Keltek-Sponsored Cornish Rebels have retained the South West Challenge Cup after beating Exeter Centurions 38 – 26 at Polson Bridge on Saturday.

Spectator’s described the match as an ‘Epic game of Rugby League’ and an ‘end to end, proper Cup Final’.

Two weeks ago the Rebels won the league showdown at Exeter with a comfortable 30 point cushion on the day, but with some new names on the team sheet Exeter came to Polson with a game plan and droves of dedication. Both teams missed chances early on as Polson was alight with a Rugby League showcase and it was Rebels who took the trophy back to Redruth.

The opening ten minutes was end to end, and it was first blood to the Rebels as Dan Briskham got over the line following a big break from loose forward Martyn Lawrance. Ed Power responded for Exeter a few minutes later with a blind sprint for the line, but both opening conversions went wide for a 4-4 game.

Both teams missed glaring opportunities in the second quarter, Alex Stevens first missed a penalty from 20 yards for Exeter, while Shaun Buzza was held up over the try line for the Rebels. It was Rebels who got a nose out in front to go into the break 10 – 6 when Matt Shepherd broke through for his first try at Polson since signing for the All Blacks last week.

After a first-half wake up call The Rebels started the second period much brighter but Exeter scored first, again though the conversion went begging and a few minutes later Briskham bounced off a few defenders to touch down after a tidy 25-yard run, poor kicking continued and things sat close at 14-10.

The Rebels got off lightly as an Exeter dropped ball beyond the try-line was responded to by a Matt Ballard run ended in a score for the second-row and this time there was no mistaking the conversion from Rebels captain Grant Thirlby who added the extras to give the Rebels an ounce of breathing space and a 10 point margin with 25 to go.

The last quarter saw the drama kick up a gear, two Centurions tries levelled the game off after another failed conversion but following the re-start a neat kick from player-coach Jonny Platt started a move which saw Ethan Pattison cross the line for the Cornish and shortly after Martyn Lawrance ran the width of the field to nick in the opposite corner after a scrum-down.

The last minute of the game saw an Exeter try converted to set things up for stoppage time with one try the difference. The Centurions battled but deep into added time Rebels prop Ethan Pattison wriggled over the line and as the referee signalled the try, their was a sense that things were done and dusted. Thirlby goaled and time was called at 38 – 26 to the Rebels.

Stats to follow.