western Counties West with a fine win over St. Just 33-10. St. Ives, third in the league, put paid to Oakhampton 40-3. Camborne enjoyed their trip to Hayle, winning 14-10.
The weather was the winner this week-end, with many games being postponed due to frozen pitches. This was the case with the Pirates' match against Bracknell and also Redruths game at Camberley. Launcestons match at Nottingham survived, but it did the Cornish All Blacks no good as once again they lost away.
The Cornish All Blacks came up against a well-drilled Nottingham side, which weathered Launcestons attacks before sealing victory in the final quarter. Despite all their pressure, Launceston could not break down the defensive cover. Indeed, the opening score of the game came in first half injury time, when Nottingham broke out of defence for winger Josh Kay to score, with Russell Southam converting. The score remained 7-0 to the home side at half-time.
Launceston continued in the same vein after the break and kept up the assault on the Nottingham line. They were finally rewarded when prop forward Martin Rice was driven over by the pack following a catch-and-drive from a lineout. Scott Martin, who missed the conversion, was successful with a penalty goal, which nudged the visitors ahead at 8-7. It was not to last long, as Launceston conceded another try following a poor kick out of defence that allowed the home sides three quarters to run in a fine try through centre Tom Rolt. This spurred the home pack into action and they gradually began to take the upper hand with some fine mauling, which had the Launceston forwards on the back foot. Launceston then conceded a penalty in front of their posts and flanker Nick Burnett was sent to the sin-bin. Nottingham kicked the penalty and, with the Cornish All Blacks reduced to fourteen men, drove home their advantage by scoring a third try under the posts from Russell Southam. The conversion was a formality. Southam then kicked a final penalty to seal the home side's win by 25 8.
Elsewhere, Truros South West 1 match at Bridgewater was another victim of the weather.
In Western Counties West, Penryns match at Bideford was called off. However, Camborne entertained second place Withycombe but where unable to defeat their opponents, going down 29-31. St. Just defeated Newton Abbot at home 29-7, scoring four tries. St.Ives travelled to Ivybridge and won 19-11, Billy Peters kicking 14 points.
Match of the day in Cornwall was without doubt the clash at the Mennaye between Penzance & Newlyn and Henley Hawks, the top two sides in National League 2. In winning 16-14, the Pirates leapfrogged the Hawks to go top of the table.
Henley settled the quicker of the two sides and were soon a penalty goal to the good through fly half Barry Reeves. Both sides' defences stood firm as first Henley and then Penzance & Newlyn strove to find an opening. Reeves kicked a second penalty for the visitors, following a Pirates' infringement at the maul, to increase the Hawks' lead to 6-0 at half time.
Within 10 minutes of the restart, Nat Saumi had tied the scores with a couple of penalty goals. However, the lead was soon back with Henley after Reeves kicked his third penalty goal. Then on the hour came the Pirates breakthrough, when centre Steve Evans scored the all-important try, which Nat Saumi converted to put the Pirates 139 ahead.
Play flowed from end to end in this exciting encounter. Pirates' fans breathed slightly easier when Saumi slotted home his third penalty. However, the Hawks were not about to lie down and they managed to score a try in the corner, courtesy of full back Mike McNair. The conversion was missed and the Pirates were left to top the table, the highest league position ever achieved by a Cornish club in the National Leagues. Now it remains to be seen if the Pirates can keep the top spot until the end of the season.
Launceston disappointingly lost their fourth match in a row, going down 1510 to Doncaster at Polson Bridge. They are now just above the drop zone, three points clear of Wharfedale, who have a game in hand.
The Cornish All Blacks gave a debut at centre to Frenchman Thomas Bonnefoy, a signing from French Top 16 club Grenoble. Launceston lost too much turnover ball when in good attacking postions, a cause for concern for coach Dean Shipton.
Andy Cudmore scored a try in the first half, which at that point put the home side ahead. Chris Conway scored a try and John Mortimers conversion and penalty goal gave the visitors a 105 half time lead. Bonnefoy had a couple of chances but lacked the speed that his countrymen are famed for. The Yorkshiremen went further ahead when lock forward Mark Longworth scored in the corner. Full back John Hill pulled a try back for Launceston but that was as close as they could get on the scoreboard.
In National League 3 South, Redruth won narrowly at home 18-16 against Barking in a bottom of the table clash vital for both clubs. For the Reds a successful conversion of a late Bede Brown try by Mark Scrivener secured two vital points for Redruth.
Despite taking an early lead through a John Court try, Redruth found Barking a real handful and were soon trailing after Justin Azzopardi had kicked a penalty and converted wing Paul Bushells try. Indeed, a further Azzopardi penalty left the home side trailing 135 at the break. Scrivener pulled back three points at the start of the second half. However, despite Redruth pressure it was Azzopardi who stroked over his third penalty goal. In a rousing finish, Scrivener first kicked his third penalty goal and then converted Browns last gasp try. Redruth have now climbed above Barking on points difference.
In Southwest 1, Truro drew 77 at home with Marlow. Matt Trevail scored the city side's try and Dan Pollard added the conversion.
In Western Counties West, Penryn march on. This time Newton Abbot were the victims, beaten at home 56-12. Chris Mann scored four of the Boroughs nine tries. St. Ives saw off Camborne 18-6, and Hayle defeated St.Just 22-0.
In National League 2, leaders Penzance & Newlyn won 29 10 at Nottingham to maintain top spot. This was a hard fought match and the Pirates only pulled away in the final quarter after coach Kevin Mosley made some tactical changes. Two late converted tries flattered the Pirates and the scoreboard. Dave Jackson and Richard Lloyd scored early tries for the home side, in between which Nat Saumi replied for the visitors with the first of his brace, this following a flowing cross field movement. James Hawken scored the second Pirates' try, before Saumi secured the lead for the visitors with his second try. Victor Olonga and Laka Waqanivere scored the late tries, which Saumi converted to seal the win.
Launceston suffered a fifth consecutive defeat against fellow strugglers Wharfedale up in Yorkshire. The Cornish All Blacks went down 15 6. Launceston took an early lead, thanks to a couple of penalty kicks from full back Jon Hill. The Yorkshiremen hit back with a try from centre Andy Baggott, which full back Davies converted. Davies then added a penalty goal and scored his sides second try. New French centre Thomas Bonnefoy went close for the Cornish All Blacks following a five-meter scrum. Andy Cudmore also had a late chance to score but was hauled down close to the line.
In National League 3 South, Redruth lost 25 22 away at Tabard. This defeat, coupled with Barkings win, sees the Reds back in the drop zone. Redruth scored three tries through Mark Harper, Bede Brown, and John Court. Steve Larkins and Marek Churcher each slotted a conversion and Bede Brown a penalty kick. Redruth were unlucky when, following a long run from Larkins, Churcher was held up over the line, unable to ground the ball.
Penryn played their postponed Western Counties West match at Bideford and thumped the home side 108 5, Nick Brown scoring five tries and Chris Mann four. Due to a serious neck injury to one of the Bideford players, the game was concluded on an adjourning pitch to allow the Air Ambulance to land. After being checked over at Barnstaple Hospital the player concerned was allowed home.
With Penzance & Newlyns home game against Doncaster being called off, Launceston held centre stage with their home game against Harrogate at Polson Bridge.
The Cornish All Blacks, desperate for a win to stop a bad run of defeats, fielded another new signing in the form of winger Vasile Ghioc (see fact file on the forum) a Romanian international from Dynamo Bucharest. However, it was to be Launceston replacement Andy Yates who, with the last kick of the game, brought Launceston a dramatic victory 23 22, and gave the Cornish All Blacks two valuable league points in their battle to avoid the relegation zone in National League 2.
The home side got off to the worst possible start when Harrogate centre Matt Duncombe sliced through the non-existent Launceston tackling to go over for a try out wide. Fly-half Lee Cholewa missed the conversion in the tricky wind, which was against him. Soon the home side where back in the opponents 22. Following a good lineout, Andy Birkett fed Eddie Nancekivell, who burst through the visitors' defence to score a fine try at the posts, which Scott Martin converted.
Martin then increased the lead for the home side with a couple of penalties, as Harrogate were penalised for their persistent infringing. Launceston were enterprising and Frenchman Thomas Bonnefoy showed some good skills and pace in midfield. However, the Yorkshire side were well drilled and generally coped well with the Cornish All Blacks' attacks, aided it must be said by Launceston losing the ball in promising situations far too often. Five minutes before half time another fine home move provided a second try under the posts for Nancekivell, who was fed this time by Tony Alatini. Martin added the extras and Launceston led 20-5. Unfortunately, Launceston went to sleep and were caught out by a quick Harrogate throw-in. The ball moved sweetly along the line to full back Ed Smithies, who sauntered in to score. Cholewa was once again unsuccessful with his conversion and the score remained 20 10 at half time.
Would the advantage be enough to withstand the expected Harrogate surge in the second half with the wind? Within 10 minutes the visitors had scored a converted try to breath down the necks of an increasingly nervous Launceston side. Winger James Tapster rounded off a three-quarter move and this time Cholewa was successful with the conversion. Play remained scrappy. Martin missed a penalty chance when he appeared to be injured. The influential Bonnefoy also picked up a knock in the closing stages and had to leave the field. Harrogate, with time running out, appeared to have pinched the result when replacement lock forward John Dudley followed up a hack on from an Andy Birkett kick which was charged down. Nancekivell appeared to have the ball covered, but somehow it eluded him and Dudley gratefully flopped down on it. Significantly, the conversion was missed. Yates' final kick got Launceston out of jail, and secured a welcome win.
Redruth travelled to Old Colfeians in National League 3 South, knowing that they had to win to keep alive their hopes of National league survival. They came away having secured their sixth league win of the season. Colfeians kicker, full back Dave Lewis, missed with three kicks at goal in the opening half hour as the scoreboard remained blank. The Reds were reduced to 14 men as No 8 Nathan Pascoe was sin-binned. The Old Boys took advantage and scored the opening try on 34 minutes through full back Dave Lewis, who added the conversion from out wide. Redruth pressed in the closing minutes of the half. centre Craig Bonds appeared to go over but was adjudged foot in touch by the linesman. The Reds did get points on the board before half time when Bede Brown kicked a penalty goal to leave the visitors trailing 7 3.
In the second half Lewis kicked an early penalty goal to stretch the Old Boys' lead, before Bede Brown cut the deficit to one point with two penalty goals, the second from 45 meters. Redruth were in the driving seat. They were held up over the line on 50 minutes, and frustratingly lost the resulting put in. However, Redruth were not to be denied and when centre Bonds broke the defence, James Lancaster was on hand to take the scoring pass. Browns conversion put the Reds ahead 1610, to the delight of their numerous supporters. In the closing stages Andy Hymans put in a try-saving tackle on Colfeians wing Mark Jarrett, although Redruth conceded a penalty from the ensuing ruck, which Lewis kicked to cut the deficit to 3 points. Redruth then defended well in a tense final few minutes to take the two points and a big step towards National League survival.
In South West 1, Truro went down away to Reading 16-14. Truro scored a try through Simon Enoch and were awarded a penalty try. Jamie Caruana converted both scores.
In Western Counties West, Penryn won the local derby against Hayle 41-17 to record their 17th league win this season. Chris Mann scored four tries for the Borough. St Ives went down by a point at Tiverton 30 29, and St. Just 9-5 at home to second placed Withycombe. Paignton overcame Camborne 23-22.
This was a fine win by the Reds against a side that had defeated them 53 29 back in October. Indeed the home side could, and perhaps should, have won by a greater margin; such was their domination for large periods of this absorbing encounter. This win improves the Reds position in the league ahead of next weekends rearranged fixture away to bottom club Camberley.
With Redruth playing up the slope in the first half, skipper Bede Brown soon had the first points on the score board with a penalty after 3 minutes. Redruth settled and began to construct some pleasing moves which promised further scores, the first of which was not long in arriving. Nathan Pedley, who was looking useful out wide, scored the first Redruth try after a flowing move which saw the ball moved out right and then back left to Pedley, who ran around to score under the posts. Unfortunately the conversion was missed as the ball toppled over as Brown was running up. He tried a snatch drop but it flew to the left. The Reds continued to press, with Andy Hymans chipping for the corner and Mark Richards asking all sorts of questions of the visitors' defence. Indeed, play was rarely out of the visitors' half. However, it took the home side another 20 minutes to increase their lead, when Neil Corin popped up on the left to take a scoring pass. Browns conversion went across the face of the posts. Redruth maintained their vice-like grip on possession. Following a mis-cued clearance from the visitors' 22, Brown fed the ball infield and John Navin scored the Reds' third try, which Brown this time converted for a 20 point lead. Towards half time Westcombe Park pressed the Redruth line, but a resolute defence held them up and they lost turnover ball.
Park came out all guns blazing in the second half. However, the visitors were guilty of committing many unforced errors, which did not help their cause. Instead it was Redruth who thrilled the vociferous home support with another fine try in Hell Fire corner from replacement James Jago. Brown once again had no luck with the conversion. Park eventually got on to the score sheet with a well-worked try from Niki Davies in the scoreboard corner. Redruth came back again to score their fifth and final try of the afternoon, when Mark Richards broke in to the visitors' 22 before releasing full back Steve Larkins to score in Hell Fire Corner. Browns conversion attempt cannoned off the posts. Redruth then conceded a couple of tries late on, scored by Parks No.8 Wiseman and replacement Cavalli. Both scores were converted by Coates.
In National League 2, both Cornish sides were on the road, and recorded contrasting results. Launceston, having lost to Sedgley Park in the Division 3 play-offs a couple of seasons ago, and having already gone down at home 3330, hoped to pull off an important away win. But, with the side crippled by injuries at the moment, it was always going to be a tall order. The Cornish All Blacks crashed 6723, with the home side running in 9 tries. At half-time Launceston only trailed 2718, with all their points coming through full back Jon Hill, who scored a couple of converted tries and a penalty goal. Their final try was scored near the end when Andy Birkett went over, but by then the match was over as a contest.
With the signing of Romanian international wing Vasile Ghioc, the Cornish All Blacks are attracting a new following in far off Romania. Scores and match reports are appearing on the Romanian rugby site Rugby.Ro. The Cornish All Blacks are now big news in Bucharest and Constantia! Truly amazing to see Deano quoted in Romanian!
Penzance & Newlyn continued their winning ways with a tidy performance away to Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales. The Pirates scored six tries with Mark Fatialofa and Natt Saumi getting two each, hooker James Owen, and top try scorer Victor Olonga grabbed the other two. A result which keeps the Pirates in second spot, ahead of next Sundays re-arranged match at Bracknell.
Pirates raced to 10-0 lead within minutes and dominated the first half with power rugby. A 25-0 score at the break suggested a second half rout. However, a scrappy forty minutes followed, which saw Pirates add two tries, and a hard-earned consolation try for Dale. The home side sat on Pirates line for the last 15 minutes, while Pirates accumulated two yellow cards and a red. A very pleasant ground tucked away in the Yorks Dales and a very friendly crowd, who wondered how on earth they had scored 24 points away from home in their draw with Pirates earlier in the season!
In SouthWest 1, Truro suffered an unexpected home defeat, going down 10 8 to Keynsham. Truros points consisted of a try by Matt Trevail, with Jamie Caruana kicking a penalty goal.
In Western Counties West, leaders Penryn travelled to second placed Withycombe, and demolished the home side by 57 7. Chris Mann scored a hat trick of tries to take his total of tries scored in the league this season to 37! With just four league games to play, Penryn are 8 points clear of Withycombe at the top. Camborne lost to Oakhampton in Devon 22 5, whilst in the battle of the Saints, St. Ives and St. Just fought out an 8 all draw.
With this ninth successive league win the Pirates climbed back to the top of the table, ahead of Henley Hawks on points difference.
Nat Saumi set the visitors on their way with an opening penalty early on. The Pirates scored a couple of quick tries towards the end of the first quarter, through skipper Joe Bearman and Mark Fatialofa, to extend their lead to 18 8 at the break.
The home side were handicapped when their fly-half was sent to the sin-bin near half-time. The Pirates took full advantage of the extra man, with Maasi setting up Fatialofa for his second try of the match. Victor Olonga was not to be out done and he latched on to an interception to run almost the length of the field to grab an opportunist try. Saumis conversions stretched the Pirates to 32 8.
Hooker James Owen scored the Pirates' fifth try and Laka Waqanivere rounded off a fine move involving Saumi, Olonga, and Maasi to score the sixth Pirates' try. Bracknell never gave up and scored a couple of late tries to give the scoreboard a respectable look.
The Reds scored five tries in this important win at Camberley, the home side having lost every league match played this season. South African wing Andy Hymans scored a brace of tries and further scores came from Nathan Pedley, Mark Harper, and Nathan Pascoe. Bede Brown kicked 3 penalty goals but only one conversion for the rest of the Reds points. Redruth will be hoping to extend their winning run at home on Saturday to Tabard.
Elsewhere, Truro suffered another defeat in South West 1, going down at Bridgewater 27 18. Truro scored 3 tries; Matt Trevail got a couple and Callum Osborne the other. On loan Ian Hambly kicked a penalty goal.
In Western Counties West, Tiverton beat Hayle 37 8, and Camborne beat Newton Abbot 32 20.
Redruth recorded their sixth league win of 2003, in this closely-fought encounter between two sides fighting to stay in the National Leagues. On a dry day with a stiff breeze blowing up the slope, Tabard kicked off towards the scoreboard end. The visitors were the quicker to settle and soon had the fist points on the board through a penalty goal from scrum half Michael Skinner. Skinner soon doubled the score with a second successful kick. The visitors employed the maul to good effect as they enjoyed field position and possession. Redruth defended stoutly and when they ventured into the visitors' 22 for the first time after almost 15 minutes they came away with points from skipper Bede Browns penalty goal. Tabard spurned a couple of penalty goal attempts as the game became very scrappy. As tempers flared, Tabard flanker Jag Johal was shown the yellow card for some foul play. Approaching halftime, Redruth capitalised on a Tabard ball going forward and the quick-thinking Brown fed his line to release Nathan Pedley for a fine try in the Piggy Lane corner. Browns conversion attempt failed in the strong wind. Tabard regained the lead before the break when Skinner kicked his third penalty goal.
With Redruth playing up the slope with the wind at their backs, the home crowd anticipated that the Reds would dominate the second half. However, play remained scrappy and the Reds conceded too many balls in the turnover. Nevertheless, Redruth regained the lead with their second try, scored by hooker Glenn Cooper after a several phases of play sent the hooker in out wide. Once again Brown was unable to convert. Tabard mounted a concerted attack on the Redruth line; the Reds held them out, but James Lancaster was sin-binned for pulling down the maul. Tabard regained the lead when No 8 Ron Matthews went over in Hell Fire corner. Crucially, Martin Bassinos conversion attempt fell short of the bar. With time running out, Redruth earned a penalty chance which skipper Brown did well to convert in the tricky conditions. A win well ground out against tricky opponents that keeps the Reds on course to stay up.
In National League 2, Penzance & Newlyn served up another try feast, beating Harrogate 405 at the Mennaye Field. It was sweet revenge for their defeat up north in October. Nat Saumi led the way with an opening penalty goal on 10 minutes. The Pirates almost increased their lead when Paul Gadson went close. However, it was to be the visitors who scored next when lock forward John Dudley crashed over to put Harrogate in front. The Pirates soon hit back and, after Mark Roderick fired out a long pass to Steve Evans, skipper Joe Bearman was on hand to score the first of his two tries of the afternoon. Saumi added the extras and the Pirates were now firing on all cylinders. Victor Olonga was next on the score sheet, before Nat Saumi grabbed a third try before half time.
The Pirates stepped up the tempo again in the second period and, after another Saumi penalty, further tries came from Ollie Hodge and Bearman again. So a good weekend for the Pirates, who are now 2 points clear of Henley Hawks following the Hawks' defeat at home to Doncaster 1930. With six games remaining, the Pirates have got one foot in next season's National League 1.
Launceston suffered another last gasp defeat at home, going down to Stourbridge. With the All Blacks leading 28 26 going into injury time, the referee took a leaf out of referee Paul Honisss book from last week-end's England France game and played 10 minutes of time added on. This allowed the visitors' full back Matt Vines to score at the posts and Cornish exile Ben Harvey to slot home the conversion for a dramatic 3328 win. The Cornish All Blacks scored three tries from Eddie Nancekivell and Andy Birkett with two. Full back Jon Hill converted two tries and added three penalty goals.
Launceston have five games left and lie 10th in the table, level on 14 points with Nottingham and Newbury. Launcestons next game is away to Newbury next Saturday.
There were no matches involving Cornish clubs in the lower leagues this weekend.
In National League 2, Penzance & Newlyn consolidated their position at the top by disposing of Sedgley Park 34-9. The Pirates have hit top form at the right time -- since losing narrowly at Henley on 23rd November they have recorded eleven straight wins, many by wide margins. Their victims include their chief rivals Henley, as well as other top clubs Bracknell (twice) and Harrogate. They now need to win only two of their final five matches to be sure of promotion.
Launceston, meanwhile, have not been so impressive of late, managing to win only two of their last ten games. This week was no exception, as they went down 23-18 at Newbury. The All Blacks are now perilously near the drop zone. While bottom club Fylde look doomed, next-to-bottom Kendal are only three points behind Launceston, with a game in hand.
In National League 3 (South), Redruth's season has been one of two halfs: before Chistmas, they could manage only three wins out of fifteen; since Christmas, they've lost only one in eight. This week, they drew away at Barking 22-22. The Reds' recent form has taken them to eighth place in the table, although most of the clubs below them have games in hand. They now look reasonably certain to avoid the drop -- one more win should amke them safe.
In South West 1, Truro lost for the fourth time in a row, going down by 30-17 at Ding's Crusaders.
It being a Six Nations' weekend, few league matches were played. In National League 2, Penzance & Newlyn played their postponed game against Doncater, who beat them 9-5 in the away fixture. The Pirates exacted due revenge by beating the Yorkshiremen 38-15 at the Mennaye. That made it twelve wins in a row for the Pirates, who now need to win only one of their final four matches to be sure of promotion.
After a fine win in this re-arranged league match, the Pirates are within sight of clinching their place in National League 1 next season. Another five tries were scored by the home side, who were obliged to play with fourteen men for the second half after lock Ollie Hodge was sent off by referee Parker-Sedgemore during first half injury time.
The Pirates fell behind early on as former Pirate Derek Eves scored for the visitors on 12 minutes. Rob Liley missed the conversion but added a penalty goal 3 minutes later to stretch the visiting team's advantage. The Pirates hit back soon after. Laka Laka Waqanivere made a break before setting up Steve Evans for the Pirates' first try. The conversion was missed but Nat Saumi made amends with a penalty goal on 30 minutes to level the scores. As the first half drew to a conclusion, Ollie Hodge was dismissed for an incident during a lineout. The Pirates had to reshuffle and Alistair Durant replaced Kevin Penrose in the pack.
Skipper Joe Bearman led the charge from the re-start to set up an early try for Waqanivere, which Saumi converted. Richard Newton then grabbed another try, which Saumi again converted to put the Pirates 22 8 up. The visitors rallied and Eves scored his second try of the game, which Liley converted. Penzance & Newlyn raised their game once more and Saumi with a brace of tries and a couple of penalties completed the Pirates scoring. The Pirates are almost there.
It was good to get back to rugby and a potentially decisive league Saturday after the virtual blank program in the Duchy last weekend and the continuing fall out of the CRFUs decision not to accept a match with the Bretons.
All eyes were on the Mennaye Field where Penzance & Newlyn were within sight of that long cherished place in next seasons National League 1. A win against Stourbridge and promotion would be confirmed, and the Pirates could look forward to some interesting visitors to the Mennaye Field next season. Led from the front by their skipper Joe Bearman, the Pirates secured promotion with a fine 44 18 win over a plucky Stourbridge side. The large crowd were treated, as is the custom, to a veritable tries feast, with seven being scored by the home side.
Nat Saumi opened the scoring with a penalty goal on 7 minutes. However, the Pirates had to wait until 22 mins for their opening try from James Hawken as home side pressure finally told. Saumi failed with the conversion. Brett Harvey pulled back three points for Stourbridge on 30 mins with a penalty kick. Penzance maintained the pressure on the visitors' line and were rewarded with a second try from a forward surge which saw prop forward Dan Seal claim the score; Saumi added the extras. Harvey kicked a second penalty for the visitors as half time approached to leave the Pirates 15 6 to the good at the break.
Two quick tries at the beginning of the second half put the Pirates in a commanding position, the first from skipper Joe Bearman, and the second from Laklaka Waqanivere. Saumi converted the first and the Pirates led 27 6. As the game entered the final quarter, play became more open. Stourbridge scored a try through winger John Hall. Penzance & Newlyn hit back and replacement prop Ashley Morcomb scored, with Sebastian Berti putting the conversion over. Waqanivere then grabbed his second try of the game. Moments later, Hall did likewise for the visitors, with the impressive Harvey converting once more. Nat Saumi then completed the scoring, adding the Pirates final try after some fine running from Rocky Newton. The final whistle confirmed promotion and the start of the celebrations.
Well done, the Pirates! Cornwall is proud of you. Proper job!
This was an important win for the Cornish All Blacks in their bid to stay in National League 2. However, they had to endure a penalty kick from the visitors in the dying seconds of the game which would have snatched Esher the win.
Launceston dominated the opening period, assisted by the elements, and stormed to an 18 0 lead with tries from centres Eddie Nancekivell and Frenchman Thomas Bonnefoy, both of whom enjoyed a fine game. Full back Scott Martin converted one of the tries and added a couple of penalty goals. Almost on half time, Esher got on the scoreboard with a try from scrum half Charlie Mulraine, which Chris Finch converted.
In the second half Esher, playing with the wind, pinned the Cornish All Blacks in their half for long periods. The home side were made to defend. Eventually the visitors crossed the line when No8 Chris Wilkins scored; the conversion failed. Scott Martin then kicked what was to prove a crucial penalty, from within the visitors 22. Esher scored their third try through Finch, who added the conversion. Launceston survived their scare in injury time to record the win.
The Reds completed the double over the winless visitors, and ensured National League survival with this nine try triumph. Mark Richards, John Arnold, and Nathan Pedley each scored two tries. The other tries came from Nathan Pascoe, Glen Cooper, and finally Lewis Vinnecombe. Five conversions were added by Mark Scrivener, with 3, and Steve Larkins 2.
In Western Counties West, champions Penryn, with their return to South West 2 already confirmed, were made to work hard to maintain their 100% record by Paignton. The Borough ran out winners in Devon 30 20. Penryn scored five tries through full back Nick Brown (2), scrum half Carl Morbey, No 8 Ben Short and finally second row Darren Stanley. Brown also added a drop goal and Richard Hambley a conversion.
St. Just earned a 10 all draw at Okehampton with a couple of tries from Adrian Bick. Camborne scored a good win before next weekend's Cornwall Cup semi-final against Redruth, beating Bideford 34 3. Hayle went down at Withycombe 32 16, as did St. Ives 8 7 at home to Newton Abbot.
With Henley going down 42-27 at Sedgley Park, this win means that Penzance/Newlyn are almost certain of finishing the season as champions of National League 2 -- a great achievement in their first season in this league. They now lead Henley by four points and need only to draw one of their two remaining matches to clinch the title. (In fact, because of their healthy points difference, they could probably afford to lose both matches and still win the league!)
As for the game itself, it was another of those matches that was a lot closer than the score suggests. After trailing throughout the first period, it was not until very late in the second half that Pirates were able to make the game safe. Without the injured Ma'asi and Saumi, Pirates started the match with a slightly experimental-looking side. Olonga played at full-back, with Alan Paver moving from prop to hooker. Usual hooker James Owen started the match on the bench. The half-backs were Berti (at scrum-half) and Paul Thirlby.
Pirates did their cause no favours by arriving late at the ground, thereby depriving themselves of a proper warm-up and causing the start to be delayed by five minutes. Perhaps because of this, Newbury started the game in sharper form, and it was no surprise when they went ahead after 12 minutes with a converted try. For much of the rest of the half there was little to choose between the sides, as play flowed from end-to-end. Pirates looked dangerous on the break and showed a willingness to run the ball from deep, but there were too many handling errors and play was generally scrappy. The referee didn't help by blowing up for every minor infringement.
After 25 minutes, it was still 7-0 to Newbury. Both defences looked solid and Newbury were giving as good as they got up front. The most impressive Pirates player was centre Mark Fatialofa, who was starting to punch holes in the Newbury defence. Pirates threatened the Newbury line and looked odds-on to score, but gave away a scrum due to a knock-on.
On 30 minutes, Pirates got their first points on the board when Berti landed a penalty. Two munutes later, Pirates lost their own lineout on the Newbury 10 metre line, Newbury hacked upfield, and scored a push-over try from the resulting lineout -- 12-3 to Newbury. Pirates responded immediately, and threatened the Newbury line. The Newbury number 2 was sin-binned. Berti kicked the resulting penalty into the corner. From the lineout, Pirates scored their own push-over try, which Berti converted to make the half-time score 12-10 to Newbury.
The second half had barely started -- in fact, some enthusiastic supporters were still in the clubhouse, queuing to relieve an excess of alcohol -- before Pirates had scored an unconverted try, to take the lead for the first time in the match. Newbury came straight back to threaten the Pirates' line, the ball was fed back to fly-half Czerpak, who dropped a goal -- one of several he attempted during the game -- to make the score 15-15. Berti replied with a penalty -- 15-18.
On 50 minutes, Mark Roderick and James Owen came on as replacements, but shortly afterwards Fatialofa was sin-binned. The game took an ugly turn when fighting broke out among the forwards and soon both sides were down to 14 men.
Slowly, the Pirates started to dominate the forward exchanges, shunting the Newbury pack backwards in the scrums. The Blues backs still looked dangerous, however, and it seemed that the game could still go either way. It was not until the 67th minute that the Pirates were able to open up a convincing lead, with the best try of the game. After sustained pressure on the Newbury line, the ball was moved from one touchline to the other for a score which replacement Steve Evans converted. 15-25 to Pirates.
The final score of the game came right at the end, when Fatialofa intercepted a pass inside his own half and raced away to score. Evans converted from the touchline, to make the final score 15 - 32.
The Cornish All Blacks secured an important win away in Cumbria in their battle to avoid relegation. With Wharfedale winning against Doncaster, the pressure is still on Launceston, and they will need to repeat this performance in their next match away to Fylde, before they conclude their league program at Polson Bridge against champions Penzance & Newlyn!
Finding themselves 10-0 down at half-time, Launceston gave one of their best displays of the season in the second half, scoring 26 unanswered points. The home side led at the break with a try from Colin Wolstenholme, which Mike Scott converted, as well as kicking an earlier penalty. Dean Shiptons words of wisdom had the desired effect as the Cornish All Blacks dominated the second half, scoring two converted tries through Eddie Nancekivell and No8 Nick Burnett. Scott Martin added 4 penalty goals to his conversions.
Launceston are currently 9th in the league on 18 points, but only 2 points clear of 12th placed Nottingham and the drop.
Another terrific performance from the Reds winning away in Norfolk, where it is never easy to win. The Reds outscored the home side 4-3 on the try count. They were aided by the home side's indiscipline, which saw their Welsh second row John Marlee dismissed for foul play on 51 minutes. Redruth try scorers were flanker John Navin, winger Andy Hymans, hooker Glen Cooper, and centre Craig Bonds. Mark Scrivener converted two of the tries and added a penalty goal. Redruth are now safe of any relegation fears and lie 7th in National League 3 South on 23 points.
In Southwest 1, Truro after a months layoff came unstuck at home to Barnstaple 24-14. Tim Gay and Nick Yelland scored tries for the city side, both of which Jamie Caruana converted. Truro now lie 10th in the league on 15 points and have 2 games left. They are not yet safe in this league.
In Western Counties West, champions Penryn completed their home program with another convincing win over basement side Okehampton 85-5, and in doing so have passed the 1000 points scored this season in league matches. They scored 13 tries in this match, with Kiwi Nick Brown notching a hat trick. Right wing Chris Mann scored hid 40th try of the season. The other tries came from Ben Short, Sheldon Waetford, James Greville-Smith, Allen Jordan, Darren Pellow, Peter Webster, and Darren Jacques, who grabbed a brace. Short added 10 conversions to complete the Boroughs haul.
In the Penwith derby, Hayle and St.Ives drew 10-10. St Just beat Ivybridge 22-21. Camborne were soundly beaten at Tiverton 57-10. In Western Counties West, with one game to play: Penryn are promoted, St. Ives are 3rd on 24 points, St. Just 4th on 22 points, Hayle 5th on 21 points, and Camborne 8th on 19 points.
In the Cornwall & Devon league, Newquay Hornets on 7 points are doomed to relegation back to Cornwall 1. St. Austell, on 9 points, may yet join them, depending on the final results and relegation issues higher up the league structure. Bude are 4th on 180 points and Wadebridge Camels 5th on 17 points.
Congratulations to Falmouth, who have clinched the Cornwall 1 title by beating Mounts Bay at the Mennaye Field 27-20. With one game to play, Falmouth cannot be caught.
Not forgetting our exiles' club London Cornish, who have finished 3rd in Surrey 2 (a 15 club league) this season.
At the Mennaye Field, Penzance & Newlyn were duly crowned champions of National League Division 2 following their win over Esher by 36 29.
However, the Pirates were made to work very hard for the win, securing the winning score on 86 minutes! Without regular goal kicker Nat Saumi, the Pirates opening score came through a try from Ian Hambley, which Seb Berti converted to put the home side 7-0 up. Esher enjoyed more than a fair share of possession and equalised when Chris Finch scored a try, which John Gregory converted. The visitors maintained their pressure and went ahead when Ed Jennings scored their second try; again Gregory added the extras. The Pirates, despite being a man down after a yellow card, got back on level terms after Laka Laka Waqanivere went over by the post following some good work from skipper Joe Bearman. Bertis conversion tied the scores. The Pirates went in at half-time with their noses in front after Seb Berti scored an unconverted try.
Early in the second half the Pirates stretched their lead to 15 points following a Victor Olonga try, converted again by Berti, who slotted a penalty goal shortly after. However, Esher were not about to lie down and they got back on level terms by the 73rd minute with a tries from Dan Taylor and Mark Bennett, one of which Gregory converted, as well as a penalty kick. It set up a dramatic finale in added time. Ian Hambleys solo run brought the winning try. Evans converted to complete a memorial day at the Mennaye.
Launceston completed a league double over already relegated Fylde, winning 23-17. But they had to hold off a strong second half revival from the home side, who trailed 3-20 at half time.
The Cornish All Blacks started the match at pace. Full back Jon Hill crossed for an early try, which Scott Martin converted before adding a penalty goal for a 10-0 lead. Alex Milhajlovic dominated line out possession for Launceston and the pack had the upper hand generally. Launceston scored their second try following a classic catch and drive from a penalty line out, through No8 Nick Burnett. Again Martin converted and added another penalty goal to secure their half time advantage.
The second half was altogether a different affair. Morne Loxton scored a couple of tries and conversions to add to his first half penalty goal, to put the pressure and the jitters on the visitors. However, Martin had meantime kicked his third penalty goal to give the Cornish All Blacks some margin of security. Launceston are now 9th in the table on 20 points. They need a result in their final game to be sure of staying up. It promises to be a cracker!
In National League Division 3 South, Redruth completed their league program with a convincing win over Weston-Super-Mare, winning by 43 8 at the Recreation Ground. Redruth finished in mid-table in 7th place on 25 points -- a position and record scarcely hoped for before Christmas. The Reds scored 6 tries in this comprehensive win and will be in good heart to take on Launceston this coming Wednesday evening in the Skinners Brewery Cornwall Cup final at Camborne. Skipper Bede Brown led the way with a brace of tries, followed by fit-again Steve Larkins, Lewis Vinnecombe, Glen Cooper, and Andy Hymans. Mark Scrivener kicked 4 conversions and a penalty goal. Bede Brown slotted the other conversion.
So in this league Rosslyn Park are promoted back to National League Division 2, Lydney will play off with the runners up in League 3 North, New Brighton, for the third and final promotion spot. Havant and Camberley are relegated.
Elsewhere, in South West 1, Truro recorded a fine away win at Clifton by 22-16, scoring 4 tries from flanker Stephen Jones, Matt Trevail, Jamie Caruana, and second row Grant Nichols. Caruana added a conversion. Truro finished 7th in the league on 19 points.
In Western Counties West, Penryn completed a league grand slam of victories in maintaining their 100% record by winning 42-32 at Ivybridge. St. Ives beat league runners-up Withycombe 18-6 at Alexandra Road, Camborne defeated St. Just 28 22 at the Recreation Ground, and Hayle lost their final game of the season 21 18 at Paignton.
There has been a growing feeling these last few months that Launcestons fate could boil down to the final game of the season against the Pirates and so it was to prove.
The Pirates travelled up to Polson Bridge with a few familiar faces missing after a difficult few days for the club. An emotional day for the Cornish All Blacks as Dean Shipton donned the black shirt for the final time in his distinguished career. Deano is also stepping down as the clubs director of rugby, so it is very much the end of an era at Polson Bridge. In the end the scores elsewhere condemned Launceston to a quick return to National League 3 South, a result that more than ever confirms Penzance & Newlyn as the rugby standard bearers in the Duchy.
Seb Berti kicked an early penalty goal for the visitors. However, Launceston stormed back and took the lead from a good try from Tony Alatini, which Jon Hill converted. Dean Shipton looked to have scored a second try for the Cornish All Blacks but referee Dix disallowed it. There was no further scoring during the first half.
Steve Evans scored a try for the Pirates to give them the lead before Hill replied with a penalty for the home side. Rocky Newton then got the first of his two tries as the game entered the final quarter. Again Hill levelled the scores at 13 all with another penalty goal. Newton then gathered a kick from Evans to run in at the posts; the try remained un-converted. The killer blow came right on full time when Victor Olonga completed one of his runs to score a wonderful try, which Ian Hambly converted.
Whilst the Pirates were presented with the league trophy, the news from up country was that the sides below Launceston had all won, and the Cornish All Blacks were relegated on points difference. Deano would have wished, and deserved, to bow out on a different note.
It has to be said too, that while the All Blacks would neither have expected nor wished the Pirates to do them any favours, some of the results of their fellow relegation-strugglers were surprising, to say the least. First Newbury overcame second-placed Henley 33-26. Then Wharfedale comfortably beat their near-neighbours Harrogate, who were in third place, and had only lost at home once all season, by 27-9 away! Then Nottingham scraped a 40-38 victory at Stourbridge.
With the club season now finished, for the benefit of those who do not get to see the local press I thought it might be useful to outline where all the Cornish Clubs finished in their respective leagues, and also to detail the Cornwall 1 & 2 final positions.
Pride of place must go to Penzance & Newlyn for another exemplary season, culminating in winning National League Division 2 and promotion to National League Division 1, level 2 of the RFU club structure. This is the highest level yet achieved by a Cornish club, and brings the prospect of seeing some cracking matches next season -- not least the derbies against Plymouth Albion and Exeter Chiefs. There will be some new faces at the Mennaye next season and the summer signings will be closely watched.
Launcestons plight depended on the final game of the season against the Pirates. Defeat in this game condemned them to a swift return to National League 3 South. Launceston finished 12th on 20 points, the same as Nottingham, but they ended up with an inferior points difference. This season has also marked the end of the Dean Shipton era, as Deano has stepped down as director of rugby. The Cornish All Blacks suffered from injuries all season, which did not help their cause, and they were often on the wrong end of a close result. They will want to bounce back. Their matches against Redruth next season will be eagerly awaited, as they will look to avenge their Cornwall Cup defeat in the league.
Redruth, after a torrid start to the season, showed the form of promotion candidates after Christmas, which hopefully augers well for next season. The Reds finished 7th in National League 3 South on 25 points, and of course rounded off the season by winning the Skinners Brewery Cornwall Knock Out Cup, in an enthralling final against Launceston, by 39-20. If Redruth can keep the squad together they will be looking to push for promotion next season.
Truro struggled at times in their first season back in South West 1, not helped by the stop/start league program. In the end they finished 7th on 19 points, and will hope to build on this during the next campaign.
Penryn stormed to the Western Counties West title with a 100% record and over 1000 points scored, to return to South West 2 next season, a league which had no Cornish representation this season. The Borough will be keen to get back into South West 1, in which they played a few seasons ago.
St. Ives enjoyed a more successful season then of late, finishing 3rd on 26 points in Western Counties West. Next season they will hopefully be pushing for promotion. St. Just finished a very creditable 5th on 22 points, ably lead by Adrian Bick. Hayle finished 6th on 21 points. They too will look to build on this result. They also enjoyed a fine run to the semi-finals of the Cornwall Cup. This has given them the opportunity next season, after defeating Camborne 41-10 in a playoff, to enter the Powergen Cup. Camborne finished 7th on 21 points, just behind Hayle.The Cherry and Whites will also want to challenge for promotion next season .
In the Devon and Cornwall league, none of the Cornish sides managed to make promotion. The best-placed Cornish club was Bude, who finished 4th on 22 points after promotion from Cornwall 1 last season. Wadebridge Camels finished a comfortable 5th on 17 points, despite their final match of the season against Wessex being abandoned. Newquay Hornets and St Austell both drop back to Cornwall 1, having finished in the bottom two places on 9 points.
In Cornwall 1, Falmouth took the honours and return to the Devon & Cornwall league next season. Falmouth also won the Skinners Brewery Cornwall Clubs Cup, defeating Mounts Bay 23 14 in the Easter Monday final at Redruth. Much is happening at Falmouth, both on and off the field and plans are in hand to vacate the now sadly dilapidated Recreation Ground and relocate to a new site near Budock Church. Mounts Bay, who finished runners-up, pushed them all the way. Mounts Bay were involved in a play-off match against Old Plymouth & Mann, from Devon 1, for the final promotion spot to the Devon & Cornwall league. This they won 20 8, so next season they too will compete in the Devon & Cornwall league. Helston finished bottom and are relegated to Cornwall 2. They are replaced by Redruth Albany, who took Cornwall 2 in style. Bottom of Cornwall 2 were once again Lankelly-Fowey. However, they did get a win this season.