West Wales Raiders 4 Cornwall RLFC 24 – Match Report
June 26, 2022
Cornwall RLFC made history by recording their first ever professional victory as West Wales Raiders were defeated in Llanelli.
After coming so close to an elusive maiden triumph against London Skolars earlier this month, Neil Kelly’s side went one better against a physical but ultimately outclassed West Wales side.
The visitors scored five tries and but for an off day from the tee, with only two successful conversions recorded, the margin of victory should have been even wider.
For the hosts, in large parts, they were architects of their own downfall with three players sent to the sin-bin as ill-discipline came to the fore.
And but for leniency from merry whistle blower James Jones, they can count themselves fortunate not to have a player sent-off when Tom Morgan hit Cornwall centre Tom Ashton with a nasty high tackle. The contact lifted the former Rochdale man off his feet, but Morgan only spent 10 minutes in the bin, instead of heading for an early bath.
Even after the final siren, West Wales’ frustrations boiled over when Shane Lee aimed a headbut at former home player Charlie Bodman, who was making his Cornwall debut after joining the Choughs from Hunslet.
Prior to kick-off, at a stormy Stebonheath Park as heavy rain showers fell at regular intervals, Cornwall coach Kelly was forced to do without Anthony Mullally and Luke Collins through suspension.
The news of the Irish international and English born Australian’s absence was tempered by the inclusion of both Bodman and Ashton.
Aaron Thomson was also named in the starting line-up for the first time since late April when he suffered a knee injury at Oldham. However, the former Exeter Chiefs rugby union academy prospect was to suffer further heartbreak in the warm-up as he damaged a hamstring and pulled out at the last minute.
It was cruel luck on a visibly distressed Thomson who had battled back to full fitness during the recent international break. He was replaced in the starting 13 by Will Odgers as Paul Bolger stepped up to interchange.
Last time the two sides met at the Mem back in May, it was the Raiders who scored within the first 60 seconds to put down a real marker for the rest of the match.
On this occasion, Cornwall exacted their revenge.
Liam Whitton’s low kick-off was fumbled by Ben Jackson and Cornwall had first use of the football. After the visitors hammered away on the Raiders’ line, Joe Purcell’s grubber was fumbled by Jamie Murphy and Harry Aaronson was on hand to dot down.
Purcell missed the extras but Cornwall were up and running.
It got even better for the Choughs shortly after when Aaronson scored his second of the afternoon with a wonderfully acrobatic finish in the corner.
Purcell’s flat pass was gathered by Ashton who drew the cover defence and Aaronson was in. Once again the try couldn’t be improved upon by Purcell.
The Raiders did recover from their early defensive woes and thought they had scored a try of their own when Luke Broster crashed through but his effort was chalked off for a knock-on.
With Lloyd Allen in the bin for a high tackle, Cornwall were the team to think they had scored next, only for Jones to rule otherwise. Purcell found Jamie Prisk and the Cornwall captain finished well, only for the referee to rule a forward pass.
Just shy of the half hour mark and the third Cornwall try did arrive when Whitton somehow managed to burrow his way over with four would-be Welsh defenders in attendance. Prisk took over the kicking duties and found the mark.
As half-time approached, West Wales finally opened their account as Jackson made up for his costly error at the kick-off. Jamie Murphy couldn’t convert and Cornwall went into the turnaround in a commanding position.
West Wales kicked off the second half but the ball sailed out on the full which summed up their disappointing afternoon. Nevertheless, Ashley Bateman’s side then threw all they had at Cornwall for the next 20 minutes but the away team held firm.
After weathering the storm, Cornwall found another gear and with Morgan off the field, Purcell scored a wonderful solo try. Aaron Jones-Bishop was held up over the line, Purcell took the ball at first receiver, dropped his shoulder and ghosted past the Raiders defence to score.
Aaronson became the third Chough to take over with the tee but his radar went awry. At this point, that elusive first win almost felt within touching distance for Cornwall and six minutes from time, the victory was secured.
Purcell, who once again stood out for the Choughs, kicked in behind and after a home defender tried to catch the ball but didn’t gather cleanly, Whitton was Johnny-on-the-spot to seize on the scraps and score. Purcell improved on the score and Cornwall were home and dried.
As time ticked down, Aaronson went in search of his hat-trick and after a clever chip and chase, was cruelly stopped in his tracks by an elbow from interchange Ben Jones.
It was cynical and pretty much summed up West Wales’ performance and tactics throughout the afternoon.
Aaronosn was thankfully fine to continue and shortly after, the siren signalled an end to proceedings which had resulted in a first win for Cornwall in only their 11th game as a professional club.
West Wales: Murphy, Wilde, Morgan, Jackson, Dyer-Dixon, Lee, Simpson, Tate, Phillips, Badham, Allen, Broster, Burke. Interchange: (all used) Jones, Terrill, Bateman, Boots.
Try: Jackson. Goals: Murphy 0/1
Sin bin: Allen (high tackle), Morgan (high tackle), Jones (elbow)
Cornwall: Whitton, Aaronson, Ashton, Jones-Bishop, Trerise, Conroy, Purcell, Ray, Gilder, Hartshorne, Cullen, Odgers, Collinson. Interchange: (all used) Bodman, Prisk, Bolger, Snell.
Tries: Aaronson (2), Whitton (2), Purcell. Goals: Purcell ⅓, Prisk 1/1, Aaronson 0/1.
Referee: James Jones