Cornwall's youngsters miss out in season opener
Dorset & Wilts U20s 28, Cornwall U20s 21
CORNWALL did not get their National Under-20 Championship campaign off to the best of starts as they went down to Dorset and Wilts at North Dorset RFC, writes Nigel Walrond.
With coaches Tom Rawlings and Steve Kenward unable to travel, Rawlings' younger brother Mike and team manager Chris Lea looked after the team.
It was an excellent contest played in beautiful sunshine, and a cracking advert for under-20 rugby, but Cornwall paid the price for giving away a number of kickable penalties, and if the hosts had slotted all of them, they would have been out of sight.
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The Duchy forwards had a very impressive afternoon and dominated the set piece, and helped their side into a 21-17 lead against a Dorset and Wilts outfit with a player in the sin-bin, and with the match well into the final quarter.
However, Devizes full back Ryan Webb kicked two penalties to put the hosts back into a two-point lead, and then Salisbury replacement Jon Kay crashed over for what proved a match-winning try.
A converted touchdown would have drawn the match for Cornwall, and well inside stoppage time, they made desperate attempts to get across the whitewash, but they were thwarted by some fine home defence.
Cornwall's classy running fly half Kyle Moyle almost made it with one superb burst, but he was halted just short of the line.
In the first period, Salisbury fly half Trav Bartels opened the scoring with a penalty, before Stithians flanker Chris Instance touched down for a try for Cornwall from a pick-and-go by the forwards, converted by St Ives back Moyle.
Salisbury wing forward Josh Green put the Twin Counties back in front with a try, converted by Bartels, who then added a converted try to make it 17-7.
Cornish All Blacks lock Duncan Hales got the visitors back into the game with a touchdown from another pick-and-go move, converted by Moyle, to leave the Duchy trailing 17-14 at the break.
Then Moyle scored a converted try to edge Cornwall four points in front, but Dorset and Wilts managed a late rally.
Moyle was a standout player for Cornwall, together with Wadebridge Camels prop Zak Cinnamond, while second row forwards Hales and Todd Prisk, from St Ives, also had impressive games, demonstrating good driving play and great handling.
Cornwall's game against Somerset is at Redruth on Sunday, December 2, with a 2pm kick-off.
Cornwall's final South West group match is away to Devon, at a venue still to be confirmed, on Sunday, February 10.
Cornwall U20s: Kessell (Redruth), Edwards (Cornish All Blacks), Hendrickson (Truro College), S Chapman (All Blacks), Pengelly (Wadebridge Camels), Moyle (St Ives), Tout (Bude), Cinnamond (Wadebridge C), Brewer (Wadebridge C), Roach (All Blacks), Hales (All Blacks), Prisk (St Ives), Instance (Stithians), Broadbank (Redruth, capt), Stanleick (St Ives). Replacements used: Brownfield (Pirates Amateurs), Allsopp (UWIC), O'Keeffe (Truro), J Duke (All Blacks), J Prisk (St Ives). Not used: Hancock (St Ives), Ninnes (St Ives).
Cornwall scorers: Tries: Instance, Hales, Moyle; Cons: Moyle (3).
CORNWALL & DEVON LEAGUE
Tiverton 18, Hayle 18
A TRY in the final minute by Hayle wing Rob Goodman capped a great fight back by Hayle as they came back from trailing 18-6 with only 15 minutes left to play.
It looked bleak for the visitors as the Devon club eased into a 12-0 lead in the first half with two tries, one of which was converted.
But two penalties from Hayle fly-half Martin Strick kep the Lions in touch at 12-6 down at half time.
Tiverton were on top for the opening quarter of the second period and stretched their lead to 18-6 with two Callum Stone penalties.
However, Hayle were not finished and pressed the home team into conceding a stream of penalties and they had two players sin-binned.
The Hayle pack won a penalty try, converted by strick to cut the deficit to five points.
And in the final minute won another penalty which they kicked to the corner and from the resultant lineout the ball was spun out to Goodman who went over in the corner, though Strick was unable to land what would have been a match winning conversion.
Hayle are home to Saltash this Saturday (2.30pm).
ST IVES will be hoping to maintain the pressure on Cornwall and Devon League leaders Teignmouth when they resume league action with a trip to Falmouth on Saturday (2.15pm).
The Hakes trail the south Devon outfit by one point, despite winning all 10 of their games this campaign, because of a five-point deduction carried over from last season.
The Hakes were left without a game last weekend when Newquay Hornets cried off their Tribute Cornwall Cup quarter-final tie as they could not raise a team, handing St Ives a bye into the last four.
"We are delighted with where we are at the moment," said St Ives head coach Joff Rowe.
"It has been a fantastic first part of the season for us, but our concern now is getting the mindset of the players right for what is to come.
"We have had a lovely start, good weather, dry conditions, good numbers in training and our second team playing games, but the test comes now, leading into the cold and wet weather.
"I think we are good enough to remain at the top of the league if we all travel, if we all train hard, and if we all want to learn and progress.
"If we don't, then we could be the masters of our own downfall, and having put ourselves up there, we could be brought back down to earth quite quickly.
"That is not a worry, but it is something we have prioritised. We have now got poor playing conditions, we have now got a reputation, and teams are going to raise their game against us."
Falmouth are lying in ninth place in the table, with four wins from 10 matches, but Rowe is certainly not writing them off.
"After the first four or five weeks of the season, Falmouth weren't far off the top of the league, and every game for us now is a potential banana skin, so I am wary of that," he explained.
"We respect Falmouth, as we do with all sides we face. It is a local derby against a club with a massive history, and there should be a good support there."
St Ives will be without hooker and skipper Ben Taylor and flanker Sean Stevens – who have virtually been ever-present for the past two seasons – for their next two matches as they are unavailable.
Young scrum half Max Bodilly is close to a return from injury, but centre Josh Semmens' comeback is still some way off after he broke his arm making his debut recently.