Simon Bryant’s photo (Iktis Photo) shows Penryn’s George Jones on the charge.
A combination of injuries and some disappointing last-minute withdrawals left the selectors with the extremely difficult task of putting a squad together to make the journey to Bishop’s Stortford.
The players that travelled did so knowing that they faced an uphill task but keen and proud to pull on the famous black & gold jersey. They played with passion and commitment and despite being outmuscled up front by a much bigger Hertfordshire pack they never let their heads drop and kept playing for the full eighty minutes.
Trelawny’s Army led the travelling supporters in cheering and singing the players from the field in recognition of the fact that they had given everything for the cause. Despite the final score the whole squad have every reason to be proud of themselves.
In the midst of celebrating rounding off their season with a big win, the Hertfordshire players and coaching team were taken by surprise by the unexpected news that Surrey had beaten Gloucestershire, putting Hertfordshire into the final against cup holders Lancashire.
The relegation slot from Division One is decided on a two-year cycle so winning the Division last season means Cornwall will retain their status in the top tier – Surrey will be relegated having been deducted two points for playing an illegible player and will be replaced by Hampshire.
Division One South for 2019 and 2020 will therefore consist of:
Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire and Kent.
Cornwall will be drawn to play against three of the other counties (probably two away games) with the fixtures reversed in 2020. THIS IS SUBJECT TO THE USUAL CAVEAT – UNLESS THE RFU CHANGE THE RULES/FORMAT AGAIN.
The retirement from county rugby of several senior Cornish players meant this was always going to be a transition year. Lessons will have been learnt and Cornwall will face next season all the stronger for it.
Match report from Bill Hooper:
HERTFORDSHIRE 50–0 CORNWALL
By Bill Hooper
Cornwall selectors rang the changes ahead of the county side’s final fixture for this season with a view to looking at players ahead of next season’s campaign; however they were also hit by some late withdrawals which meant Cornwall fielding a side with not one Redruth player in the match day squad!
Sadly, for Cornwall the gulf in the playing standard showed with Cornwall suffering their biggest defeat for many years, a result that will shock many but in reality others feared.
Huge credit to those players who came in at the last minute to wear the shirt, indeed to the whole side for never giving up playing until the final whistle.
Cornwall ended the campaign bottom of their group but as relegation is considered over two seasons, the 15 points they amassed in 2017 saved their skins, however in 2019 they will start another 2 year cycle of results. Surrey appear to be the unlucky side to drop having been deducted points for fielding an ineligible player against Cornwall. They will be replaced in the top tier by Hampshire.
Cornwall’s skipper Jake Murphy was philosophical in defeat. “Credit to our lads for turning out today, it’s not been easy putting a side together this week. To a man they gave their all but sadly the gulf was evident today when you are up against National League 1 & 2 players. I shall think over my own situation over the summer as to whether I should carry on next season, maybe it’s time for the youngsters to step up now and take Cornwall on a new adventure.”
As in their previous two games Cornwall conceded an early try from a catch-and-drive when Herts hooker Steff Jones snuck over from the drive, fly-half Sean Taylor kicked the conversion and the home side were up and running.
Cornwall then lost lock Jack Heazelton to injury giving Penryn’s Adam Hughes an early chance to impress.
Cornwall enjoyed good possession for large parts of the first half but sadly committed too many errors. Skipper Jake Murphy and fellow centre Jon Dawe caught the eye in mid-field as did forwards Jon Drew and George Jones with their drives.
Hertfordshire made the most of their field position when it came scoring two tries in the final ten minutes of the first half through lock Harry Green and right on the half-time whistle through No.8 Chris West, Taylor converted the former for a 19-0 half-time advantage to Hertfordshire.
In the second half Cornwall again had good periods but sadly they couldn’t capitalise as the big Hertfordshire pack took charge allied to the greater fitness of National League players.
Saltash’s Lewis Wells looked lively, whilst lock Ben Hilton was a nuisance in the rucks and mauls.
Hertfordshire’s bonus point try came from a forward drive replacement hooker Ollie Walker getting the try with the excellent Taylor again adding the extras.
Tries came at regular intervals as the final quarter wore on through scrum-half Ben Creasey centre James Rea, replacement wing Luke Barber, flanker Nick Radley bringing up the eight tries. Taylor added a further couple of conversions to complete the scoring in an emphatic win, which coupled with Surrey’s win over Gloucestershire sees the men in green at Twickenham next Sunday to face Lancashire in the final.
Cornwall will be bitterly disappointed not to have got a score, whilst the coaches and selectors will have much to ponder on how to turn Cornwall’s fortunes around next season.
HERTFORDSHIRE: S Taylor (Hertford), E Byfield (Tring), J Rea (Bishop’s Stortford), R Streets (Hertford), S Barnes (Tring), D Watt (Old Albanian), T Banks (Bishop’s Stortford, capt); L Castiglione, S Jones (both Hertford), K Garside (Amptill), R Conquest (Cambridge), H Green, N Radley, N Stevens (all Tring), C West (Old Albanian).
Replacements: O Walker (Old Albanian), T McCrone (Bishop’s Stortford), D Archer, J Elston, B Creasey (all Hertford), J Scantlebury (Bishop’s Stortford), L Barber (Harpenden).
Hertfordshire scores: Tries, Jones, Green, West, Walker, Rea, Creasey, Barber, Radley, Cons, Taylor (5)
CORNWALL: M Vague (Penryn), W Morton (Saltash), S Hitchens (Penryn), J Dawe, D Pearce (both Launceston), J Murphy (Barnstaple, capt), T Peacock (Camborne); A Zacharovs (Camborne), M Ballard (Wadebridge Camels), J Drew (Camborne), B Hilton (Barnstaple), J Heazelton (Truro), L Wells (Saltash), G Jones (Penryn), L Duke (Launceston).
Replacements: T-L Southworth, (Camborne), Z Cinnamond (Launceston), A Hodges (Bude), O Seagrove (Truro), A Hughes (Penryn), N Nash (Brixham), R McAtee (Camborne).
REFEREE: Alex Thomas (RFU)