Rugby Union: Cornwall's rocky road to a dead end: County Championship / Yorkshire and Lancashire set up a centenary occasion

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The Independent Online
Cornwall. . . . .3

Yorkshire. . . .20

CORNWALL'S County Championship craving will have to do without its annual fix of a Twickenham final and, while the withdrawal symptoms were painful to witness at Redruth, a good few neutrals besides will mourn the passing of a team who had breathed new life into the 104-year-old competition in recent seasons.

This may sound churlish after Yorkshire had battled their way gloriously to what will be an occasion marking a centenary of championship meetings with Lancashire, but an echoing stadium will bear testimony in April to a beaten army lying west of the Tamar. Whether it will rise again is a matter of conjecture, but for the present this is a spent force.

'We'll be back, you'll see,' a shaken Cornish supporter said on Saturday evening, his eyes glistening with the shock of it all. You hoped for his sake dreams will be fulfilled. The figures speak for themselves. When Cornwall, making their third appearance in four years, contested and lost last season's final to Lancashire there were 50,000 in attendance. When Lancashire beat Middlesex in 1990, only 7,000 bothered to turn up.

Peter Buckton, who led Yorkshire into and out of Hell Fire Corner unscathed, said he thought success had resulted in Cornish complacency. It was a remark every bit as abrasive as the flanker's play in a one-sided semi-final, but there was surely more to it than that. Cornwall may have hammered Yorkshire in last March's semi-final, but since then they have failed to register a single try in their efforts to make it back to Twickenham.

Graham Dawe, the Cornwall captain whose swan-song this was, had warned of the threat after travelling a rocky qualifying road down which 33 of the side's 36 points had come from the boot of Darren Chapman. When the outside-half then fluffed four of his five penalty attempts in the wind, Cornish hopes had been blown.

'They won fair and square,' Dawe said, knowing full well that his was but a shadow of the team who had won the title two years ago. Buckton was superb in the Yorkshire back row and broke the deadlock eight minutes into the second half by tearing away off a line-out to help set up a try for Simon Tipping. Assured of one Twickenham showdown, another now beckons for Buckton, who will be hammering away for Waterloo against Harlequins at Blundellsands in next weekend's Pilkington Cup quarter-final.

Cornwall: Penalty Chapman. Yorkshire: Tries Tipping, Crowley; Conversions Liley 2; Penalties Liley 2.

CORNWALL: K Thomas (Redruth); A Mead (Redruth), C Laity (Cardiff), M Brain (Clifton), M Chatterton (Exeter); D Chapman (Camborne), I Sanders (Bath); A Ellery (Redruth), G Dawe (Bath, capt), R Keast (Redruth), M Wesson (Penzance and Newlyn), A Cook (Redruth), M Addinall (Penryn), M Haag (Bath), J Polglase (Camborne and Exeter University). Replacements: J Pearce (St Ives) for May, 33; D Weeks (Camborne) for Chatterton, 61.

YORKSHIRE: R Thompson (Wakefield); J Eagle (Leeds), P Johnson (Leeds), D Edwards (Wakefield), J Sleightholme (Wakefield); R Liley (Wakefield), A Crowley (Bradford and Bingley); J Woodthorpe (Harrogate), T Garnett (Wakefield), S Rice (Otley), I Carroll (Wakefield), D Baldwin (Sale), S Tipping (Otley), C Vyvyan (Wharfedale), P Buckton (Waterloo, capt).

Referee: K Ricketts (Hampshire).

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