In direct contrast to almost all of their performances in 2019, London Cornish produced an absolute shocker of a performance on Saturday, conceding 40 2nd half points at Thurrock in Essex with a hapless display under which the squad will quickly want to draw a line. The lack of physicality throughout the team on the pitch was reminiscent of some of the exiles early season displays, and this against a hugely motivated host team, who were not flattered by scoreline. What is clear by some of the results the exiles have suffered this season is that they do require more depth in a few key areas to be able to press on into the upper reaches of the league next season. With some of the exiles lads delayed by an accident on the motorway, and starting hooker Will Carew-Gibbs not actually arriving until half an hour into the match, Cornish could have been forgiven a slow start to this game, played in blustery conditions on a dry, bright day. Guy Sullivan started at prop to allow Jake Slade to hook in WCG's absence.
Playing towards the trees in the first period, the visitors were in front inside 5 minutes, Bryce Morgan making the initial incision to send debutant Ryan Webb over for a try with just about his first touch in Cornish colours, George Kimmins judging the fine conversion perfectly across a stiffening wind. Cornish also had early dominance in the tight, resulting in a string of penalties being won, though too often the behemoth of a Thurrock 2nd row was able to cleanly pinch lineouts. On 11 minutes, and following a well angled Dave Funston grubber, Ts fell further behind when they high tackled Pete Calvert bang in front, Kimmins eliciting the 3 point revenge. Thurrock had not yet started, but they scored twice on 15 and 17 minutes, once when Cornish simply failed to number up, and the second occasion when a case of 'after you sir' in the tackling department allowed a Ts back to saunter under the posts from the wide left channel, both kicks converted and the lead now with the home side at 14-10. 5 minutes later, and following an air shot attempted clearance kick from a Ts back, Harry Somers won a lineout on the Ts 22 on the left hand flank. Cornish set a monstrous rolling maul, clearing clean through the 22 until prop Mark O'Leary was able to peel off and dive over for the try (pictured), also expertly converted by Kimmins. Ts levelled things up with a penalty for not releasing the tackled player a couple of minutes later, and retook the leads on 28 when more poor tackling saw one of their forwards crash over for another converted try. Kimmins reduced the arrears with a penalty on 31 minutes, which preceded a furious assault on the exiles line, a series of penalties conceded and rolling mauls set from lineouts, but this was one area on the day where the exiles excelled, and try as they might, Thurrock could not force their way over, missing a kickable penalty with the final act of the half. During this melee, Cornish lost wing Jamie Owen to a calf injury, and with no back on the bench Mark Osei-Tutu was forced into an emergency winger role.
The exiles withdrew Sullivan at the break, Slade moving to loose head and Will Carew-Gibbs on at hooker. This change appeared to negatively affect the exiles scrum, for having dominated in the opening period, now they were under pressure. 5 minutes into the half, the visitors lost a scrum against the head in their 22, and were standing under their posts watching a conversion fly over less than a minute later. A feature of this 2nd half was that Cornish forced passes way too often, knocking the ball on when well placed and gifting possession and field position to an increasingly confident home side. On 53 minutes the exiles replaced George Shirlaw with Nick Goss, but he could only watch as the exiles back line left a motorway sized gap through which the hosts waltzed on 56, the conversion landed. 2 minutes later, and after shipping a series of poor passes, Cornish lost possession again and saw Thurrock make a couple of offloads before standing up the final attempt to score another converted try. 3 more tries followed, one an interception yards from the exiles line, and another when another huge gap opened up in the visitors d in midfield. Thurrock fully merited their win, and in all probability would have finished the game relatively fresh as they had not been engaged in much hand to hand combat, on a day Cornish players and supporters will be happier to forget.