Rugby Union: Durham delight in forward thinking

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The Independent Online
Cornwall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

Durham. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

OF the three 'internationals' staged yesterday, the clash at Redruth was the one that mattered to every Cornishman. If this Cornwall side has been robbed of much of its cream by new regulations which discourage First and Second Division players from taking part, it mattered little to the 15,000 crammed into the ground and the remaining 450,000 who almost certainly watched the semi-final live on local television.

Cornwall add the R to county. So do Durham, for that matter, and when the north-easterners departed, having set up a County Championship final showdown against Yorkshire on 16 April, they left a 'nation' in mourning.

The Rugby Football Union has never concealed its hope that Cornwall will reach the final every year, because Twickenham fills up. This defeat is a financial blow as, for all their ability on the pitch and their enthusiasm and organisational skills off it, it is hard to see Durham heading south en masse for the final. It would be worth it, though, just to watch their magnificent pack: their rucking was a revelation.

Cornwall had edged in front, courtesy of Darren Chapman's second penalty. With a dozen precious minutes left, the Durham forwards did their stuff and Jon Bland dropped a goal. Two minutes later, a brilliant move was started by a lightning break down the left by Steve Kirkup and, as the forwards rumbled into view, the ball moved between Ian Parnaby, Simon Musgrove and Darren McKinnon. The Cornish defence held, but from the ensuing ruck Bland was given acres of space and time for his second, crucial, drop goal.

Parnaby had already had a hand in Durham's 35th-minute unconverted try. Again it went down the left, again McKinnon was on the end of it, on that occasion crossing the Cornish line.

Cornwall: Penalties Chapman 2; Drop goal Chapman. Durham: Try McKinnon; Penalty Bland; Drop goals Bland 2.

CORNWALL: D Chapman; D Weeks, P Gadson (Camborne), A Mead (Redruth), I Pollard (Camborne); J Tucker, R Nancekivell (Launceston); A Ellery, B Andrew (both Redruth), J Pearce (St Ives), T Adams (Camborne), A Cooke (Redruth, capt), S Berryman (Penzance-Newlyn), J Atkinson (St Ives), M Addinall (Penryn).

DURHAM: K McCallum (Durham City); O Evans (West Hartlepool), I Bell (Hartlepool Rovers), P Nickalls (Rosslyn Park), C Mattison (Durham City); J Bland, S Kirkup (both Durham City); G Naisbitt (Stockton, capt), I Parnaby (Westoe), M Douthwaite (Stockton), G Wanless (Durham City), C Aldus (Stockton), S Musgrove (Westoe), B Dixon (Stockton), D McKinnon (West Hartlepool). Replacement: D Tweddle (Gateshead Fell) for Mattison, 62.

Referee: S Lander (Wirral).