Graham Dawe: Cornwall coach says County Championship expectations 'massively high'

Graham Dawe and Kyle Marriott with the Bill Beaumont Cup
Both Cornwall coach Graham Dawe (left) and Kyle Marriott have won County titles with both Devon and Cornwall

Cornwall coach Graham Dawe admits his side are under pressure to retain their County Championship title this summer.

They won the Bill Beaumont Cup last year for the first time since 1999 and have reached the Twickenham final in the last three seasons.

Dawe's side begin their defence of the trophy at home to Gloucestershire on Saturday at Redruth.

"People are going to come with a lot of expectations so we've got to try and match that and deliver again," he said.

"I don't think we can really talk about trying to win it again at the moment - we don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves."

More than half of Cornwall's starting XV for the game play for Devon side Plymouth Albion, who sacked Dawe as head coach last month.

They include scrum-half Matt Shepherd, who scored 15 of their 18 points in last year's final.

"He's a great player who can play in a number of positions - I only wish sometimes that he had six brothers, so they could play all in the backs," added Dawe.

"He's important to us because of his energy, work-rate, skill-factor and, at the moment, his goal kicking.

"It's only three games, but it's three very tough games and expectations are massively high."