CORNWALL enjoyed a flawless campaign as they recorded six victories on their way to lifting the County Championship trophy at Twickenham in 1999.

The Black and Gold began their campaign with a hard-earned victory over Oxfordshire in miserable conditions at Camborne in early April.

Despite the cold and rain a good-sized crowd, including the RFU president Peter Trunkfield, cheered the Duchy to an 18-6 victory to set them on the Twickenham trail.

Despite a shocker of an early miss from tee, full-back Steve Larkins made amends to kick Cornwall in front, before converting winger Nick Edyvean’s try in the corner to give the hosts a deserved ten-point lead.

Larkins added another penalty before Ashley Tapper got the visitors on the board with a penalty shortly before the break, but Cornwall skipper Dean Shipton’s unconverted try midway through the second half secured a winning start to the 1999 campaign.

Berkshire were next to make the trip to the Duchy, with Cornwall knowing that a second victory would put them in pole position to top Pool 3 and qualify for the quarter-finals.

Cornwall showed an air of confidence and burst into life with a try inside a minute through young Pirates winger Peter Redgrave, with Larkins kicking the conversion.

Cornish joy was halted three minutes later when fly-half Jon Dance slotted over a penalty chance, only for Larkins to quickly restore the seven-point advantage with one of his own.

But Berkshire found themselves on terms when winger Guy Spencer dotted down under the posts, allowing for an easy conversion from Dance.

Falmouth Packet:

Nick Edyvean opens the scoring for Cornwall against Oxfordshire with a try in the corner

Back came Cornwall, however, and they restored their lead shortly after when lock Andrew Joint, making his championship debut, strolled over catching a long pass. Larkins, with a fine kick, added the extras.

The large crowd basking in the sunshine were urging the Cornish players forward and pressure soon told as Shipton powered over for try number three to give Cornwall a commanding 24-10 lead at half-time.

A second-half penalty miss allowed Berkshire to get back into it with a try from Eldon Moors, although Dance could not convert.

But it mattered little as Shipton soon went over to seal the win, despite a late try from the visitors, setting up a crunch final pool game at Sussex in which victory would see the Black and Gold top the group.

The Trelawny’s Army travelled in numbers for the decisive game in Worthing, outnumbering their hosts as they watched their side record a fine 31-12 win.

Larkins scored 16 of Cornwall’s 31 points and had the visitors 8-0 up all by himself via a penalty and a try, before Andy Birkett went over to extend that lead further, although a converted try brought the hosts back into it at 7-13.

A thumping Larkins penalty made it 7-16 at the interval, before the Black and Gold took things up a gear after the break with tries from Steve Evans and a fourth of the championship for Shipton, with another five points from the boot of Larkins to leave the visiting support in buoyant mood.

Sussex had the final say with a late score, but it was not going to stop Cornwall from setting up a home quarter-final against Kent in two weeks’ time.

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Cornwall’s Mark Roderick, with help arriving from Barry Lucas and Andrew Joint, exploits a hole in Berkshire’s defence

It was all back to Redruth for the first knockout tie, with more than 5,000 people packed into the Recreation Ground for an intense match between two very well-matched sides.

Home advantage certainly told early on with Cornwall racing into a 15-point lead with three unconverted tries from Kevin Penrose, Birkett and Larkins.

Kent replied with a try shortly before the break but Cornwall would end the half ten points ahead with the advantage of the slope to come.

Mark Roderick restored the gap to 15 with an early try before Larkins’ conversion made it 22-5 and seemingly send the home side into the semi-finals.

But a sudden revival from the visitors brought two quick converted tries to bring the score to 22-19 and make it anyone’s game.

Birkett’s drop goal eased the nerves somewhat, but it was Larkins’ second try of the day that finally clinched what was looking like a certain victory less than half an hour earlier.

Kent were still not out of it and another try from centre McCaulley made it 30-24, but their efforts in finding that match-winning score proved futile.

Cornwall were now 80 minutes away from another County Championship final, but they would have to get past Cheshire, the team that had beaten them at Twickenham 12 months previously.

But the Black and Gold would gain sweet revenge for that defeat with a pulsating 35-16 victory in front of 6,000 fans in Redruth.

Two early Larkins penalties settled the hosts before Nat Saumi raced over in the famous Hellfire corner for an 11-point lead.

Steve Swindells replied with a penalty for Cheshire, but Jason Atkinson quickly powered his way over to give Cornwall a commanding 16-3 advantage.

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Cornwall’s Andy Birkett is about to be tackled by Gloucestershire scrum-half Julian Davis

Rob Ellis’ drop goal made it a ten-point game at the interval, but the hosts moved further clear early in the second half when Moseley charged over from close range at the posts for a simple conversion.

Another Ellis drop goal and Kennedy’s converted try hauled Cheshire back into it at 23-16 but tries from Moseley and Laity made the final minutes a victory procession for the Black and Gold, who would grace Twickenham for the second year running.

Old rivals Gloucestershire, who had won the championship three years prior, were the final team standing in their way of a third county crown, with the teams battling it out in front of a crowd of 25,000 at the home of English rugby.

Larkins and Gloucestershire man Lee Osborne landed two early penalties apiece before Jim Tucker went over for the opening try that Cornwall’s dominance had deserved. Osborne hit back with his third penalty, only for Larkins to do the same on the half-hour mark.

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This Gloucestershire attack comes to nothing as the Cornish players move in quickly to halt the threat

Osborne landed his fourth kick to close the gap to two points at the interval, but Saumi, assuming the kicking duties after Larkins went off injured, restored the five-point cushion with his first penalty.

Osborne trimmed that gap back to two points yet again with his fifth kick of the game to make it a nervy finale for both sides, with tension beginning to build as the minutes ticked away.

Cornwall moved forward as the game moved into injury time, with the ball suddenly being produced from a driving maul and allowing Laity to run at the Gloucestershire defence.

Birkett and Roderick were involved with Atkinson and Martyn Addinall working from right to left, and it was Stewart Whitworth who clinched the result with his try – a triumphant dive under the Gloucestershire defenders. For good measures Saumi added the extras as a pitch invasion followed.

Cornwall were the County Rugby Champions of England for the third time in 99 years.