Cornwall 14 Rochdale Mayfield 20 – Match Report
February 26, 2023
Cornwall’s Challenge Cup debut ended in defeat after Rochdale Mayfield edged a pulsating clash thanks to Harry Sheridan’s late try.
In front of the BBC cameras and a bumper four-figure crowd, the visitors were good value for their win with Cornwall’s late fightback not enough for the Choughs to book their place in round three.
After an opening day reverse at the hands of Midlands Hurricanes, Mem chief Mike Abbott made changes in both backs and forwards for this history-making clash.
Try scorer in the Midlands defeat, Nick Slaney was unavailable due to his commitments with the Royal Air Force with his place taken by former Bradford centre Coby Nichol.
Up front, Jack Ray missed out for similar reasons to Slaney with the Choughs’ club captain on Royal Navy duty for their game against North Wales Crusaders. His place was taken by Harry Boots with Josh Hartshorne also returning to the front row as Paul Bolger missed out altogether.
Kaine Dimech was rewarded for his Player of the Match award at Midlands six days previously and he took the place of Welshman Charley Bodman in the second row. Cornwall’s final pack change came with the return from suspension of Luke Collins as Louis Singleton dropped to the bench.
A traditional cup tie in every sense of the word, Mayfield were the team to draw first blood, in fortunate circumstances too, after the opening exchanges were even.
The National Conference League outfit, who boasted former Super League star Sean Penkywicz and Fijian international in their ranks, benefited from a knock-on that went unpunished for stand-off Sam Wright to score. Devlin Long knocked over the extras from bang in front but going behind did little to dampen the spirits of Cornwall’s vocal and partisan home crowd.
And the decibel levels around Penryn went up a notch further after 15 minutes when the hosts opened their account. A towering Adam Rusling bomb was fumbled by Jordan Parr under pressure from Harry Aaronosn and Cornwall had an attacking platform to build upon.
They took full advantage of the Mayfield winger’s indiscretion as powerhouse centre Tom Ashton crashed over for a try which Rusling could not convert into a six-point score.
The remainder of the first stanza saw both defences holding firm although just two minutes before the siren, Mayfield scored a second try as Wayne English plucked a long looping ball from the Cornish sky to dot down.
It got even better for Mayfield just 90 seconds after the interval when Travis Long surged through the Cornish rearguard to score under the sticks. His brother Devlin knocked over a routine conversion and Mayfield had opened up a two score cushion.
Cornwall huffed and puffed looking for a way back into proceedings and only last-ditch defending stopped Mayfield putting their name in the hat for round three.
But with 11 minutes left, the pendulum swung in the home side’s favour when they scored an outstanding try. Rusling’s long pass found Aaronson who put his foot on the accelerator and beat two tacklers on the outside. He found the supporting Liam Whitton who fed Cameron Brown to coast in under the sticks.
Rusling converted and it was very much game on.
Cornwall were awarded a penalty for a high shot from the kick off and they were back on the attack and after Rusling’s kick on the last was mopped up by Mayfield, they then spilt the ball and Aaronson somehow finished acrobatically out wide.
The extras were missed but Cornwall were back within two points and the wind very much in their sails.
However, Mayfield and Sheridan had other ideas and his powerful run and finish six minutes from time sealed the visitors’ progression into round three.
Cornwall: Whitton, Carter, Nichol, Ashton, Aaronson, Brown, Rusling, Hartshorne, Collins, Boots, Cullen, Dimech, Lloyd. Interchange (all used): Howe, Prisk, Mitchell, Singleton.
Tries: Ashton (15), Brown (69), Aaronson (72)
Goals: Rusling 1/3
Rochdale Mayfield: Butterworth, Parr, McDaid, Tolhurst, English, Wright, D Long, Dash, Penkywicz, Mills, T Long, Metcalfe, Talatoka. Interchange (all used): D Sheridan, Hargreaves, H Sheridan, Taira.
Tries: Wright (9), English (38), T Long (41), H Sheridan (74)
Goals: D Long 2/4
Referee: Matthew Rossleigh