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Cornwall Take Bill Beaumont Cup Crown

Last Updated: May 30, 2016 07:28pm
St. Margarets and North Twickenham, Richmond upon Thames London Boro
By The RFU
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Cornwall retained the Bill Beaumont Cup following an impressive 35-13 triumph over Cheshire at Twickenham.

Graham Dawe’s men controlled much of the first half and they deservedly went 12-0 in front after 11 minutes via Billy Searle and Sam Matavesi touchdowns.

Cheshire managed to keep themselves in contention through Paul Millea’s converted try and Jack Lavin’s penalty, but successive Matt Shepherd three-pointers kept them at arm’s length.

Lavin reduced the arrears at the start of the second period but the black and gold were dominant from thereon in, adding 17 more points through Herbie Stupple and Shepherd, who scored a try, two conversions and a penalty after the interval. 

The North West-based outfit were hoping for a repeat of their last success in the competition when they defeated Cornwall 21-14 in 1998.

However, Dawe’s side had other ideas. Buoyed by ending several years of hurt against Lancashire in last year’s final, the Cornishmen started with confidence.

Their loyal supporters were also typically boisterous and the team’s opening matched the effort of the fans. Shepherd was particularly prominent and created the first try when he weaved his way through the opposition rearguard and sent Searle over the line.

It was not just the backs who were causing consternation in the Cheshire ranks as the pack began the game in the ascendency.

The first maul of the encounter marched Steve Rule’s men backwards while the opening scrum yielded a penalty. That pressure eventually reaped its rewards with Matavesi, the brother of former Exeter centre Josh, barrelling across the whitewash.

To Cheshire’s credit, they hit back and, after Lavin had reduced the arrears from the tee, Millea’s close range surge brought them back to within two points.

It was a setback for the defending champions but they regained their composure and earned a penalty which resulted in Shepherd kicking a three-pointer.

Cornwall extended their buffer to eight via the boot of the excellent full-back – this time after Tom Sanders had been sin-binned for a cynical breakdown infringement – as they moved 18-10 ahead at the interval.

The Cornishmen should have arguably been further ahead and they almost paid the price after starting the second period in tentative fashion. They were ill-disciplined and Cheshire benefited as Lavin added another from the tee.

However, Dawe’s men duly lifted the intensity and following Robin Wedlake’s superb break, Stupple powered onto the ball to touch down.

That score effectively secured the trophy but Shepherd made sure 15 minutes from time with a penalty.

The North West outfit kept going until the end but Cornwall had the final word when Shepherd crossed the whitewash unopposed.

CORNWALL’S QUICK START

Last year’s success was a tense encounter throughout but the confidence garnered from that win obviously aided Cornwall’s performance in 2016.

In contrast, Cheshire were playing in their first final since 2002 and that lack of experience was evident. Two tries in the first 11 minutes moved the Cornishmen 12-0 ahead and, despite a couple of nervy moments at the start of the second period, the intensity of that opening made the difference.

CHESHIRE’S LAST-DITCH DEFENCE

The North West side were outplayed for most of the match but their cover defence prevented Cornwall from scoring more tries.

That was partly down to the West Country side’s profligacy and lack of composure in the 22, but their opponents must also be credited for the resilience they displayed.

SUPERB SHEPHERD

Full-back Matt Shepherd was undoubtedly the start performer behind the scrum, creating one try and scoring another. 

He also kicked accurately, was a calm presence in the backline and deservedly ended on the winning team.

"It's a special day for Cornish rugby. We were calculated and organised today which I think was the difference between the two sides," said Cornwall Head Coach Graham Dawe. 

"To win this competition two years in a row is fantastic and our team showed how good they are this afternoon. We came up against a very tough Cheshire side. We were very impressed by the quality of their players.

"This means a lot to the many supporters who are here and to all involved in Cornish rugby."


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