Cornwall vs Midlands Hurricanes – Match Report
July 16, 2023
Cornwall made history for a second consecutive week after Mike Abbott’s Choughs comprehensively defeated Midlands Hurricanes 28-8 to secure back-to-back wins for the first time in the club’s history.
Defeat for the Hurricanes means their search for a win under recently appointed head coach Mark Dunning goes on after they blew a interval lead and were whitewashed by the home side after the interval.
The win was nothing more than Cornwall deserved as playing up the Memorial Ground slope in the opening 40 minutes, the kicking game of half-back pairing Adam Rusling and Morgan Punchard kept the hosts on the front foot.
And knowing the advantage of playing downhill in the second stanza, the Choughs scored 24 unanswered points and even survived a Hurricanes onslaught to stand firm when Cameron Brown was sent to sinbin for a professional foul after 45 minutes.
Crucially for the outcome of the game, Cornwall kept Midlands out and scored a try of their own while Brown was off the field when the outstanding Rusling nudged his side in front with a 55th minute try which he converted.
Cornwall never looked back from that point onwards and once back to a full complement, they saw the game out in style with Australian Brown grabbing a brace and skipper Liam Whitton putting the icing on his side’s cake, completing the job six minutes from time.
Looking to build on last week’s triumph in the capital over London Skolars, the Choughs made a strong start and went ahead after 12 minutes. Nathan Cullen was stopped short of the Hurricanes’ line and from dummy half, Coby Nichol burrowed his way over despite the attentions of Jacob Hookem and Matty Welham.
Rusling blotted his copybook for the only time over the 80 minutes by missing the conversion but Cornwall were up and running.
A torrential rain shower then descended the game into a somewhat scrappy affair and gradually, Midlands came back into proceedings. They drew level when winger Ryan Johnson finished off a simple move out wide. The Sheffield Eagles man had already missed one opportunity in the half but after 24 minutes, he made no mistake. Hookem failed to make it into a six-point score.
The game then seemingly swung into Midlands’ favour 10 minutes later when Johnson’s fellow winger Hayden Freeman snuck in tight to the touchline but once again, Hookem’s radar was off.
With the game finely in the balance in the early exchanges of the second half, visiting full-back Todd Horner picked up the scraps of a Rusling kick and set off up the pitch. He was hauled down by Brown who held on too long and was sent for a 10 minute sabbatical by referee Luke Bland.
Midlands could not capitalise on their numerical advantage and Rusling put Cornwall ahead when he followed up his own kick to score and convert.
It went from bad to worse for Midlands as they kicked the ball out on the full from the restart and the pendulum swung Cornwall’s way with Brown taking centre stage.
He scored a brilliant individual try close to the Hurricanes’ line before gathering Rusling’s kick ahead of Hookem to give Cornwall real breathing space.
Midlands were down, but not quite out until Whitton, playing on the wing, seized on Brown’s grubber to finish well. Cornwall’s mercurial half-back then kicked a wonderful touchline conversion, via the woodwork, to seal yet another history-making moment in Cornwall’s short history to date.
Cornwall: Whitton, Brown, Croston, Nichol, Mitchell, Punchard, Rusling, Boots, Collins, Newbound, Cullen, Weetman, Lloyd. Interchange: (all used) Barraclough, Dimech, Trerise, E Badham.
Tries: Nichol (14), Rusling (55), Brown (59, 65), Whitton (74)
Goals: Rusling 4/5
Sinbin: Brown (45) – professional foul
Hurricanes: Horner, Freeman, M Welham, Hallett, Johnson, Hookem, Windley, Kirby, Cullimore, Clavering, L Welham, Bearsworth, Willis. Interchange: (all used) Hobson, Moran Wilkinson, Beer.
Tries: Johnson (24), Freeman (34)
Goals: Hookem 0/2
Sinbin: M Welham (63) – professional foul
Referee: Luke Bland