TWICKENHAM awaits Cornish eyes again for the third straight year after they came from behind to defeat Hertfordshire 25-18 to reach the County Championship Final next Sunday.

Cornwall went in at the break 18-6 down, but tries from skipper Kyle Marriott and Redruth winger Robin Wedlake edged their side back to London in front of a packed Rec, which was positively bouncing come the end of the 80 minutes.

It was a destructive second half performance which saw the Duchy home, with all 15 men wearing the black and gold jersey putting up a brick wall-like defence which Herts could not breach.

Before proceedings even got under way, there was high drama as the Herts team coach got stuck in traffic just outside Launceston, with kick-off being pushed back to 3.30pm initially.

However, the bus arrived sooner than expected, meaning the start was only delayed by five minutes.

A lively opening was made by Cornwall, but Herts counteracted it as they looked to move the ball around the backs, forcing the hosts to throw in some excellent last ditch tackles to prevent them from taking the lead.

The deadlock was broken by Shepherd in the eighth minute when the visitors were penalised for being offside at a ruck, allowing the scrum-half to boot home a penalty from 45m out.

Pressure was then applied by Herts who kept possession well, but were being undone by errors of their own making with Elliott Reeder knocking-on in a good position.

Defensive efforts from Cornwall were also at the top of their game, but they could not keep Herts out for too long and following a kick being charged down by Dan Watt, the visiting inside centre finished off a move which was converted by himself.

Shepherd missed an opportunity to close the gap a few minutes later from the kicking tee 30m out, but he made no mistake when he got a second chance from a similar position on the half hour mark.

Herts responded with a penalty of their own and with possession staying in their hands, an up-and-under was plucked by Sam Winter and allowed the visitors to get into the 22 before loosehead prop Ralph Adams-Hales dived over.

Watt made a mess of his conversion effort from near the posts, slicing it wide much to the pleasure of those in Hellfire Corner, but on the stroke of half time he made amends as he sent a penalty from 45m out between the posts.

What was desperately needed from Cornwall in the second half was an early score, something they managed to do three minutes in when Marriott went over after Shepherd and Lewis Webb pounced on a loose ball at a line-out from Herts near the halfway line.

The conversion was missed by Shepherd, but the tide was beginning to turn and after Herts were called for crossing, the home scrum-half cut the deficit further with another penalty just inside the visitor’s half.

Momentum was fully in Cornwall’s hands now as they had a stranglehold on the game, halting any promising Herts move put together.

Another kickable penalty was spurned by Shepherd from 38m out, but from even closer range he made it a one point game.

Sensing a comeback was about to completed, the crowd picked up their voice just as Cornwall were upping their game and then from the restart, a crucial moment came as winger Michael Allan took Ben Hilton out in the air and got sin-binned.

If Cornwall were to book their ticket to Twickenham then this was the moment they had to take full advantage of and after a few probing runs, Wedlake took the ball on the left touchline and darted past the defence to put the hosts ahead.

As the game ticked towards the end of normal time, referee Veryan Boscawen spotted a Herts player offside and Shepherd extend his county’s lead to a converted try.

Fingernails were bitten down to the end, but Cornwall stuck to their defensive structure which saw them home and heading to headquarters again, where Lancashire will be waiting again.

CORNWALL: 15 Searle, 14 Dawe, 13 Murphy, 12 Webber, 11 Wedlake, 10 Webb, 9 Shepherd; 1 Freestone, 2 Salter, 3 Williams, 4 Whittle, 5 Hilton, 6 Fuca, 7 Jones, 8 Marriott.

REPS: Judge, Cook, Phillips, Goldsworthy, Mankee, Parsons, Chapman.

TRIES: Marriott (43), Wedlake (67).

PENS: Shepherd (8, 30, 50, 63, 76).

MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Kyle Marriott.