Cornwall RLFC


Cornwall 14 Rochdale Hornets 38 – Match Report

June 17, 2024

Coby Nichol opens the scoring for Cornwall – Colin Bradbury

Cornwall’s latest home league clash ended in defeat against promotion chasing Rochdale Hornets, who exacted revenge for their defeat in the Duchy last August.

A hat-trick of tries from Luke Forber, complemented by a brace for his wing partner Dan Nixon, ensured Rochdale were victorious in a physical Memorial Ground clash.

The hosts, however, will quite justifiably say that the final scoreline did not reflect the game as a whole, with the Choughs matching Gary Thornton’s outfit for long spells.

Ultimately, Cornwall will be left to rue indiscipline, a try either side of the break and a number of marginal calls from rookie referee Carl Hughes, as the root cause for defeat.

Indeed, with less than 15 minutes left, Cornwall’s outstanding Australian full-back Cameron Brown thought he had become the first Chough to ever complete a treble when he pounced on Adam Rusling’s kick forward.

That score, if converted, would have left the game intriguingly poised at 30-20 in the Hornets’ favour. But Hughes, after help from touch judge Phil Johnson, ruled that Brown was offside and the try was chalked off. To compound Cornwall woes, Forber then scored after a clear forward pass from Ben Forster was not pulled back.

That was the game for Rochdale and even though Cornwall wouldn’t lie down, Forber bagged his third of the afternoon before the game finished in an unsavoury fashion.

Cornwall chanced their arm, spreading the ball out wide and after Forber intercepted, he found Lewis Else who was cut down 10 metres from the Cornwall line. Aaron Small was initially shown a yellow card for a professional foul before a melee broke out.

When calm was restored, former London Skolars captain Small was sent off for alleged use of the head, despite Nelmes being the instigator and leading with his head, whilst the Cornish centre was the innocent party.

With the siren sounding while Small was receiving his marching orders, Martyn Ridyard kicked over a routine penalty to put the gloss on his side’s fourth consecutive win.

Despite the late Rochdale flourish, it was Cornwall who started the better of the two sides with Coby Nichol opening the scoring after just six minutes. He finished well in the corner after great hands from Small but Brown couldn’t convert.

It got even better for Cornwall when Luke Nelmes was sent to the bin for use of the head but crucially, Mike Abbott’s Choughs couldn’t make their numerical advantage count.

And before Nelmes was back on the field, Cornwall had a man in the bin when try scorer Nichol allegedly raised an elbow when battling to play the ball.

Unlike Cornwall, the Hornets did score points when a man up as Nixon matched Nichol’s efforts out wide before Aiden Roden scooted over from dummy-half. Ridyard could only manage one conversion, but Rochdale had their noses in front.

Recent prop forward signing Dan Spencer-Tonks then powered his way over the line for Rochdale’s third try but Cornwall came storming back when Rusling’s neat reverse pass saw Brown dot down from a scrum.

The pendulum then swung in Rochdale’s favour as Forber and Nixon both registered either side of the interval.

But Cornwall wouldn’t let the Hornets out of their sight and another Brown special after 49 minutes kept the Choughs on the coat tails of the visitors.

Cornwall, with Matt Ross and David Weetman making their 100th and 50th appearances in British rugby league respectively, would dominate for next quarter of the game but they could not find a way through the Rochdale rearguard.

Harry Aaronson broke brilliantly from a scrum deep in home territory and after he raced over half way, found the supporting Brown. However, Brown checked back inside and despite finding Nichol in space, Rochdale managed to survive.

Shortly after, Brown dabbed through for Aaronson and after the ball hit the corner post, George Mitchell touched down. But merry whistle blower Hughes ruled that effort out and once again, by the skin of their collective teeth, Rochdale clung on and kept the Choughs out.

And this lack of points came home to roost for the South West side when the rub of the green didn’t go their way late on, and Rochdale did enough to secure the win.

Cornwall: Brown, Nichol, Small, Mitchell, Aaronson, Black, Rusling, Ross, Collins, Boots, Cullen, Simpson, Weetman. Interchange: (all used) Rhodes, Campbell, Conroy, Dimech

Tries: Nichol (6), Brown (37, 49)

Goals: Brown 1/3

Sinbin: Nichol (22) – use of the elbow

Dismissal: Small (79) – use of the head

Rochdale: McNally, Nixon, Meadows, Darbyshire, Forber, Ridyard, Else, Kilan, Roden, Nelmes, Forster, Straugheir, Whittel. Interchange: (all used) Openshaw, Roberts, Andrade, Spencer-Tonks.   

Tries: Nixon (18,42), Roden (22), Spencer-Tonks (27), Forber (39,68,72)

Goals: Ridyard 5/8

Sinbin: Nelmes (11) – use of the head

Referee: Carl Hughes