Cornwall RLFC 35 London Skolars 10 – Match Report
March 26, 2023
Cornwall secured an historic first ever victory on home soil with a dominant and comprehensive victory over London Skolars.
The Choughs, bar a 10 minute spell either side of the hour mark, were rarely troubled by Joe Mbu’s Skolars who, after this latest reverse, remain rooted to the foot of the Betfred League 1 standings.
Cornwall’s deserved win at the Mem, after 11 previous unsuccessful attempts, was underpinned by a whirlwind opening 40 minutes with the Choughs scoring four tries. The hosts even had the audacity to slot over a field goal when Adam Rusling kicked the club’s first ever one pointer.
Playing down the Memorial Ground slope after the interval, Skolars were much improved and tries from Jerome Yates and Anthony Cox set up an intriguing final 15 minutes. With Cornwall skipper Jack Ray in the bin, London had a sniff of an unlikely comeback, but these hopes were extinguished with two late Cornwall tries from Harry Aaronson and outstanding Australian half-back Cameron Brown.
The tone for the match was set right from the get go as Louis O’Sullivan fumbled Liam Whitton’s kick-off and Cornwall were immediately on the front foot. The Choughs’ early dominance was rewarded when Errol Carter, playing against his former club, chipped over the Skolars defence and touched down. Rusling kicked a difficult conversion and Cornwall were 6-0 ahead.
That lead was doubled with both teams a man light when Ray powered through the heart of London’s defence and after being pulled down just shy of the line, Nathan Cullen burrowed his way over for another try.
It got even better for Cornwall after 22 minutes when Jake Lloyd snuck down the short side to feed Coby Nichol who in turn found Carter for his second of the afternoon. Everything Cornwall touched seemed to result in points and with Rusling nailing a brilliant touchline conversion, the home side were in dreamland with a fourth try just after the half hour mark.
Brown, at first receiver from a scrum, dropped his shoulder and put his foot to the floor to streak home under the sticks from 80 metres. Another Rusling conversion and it was now 24-0.
Rusling then kicked his field goal although missed with a long-range penalty but Cornwall, at 25-0 ahead, were well in the ascendancy at the turnaround.
Skolars, who did not threaten Cornwall’s line once during the opening stanza, were a different proposition in the second 40 and after a sustained spell of pressure, Yates dived in at the corner with the visitors running the last.
Ryan, who was Skolars bright spark throughout, skewed his conversion horribly wide but this try lifted London further and with Cornwall their own worst enemy at times, Cox also went in from close range.
Aaronson thought he had another spectacular score but was deemed to have had a foot over the sideline but then the match winning moment came when Brown intercepted Ryan’s pass to again score under the sticks.
The icing was then put on the Cornwall cake seven minutes from time when Aaronson found a way over from dummy half and the Duchy could finally celebrate a maiden home triumph.
Cornwall: Whitton, Carter, Nichol, Aaronson, Trerise, Brown, Rusling, Ray, Collins, Hartshorne, Cullen, Dimech, Lloyd. Interchange (all used): Boots, Bolger, Howe, Bodman.
Tries: Carter (8, 22), Cullen (16), Brown (32, 67), Aaronson (73)
Goals: Rusling 5/7
Field goal: Rusling (34)
Sinbin: Hartshorne (12) – running in, Ray (61) – late hit
London Skolars: Thomas, Louis O’Sullivan, Bristol, Small, Yates, Hutchings, Ryan, Peut, Chirnside, Lloyd-Jones, Bejandze, Ross, Liam O’Callaghan. Interchange (all used): Lee, Bryan, Cox, Gale
Tries: Yates (57), Cox (64)
Goals: Ryan 1/2
Sinbin: Bejandze (12) – running in, Lee (78) – late hit
Referee: Ryan Cox