Matt Solomons reporting from Penryn Rugby Club
It’s official. CSM have reclaimed the Bottle after thrashing RSM 35-5 this Saturday afternoon.
Tries from Alastair Bigger, George David, Virgil Rusterholtz, Harry Gardiner and captain Nicholas Pearce saw CSM soar to victory against an admittedly weak RSM side.
The win sees CSM retain the Bottle only a year after bitter defeat to their London rivals in 2017, but this afternoon there was no question as to who would come out on top after a dominating display from the home side.
It was an immensely important day for CSM after months of preparation with fears of cancellation almost destroying any hopes of redemption. However, with the match well and truly on, Penryn Rugby Club saw host to CSM who brought over 500 supporters with anticipation like no other event this year.
After entering the field with a roar from the home crowd, CSM kicked off the 116th Bottle Match.
The Cornish side couldn’t have asked for a better start as within the first two minutes, fly-half and Bottle Match veteran Alastair Bigger broke away to score CSM’s first try of the match. It was Bigger who took the subsequent conversion, only to blaze high and wide.
CSM’s lead didn’t last long with RSM retaliating strongly and getting on the scoreboard with a well-taken try after some relentless pressure on 13 minutes. Like Bigger before him, RSM’s fly-half equally missed the conversion meaning the score was tied at 5-5 after the first quarter of the match.
The next twenty minutes were extremely well-matched with CSM having the better of the chances. Vice-Captain and flanker, Abdul Alothman, twice went close being first brought down within five yards and second ruled out by the linesman, despite seemingly grounding the ball fairly.
The pressure eventually paid off just before half-time with Number 8 George David riding multiple challenges to charge the ball home for CSM’s second try of the match. Bigger stepped up to convert this time, and then followed with a successful penalty on 39 minutes, giving CSM a 15-5 lead going into the break.
When play resumed, CSM started the second-half the way they had both started and ended the first; with an immediate try just one minute after the restart on 41 minutes. It was arguably the try of the game with winger Tom Savage linking up with scrum-half Virgil Rusterholtz, who’s pace left the RSM players for dead. With Alastair Bigger on hand to convert, CSM had extended their unassailable lead to 22-5.
After a few substitutions, notably prop Lloyd Churchouse being replaced by Jack Swann, CSM continued to dominate possession and came close once again through the pineapple-haired Bryn Llewellyn on the wing. Despite this, it wasn’t until the 63rd minute when CSM were awarded a penalty, converted coolly once again by Bigger – his fourth successful kick of the match.
Just four minutes later, second-year and substitute Harry Gardiner got his time in the limelight, timing his run to perfection to score CSM’s fourth try right in the corner of the field. With CSM now leading by 30-5, this time Alastair Bigger could not convert to extend the lead even further; hitting a low, swerving kick which hit the RSM crossbar.
There was just time for one more onslaught from the unrelenting CSM team. On 72 minutes, the ever-running captain Nicholas Pearce darted round the RSM defence to claim a well-deserved try and virtually securing victory for CSM at 35-5. The Cornish had undoubtedly outplayed the smaller and seemingly less experienced RSM side, who struggled to keep up with the standard shown by the CSM players.
It was then when the final whistle blew and CSM were confirmed to have won the 2018 Bottle Match! The crowd immediately invaded the pitch to mob the victorious CSM team, while RSM stood dejected to have lost so heavily on the day. No time was wasted to present the Bottle to captain Pearce who was lifted on his teammates shoulders and rose the 100-year-old trophy high in celebration. With beers quickly in hand, the CSM players drank knowing history had well and truly been made.
A. Bigger (1′), G. David (37′), V. Rusterholtz (41′), H. Gardiner (67′), N. Pearce (72′)
A. Bigger (37′, 41′)
A. Bigger (39′, 63′)