Last-gasp try gives 14-man Cornwall their sixth county championship title at Twickenham
Cornwall skipper Ben Hilton lifts the Bill Beaumont County Championship title at Twickenham in front of the county’s supporters. Picture: Dan Barbary
Sunday, June 2
Bill Beaumont County Championship final at Twickenham
By Bill Hooper at Twickenham
MATT Shepherd, held his nerve to split the uprights with the conversion of Seti Raumakita’s game-saving try to win Cornwall the Bill Beaumont Cup for a sixth time and send their raucous fans into delirium at the final whistle.
Credit to the crest-fallen Cheshire boys who must have thought they had the game won, but this Cornish side never gives up, despite playing the second-half with 14 men after the sending off of Delabole’s Jack Oulton for headbutting, got their just rewards for an outstanding campaign.
Huge praise to the players, selectors and coaching staff, especially Marek Churcher, who perhaps doesn’t always get the credit he deserves, but whose contribution is massive.
Prop Jess Tompsett travelled up on the supporters bus on the morning of the game as his partner had given birth to a daughter just hours earlier.
Cornwall arrived at the west car park to be greeted by the hordes of black and gold clad fans from Trelawny’s Army, One & All, united behind our boys. The reception the team got off the bus was truly inspiring.
Despite the lateness of the hour there was a good crowd packed into the lower tier of the West Stand, with the Cornish crowd in full voice as the teams entered the pitch.
Conditions were nigh on perfect at kick-off despite the usual swirling breeze at Twickenham.
Cornwall had the better of the opening exchanges, but couldn’t breach the Cheshire defence. That set the scene for much of the first-half, dogged defence.
Cheshire then had a long period of territory and possession with wings Rory Hardman and Sam Stelmaszek looking lively.
The Cornish back-row of Sam Stevens, Edd Pascoe and Brad Howe got through a lot of work, whilst lock Tony Whittle had his usual all action game.
The deadlock was finally broken, by guess who? Alex Ducker. Taking a pass from centre Richie Kevern, Ducker burst through a pair of Cheshire defenders to speed to the line, Holsworthy native Fraser Honey kicked the conversion and Cornwall were 7-0 up as the fans cheered like mad.
Cheshire roared back at Cornwall, but once again the Cornish defence was outstanding, tackle after tackle knocked the big Cheshire forwards back, with Cornwall winning turnover ball.
In the lead up to half-time, Cornwall had a penalty on the Cheshire ten-metre line, in front of the posts, Honey elected to kick for goal, his kick rebounding off the Twickenham posts.
Following a ruck there was an altercation near the touchline involving scrum-half Oulton, after the officials deliberation, referee Phil Davies brandished a red card at Oulton, Cornwall would have to play the whole of the second-half with a man down.
Cornwall need to re-organise, Shepherd moved to scrum-half, and Craig Williams came on for the excellent Dan Job, who had carried well as well as Tompsett.
Cheshire sensed blood and went for it. Pressure eventually told when fly-half Tom Morton squeezed over in the corner for a try he couldn’t convert.
Both sides looked to the bench to find that extra lift, both George Jones and Grant Randlesome had the Penryn contingent on their feet as they surged up field.
But it was Cheshire who now exerted the greater pressure, they drove at the Cornwall line and despite heroic defence by the black and gold, they finally mauled over for a try from Tom Sanders, Morton slotted the conversion and it was Cheshire ahead as the clock ticked down.
Cornwall had a penalty with Shepherd kicking to the corner, three times Cheshire were penalised and thrice Shepherd went for the same. Try-scorer Sanders was the first dispatched to the bin for cynical play, followed by Jack Collister.
From a scrum five-metres out, Shepherd saw Raumakita running hard from deep, the pop pass was perfect and the giant Fijian burst the tackle to score, as Twickenham went mad.
It was left to Shepherd to put the icing on the cake and cue the celebrations as skipper Ben Hilton lifted the cup.
Cornwall (Redruth unless stated) —
Matt Shepherd (Plymouth Albion), Jon Dawe (Plymouth Albion) (Dean Bonds 74), Jack Simmons, Richie Kevern, Alex Ducker (Camborne), Fraser Honey (Plymouth Albion, Seti Raumakita, Plymouth Albion 60), Jack Oulton; Dan Job (Lanner) (Craig Williams, HT), Rob Elloway (St Ives) (Matt Ballard, Wadebridge Camels 38), Jess Tompsett, Tony Whittle (Camborne), Ben Hilton (Barnstaple, Capt) (Edd Pascoe 73), Edd Pascoe (George Jones, Penryn 52), Sam Stevens (Taron Peacock, Camborne 52), Brad Howe (Grant Randlesome, Penryn 52).
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