REBELS REGAIN THE CUP IN EPIC BATTLE WITH SHARKS AT POLSON
- – Rebels Coach Mike Abbott takes first silverware of tenure.
- – John Ross hat-trick not enough to clinch it for Sharks.
- – Final conversion miss causes misery for Sharks
- – 17-year old hooker Callum Abbott makes full debut for Rebels
Back Row L-R; James Martin, Martyn Lawrance, Sam Scates-Veale, Pete Mabbott, Decarlo Trerise, Callum Abbott, Andrius Zachorouvas, George Knowles, Tom Murray, James Wilson, Sam Bristow.
Front Row L_R; Liam Freeman (vc), Shaun Ellis, Lewis Thomas, Dan Harry, Jamie Prisk (captain), Olly Reynolds, Dan Thomas.
Greenmount Carpets-sponsored Cornish Rebels Rugby League Club took the South West Challenge Cup back with a brutally close win over Devon Sharks at Polson Bridge, Launceston.
The Sharks looked well drilled in the warm-up; a full squad of 20 coached by the vastly experienced Tony Wolke was a stark contrast to the Rebels who despite being happy with preparations mid-week, arrived late due to traffic and two men down through injuries.
Sharks set the initial pace of the game, just as they did when they visited Redruth for the League fixture last month. Their quick play the ball and distribution were key in the early dominance which was underpinned by the man-of-the-match performance from hooker Kye Munslow.
The Rebels’ late arrival and lack of preparation seemed to show in the opening stages, with them seemingly still on the bus for the opening ten minutes. Early decisions also appeared to go in Sharks favour, and first blood came when prop John Ross forced his way over the line to take the first of his hat-trick and Sam Hedges was as reliable as he has been all season with the extras.
James Martin was the first to touch down for the Rebels after a fluid shift down the line to the right corner from 20-metres out and Liam Freeman converted to level things up.
The opening scorers repeated themselves again for both teams and the game continued to go from end to end all afternoon, the only difference this time being that Freeman was unable to convert Martin’s second whilst Hedges was good for Ross.
Thankfully, Rebels prop George Knowles was able force his way over for a score to mark a mammoth performance in the centre of the park in only his second appearance for the club and Freeman goaled this one just before the break.
HT – Rebels 16 – 12 Sharks.
The Cornish were caught on the hop again after the restart when second-row Shek Sheriff ran through virtually unchallenged to kick off the scoring post-break. Hedges again was good with the boot and the Sharks seemed hungry to make the day theirs.
The physicality of the encounter was starting to show, with several stoppages to attend injuries for both teams. Rebels stand-off Sam Bristow was carried from the field with a knee problem, leaving vice-captain scrum-half Freeman and 17-year old hooker Callum Abbott to run the show for the last half hour.
The home side looked undeterred, however, as they continued to dominate in the wide areas whilst defending everything the Sharks were throwing at them through the middle. Pete Mabbott was able to reach over for a try despite three Sharks defenders hanging off him but again the kick was missed, adding pressure to a heating atmosphere.
The second half was marred by penalties, predominantly against the Sharks for high tackling, and the Rebels players took plenty of treatment for studdings. With only one forward on the bench for the home team the rests were limited for the big lads but the determination and commitment from both teams was there for all to see.
John Ross added his third try with fifteen minutes to go with the conversion attempt rattling the upright and bouncing back, but the move of the match came shortly after when the Rebels used the full width of the pitch to unlock an overlap and put Decarlo Trerise in for a try but again Freeman couldn’t convert. The Rebels did snare one more unconverted try through powerhouse Martyn Lawrance who Coach Mike Abbott switched into the centre for attacks to cause maximum damage, and that me it a one score game going into the closing minutes.
Rapturous applause then came from the mob of Sharks on the sideline when Marcus Phillips went in under the sticks and extra time loomed over both tiring packs but, shockingly, Sam Hedges missed again to keep the Rebels two points ahead with just seconds remaining.
The kick off from Rebels was played short and the Cornish managed to secure possession but the referee blew for full time and the Rebels had reclaimed their trophy back in what was surely one of the best contests the South West Rugby League has seen for a while.
Following the game Rebels Secretary Rob Butland was full of praise for the hard work and commitment shown by the team and the Coach all season.
“Mike has transformed this team. We have worked tirelessly for three years to build the foundation of a solid club off the pitch, and both John (Chairman) and I knew that the last piece of our puzzle was to find a coach who could take these fantastic individuals and turn them into a team force.
We have seen a nucleus of players form the bulk of the squad this year, and they are enjoying training with Mike. He’s teaching us to play as a rugby league team so we haven’t found ourselves relying on individual brilliance like we have done at times previously. We went to Polson with some unavailability in key areas and yet you wouldn’t know it judging by the way we played.
We are delighted with how things are turning out, and we couldn’t be happier for Mike or for the lads.”
Despite there still being three rounds left of the South West League, it looks increasingly like the Rebels and Sharks could well meet again in the Grand Final, with the other three clubs in the division struggling to fulfil fixtures. The only formality being Rebels playing away at Sharks in three weeks-time potentially deciding who will need to play off for a place in that game.
Next up for the Rebels is North Devon Raiders who will have to travel to Cornwall next Saturday after failing to do so two weeks ago.
Final Score – Cornish Rebels 28 – 26 Devon Sharks.
Referee – Peter Clarke
- Lewis Thomas
- James Wilson
- Decarlo Trerise
- James Martin
- Dan Thomas
- Sam Bristow
- Liam Freeman
- Andrius Zachorouvas
- Callum Abbott
- George Knowles
- Martyn Lawrance
- Peter Mabbott
- Jamie Prisk (C)
Reps: Olly Reynolds, Dan Harry, Tom Murray, Sam Scates-Veale (unused), Shaun Ellis.
Tries: Martin (2), Knowles, Mabbott, Trerise, Lawrance.
Cons: Freeman 2/5 Prisk 0/1
- Jack Sweeney
- Oliver Hill
- Jack Carlisle
- Matt Fawcus
- Tom Henfrey
- Joe Briggs
- Sam Hedges
- Ryan Chivers
- Kye Munslow
- John Ross
- Josh Boaler
- Shek Sheriff
- Marcus Phillips
Reps: Johnson, Sanders, Tagg, Acheson, Rowlands, French, Cartwright.