Truro edged out St Austell in a tight and keenly contested Cornish derby to knock the home side off top spot in the Tribute Western Counties League, completing the double over their neighbours. To add insult to injury the result also ended the Saints’ proud unbeaten home record as Truro became the first side to win at Tregorrick since Bideford in September 2010. It was also the first time the Saints have failed to score in a league match since December 2009. The story of the game however was an astonishing 6 yellow cards issued by Referee Mr Reynolds, all for technical infringements rather than foul play. The strict disciplinarian showed little sympathy for the wet and windy conditions and whilst he may not have changed the outcome of the match he certainly influenced the flow of the game. The 2 cards for Saints flanker Paul Winterbottom
meant the home side had to play most of the second half without their roving openside and had to endure two separate 10 minute spells with 13 men.
Saints kicked off taking first advantage of the strong wind blowing the length of the field and not surprisingly dominated from the start. Truro were under immediate pressure and gave away two penalties in the opening 5 minutes for offside. Both kicks strayed wide; little was the home support to know how crucial these misses would prove to be. A third penalty on 8 minutes allowed skipper Andy Ashwin
to drive the ball deep into the visitors’ 22m for a line out. The catch and drive moved menacingly towards the Truro try line but just as a score seemed certain the ball squirted out of Saints’ hands and the danger was over. Incredibly this turned out to be the last clear-cut try scoring opportunity as the game developed into a dogged forward battle in the mud. On 25 minutes Truro flanker Gareth Dodgson received the first yellow card of the day for offside. Not long afterwards he was joined by Winterbottom who saw the colour yellow after entering a ruck from the side. Minutes later Truro fly half Jake Champion took advantage of an offside to put the visitors ahead with a cleanly struck penalty into a difficult wind. Saints missed the opportunity to pull level when a third penalty floated wide and from the restart Saints were shorn of their other flanker Sean Haren
when he was sent to the sin bin for not releasing. Incredibly there was still time for a fourth yellow card, when Truro hooker Stuart Milliner was sent to the stand for entering from the side. The whistle went for half time with Truro 3-0 up and now looking to turn round with the conditions in their favour.
Truro started the second half in pretty much the same way as the Saints had started the first. Two opportunities went begging due to poor handling by the Truro backs and the Saints, now back to a full complement, looked like they had weathered the storm. Then calamity happened, Winterbottom was penalised for preventing the release of the ball despite being on his feet. A harsh decision by the official who then showed a second yellow card, and to the dismay of many in the crowd, followed it with the inevitable red one. With calm restored Champion slotted over his second penalty to stretch Truro’s lead. The visitors proceeded to dominate possession and territory pegging Saints back in their own half for long periods. Centre Ian Venner was next to walk the now well-trod path to the stands when he was yellow carded in the 68th minute. Starved of the ball Saints only had two desperate break outs from defence to show for all their endeavour. Both were stifled by strong defence before they could develop into anything more dangerous. A bad day worsened when prop Mark Martin was carried from the field with a suspected broken leg to be replaced by Cornwall U20 Ryan Brown
. All at the Club wish Choppy, one of the stars of the season, all the very best. With two minutes left Champion added a third penalty to put the match beyond the reach of the home side and seal victory for Truro.
In the first quarter when it was 15 against 15, Saints appeared to have the slight edge in what was shaping up to be an intriguing physical confrontation in front of a bumper derby day crowd. Ultimately Truro deserved the victory; they adapted to the conditions and the “man in charge” far better than St Austell.
The next fortnight will shape the Saints promotion prospects as they face two tough trips across the Tamar to take on teams in the chasing pack. First up is a return to South Devon to face in form Torquay Athletic and then it is up to the North Coast to take on 5th place Bideford. Saints have risen and met every challenge they have faced this season and will do all they can to bounce back from today’s disappointment.
St Austell: Noott; Grigg; Martin (Brown 71); Pearce; Couzens; Haren (Hughes (Jack)70); Winterbottom; Jeffs; Shepherd; Ashwin (Captain); Chenoweth; Earp; Venner; Welland; Rhodes. Unused Replacements: Newberry;
St Austell: Tries –
Drop Goal –
Truro: Tries –
Pens – Champion (3)
St Austell: Winterbottom (32, 47); Haren (34); Venner (68) None
Truro: Dodgson (25); Milliner (36)
Red Cards St Austell: Winterbottom (47) Truro: None
Referee: Mr A Reynolds (Cornwall RRS)
Saints Man of the Match: Matt Couzens