Saturday 22nd October saw Cornwall U18 compete in their first game of the 2016 U18 England Counties (SW Division) Championship. This event is held every year at Bristol Grammar School Sports Ground and is the next stage of the U18 age group aspirational pathway. The eight counties included in the SW division are Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cornwall, Dorset & Wilts, Devon,Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Somerset. Each team plays 2 games (one each weekend of the October half term) with the ultimate aim of having players selected to represent the SW division in fixtures after Christmas and from there hopefully represent England Counties at U18 Group.
Cornwall's first fixture saw them "pitched" against Buckinghamshire, a team they had not played against at U18 group for some considerable time. Whether it was the long journey from Cornwall or whether it was a little bit of "stage fright" Buckinghamshire were the first to gain any kind of advantage. There simple, controlled rugby allowed them to dominate the early stages of the game as when Cornwall did have possession and tried to build phases, a simple mistake, a forced pass a wrong decision allowed Bucks off the hook and simply frustrated Cornwall more.
Bucks were the first to put points on the board with a well worked try and anyone watching the game couldn't really argue. Cornwall continued to worked hard and in glimpses everyone could see that the potential was there and the players simply needed to relax. The Cornish frustration wasn't helped by the fact they had obviously fallen foul of the referee's interpretation of certain aspects of their game, as the penalty count appeared to "rack up" in favour of the Buckinghamshire boys. Again it appeared that every time Cornwall managed to put phases together, they would lose their advantage through giving a penalty, dropping a pass, losing the ball in contact etc...
Half way through the first half Cornwall began to take control and built pressure, the forwards beginning to dominate the contact area and the scrum set piece, this pressure was rewarded with two scores in fairly quick succession, Cornwall taking the lead at 10-7. Unfortunately a lapse in concentration just before half-time saw Cornwall's defence breached and with the conversion missed half-time saw Bucks with a 2 point lead.
With a number of changes at half time to allow all players a fair opportunity in front of selectors the first 10-15 mins of the second half seemed to be a repeat of the first. With Bucks playing simple and more controlled rugby and Cornwall wanting to play a more exciting but higher risk game. Although Cornwall were dominating possession, it appeared that every time they got close to their opponents 22 they would let them off the hook and Bucks would clear. What happened next can't really be explained, it appeared that Cornwall stopped playing and allowed Bucks into the game and they began to dominate around the breakdown with simple "pick and go" and using their big runners close in. Before Cornwall knew it Bucks had scored 3 tries in a spell that quickly need to be forgotten. Bucks led 10-29
What the coaching team were pleased to see was the character shown by their players as Cornwall decided that they were not going to let this happen and took the game by the "scruff of the neck" The last 15 mins were completely dominated by Cornwall and if the side had played like this for the rest of the game Buckinghamshire wouldn't have been close to being in the game. two quick tries in the last 10 mins saw Cornwall pull the score back to 22-29 and with confidence no high the only thing that would stop Cornwall winning this game was the clock. Unfortunately with time running out Cornwall were unable to cross the line again and Bucks who appeared to be hanging on by their finger tips could not hide their pleasure at the final whistle as they knew that with 5 mins more the result could have been different.
A well contested game from both sides with some lessons to learn for the Cornish boys. two being, sometimes simple is best and also learn to adapt to the referees interpretation.
Next up Devon!!!
Squad for Cornwall v Buckinghamshire
- Rory Cinnamond (Launceston)
- Callum Dewson (Launceston)
- Chae Jenkins (Launceston)
- Jake Clemson (St Ives) (C)
- Cory Teague (Wadebridge)
- Keane Whitaker (St Austell)
- Josh Hart (Newquay)
- Noah Stanier-Smith (Camborne)
- Sam Gilder (St Austell)
- Reuben Edwards (St Austell)
- Jake Carr (St Austell)
- Tom Hawken (Helston)
- Jack Old (Wadebridge)
- Rory Heard (Truro School)
- Kyle Bradley (Helston)
- Callum Degenhardt (St Austell)
- Kyle Gratrix (St Austell)
- Luke Barnes (Camborne)
- Stan Somers (Truro School)
- Peter Bebbington (Launceston)
- Connor Ellery (Truro College)
- Dom Goodwin (Truro School)
- Fraser Nottle (St Austell)