Cornwall 80 minutes from Twickenham after gritty win over Kent
Kent 17 Cornwall 23
CORNWALL will play Hertfordshire at Camborne next Saturday in a shootout to decide who will be going to Twickenham, writes Nigel Walrond.
While the Duchy were testing their supporters' nerves to the limit at Medway RFC, Hertfordshire were sweeping aside Gloucestershire 56-22 to establish a two-point lead at the top of Division One South of the Bill Beaumont Cup.
It was very much a game of two halves at Priestfields as Cornwall had the wind and slope in their favour before the break and led 16-7 at the interval.
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An excellent catch-and-drive try from Redruth hooker Richard Brown, plus 11 points from the boot of Paul Thirlby, provided their points, with winger Richard Lankshear replying with a try for the hosts, converted by Rory Teague.
The second half was a very different affair though as, after Cornwall lost prop Craig Williams and Thirlby through injury, Kent chipped away at the deficit, with a bad error by Tom Notman gifting Lankshear his second try, while a conversion and penalty by Teague suddenly put Kent 17-16 ahead.
With seven minutes of normal time left, Sam Hocking restored the Duchy's lead with a touchdown, converted by Jake Murphy, to make it 23-17, but only heroic defence kept Kent out in an agonising final few minutes for the large Cornwall following at the game.
Kent: Gallagher (Old Colfeians), Lankshear (Blackheath), May (Westcombe Park), D Bonner (Blackheath), Summers (Loughborough University), Teague (Blackheath), Hosken (Old Elthamians), Cleverley (Blackheath), J Bonner (Blackheath), Goode (Canterbury), Stradwick (Blackheath, capt), Vanner (Old Elthamians), Barton (Westcombe Park), Lindfield (Blackheath), Catt (Blackheath).
Replacements: Fry (Westcombe Park), McKinnell (Sheppey), Green (Canterbury), Johnson (Medway), Chapman (Blackheath), Kingsman (Canterbury), Crust (Blackheath).
Cornwall (Redruth unless stated): Murphy (Cornish All Blacks), Bright (All Blacks), Johns (Coventry), Webber (All Blacks), Notman, Thirlby, Goodfellow, Jacques, Brown, C Williams, Cook, Hilton (All Blacks, capt), Fuca, Matavesi (Plymouth Alb), Hocking (Plymouth Alb).
Replacements used: BJ Chapman (All Blacks), Lawton (Camborne), Shepherd (St Austell), Perry (Barnstaple), Paterson (All Blacks), Drew (Redruth). Not used: Turner (Redruth).
Referee: Tom Davis (RFU).
Kent: Tries: Lankshear (2); Cons: Teague (2); Pen: Teague.
Cornwall: Tries: Brown, Hocking; Cons: Thirlby, Murphy; Pens: Thirlby (3).
Yellow cards: Kent: Lindfield 63; Cornwall: Chapman 80+1.