Monday evening saw the Cornwall U18 squad get their season up and running. With the traditional season "opener" against a Plymouth College XV.
The game, originally planned to be played at the home of Plymouth Albion, was shifted to the 3G pitch at Keyham at the last minute.
With limited time together, an away fixture against a side that have been together for a couple of years and had recently returned from a pre-season tour in Wales was always going to be a great test. Made even more difficult with the number of injuries and unavailable players hitting the Cornish side.
From the KO it was clear that the bigger Cornwall side had the upper hand and dominated the early possession with backrow Keane Whitaker opening the score within the first 5 mins. For all the possession though, Cornwall were finding it difficult to breakdown a very well organised and stubborn defence. Cornwall failed to adjust their game to what was being placed in front of them and attack after attack would either "fizzle" out or the ball would be spilt with possession being handed over to the College boys.
Plymouth began to find their way into the game and their skillful half-back pairing began to take control. With good game management Plymouth found themselves deep in the Cornwall 22. Fortunately the defence was solid and Cornwall managed to break free and build an attack of their own which ended in a try scored by second row Archie Connolly. With the score 0 -12 Cornwall reached the half time break content, if not exactly pleased.
With a full front row, half back pairing and one centre changed at half time it was always going to take a few minutes to get organised again, and so it was that Plymouth took advantage straight from the whistle. With some larger than normal gaps in the defensive line the Plymouth fly half strolled through to score under the posts immediately from the restart.
Cornwall recovered well though and eventually got back into their stride. Again they dominated possession but slow ball at the breakdown and a lack of ability to play "heads-up" rugby which would have seen them out flank their opponents meant the college side were always in contention. With both sides scoring a further try a piece and the scores 12 - 17 Cornwall finally managed to break free by with another try from Whitaker and one from winger Jake Carr, score 12 - 27.
With minutes to play and with the college right winger "slicing" down the 5 meter channel he must have caught a glimpse of a black and gold "steam train" heading his way and stepped inside to evade it, unfortunately that steam train was blindside flanker Whitaker who was not allowing anyone to cross the Cornwall whitewash, with the Plymouth player coming off considerably worse. The tackle was deemed to be slightly high and as the referee felt the winger was in the action of scoring a try it was given as a penalty try. Final score 19 - 27
All in all a positive start to the campaign and a special mention to the U17 players who filled in at the last minute.
Next game away to Somerset U18 on 25th Sept at Weston-Super-Mare RFC