Cornish Land Club Record with Narrow Win Over Chob!
By Dickon Moon
Hard earned record 11th win.
London Cornish landed a record 11th win at the London 1 South level with a narrow 25-21 win over Surrey visitors Chobham at the REMPF on Saturday. The exiles scored all of their points in a 13 spell either side of the break, in a match when they blew cold rather more than hot, and in which the visitors could count themselves a tad unlucky not to have won.
Cornish had to make a late change to the selected side, hooker Will Carew-Gibbs failing an eve of the match fitness test and being replaced by Will Murray
. Elsewhere, there were full debuts for Ed Otty at 9 and Ryan Webb
on the wing. On a warm, sunny spring afternoon, the home side opened playing towards the clubhouse in the 1st half. Quickly on the attack, for the second week running Cornish gained territorial advantage but found a myriad means of not registering a point, lineouts lost, passes grassed and generally sloppy execution seeing players simply feeding a hungry defence, keen to snap a Chobham losing streak that stretches back to October 27th. Having weathered the early storm, Chob won a penalty, kicked to the right hand corner, and then worked room for one of their backs to dive over under the posts for the 7-0 lead on 18 minutes. Twice in the following 5 minutes Cornish won good field position, but gifted possession back to their visitors. However, lacking in confidence, Chob also made errors, and on one occasion kicked decent ball dead when well placed on the half hour mark. Finally, on 32 minutes the exiles pieced together a decent passage of play, Dan Leo
and Dave Funston to the fore at pace, but the final pass was knocked-on 5 our down the left hand flank. As ever dominant at scrum time, Cornish put huge pressure on the base in the tight, but though this resulted in occasional turnover ball, too often lazy clearing out saw the ball lost. It took a herculean effort by 2 of the exiles smaller players to snuff out the next fire, Jack Skerritt
and Harry Buttery
holding up an onrushing Chob back inside the 22 to allow George Kimmins
to clear at the scrum. With 3 minutes of the half remaining, George Shirlaw
won a penalty for holding just inside the Chob half - Kimmins stepped up to launch a huge penalty between the sticks with room to spare. The visitors very nearly restored the advantage when they won a pen at the restart, but their effort slipped to the right of the posts. Back they came, and when they worked the ball from right to left inside the exiles 22, the Chob players and supporters were aghast to see Matt Hakes intercept. The arch poacher set off with a Chob player for company, but Hakes held his line up the right wing and crossed 5 in from the touch for an unconverted try, giving his side a lead they were not to relinquish in the match, the score a hardly deserved 8-7 to Cornish.
The home side made 3 changes at the break, withdrawing Oli Low, Mark Osei-Tutu and Otty, and replacing them with Mark O'Leary, Matt Chambers
and Ryan Webb
, Dan Phoenix
moving to 9 and Hakes to centre. Within seconds of the restart, Chob conceded another penalty for a player playing a knocked on ball in front of teammate who offended, and Kimmins again launched a howitzer to extend the lead to 4. Buoyed by the quickfire turnaround, Cornish now began to play with tempo. On 43 minutes Shirlaw produced a leg pumping, tackle shredding run over half-way, and first Funston then Chambers carried the ball on before Kimmins sent Hakes into space wide left. Again demonstrating his predatory instincts, he forced his way through 2 tacklers to score (pictured), his Skipper producing a fine touchline conversion. 6 minutes later, and after a sporadic Chob attack in this frenetic period was ended by Leo driving an oppo forward back 10 metres to force a knock on, Cornish struck again. Kimmins chipped over the top of the unrushing d on half way, and the first to react was Webb, who fly hacked on but appeared to have overhit his kick. However, the ball had taken dead aim at the base of the post protectors, and when it struck them, it stopped at the base for Webb to scoop the ball up and plant it over the line for a try converted by Kimmins. In a flash, the home side had struck out to a 25-7 lead, and seemed to think they had the game in the bag. Funston had been injured in this passage of play, Otty coming back on to the wing, Skerritt moving to centre. 5 minutes later, and the exiles lost another man to injury, this time prop Guy Sullivan
dislocating a finger, and though it was quickly put back in place, Low returned for the remainder of the game. On 58 minutes, the visitors overthrew a lineout deep in exiles territory, but it landed in the hands of one of their back row, who gathered it and cantered over the line only for a huge tackle from Phoenix to dislodge the ball and force a knock on. Cornish seemed to have turned the wick down completely, and Chob sensed their moment, and they took the slice of luck they needed to get back in the game on 62 minutes, as one of the exiles backs went to kick a ball wide right, only to tread on the ball, gifting the visiting wing a clear run down the flank to step the cover and score by the posts, try improved. 5 minutes later, and with the momentum now switched completely to Chob, they scored again, this time lazy defence by a ruck seeing a visiting back break clean through inside the 22 to dive over under the posts for another converted try. As quickly as Cornish shot out to an 18 point lead, it had now been cut to 4. A frantic period of play followed, Chambers ending one of the visitors attacks by ripping the ball clear from a runner as he arrowed into the home 22 on 68 minutes, then Chob creating space wide left only to throw a pass straight into touch. Still the momentum was with the visitors, O'Leary the next to end an attack, winning a penalty for holding on with 7 left to play. A double whammy hit Cornish with 5 left, Leo badly cut after being hit by a stray elbow and replaced by Osei-Tutu, and one of the home backs binned for kicking a ball out of a ruck inside his own 22. Osei-Tutu was quickly required too, for he forced the knock-on following the resultant lineout 5 out from the exiles line. Try as they might in the closing minutes, Chob simply could not land the killer blow to end their dismal run, and as a decent Cornish defensive set forced them back to half-way, when they knocked on again, the exiles were happy to punt the ball into touch for the final whistle to sound.
We shall not be seeing Chobham next season, but they have served notice with this and their recent performances that they will be a tough nut to crack at the lower level. You rarely if ever hear rugby folks have a bad word to say about this club, so lets hope London 2 South-West simply borrow them for a year as games against them are always decent and their club always full post match, win, lose or draw.
Cornish have played better than this and lost on a number of occasions this season, so must simply chalk this one down as 'a win's a win', however ugly it was. Though your correspondents pre match selection kidology suggested a few returnees, it is only this weekend that the skiers return, which should ensure the spine of the side returns to action. With the seasons ultimate goal still within range, it will require all hands in the remaining 2 matches!