Cornwall showed further signs of improvement but still came up short losing 52-16 to Doncaster at a sun-drenched Eco-Power Stadium, writes Gareth Davies.
The Choughs battled back from shipping four tries within the first 25 to trail 22-12 as half-time approached. Jake Lloyd and Joe Burton crossed the whitewash for Cornwall as Neil Kelly’s men took it to a Doncaster side who are tipped to be amongst the promotion shake-up.
However, either side of the interval, Doncaster added three more tries to their tally which took the game beyond Cornwall. But once more, Kelly’s troops dug in and despite Doncaster moving past the 50-point mark, Cornwall had the final say as Jayden Myers touched down during the dying embers.
Kelly was forced to shuffle his matchday 17 for this trip to South Yorkshire after injuries suffered in the round three home loss to Midlands Hurricanes. Josh Tora faces a spell on the sidelines with a rib injury while skipper Jamie Prisk missed out with a hand injury.
Josh Hartshorne was also not fit for selection while hooker Andy Kay was unavailable.
With Liam Whitton serving the second of his two game suspension, Cornwall named Bradford Bulls dual-registered trio Jayden Myers, Coby Nichol and Burton in their travelling party.
Myers and Burton both started the match in a new-look Cornwall back division while Nichol would begin the game on the interchange bench.
The Betfred League 1 clash was just three minutes old when Kelly must have thought ‘here we go again’ as the Dons crossed for the first try of the game through prop Ben Mathiou.
Shortly after, half-back Ben Johnston ran across the Cornwall line and he fed Ben Howe who did the rest.
But on this occasion there was no repeat of the first half troubles against North Wales and Midlands Hurricanes as Cornwall scored next when hooker Lloyd scampered from dummy half through a huge gap in the Doncaster line. Kyle Johns nailed a brilliant touchline conversion and Cornwall were on the board.
The visitors were more than matching Doncaster at this point both in terms of territory and on the scoreboard until the 20th minute. Decarlo Trerise was harshly adjudged to have lost the ball on the first tackle and from the resulting scrum, centre Robbie Storey breezed home.
Storey then plucked a Connor Robinson bomb from the sky to score which saw Trerise land akwardly and he was forced to withdraw.
Cornwall then kept hold of Doncaster’s coat tails by scoring arguably the try of the game. Robinson kicked into the Cornwall in-goal area and Nichol mopped up but instead of settling for a drop-out, the Bradford man offloaded to Harry Aaronson and Cornwall were away. Aaronson made it to half-way and found Joe Purcell who was eventually hauled down 30 metres short.
A series of quick play-the-balls saw Cornwall shift to the right and Burton touched down acrobatically – Johns adding the extras.
Doncaster did manage to score again before the interval hooter but even at 28-12 behind, Cornwall were faring better than previously seen.
Hopes of comeback were almost extinguished before they had begun with quick-fire tries from Ben Johnston and Travis Corrian after the restart. It could have been so much different had replacement Sam Gilder’s try not been ruled out for a knock-on after Purcell’s bomb caused havoc in the Doncaster red-zone.
Cornwall then hammered away at the Doncaster line in a sustained 15 minute spell of pressure and during this time, Adam Jones had a score ruled out for a forward pass.
Keelan Foster then helped Doncaster turn defence into attack to push his side towards the 50-point mark. They went over it 12 minutes from time as a Cornwall scrum was lost against the head for home skipper Sam Smeaton to eventually barge his way over.
Given the improved nature of Cornwall’s performance it was perhaps fitting that the final word went to the Choughs. Playing with freedom as the clock read 80 minutes, the outstanding Toby Brannan kicked through for Myers to finish well.
Johns’ conversion crashed back off the woodwork which perhaps summed up Cornwall’s afternoon in South Yorkshire – close, but edging closer to that elusive first two-point haul of 2022.
Doncaster: Howe, Halliday, Storey, Sanderson, Corion, Johnston, Robinson, Foster, Whitmore, Mathiou, Ollett-Hobson, Smeaton, Petersen. Interchange (all used): Fella, Cockayne, Roberts, York.
Tries: Storey (2), Mathiou, Howe, Halliday, Johnston, Corrion, Foster, Smeaton. Goals: Robinson 8/9
Cornwall: Aaronson, Myers, Burton, Johns, Trerise, Jones, Purcell, Brannan, Lloyd, Ray, Snell, Thomson, Mullally. Interchange (all used): Nichol, Gilder, Bolger, Collings.
Tries: Lloyd, Burton, Myers. Goals: Johns: 2/3.
Referee: Michael Mannifield; Touch-judges: Aaryn Belafonte, Brandon Worsley; Reserve referee: Jayden Wood.
[Featured image: Patrick Tod / Cornwall RLFC]