CORNWALL have reached a fourth successive County Championship final in four years with a 32-14 victory over Surrey at a packed Camborne last Saturday.
While the score looks like a comfortable day’s work for Graham Dawe’s men, it was far from the truth as Surrey fought back from 20-5 down to make it 20-14 just after half-time. But once fly-half Billy Searle crashed his way over for his hat-trick, The Duchy then powered home to set up a repeat of the 1998 final with Cheshire at Twickenham next Sunday.
In front of 3,125 fans at Camborne, Cornwall flew out of the traps as Sam Matavesi the star of the last two games, broke away to set up Neilson Webber for the game’s opening try. The conversion was missed however, and within a couple of minutes parity was restored as fly-half Matt Noble went over following good work by former Redruth winger Ed Carne.
Cornwall did edge in front again through Matt Shepherd’s penalty before the silky Searle demonstrated his star quality with a brace of tries. Firstly he was the beneficiary of Matavesi’s fine run before doing well to keep with the rapid Redruth winger Lewis Vinnicombe, to take a pass into the scorebaord corner. Shepherd converted the second of these to make it 20-5 before the break. Penalties from Noble and full-back Ollie Turner reduced the arrears before a further kick after the break meant there was just six points in it.
For the next 20 minutes, Cornwall continued to probe away, led by scrum-half Greg Goodfellow who was a lively presence around the breakdown.
And with ten minutes, tensions were eased when winger Robin Wedlake burst away — again Matavesi was there to support — and again Searle was there to finish it off.
Dawe’s men knew they were probably heading to the capital next weekend and a move fitting of a much higher standard sealed the contest once and for all.
Searle linked with centre Sam Parsons to take the ball up to the 22 before no 8 Herbie Stupple popped the ball up to substitute Jon Dawe who gave the ball to replacement scrum-half Lewis Webb to give Cornwall their fifth try and with it a bonus point.
Head coach Graham Dawe was pleased with his side’s performance in parts.
He said; “It’s always good to get a win but it was a close-run thing, I think we made hard of it at times today.
“Midway through the second-half we only had a six point lead and they could have come back but it will have done us good to have had three really hard games going into next Sunday.
“All the players deserve a lot of credit today, they kept their shape and they kept their discipline and got us the result we needed and that’s what it’s all about.”