Freestone returns to Polson Bridge in Redruth clash

Sunday 6th June 2021 10:00 am
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Redruth loosehead prop Tommy Phillips scoring the game's opening try. Pictures: The Cornish Times

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Cornish All Blacks 0 Redruth 45

SUPPORTERS turned up in their droves to watch the Cornish All Blacks’ first and last home game of a 2020-21 season wrecked by coronavirus, writes Nigel Walrond.

A mouth-watering Duchy derby, free admission, at last some warm weather, and the chance to finally get out and see the All Blacks in action saw hundreds of people turn out for this Friday night game under lights – and they weren’t disappointed.

Whilst the scoreline looks very one-sided, the All Blacks players can once again be proud of their efforts, and the display was an improvement on the match between these two sides at the Recreation Ground six days before, when Launceston lost 44-5.

A lot has changed since these two old rivals last met in a league match at Polson. The Reds are a top three National League Two side, while the All Blacks reside a league below and are climbing back up the league structure after a period of struggle a few years ago.

The All Blacks welcomed back former Plymouth Albion, Richmond, Redruth and Clifton hooker Rupert Freestone to the club, but instead of playing in his usual position of hooker, he was at number eight, with Brandon Rowley surprisingly wearing the number two shirt.

The All Blacks started well and it was a very even contest until the 14th minute, when former Cornish Pirates scrum-half Jack Oulton – who was a joy to watch all night – showed why he should be playing at a higher level with a stunning individual try.

He picked up loose line-out ball about 60 metres out, and then skipped and fought his way through several tackles to reach the try line. Former All Blacks fly-half Fraser Honey added the extras and the Reds led 7-0.

It was a game played once again under the adapted rules of no scrums and mauls, and the next two Reds’ tries came from the unlikely source of loose-head prop Tommy Phillips in the space of five minutes.

The first, in the 24th minute, saw him finish off a move after the ball was switched from right to left off a line-out in clubhouse corner, while the second saw him dot down after former Wadebridge Camels back rower Mark Grubb had stumbled when he looked like he was going to score himself.

Honey kicked one of the two attempts at goal and the lead now stood at 19-0. The Reds then lost centre Jack Simmons, who limped off, to be replaced by Connor Gilbert.

Just before the break, Freestone received a yellow card after repeated infringements by the hosts as Redruth ramped up the pressure even further, and they added a fourth try just before the break, courtesy of another piece of Oulton magic, with his dummy and pass out of the back door seeing blindside flanker Ed Pascoe score beside the posts, and Honey’s simple conversion made it 26-0 at the interval.

The All Blacks got the pulses of their supporters racing with one or two exciting breaks in the second half, most notably from replacement Fred Bulut, Rowley and Dan Pearce, who was halted by a superb try-saving tackle from Matt Blee, but the Reds added three more tries.

A quick tap penalty in the 58th minute saw skipper Sam Stevens score; replacement lock Steele Barker then galloped in for another five minutes later; and prop Jess Tompsett burrowed over for try number seven in the final minute.

There was even time for a ‘derby scuffle’ in the 67th minute that saw a player from each side sin-binned, just to show that both sides were taking the game very seriously!

Cornish All Blacks —

15 Reuben Edwards; 14 Max Kelly, 13 Jake Penprase, 12 Tom Sandercock, 11 Dan Pearce, 10 Glenn Coles, 9 Dom Mulberry; 1 Rory Cinnamond, 2 Brandon Rowley, 3 Alex Bartlett, 4 Dan Goldsmith, 5 Jake Crabb, 6 Tom Bottoms, 7 Lloyd Duke (capt), 8 Rupert Freestone.

Replacements: Ed Dudden, Mark Knight, Richard Jasper, Ryan Westren, David Parish, Adam Collings, Fred Bulut, James Tucker, Adam Powell.

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