County Championship final 2016: Cornwall beat Cheshire to retain title at Twickenham

By Brent PilnickBBC Sport at Twickenham
Billy Searle was at Twickenham to stop tries as well as score them, aided in halting Cheshire's Jack Lavin by Tom Cowan-Dickie
Cornwall stand-off Billy Searle (right) was at Twickenham to stop tries as well as score them, helping prop Tom Cowan-Dickie to halt his opposite number, the Cheshire stand-off Jack Lavin
Cornwall (18) 35
Tries: Searle, Matavesi, Stupple, Shepherd Cons: Shepherd 3 Pens: Shepherd 3
Cheshire (10) 13
Tries: Millea Cons: Lavin Pens: Lavin 2

Cornwall retained their County Championship title with a 35-13 win over Cheshire at Twickenham.

Early tries from Billy Searle and Sam Matavesi gave Cornwall a 12-0 lead.

Jack Lavin's penalty and Paul Millea's try brought Cheshire back into it before two Matt Shepherd penalties.

Lavin's penalty early in the second half was neutralised when Herbie Stupple crashed over for Cornwall's third try before Shepherd went over in the final seconds.

The victory was the fifth time Cornwall have been crowned county champions, having reached their fourth successive Bill Beaumont Cup final.

Trelawny's Army off and marching

The Duchy threatened to rack up a cricket score when impressive Plymouth Albion fly-half Searle, who has just agreed a move to newly-promoted Premiership side Bristol, darted over after a great run from full-back Shepherd.

Camborne-born former Fiji international Matavesi was forced over from close range for his fifth try in the Championship this season.

But Cheshire, playing their first final since 2002, grew into the game and a penalty from Lavin was followed by a try from hooker Millea from close range.

Two Shepherd penalties saw Trelawny's Army to an 18-10 lead at the break before Lavin drew Cheshire closer with a second penalty, but Cornwall pulled away with a third try. Former Exeter youngster Stupple crossed after Robin Wedlake's excellent run set up a great position on the Cheshire line.

Shepherd's third penalty extended the lead as Cornwall's pack started to dominate, the outstanding Plymouth Albion full-back going over late on in the corner after the Duchy took a quick tap penalty near the Cheshire line.

The game was played ahead of Sunday afternoon's England-Wales friendly international at Twickenham.

'No county has that much support' - Dawe

Cornwall head coach Graham Dawe told BBC Sport:

"I don't think there's any county in the country that can qualify that much support and backing.

"Until we scored that final try I was concerned. I've been around a long time and sides can come back at you when you don't think it's going to happen.

"It was a good performance. We had a good start so we had a bit of a cushion.

"We've got a good balanced team and team has been our number one word, so I don't want to single out too many of our players."

Cornwall in the County Championship final

Five victories in 15 final appearances
1908 - Beat Durham 17-31909 - Lost 12-0 to Durham
1928 - Lost 12-8 to Yorkshire1958 - Lost 18-8 to Warwickshire
1969 - Lost 11-9 to Lancashire1989 - Lost 13-9 to Durham
1991 - Beat Yorkshire 29-201992 - Lost 9-6 to Lancashire
1998 - Lost 21-14 to Cheshire1999 - Beat Gloucestershire 25-15
2001 - Lost 47-19 to Yorkshire2013 - Lost 35-26 to Lancashire
2014 - Lost 36-26 to Lancashire2015 - Beat Lancashire 18-13
2016 - Beat Cheshire 35-13