BILL BEAUMONT CUP FINAL
CORNWALL 8 – 19 LANCASHIRE
By Bill Hooper
Lancashire deservedly reclaimed the Bill Beaumont Cup with a powerful second half performance that saw them score 19 unanswered points as Cornwall’s grasp on the title wilted under the Twickenham sun.
Prior to kick-off there was a poignant minute’s silence for the victims of the barbaric events in Manchester last Monday and at the conclusion Cornwall RFU President Peter James presented his Lancashire counterpart Tom Fitzgerald with a bouquet of 22 red roses, which will be laid in memory of those killed in Manchester on behalf of the Cornwall RFU and Cornish supporters.
There was a late change to the Cornwall side when winger Lewis Vinnicombe pulled out due to a shoulder injury sustained against Herts. Seti Raumakita came in on the wing with Jack Simmons stepping onto the bench.
The game began slowly for Cornwall, as they got shoved back in the first scrum conceding a penalty.
Slowly they came more into it with fly-half Joe Elderkin kicking well for territory. The coaches made an early call for a change in the scrum with Dan Collier coming on in second row for Bryn Jenkins.
Cornwall seemed to fall foul of referee Ben Blain especially at the breakdown, which was very frustrating.
Cornwall came to life a series of penalties were kicked to the corner with the Cornwall maul getting going for an unconverted try from flanker George Jones, Matt Shepherd’s conversion attempt hit the upright.
Raumakita ran well on to a Shepherd kick over the top but he failed to adjust his footing close to the touchline and was caught out.
More bad luck for Cornwall followed when they lost prop Tommy Phillips with a dislocated shoulder, he was replaced by Town’s Andrius Zacharovas.
Lancashire came back into it enjoying some good periods of possession, even turning down some kickable penalties looking for a try but they found the Cornish defence in mean mood.
Shepherd kicked a penalty to the corner to set up a catch and drive from which Collier and Sam Matavesi drove for the line but Lancashire’s No.8 Tom Ailes infringed and was shown yellow. Sadly, Cornwall didn’t manage to capitalise having to settle for a Shepherd penalty and an 8-0 half-time lead.
Robin Wedlake looked set to be put away but Jake Murphy’s pass was sadly slightly forward.
Despite bringing on fresh legs Cornwall couldn’t match the increasing dominance of the Lancashire side as the northern side began to dictate play and spread the ball wide.
Tony Whittle put in some crunching tackles for Cornwall trying to stem the tide.
Wing Scott Armstrong broke up-field linking with fellow wing Alex Bingham for the later to score in the corner, Chris Johnson’s excellent conversion bringing Lancashire right back in it.
Scott Rawlings, who was having a big game in the mid-field for Lancashire, as the waves of attack from the red rose mounted. Bingham turned provider for hooker Tom Burtonwood who was out wide to run in a second try for the lead.
Cornwall’s Tom Notman almost connected with an interception but the ball slipped agonisingly away.
Armstrong then claimed a third try for Lancashire as the ball was again moved wide from a ruck with Johnson adding the extras for a 19-8 lead.
There was to be no way back for Cornwall as Lancashire saw out the win to claim yet another title.
What now for Cornwall? It’s likely that one or two senior players may well have played their last game for Cornwall as the changing of the guard looks set to continue for next season.
CORNWALL: (Redruth unless stated): M Shepherd (Plymouth Albion), S Raumakita, R Wedlake (both Plymouth Albion), J Murphy (Barnstaple, capt), T Notman, J Elderkin, J Oulton; T Phillips, R Brown, C Williams, B Jenkins (Barnstaple), T Whittle (Camborne), G Jones (Penryn), S Matavesi (Camborne), G Randlesome (Penryn).
Replacements: M Ballard (Wadebridge Camels), A Zacharovas (Camborne), D Collier (Plymouth Albion), C Fuca, BJ Chapman, D Mankee (Camborne), J Simmons (Camborne).
Cornwall scores: Try, Jones, Pen, Shepherd
LANCASHIRE (Fylde unless stated): L Allen (Preston G); S Armstrong, C Briers, S Rawlings (Sale FC), A Bingham, C Johnson, S Stelmaszek; D Birchall (all Sale FC), T Burtonwood, A Lewis, R Birtwell (Sedgley Tigers), R Tomlinson (Rossendale) M Goodman (Sedgley Tigers), E Stewart (capt), T Ailes (Sale FC).
Replacements: S Griffiths, R Davies (Sale FC), P Althram (Preston G) J Matthews (Sedgley Tigers), G Smith, S Collins (Sedgley Tigers), C Connolly (Sale FC).
Lancashire scores: Tries, Bingham, Burtonwood, Armstrong, Cons, Johnson (2)
Yellow Card: Ailes (30)
Referee: Ben Blain (RFU)
Photo, courtesy of Simon Bryant (Iktis Photo) shows the Cornish faithful still cheering the boys after losing to Lancashire.