Dorset and Wilts U20s 35, Cornwall U20s 37
CORNWALL gave themselves an excellent chance of reaching the knockout stages of the National Under-20 Championship with a last-gasp win at North Dorset RFC on Sunday, writes Nigel Walrond.
Truro College scrum-half Connor Swan kicked a penalty with the last kick of the game to snatch victory after a thrilling encounter, where the lead changed hands several times.
Cornwall team manager Chris Lea said: "It was an outstanding game of under-20 rugby. From the first minute to the last it was a real rollercoaster.
"Neil Stanleick was man of the match and was part of an outstanding back row of Jon Haines and Brad Howe.
"Neil Broadbank also came off the replacements' bench to catch the eye."
Cornwall, whose cause was helped by Truro College's game in Wales the previous day being called off due to the bad weather, were forced into two changes to their initial selected starting line-up.
Winger Sam Chapman suffered concussion playing for the Cornish All Blacks against Clifton the day before, and was replaced by Jack Willey, while Harry Baker took over from Luke Hattam, who was struck down by a virus, with Camborne's Olly Reynolds taking Baker's place on the bench.
Cornwall trailed 13-0 after only 15 minutes, but they fought back well, with Truro winger Luke Tidball scoring the first of his two tries, and St Ives prop Tyler Gendall another, and even though they conceded a penalty before the break, they turned around only 16-10 behind.
The hosts began the second half strongly, and added a third try, which was converted, to edge 23-10 in front, but another two-try salvo from Cornwall got them back into the contest.
Tidball and Camborne centre James Briant provided the touchdowns, both converted by Swan, to put the Duchy 24-23 ahead.
Dorset & Wilts regained the advantage with a converted try, before Cornwall grabbed their fourth touchdown through Wadebridge Camels lock Harry Baker, again converted by Swan, to make it 31-30 to the visitors.
Swan added a penalty to give Cornwall a four-point lead, but Dorset and Wilts replied with their fifth try of the game, but it went unconverted.
Swan squandered a penalty chance with time running out, but then made amends by coolly slotting another 20-metre kick right at the death to wrap up a superb victory.
Cornwall play their second and final group game at home to Devon at Penryn RFC on Sunday, February 23. The top two sides in the three-team group go through to the quarter-finals, with the group winners securing a home last-eight tie.
Cornwall Under-20: Jack Kessell (St Ives), Luke Tidball (Truro), Ashley Taylor (St Austell), James Briant (Camborne), Jack Willey (Penryn), Rhys Brownfield (Pirates Amateurs & Bath University), Connor Swan (Truro College); Tommy Phillips (Truro College), Joe Martin (Truro), Tyler Gendall (St Ives), Todd Prisk (St Ives), Harry Baker (Wadebridge Camels), Neil Stanleick (St Ives), Jon Haines (Cornish All Blacks), Bradley Howe (Helston).
Replacements: Sam Rodda (Newquay Hornets), Liam McFadden (Pirates Ams), Jordan Duke (Cornish All Blacks), Neil Broadbank (Redruth & Exeter Uni), Olly Reynolds (Camborne), Sam Fox (Wadebridge), Bradley Janes.
Cornwall: Tries: Tidball (2), Gendall, Briant, Baker; Cons: Swan (3); Pens: Swan (2).