Cornwall RLFC lose 0-20 against West Wales Raiders at the Memorial Ground

The Choughs vs West Wales Raiders, 15th May | Miriam Leyshon

Ahead of Cornwall RLFC’s third home game against the West Wales Raiders on 15 May, head coach Neil Kelly predicted “another tough afternoon at the office” for the Choughs. Having lost on the 8 May in South Leeds against Hunslet, Kelly’s team were looking to sharpen their attack and defence and gain “a positive result”, if not their elusive first win.

The weather was looking dry, sunny, and warm ahead of the 3PM kick-off. Typical of Cornwall’s climate however, grey clouds rolled in unleashing a deluge of rain onto the pitch just before play began, and persisted throughout the match. I’d gone from wearing shorts and sunglasses to three layers and an umbrella in the space of an afternoon.

Given dryer conditions, the score may had been closer as the Choughs seemed equally matched against the Raider’s speed and size.

Despite the rain, the game drew a decent crowd who huddled together at pitch-side for protection against the elements. Throughout there was no lack of support from Choughs fans. My Dad and I began the game behind the visitors try line, sitting on the grassy (very soggy) bank above the pitch. I’d lain out my coat for us to sit on and hide from the weather under our huge umbrella, scoffing the emergency chocolate and biscuits I’d stuffed in my pocket. At the moment, Rugby League remains a winter sport in Cornwall.

On time the referee blew his whistle and play began. One minute in, the Raiders intercepted a pass and made it to their try line to score the first points of the game. They scored again several minutes later and started to build momentum with their five-eighth effectively orchestrating play. Cornwall attempted to match the Raiders both physically and in direct running, entering their red zone on four occasions as they worked through their sets. Unfortunately, the Choughs missed out after taking a number of heavy tackles and suffering from slips and dropped balls due to the weather. By now the ball had become a bar of soap and it was credit to both teams that they managed to retain possession and play some footy. Just before the half-time whistle the Choughs faced a double whammy. First, number 9, Jake Lloyd, went down with a wrist injury, leading to a substitution for the home side and a few minutes later, West Wales scored their last try of the first half, making the score 0-14. Halftime presented the Choughs with an opportunity to regroup as they were still in the game.

The Choughs close to scoring a try | Miriam Leyshon

Having gained momentum at the end of the first forty minutes, the Raiders were looking set to increase their score as their players jogged back onto the pitch and into the rain (now being driven sideways by the wind). Both teams endeavoured to try and play expansive footy but as the conditions deteriorated further, simple passing and hard running dominated play. The Choughs repelled the Raider’s initial offensive waves, and came close themselves (and yet so far) from an elusive try seventeen minutes in. After a stalemate lasting nearly the entirety of the second half, the Raiders managed to break through Cornwall’s improving defences to dive into the try zone. A penalty to the raiders in the final moments of the game gave them the opportunity to kick the ball for a further two points, which they didn’t miss. With 0-20 on the scoreboard gleaming red in the rain, the final whistle sounded an end to the match.

My Dad and I, perhaps not as soaked as last time, walked back to the car, agreeing that the conditions had once again made it a challenging game for both sides, but the Raiders had taken their chances early and succeeded. Again, Mullally at prop had another impressive game consistently making hard yards and never taking a backward step in the tackle. Also, special mention should be given to Whitton at fullback. A hard position in dry conditions but he excelled today in his catching, kick retrieval and direct running. Given dryer conditions, the score may had been closer as the Choughs seemed equally matched against the Raider’s speed and size. Though not the win Kelly was hoping for, Cornwall should take positives from their performance and hold onto their golden determination ahead of their next game against the Swinton Lions on 21 May.

Find out more about Cornwall RLFC and their upcoming fixtures here.