Combe dug deep with a mighty team effort away at Redruth in this penultimate game of the season. Their three tries were not enough to see them past the Cornishmen, and they now seem doomed as their fate is no longer entirely in their own hands.
It is always difficult to visit Cornwall and come away with something of a result, but playing with the wind in the first half, a 3-12 lead for Combe at half time was never going to be enough. In front of a large partisan home crowd - and a good turnout of Blazerati ( now with red trousers in their wardrobes ), the former President now residing across the border in Devon, and travelling fans now fuelled by pasties and Doom Bar. Unfortunately not Mme President - Combe put in a powerful first half performance yet failed to turn superior possession and position into enough points. They were further undone when Redruth turned the screw in the third quarter, enjoying a purple patch of 18 points which were to see them home - just.
Once settled Combe had plenty of possession and position to test the home defence who were keen not to be caught offside too often. Combe made dents, however without cut and thrust. Redruth would run the ball up the middle. Ten minutes gone Brett Rule put his first kick of the day over to open the scoring for Redruth ( 3-0 ). Combe hit back and laid siege to the home side’s line - a series of scrums , pick up, drive for the line, but all held out or up. Redruth crept back up the pitch, attacked but spilt the ball, and from Combe’s own 22 a swift kick and chase counter by Ben Hough
and Kieren Leeper saw Joe Simpson
following up for a try in ‘Hellfire Corner’. No conversion, but Combe now had something to show for their efforts. And barely five minutes later Combe were over again, with a try for James Lindfield by the posts after a quickly taken penalty when the Redruth defence were penalised for off side. Joe Simpson
converted to take Combe in 3-12 ahead at half time. The nagging feeling for those Combe supporters was that now facing the elements in the second half this might not be enough.
Indeed from the re-start Redruth immediately set about redressing the balance and using the elements to their advantage. Within three minutes they had worked No. 8 Tom Duncan in on the right. Brett Rule converted. Five minutes later Rule kicked a penalty, and now Redruth were in the lead 13-12. Five more minutes later with Redruth moving it left, right, left, a long pass found Alan Thirlby in space to score in the left corner, which Rule could not convert (18-12 ). Redruth were feeling a little more comfortable perhaps. They had the wind advantage still, and were beginning to turn it on up front. But Combe were not done yet. They survived a pounding of their own line and a sequence of scrums just five yards out. Into the final minutes running out of defence and into the Redruth half were Chris O’Neil, James Lindfield, Joe Simpson
. A penalty award, a lineout left on the Redruth 22, Lindfield breaks clear heads for the line and finds Matt Holmes in support to dive in at the corner. The conversion was short and time had run out. Combe finished 21-17 down. A mighty effort for a solitary bonus point, and perhaps a while before Combe are back in Cornwall.
Next Saturday, 28th April at Goddington Dene is Combe’s last game of the season. They entertain Southend, and it is hoped a large home crowd.
Combe XV : O’Neil; Lewis, Purdy, Hough, Leeper; Simpson, Edwards; McKinnell, Barton, Bellinger, Clarke, Wright, Tidd, Lindfield, West.
Sub.s : Conlon, Brierley, Watkins, Holmes, Giles.
Match reporter : Bruce Mackenzie.