Cornwall RLFC 0 West Wales Raiders 20 – Match Report
May 16, 2022
The battle at the foot of Betfred League 1 went the way of the visitors West Wales Raiders who were led brilliantly by the outstanding Callum Merrett.
The stand-off scored two of the Raiders’ four tries in dreadful conditions in Penryn with the defeated Choughs once again roared on by a healthy crowd.
However, for the second Duchy clash in succession, Neil Kelly’s side have failed to trouble the Memorial Ground’s scoreboard operators.
Cornwall fielded a host of new recruits in their 17-man squad with recent loan captures Jackson Walker (Dewsbury Rams), Adam Rusling (Hull Kingston Rovers) and Louis Collinson (Batley Bulldogs) all selected by Kelly.
Dual-registered Bradford Bulls winger Will Adams was also included for the home side who were still without Jack Ray, Sam Snell and Aaron Thomson through injury.
However, Sam Gilder and Josh Tora returned after missing previous matches through a facial knock and concussion respectively.
Last time out Cornwall pushed Hunslet close for 40 minutes before the Parksiders racked up a 52-16 win while for West Wales, they were spirited in going down 46-4 at Stebonheath Park to high-flying Keighley Cougars.
With rain falling as the game kicked off, Cornwall had first use of the football and made good ground with three strong carries. But the tone was then set for the rest of the afternoon when Merrett intercepted Rusling’s long raking pass to streak clear and score. Jamie Murphy missed the conversion but West Wales were up and running.
They had Cornwall on the back-foot and after forcing a repeat set, Fergus Simpson dropped his shoulder and glided under the sticks. Murphy did find the mark on this occasion. It could have been even better for the Raiders as the 20-minute mark approached when Merrett broke clear but Rusling managed to track back and cut out the final pass.
But Cornwall managed to regroup and should have scored shortly after when they worked a brilliant opportunity out wide. Giant Fijian centre Josh Tora drew the cover defence and with the try-line open for winger Decarlo Trerise, the latter couldn’t cleanly gather the ball and West Wales survived.
Cornwall then spent a prolonged spell inside the Raiders’ red-zone which was inspired by a brilliant kick return from Liam Whitton but the Choughs just couldn’t prise open a stubborn visiting rearguard.
The hosts were then dealt a blow when Jake Lloyd was forced off the pitch with what appeared to be a dislocated elbow before Whitton received a heavy knock fielding a grubber kick on a slippery Memorial Ground pitch.
Then, on the stroke of half-time, the pendulum swung massively in West Wales favour when Merrett bagged his second of the afternoon and despite the goal not finding the mark, Raiders took a 14-0 lead into the turnaround.
After the break West Wales, playing with the slope, enjoyed a period of dominance, but it was Cornwall’s turn to defend their own whitewash with gusto.
And as the final 20 minutes approached, Cornwall huffed and puffed to no avail with a series of handling errors and forced passes meaning the Choughs couldn’t grab the lifeline they so desperately craved.
As time ticked down, West Wales crossed for a fourth time to seal their first win since 2019 when skipper Joe Burke offloaded well for replacement Kian Fisher to cross over.
Salt was then rubbed into home wounds in the dying embers as the outstanding Merrett kicked a routine penalty before the full-time hooter sounded.
Cornwall: Whitton, Trerise, Aaronson, Tora, Adams, Collings, Rusling, Mullally, Lloyd, Bolger, Odgers, Kay, Collinson. Interchange (all used): Hartshorne, Walker, Gilder, Prisk.
West Wales (as per official team sheet): Murphy, O’Sullican, Coleman, Pridgeon, Dyer-Dixon, Merrett, Lee, Burke, Phillips, Badham, Broster, Allen, Simpson. Interchange (all used): Fisher, Morgan, Jackson, Boots.
Referee: Kevin Moore; Touch-judges: Peter Wroe and Phil Johnson; Reserve referee: Guy Pallett.