Cornish fall just short yet again
It was a case of 'could have' or 'might have' once more for London Cornish, as they went down to a narrow 30-20 defeat to Gosport & Fareham, who remain unbeaten this season.
In three of their first four league games this season, Cornish have faced teams who many feel will be the promotion candidates this season. In each of these matches, against Guildford, Tottonians and now Gosport & Fareham, Cornish have caused their opposition real headaches, but have emerged empty handed from each encounter.
London Cornish looked to have channelled the frustration from last week's loss at Tottonians into a powerful start. With just two minutes on the clock, Luke Spells broke through, making good ground, but a smother tackle by the Hampshire side ended the danger.
Further pressure from 'The Exiles' saw Dave Warwick, making his first start of the season, break clean through to within five metres of the try line. He was stopped illegally and Cornish opted for a scrum. Another penalty followed, and Luke Spells lined up a kick at the posts, which missed.
Gosport & Fareham were their own worst enemies in this period, as further penalties were conceded. On top of this, they developed a worrying habit of throwing far too many loose passes which either went straight into touch, or into the arms of a Cornish attacker.
Several minutes later, an interchange of passes between Mark Osei-Tutu and Luke Spells resulted in winger Matt Hakes breaking through, but Cornish were eventually penalised for not releasing.
Finally, the pressure resulted in a score for Cornish. Another loose pass from the visitors was snaffled by Harry Somers. His pass put in Phil Francis, who galloped down the left wing to score in the corner. Spells' conversion missed.
Gosport & Fareham were stung by this, and tightened up both discipline and their passing game. They began to increasingly dominate both possession and territory.
With 18 minutes gone, the Hampshire men were rolling closer to the line, and Cornish could only halt them with the concession of a penalty.
Inexplicably, Gosport fly-half Alex Duncombe missed the kick. Just two minutes later, the visitors broke down the right wing, a move which ended with John Field plunging over. Duncombe's conversion missed.
The Hampshire side's period of domination was briefly broken by another surging run from Phil Francis which was held up.
Back came Gosport & Fareham and a sustained period of attack followed, with multi phases and recycling within 10 metres of the Cornish line. It could only be stopped illegally, and a Cornish forward was subsequently dispatched to the sin-bin.
From the resulting scrum, a rolling maul ended with Ben Madigan grounding the ball. The conversion missed, but Gosport had the lead for the first time.
Cornish held out well in defence for the remainder of the time they were down to 14 men. Once restored to their full compliment, scrum half Sam Portham broke clear down the left, and had his offload reached a black and gold shirt, it was a certain try, but unfortunately the visitors grabbed the ball and cleared.
Right on half time, Cornish's pack mounted a stunning rolling maul, which gained them 30 metres, but eventually a penalty was conceded. It was quickly taken and the ball found its way to full-back Loz Wadham who sprinted all the way to score, and also add the extras. Gosport & Fareham led 17-5 at the break.
The second half opened with Cornish's forwards starting to assert their authority. Another huge rolling maul was stopped illegally. The penalty was kicked to touch five metres out. The resulting line out saw Mark Osei-Tutu and Mike Bond make good ground before Will Carew-Gibbs finally grounded the ball. Spells' conversion missed.
Cornish pressure was causing Gosport & Fareham to go back to conceding penalty after penalty. Not long after receiving a final warning from referee Peter Sheedy, they pulled down a Cornish maul, and a forward was sent to the sin-bin.
'Exiles' pack was now well on top and, with 61 minutes gone, they launched themselves at the Gosport line. Huge pressure was exerted, and after several phases of attacking resulted in Mark Osei-Tutu grabbing his fourth try in four games this season. Spells conversion was good, and the scores were level at 17-17.
At this point, London Cornish looked a good bet to take the points. However, when the chips were down, Gosport & Fareham stepped up their game.
A penalty from Loz Wadham put the visitors back in front. Then, with 67 minutes gone, the visitors secured a four-try bonus point. A quite superb move saw Loz Wadham feed Wayne Dugan. Dugan then played in Gareth Jones, who beat several defenders for a great score. Wadham's conversion was good.
With five minutes left, a dramatic finale looked on the cards when a successful penalty from Luke Spells brought the scores back to 20-27.
Cornish mounted a flurry of attacks in a determined bid to secure a minimum of two points from the game, but, into stoppage time Gosport & Fareham won a penalty which Wadham kicked.
As the match entered it's final phase of play, Cornish attacked strongly and, earned a kick at goal. If Spells was successful a losing bonus point would be the reward. Sadly, the kick was just wide.
Gosport & Fareham had been given their toughest examination of the season. One of the visitors' players was heard to remark: "Cornish deserved something from this game." It was true. So near...
Comments are closed on this article.