Cornwall secured a third straight Tamar Cup success against old foes Devon at a murky Polson Bridge, reports Bill Hooper from Polson Bridge.
A first win for Cornwall’s new head coach Graham Dawe, at his old stomping ground which launched him off on to his glittering rugby career.
After the final whistle Dawe reflected on his side’s first outing but his thoughts had already turned to the challenges ahead in the coming weeks.
“We still have a lot to work on, there were some aspects of controlling the game, the scoreboard didn’t keep ticking but these are aspects that the boys are aware of. Our scrum worked well we had some good field position but still plenty to work on.
“Jamal Ford-Robinson had a good game he loves to scrum and carries well he certainly has a bright future ahead of him.
“We are looking for a good start at Redruth with hopefully a good crowd there to help us on the way; there is a hunger and keenness in this squad and great pride in the shirt.
“I was very pleased with the effort and commitment of all the players but especially young ones like Tony Whittle who I feel has got something about him and could do well in the future he will learn a lot with some of the wise heads around him in this squad.”
In the end Cornwall got the better of their cross-Tamar neighbours but it took time to break down the dogged resistance of the Devon side.
Cornwall certainly had the lion’s share of possession and territory during the game, but there were just a few errors in the final execution which saw good chances go begging, especially during the first half.
Cornwall were captained on the night by Cornish All Blacks’ centre Nielson Webber who proudly led the side out under the Polson floodlights.
Cornwall were on the front foot from the kick-off with Cambridge prop Jamal Ford-Robinson showing the form that has brought him England Counties recognition this season at both full and Under 20 level.
CORNWALL PROP JAMAL FORD-ROBINSON TAKES ON DEVON – PHOTO SIMON BRYANT ITKISPHOTO
Cornwall were awarded a string of penalties as Devon fell-foul of referee Carl Bennett, but it’s seems that he left his cards back home in Somerset!
Eventually, Cornwall opted for a kick at goal with Saints fly-half Matt Shepherd slotting over with 6 minutes on the clock.
Cornwall thought they had an opening try when Redruth scrum-half Greg Goodfellow put Clifton prop Rupert Freestone in at the corner, however the assistant referee judged the prop had knocked on in the act of scoring.
CORNWALL SCRUM HALF GREG GOODFELLOW MAKES ANOTHER BREAK – PHOTO SIMON BRYANT IKTISPHOTO
Having weathered the initial storm Devon got back into the game, a drop-goal attempt from Mark Lee was wide of the posts, however the Devonians had a penalty which they kicked to the Polson Bridge corner, from the line out the ball was moved along the line, however during the move winger Tom Foan sustained a dislocated shoulder, which necessitated a lengthy period of first aid being administered.
Cornwall ended the half on the attack with winger Rhodri McAtee and Ford-Robinson close to a score, whilst the half ended with full back Kieron Lewitt attempting a long range penalty from near the halfway line which sailed wide of the sticks.
At half-time both sides made the first of the many changes that punctuate the half and within a minute two of those for Cornwall conjured the break through.
Ryan Westren on for his brother Murray in the centre put the pass in for Truro winger Lewis Vinnicombe to beat the cover in the clubhouse corner.
Lewitt who had assumed the main kicking duties after the departure of Shepherd couldn’t add the extras, but he was on cue with penalties on 56, 60 and 68 minutes to put Cornwall in a commanding position of 17-0.
Murray Westren returned to the fray as a rolling sub to complete a proud evening for the Westren family with both boys on the field together in the black and gold, a proud moment for parents Phil and Sally Westren, who of course do so much great work for the Cornish Pirates.
There was some good impact from the bench with notably Lewis Paterson catching the eye along with half back replacements Richard Friend and Lewis Webb, whilst St. Austell’s flanker Ian Venner and Camborne’s hooker Sam Bartle also impressed before facing up against each other next Monday in the Cornwall Knockout Cup Final between their respective clubs.
After the final whistle and speaking just after having received the Tamar Cup from CRFU President Ken Plummer, skipper for the evening Nielson Webber was a very proud man. “I am extremely proud of the boys tonight, conditions were not easy and we grafted out a good win which hopefully sets us up for a good tilt at the county championship during May.
PHOTO – CORNWALL CAPTAIN NIELSON WEBBER RECEIVES THE TAMAR CUP FROM CRFU PRESIDENT KEN PLUMMER
“Despite the fact that we didn’t put away some of those chances we had I felt we played some mature rugby especially during the second half, everything Dawsey told us at half-time we took on board and I am proud of the boys to not just get the win but to also nil a very useful Devon side speaks volumes.
And Webber feels that the squad are coming together nicely in time for the championship. “We can feel the anticipation building, we have got unfinished business from last season, I have already sensed a great togetherness and purpose from the squad, pulling on the black and gold is such an honour and we feel the responsibility and expectation that goes with it. Hopefully we will have great support in our forthcoming games form the marvellous Cornish fans to help us get back to Twickenham.”
Redruth scrum-half Greg Goodfellow was also pleased with Cornwall’s night’s work. “We were told to go out and express ourselves and I feel we did that, the boys coming together from all the clubs after a long hard season but they are all up for it. There are things to work on but I feel it looks very very promising.
“We’ve got a couple of sessions in the lead up to the game against North Midlands so we will have time to fine tune the little things that didn’t quite come off tonight. With two home games to start we need to get off to a great start and the supporters will have their part to play we really need their support on the touchline to give us that extra boost I cannot underestimate the influence a Cornish crowd in full cry has on the team it’s a massive, massive boost they are the sixteenth man. I am a Scot but to pull on the Cornish jersey and play in front of a great Cornish crowd brings the hairs up on the back of my neck.”
CORNWALL – 17 pts
Try – Vinnicombe. Penalties – Shepherd, Lewitt (3)
DEVON – 0 pts
Cornwall: K Lewitt (Cornish All Blacks),R McAtee (Redruth), M Westren (Redruth) N Webber (Cornish All Blacks) (Capt), A Ducker (Camborne), M Shepherd (St. Austell), G Goodfellow (Redruth); J Ford-Robinson (Cambridge), J Salter (Cornish All Blacks), R Freestone (Clifton), D Cook (Redruth), B Jenkins (Cornish All Blacks), T Whittle (Falmouth) C Fuca (Redruth), B Chapman (Cornish All Blacks)
Replacements used: S Bartle (Camborne), R Friend (Cornish All Blacks), B Hilton (Cornish All Blacks), T Notman (Redruth), L Paterson (Ivybridge), J Tripcony (Cornish All Blacks), J Tompsett (Redruth), L Vinnicombe (Truro), L Webb (Cornish All Blacks), C Williams (Redruth), R Westren (Cornish All Blacks), I Venner (St Austell)
Devon: R Toms (Cullompton), T Foan (Crediton), J Hannaford (Tamar Saracens), C Swash (Exmouth), B Rudkin (unattached), M Lee (Crediton), O Massy-Birch (UWIC); G Savage (Exmouth), D Reed (Tiverton), D Sexton (Devonport Services), M Ghol (Barnstaple), C Bentley (Exmouth, Capt), S Thomas (Brixham), W Sprangle (Tiverton), D Lee (Taunton)
Replacements used: A Pike (Tiverton), O Mulberry (Saltash), C Bryce (Brixham), B Lugg (Tiverton), E Stevens (OPM), G Wright (Barnstaple), H Coles (Ivybridge), B Blake (Tiverton), J Lee (Crediton)
Referee: Carl Bennett (Somerset RRS)
Trelawny’s Army Cornwall man-of-the-match: Barrie John Chapman, big carries from the number 8 kept Cornwall on the front foot good work at lineout and rucks