Lions roar to see Bodmin off and book Vase place
Liskeard Looe 28 Bodmin 8
LISKEARD Looe are through to the RFU National Vase first round after seeing off Bodmin in an enthralling Cornwall final at Lux Park on Saturday.
The Lions triumphed by three tries to one in a match, which richly entertained both home and away supporters in the large crowd.
With the winner progressing through to the first round of the Vase, the game began at a frantic pace, with Liskeard forcing their visitors onto the back foot and ultimately into committing a penalty for hands in the ruck.
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Liskeard fly half James Noel-Johnson landed the kick to put the home side 3-0 up.
Bodmin, however, struck back right from the kick-off as some impressive defensive pressure resulted in Liskeard conceding a penalty themselves.
Winger Ali McPhee stepped up to convert and bring the scores level.
Liskeard, played an impressive kicking and territory game and looked to use their driving maul as often as possible and it was this weapon that reaped the rewards of a first try for the Lux Park side.
A penalty kicked to the corner gave the platform to attack Bodmin and with the visitors unable to do more than slow down the maul, prop Mike Mander dotted down. The conversion was missed leaving Liskeard-Looe 8-3 up.
Bodmin finally managed to string some phases together and were rewarded with a penalty following a Liskeard infringement. McPhee's direction was perfect but the kick didn't quite have the length and Liskeard breathed a sigh of relief.
Indeed they did more than that, as just moments later replacement centre Ben Miller converted a penalty after a Bodmin knock-on was then picked up by a player in an offside position.
A tight and often frantic first half came to an end with Liskeard holding an 11-3 advantage.
Bodmin came out for the second 40 minutes firing and attempting to raise the pace of the game at every opportunity. The tactic was paying dividends as Liskeard struggled to keep pace and the visitors started to create gaps and work their way in behind their opposition's defence.
A quickly-taken tap penalty had the Liskeard defence scrambling and some neat offloads resulted in winger Paul Carter feeding Lee Taylor to go over the whitewash and narrow the deficit to just three points. The subsequent conversion was pushed wide of the uprights.
Bodmin, growing in confidence, continued to cause Liskeard problems. However, a clever cross field kick bounced cruelly away from Bodmin replacement Martin Middlewood and fortuitously into the hands of Liskeard's Ben Kitto to see the winger cross in the corner. Noel-Johnson added the conversion from wide out.
With Bodmin needing two scores to take the lead, they began to chase the game in attack and force turnovers in defence. This led to an increased number of penalties from the Clifden Park side, two of which effectively sealed the fate of the game.
Firstly Noel-Johnson converted a penalty kick from in front of the posts and secondly Carter was sent to the sin-bin after a team warning had been issued and one too many penalties had been conceded for the referee's liking.
Bodmin refused to give up though and continued for throw everything they had at Liskeard.
A superb break from centre Andrew Coad came so close to reducing the deficit in the final ten minutes only for the ball to be dislodged on the try line.
Bodmin, a man light, were then exposed as Liskeard broke from a scrum in their own 22 to use the overlap and kick down field.
Liskeard winger Brad Burchell hacked on and then won the foot race to touch down just besides the posts. Noel-Johnson added the extras to leave the final score at 28-8 and see Liskeard progress to the National Junior Vase first round.
Bodmin will be keen to learn the lessons of Saturday as they begin their return to Cornwall One this Saturday with a trip to Helston in the opening round of league fixtures (3pm).