Cornwall RLFC 12 North Wales Crusaders 36 – Match Report
August 8, 2022
Spirited Cornwall were seen off by promotion chasing North Wales Crusaders at a sun-drenched Memorial Ground in Betfred League 1 on Sunday.
The visitors took a giant leap towards securing second place in the end of season play-offs but Cornwall, on the back of a disappointing 44-6 reverse at London Skolars in round 17, more than matched Anthony Murray’s men for long periods.
Although the visitors held a 24-6 interval lead, thanks in no small part to tries from Gav Rodden and Tommy Johnson either side of the half hour mark, Cornwall restricted the visitors to just a 12-6 scoreline after the turnaround.
In front of yet another healthy attendance in the Duchy, the performance underlined Cornwall’s progress from their season opener in Colwyn Bay, when the Crusaders prevailed 62-22.
Under clear blue skies and in the searing heat, North Wales opened the scoring after just three minutes as Rodden crashed onto a flat pass to score under the posts. Johnson converted for an early 6-0 lead.
But any thoughts that Cornish floodgates would open in the early exchanges were put to one side when Josh Hartshorne barged his way eight minutes in.
The former Thornhill prop has been a shining light during Cornwall’s maiden professional campaign with this try, his first in black and gold. Adam Rusling kicked the extras to leave the scores locked at 8-8.
North Wales were stung by Cornwall’s score and looked to reinstate their scoreboard advantage but outstanding home defence kept the men in white out on several occasions.
Finally North Wales did make it over the whitewash again as the visitors made Cornwall pay for a handling error. From the resulting scrum, prop Chris Barratt found space to score – again near the sticks meaning Johnson had a simple task of knocking over the two extra points.
The game then swung massively in the away team’s favour as they scored twice in quick succession to claim a commanding position.
Firstly Rodden bagged his second of the afternoon – again from close range – and Johnson kept his 100 per cent record from the tee.
They then scored the try of the game on 32 minutes when a lightning break from Matt Reid was finished off by Johnson who ran home to score with ease.
But Cornwall finished the half strongly and can perhaps feel a touch aggrieved not to have scored after forcing repeat sets before the siren.
Sadly for Neil Kelly’s side, they were handed a temporary numerical disadvantage when skipper Jamie Prisk was sent to the bin for an alleged tip-tackle although this decision looked harsh.
Down a man, North Wales took advantage to open the scoring after the turnaround with interchange Brad Brannan the man to dot down.
Cornwall once again were forced to dig in and back up to 13 players, playing down the Memorial Ground slope, they took the game to North Wales.
And with 17 minutes left, the Choughs got the reward their efforts merited as Nathan Conroy pounced on Joe Purcell’s dab through, which was fumbled by Johnson. Rusling goaled his second conversion of the afternoon.
The physical nature of the game, played out in the intense heat then seemed to take its toll on both sides before visiting prop Barratt scored his second try of the afternoon.
Johnson goaled to make it six of the best for the Crusaders’ full back but for Cornwall, they can be rightly proud of their performance against one of the division’s promotion contenders.
Cornwall: Whitton, Trerise, Aaronson, Ashton, Chard, Purcell, Rusling, Hartshorne, Conroy, Ray, Odgers, Bodman, Cullen. Interchange: (all used) Bolger, Turton, Connolly, Prisk
Tries: Hartshorne, Conroy, Goals: Rusling 2/2
Sinbin: Prisk – tip-tackle
Crusaders: Johnson, Ah Van, Holmes, Reid, Massam, Briers, Hardcastle, Barratt, Billsborough, Hazard, Rodden, Eckley, Fletcher. Interchange: (all used) Nash, Brennan, Houghton, HIll.
Tries: Rodden (2), Barratt (2), Johnson, Brennan. Goals: Johnson 6/6
Referee: Luke Bland; Touch judges: Guy Pallett and Phil Johnson; Reserve referee: Reece Schofield