Cornwall RLFC


Cornwall 16 North Wales Crusaders 40 – Match Report

March 24, 2024

Cornwall RLFC’s Matt Ross – JT Sports Photography

Cornwall RLFC started their Betfred League 1 campaign at home in 2024 with defeat against North Wales Crusaders.

The Colwyn Bay based outfit, who were beaten play-off finalists last year, were led by their outstanding player coach Carl Forster, who despite starting the game on the interchange bench, scored two tries.

But Cornwall will be left to rue an ill-disciplined and error strewn opening 40 minutes in which they gifted the visitors field position at regular junctures.

Indeed, the tone was set within the opening moments of a game switched to Truro College, owing to problems with the pitch at the Memorial Ground, because of the recent wet weather.

Cornwall kicked off and a solid defensive set saw the Choughs fielding the football 25 metres from their own line. However, an incorrect play-the-ball gifted North Wales back possession and this gave the Crusaders’ giant pack their first chance to flex their collective muscles.

And despite Cornwall defending heroically on their own line, they cracked after a fourth consecutive set with centre Kieran Taylor powering over. Owain Abel missed the extras, but this would be his only blemish from the tee all afternoon.

Hughes was the next Crusader to register when he also went over close to the Cornwall line, displaying a fine fleet of foot to dot down underneath the posts. The away side then scored the next time they had hands on the ball, once again from a Cornwall mistake.

The outstanding Chris Barratt was in on the act shortly after the 20-minute mark and with Abel converting with ease, North Wales were 16-0 up and very much in the ascendancy.

Cornwall, with little ball or field position did finally have sight of the Crusaders’ line’ as the half wore on, forcing a repeat set, but the home side’s half was perhaps summed up when from the drop out, they were penalised by referee Aaryn Belafonte for not playing the ball properly.

That was the fourth such offence Cornwall committed in the first half and they were made to pay when Crusaders marched up the field and their outstanding leader Forster scored the first of his two tries.

At 22-0, Cornwall knew they weren’t out of the contest as when the two sides met in Wales last year, the Choughs almost blew a 40-4 interval lead to hold on to prevail 40-38.

And hopes of a comeback were roused eight minutes after the break when winger Harry Aaronson finished out wide for the second match in succession. Cameron Brown missed the extras but Cornwall were up and running.

The games decisive moment then came after 51 minutes when Cornwall broke down the middle through Tom Ashton. He found the supporting Brown, but the final pass went to ground. With ball now back in hand, Dan Coates went up the other end to score.

Five minutes later and the points were heading back to Colwyn Bay as Forster bagged his second of the afternoon before Hughes matched the feat of his coach as North Wales hit the 40-point mark.

But Cornwall never raised the white flag and they finished well as Nathan Cullen scored eight minutes from time.

The Choughs were also handed a numerical advantage when Pat Rainford hit Aaronson high. The Cornwall winger, after picking up a kick behind his own line, looked to set to go the distance until he was illegally stopped. Rainford was lucky to escape with just a yellow card, although he is certain to face further punishment for trying to lift Aaronson off the ground whilst he was injured.

Cornwall made their numerical advantage count with the final play as Brown scored the try of the game by breaking from inside his own half and outflanking Abel. To finish the game on a high from Cornwall’s point of view, Brown kicked a magnificent sideline conversion after the siren.

Cornwall: Nichol, Mitchell, Simpson, Ashton, Mitchell, Brown, Punchard, Ross, Collins, Boots, Cullen, Weetman, Dimech. Interchange: (all used) O’Callaghan, Bannister, Lloyd, Trerise.

Tries: Aaronson (48), Cullen (70), Brown (80)

Goals: Brown 2/3

North Wales Crusaders: Abel, Holmes, Taylor, Reid, Ah-Van, Coates, Hughes, Costello, Rainford, Barratt, Ellis, Unsworth, Carr. Interchange: (all used) Baldwin, Forster, Else-Roberts, Nzongou

Tries: Taylor (7), Hughes (18,67), Barratt (22), Forster (32,56), Coates (51)

Goals: Abel 7/8

Sinbin: Rainford (72) – high tackle

Referee: Aaryn Belafonte