CORNWALL got their campaign off to a winning start but it was a far from convincing performance as they were pushed all the way by a gutsy Somerset side before winning 28-19 at the Redruth Recreation Ground, writes Bill Hooper.

Cornwall were their own worst enemies at times, compounding errors with penalties which undid much of their good work.

Prior to kick-off there was a minute’s silence to remember the tragic events in Bodmin the previous weekend. The National Anthem was then sung to mark Coronation Day.

Somerset kicked off playing down the slope and Cornwall immediately misjudged the ball in a nervy start.

Despite the early error Cornwall looked to play, with scrum-half Mike Austin looking sharp, as did wing Jack Kessell, who put in some strong runs throughout. 

Cornwall opened the scoring following a few phases near the Somerset line, the visitors infringed, quick thinking from Austin saw him tap and go to score near the posts. Skipper Fraser Honey added the extras.

Somerset again gave notice that they were not going to roll over. A kick into Hellfire Corner gave the visitors the platform to launch a maul of their own which led to an unconverted try from prop Alec Chase.

There it remained, 7-5 to Cornwall at half-time.

Cornwall looked to the bench to freshen things up, with Ben Hilton adding his considerable experience to the fray. The pack sparked to life under Hilton’s impulse.

Good play saw Kessell feed Austin for his second try in front of the massed ranks in Hellfire Corner. Honey made sure of his kick to put Cornwall 14-5 up.

Further great play from the forwards saw Somerset bring down the maul illegally and referee Veryan Boscawen award the penalty try.

Still Somerset would not lie down. Tries from Leo Valentino and Kieran Ward, both converted by Jamie Elswood, brought them right back into the match.

Elswood then saw a penalty attempt sail to the left of the posts as Cornwall looked a little rocky as the match entered it’s final moments.

Somerset had a scrum near their line, a tremendous Cornish push completely disabled their opponents, allowing Sam Stevens to pick up and charge over for the winning score, and Honey’s conversion completed the job.

After the game, Cornwall skipper Honey said: “That was a hard game. 

“It was my first match back following injury and I did feel a little rusty. We made life hard for ourselves, we were lacking composure at times, trying to force the game which led to turnovers and then we compounded that on the penalty front.

“We will come together this week and look to put matters right and go into Saturday’s match at Havant against Hampshire on the front foot.” 

Cornwall: Matt Shepherd (St Austell), Jack Kessell (Camborne), Jack Simmons (Redruth), Duncan Tout (Tonbridge Juddian), Sam Parsons (St Austell), Fraser Honey (Redruth, capt), Mike Austin (Cinderford); Luke Barnes, Richard Brown, Jess Tompsett (all Redruth), Jack Heazelton (Camborne), Freddie Stevenson (Bude), Edd Pascoe, Sam Stevens, Ben Fox (all Redruth). Replacements: Tommy-Lee Southworth (Camborne), Craig Williams (Redruth), Ben Hilton (Barnstaple), Jordan Nicholls (Camborne), Sam Walker (Exeter Uni), Konnor Ewudzi (St Austell), Josh Semmens (Pirates Ams).  

Somerset: Charlie Carter (Hornets), Huw Morgan (Clifton), Cam Maslen (Weston), Connor Vickery (Hornets), Matt Carr (Keynsham), Jamie Elswood, Dec Dorrington; Alec Chase, Kieren Ward (all Hornets), Joe Wright (Keynsham), Tommy Bailey (Hornets), Ed Nixon (Castle Cary), Leo Valentino (Old Reds), Sam Taylor (Capt, both Old Reds), AJ Hussell (Weston). Replacements: Callum Lane (Hornets), Brad Hebbard (St Bernadettes OB), Hayden Tuttiet (Hornets), Andy Butler (Old Reds).  

Cornwall: Tries – Austin (2), Penalty try, Stevens; Cons – Honey (3); Somerset: Tries – Chase, Valentino, Ward; Cons – Elswood (2). 

Referee: Veryan Boscawen (RFU). 

Meanwhile, Cornwall Under 20s put up a good fight at North Dorset RFC against Dorset & Wilts U20, before being narrowly beaten 27-23 to bow out of this season’s Jason Leonard Cup.