WADEBRIDGE Camels face a really tough test when they defend the Tribute Cornwall Cup against Camborne in Easter Saturday's final at Penryn's Memorial Ground (4.30pm), writes Nigel Walrond
It was at the same venue 12 months ago that the Camels defeated St Austell 20-17 in a hard-fought contest.
It was the third time in five years the Camels had taken the silverware back to Molesworth Field, but the Cherry and Whites will be desperate to relieve them of the trophy they last won in 2011, when they beat Camels 16-13 in the final at Redruth.
Camborne will go into the game as strong favourites as they are in red hot form in South West One West, whereas divisional rivals Camels appear to have gone off the boil a little bit in recent weeks.
Camborne are lying in second place in the table, and closing in on promotion to the national leagues. They have not lost a league or cup game since facing a very strong two-divisions-higher Redruth side in the Rodda's Milk Cup on Boxing Day, reeling off nine straight victories.
Camels, meanwhile, are fourth in their division, but have lost their last three league games, conceding an average of 40 points a match during that period, with their latest defeat a 41-0 reverse at mid-table Cullompton last Saturday.
They also have a lengthy injury list, which was added to last weekend by regular first-team forwards Mark Grubb and Richard Treleaven going off against Cully, and it remains to be seen who exactly will be fit and available for the cup showdown.
Wadebridge coach David Elston feels they will be better for getting a run-out last weekend, after a fortnight's break from playing and training due to the recent bad weather, but he knows what is awaiting his side this weekend.
He said: "It will be a tough, tough game against Camborne, with so many experienced players out, but strength comes from adversity."
Honours are even between the two league rivals this season, with the matches going with home advantage.
The Camels won 21-17 at Molesworth Field last September, but the Cherry and Whites avenged that defeat with a 34-22 success at the Recreation Ground in January.
The two sides' routes to the final have been far from satisfactory, with Camborne failing to play a single game to get there after quarter-final opponents Truro and semi-final rivals Bude cried off their matches. Wadebridge did beat St Austell in the quarter-finals, but then got a semi-final walkover after St Ives were controversially kicked out of the cup by the Cornwall RFU competitions committee last week.
It is a far from an ideal scenario, but Cornwall RFU chairman Denis Preece believes the two finalists will serve up a tremendous game that will help to make up for the problems in this season's competition.
"It should be a cracking final that should draw a decent gate," he said. "The support the two finalists have been getting all season has been good, and no doubt they will turn out on Saturday, and that will mean more revenue to share out amongst the clubs in Cornwall."
The Tribute Cornwall Clubs Cup final between Veor and Stithians will kick off at Penryn at 2.15pm.