Cornwall vs Rochdale Hornets – Match Report
August 27, 2023
Cornwall wrote another chapter into their short history to date with a thoroughly deserved 18-12 victory over Rochdale.
The win over the Hornets saw Mike Abbott’s side lower the colours of a heartlands side for the very first time and in the most dramatic of circumstances too.
With the match deep into its dying embers, Cornwall, after two unsuccessful field goal attempts from Cameron Brown with the scores locked at 12-12, rolled the dice one final time with the last play of the game.
The ball found its way into the hands of the outstanding Tom Ashton, who, against his former club, burst through the line and found the supporting Liam Whitton who crashed over the line.
Cornwall’s players, fans and everyone connected with the club erupted into delirious euphoria while Rochdale, who missed out on the play-offs and finished seventh, sank to their collective knees in despair.
And after the siren had sounded and the celebrations paused temporarily, Brown then rubbed salt in Rochdale’s wounds when he kicked a wonderful conversion from the sideline.
But if the game finished in the hosts favour, it didn’t start that way as Rochdale raced from the traps and scored twice inside the opening 12 minutes.
Tommy Brierley was the first Hornet to cross as running the ball on the last, he snuck in at the corner, despite the attentions of George Mitchell and the hint of a forward pass. Crucially – and this was a theme that continued through the game and ultimately cost Rochdale a share of the spoils – Dave Hewitt could not find the mark with the extras.
Seven minutes later and Rochdale switched to the opposite flank but the result was the same. Powerplay on the last, long ball out wide and a try with Dan Harrison touching down and no conversion.
From that moment on, though, Cornwall dominated the rest of the half, led by the outstanding Ashton.
He was instrumental in Cornwall’s first try as after combining with Whitton, the home full-back found the supporting Brown who did the rest. The conversion, which was far easier than either of Hewitt’s first two attempts, was successful.
Cornwall continued on the front foot with Rochdale very much second best and as the interval approached, Mitchell appeared to have scored the home side’s second of the afternoon. But referee Will Gilder ruled that the home favourite had knocked on.
Rochdale held a narrow two-point interval lead but within eight minutes of the turnaround, the Choughs were ahead for the first time.
Ashton was once again involved and he fed Mitchell with the rangy winger going over and crucially improving the angle for Brown’s successful conversion.
Cornwall, despite playing up the Memorial Ground slope, continued to dominate and they forced a number of dropouts with former Chough Joe Purcell lucky to not to gift his former employers a try when he fumbled a Morgan Punchard bomb.
Rochdale were then handed a numerical advantage in the 63rd minute when Whitton was sent to the sinbin for delaying the restart but they could not take full advantage.
The visitors did score once as Whitton was poised to come back on when Dan Brewin scored another touchline four pointer and despite the touch judge indicating he had been forced over the sideline, referee Gilder said the ball had been grounded.
Hewitt missed the kick that would have given his side the lead again and the scoreline remained locked at 12-12 until Whitton’s party piece ensured Cornwall’s season finished on a high.
Cornwall: Whitton, Carter, Nichol, Ashton, Mitchell, Brown, Punchard, Boots, Collins, E Badham, Cullen, Weetman, Lloyd. Interchange: (all used) Barraclough, Dimech, Trerise, Hartshorne.
Tries: Brown (23), Mitchell (48), Whitton (80)
Goals: Brown 3/3
Sinbin: Whitton (63) – delaying the restart
Rochdale: Purcell, Brierley, Nixon, Brewin, Harrison, Else, Hewitt, Brannan, Roden, Kilan, Ratcliffe, Forster, Straughier. Interchange: (all used) Smith, Huish, Jones, Berry.
Tries: Brierley (5), Harrison (12), Brewin (72)
Goals: Hewitt 0/3
Referee: Will Gilder