Photo: Ross Tucknott with Cornwall Girls Under 15 squad.
With the running order for the afternoon 7s games the same as before, Cornwall got to warm up against an imperious Devon side who swept all before them. Despite that, it took most of the first half for the black and gold defence to be overcome, and Hannah Dawes' elusive running was a constant thorn in their side. Yet two quick tries just before the break were followed by three more in the second half, with big carries from Farrah Sarle and Avril Crabb the main Cornish attacking highlights.
Devon 7s 33-0 Cornwall 7s
The home side were next, and straight from the start proved more accommodating as Plant broke through challenges to score under the posts, Osman converting. Gloucestershire tried responding but Maeve Turley and Karkeek made strong tackles, Cornwall forced a turnover and Plant raced away for another in the corner before the break.
Gloucestershire won a turnover themselves and got an unconverted score back, only for Smith to catch the restart and race through almost untouched for an unconverted third. Rosie Innins, Grace Price and Becky Bennett held back the home attack with some outstanding tackles, and finally Wormsley's attack led to Tamsin Wilson dotting down for the final score.
Gloucestershire 7s 5-22 Cornwall 7s
The campaign then climaxed with a stunning performance against Somerset's specialist 7s team. After a couple of phases, the ball was passed wide to Smith who scythed through the defence for the opening score. Cornwall then started playing at another level, with first Jehu making a big carry then assist India for the score, then more patient phases culminated in some champagne rugby releasing a rampant Smith for a third try. Osman converted all three, including an epic long-distance effort, and looked set to finish the half with a fourth only for Vickery's try beside the posts disallowed for a marginal forward pass after yet more impressive play.
A fourth nearly came after the restart after Meagan was once more unleashed along the wing from halfway, but an immense cover tackle forced her to knock on as she was diving for the line. That seem to give Somerset a second wind, breaking near their own line and running the whole length of the pitch to score, then soon after repeating the feat, but it was too little too late and Cornwall claimed a second successive win against the 7s side that had dominated the opening county festival weekend.
Somerset 7s 10-21 Cornwall 7s
So with 3-0 series wins over Somerset and Gloucestershire in the 15s, plus giving Devon a couple of scares along the way too, the girls added 4 wins out of 6 in the 7s to their tally since the opening weekend's first ever foray into the format. All in all a successful and extremely satisfying campaign for all concerned, and all done under the Half Game Rule giving all 29 squad members near-identical playing times!
More importantly, the amount of fun being had by the Cornish girls along the way was a joy to watch, and their growth as players and a team too was plain to see.
Thanks to Cheltenham Tigers and Gloucestershire RFU for hosting us; the referees for officiating in the morning; the coaches who officiated the 7s; the volunteers who ran the line; the coach driver from Hopleys; the parents for supporting their girls all the way; Bodmin RFC for the training venue; the coaches, team managers, support staff, medics and volunteers without whom none of this would have been possible; Anna Garmen and Paige Clarke, who despite injury after contributing so much in the earlier rounds came along and made the wonderful notes that this report is written from!
Well done girls. The future of Cornish rugby is bright indeed.
Squad: Sophie Daniel, Josie Plant, Evie Curnow, Ellie Richards, Rosie Innins, Eloise Maniglia, India Bennett, Millie Osman, Pyper Karkeek, Lucy Mills, Farrah Sarle, Hannah Dawes, Emily Joyce, Avril Crabb, Izzy Holmes, Nicola Wormsley, Maddie Meagan, Emily Hoskin, Maeve Turley, Betty Matthews, Abbey Smith, Tamsin Wilson, Chiana Alee, Lilly Jehu, Ellie Bardoe, Becky Bennett, Grace Bewshea-Price, Bryher Ingram and Chloe Vickery
Coaches: Gavin Mountjoy, Ross Tucknott