In the latest of our preview series for the 2022 season, Getting To Know, Josh takes an in-depth look at our opponents this Sunday, Cornwall RLFC.
2022 SEASON SO FAR
The games newest name, 2022 has so far been a season of learning and growing on and off the pitch for Cornwall RLFC.
Despite registering the sole victory so far in their inaugural campaign, big crowds, national attention, and an exciting crop of young talent means things are looking promising from the start in the Duchy.
Putting together a squad mostly made up of local talent and stars of the community game, going into a season without a friendly or Challenge Cup game put Cornwall on the back foot.
However, they showed great tenacity and determination so far, and in attack do know where to find the try-line when required.
That was on display from the moment history was made, despite falling to a 62-22 defeat to North Wales Crusaders in their first ever game.
The first ever professional Rugby League match to be played in Cornwall followed the week after, with a crowd of 1400 in attendance for the game against the Midlands Hurricanes.
A tough run of fixture against the established heartland clubs followed with Doncaster, Oldham, Rochdale, and Hunslet, providing the opposition, but Neil Kelly’s charges were in the arm wrestle in parts throughout all these games.
By their own admission, a poor display was to follow as they became only the second club to ever be defeated by the West Wales Riaders.
But two improved performances have followed against the Swinton Lions and London Skolars, the latter of which they could consider themselves unlucky to not win after the Skolars had an ill-disciplined performance.
Then came the visit of the Cougars in which despite the scoreline, the Choughs put in a brave performance despite having a man sent-off to really test the divisional leaders.
History was then made as the club recorded their first ever victory away at the West Wales Raiders.
An outstanding team performance against the Raiders got them onto the board and they were unlucky to not make it two victories as despite taking a 12-point lead they were eventually beaten by Hunslet.
Early red card would put them on the backfoot last week as they were defeated comfortably by Doncaster and will be looking to bounce back at Cougar Park this afternoon.
Cornwall RLFC are coached by Neil Kelly.
The experienced Kelly was seen as a coup by Cornwall after they persuaded ‘Ned’ to return to professional Rugby League as the inaugural coach.
The 59-year-old was a hooker or loose forward by trade and during his playing career he played Rugby League for Dewsbury, Featherstone Rovers, Wakefield Trinity and Hunslet before retiring in 1991.
After hanging up his boots, Neil moved into coaching and cut his teeth with Dewsbury, leading the club to the Northern Ford Premiership title in the 2000 season during his first spell in charge at the Tetley’s Stadium.
Unfortunately, though for Kelly and the Rams, promotion to Super League would be denied as their ground did not meet the minimum standards at that time for the top division.
He would also be a part of the Wales coaching staff as assistant to Clive Griffiths for their 2000 World Cup campaign.
After Griffiths departed the Wales hot-seat, Neil was promoted to head coach – a position he held for two years.
Neil’s most successful coaching stint came with the Widnes Vikings between 2001 and 2004.
He led the Cheshire outfit into the top flight as the 2001 Northern Ford Premiership champions and was voted Super League Coach of the Year in 2002 after an outstanding debut season in the top flight.
He then moved across the Irish Sea to rugby union club Ulster as their defence coach but two years later was back in rugby league at Leigh.
Neil spent just 12 months at the Centurions and returned to the 15-man code with the Namibian and Romanian national sides, coaching both at the 2011 and 2015 World Cups respectively as well as serving as the Doncaster Knights assistant coach.
In 2017, Neil once again coached Dewsbury and kept the club in the Championship with a shoestring budget
American rugby union side the Houston Sabercats became his next destination but his stay in the United States would be cut short by the Covid-19 pandemic.
More recently, he has spent time back on these shores away from the oval ball game as a teacher and will now lead the new era of professional Rugby League in Cornwall.
So far in his first year in the Duchy he has overseen a gradual development both on and off the field as the club builds towards its future.
And the hard work was rewarded late last month as they defeated the West Wales Raiders in Llanelli to record their historic first ever victory.
2022 SQUAD: 1 – Liam Whitton; 2 – Harry Aaronson; 3 – Josh Tora; 4 – Kyle Johns; 5 – Henry Symons; 6 – Adam Rusling; 7 – Joe Purcell; 8 – Anthony Mullally; 9 – Jake Lloyd; 10 – Jack Ray; 11 – Josh Hartshorne; 12 – Aaron Thomson; 13 – Luke Collins; 14 – Sam Gilder; 15 – Paul Bolger; 16 – Sam Snell; 17 – Louis Collinson; 18 – Decarlo Trerise; 19 – Matty Turton; 20 – Nathan Conroy; 21 – Andy Kay; 22 – James Collings; 23 – Jamie Prisk; 24 – Will Odgers; 25 – Chris Chard; 26 – Aaron Jones-Bishop; 27 – Nathan Cullen; 28 – Charley Bodman; 29 – Tom Ashton; 30 – Brad Howe; 31 – Myles Tate; 32 – Jacob Beer
TRANSFERS IN: Anthony Mullally (Carcassone); Henry Symons (Cornish Rebels); Sam Gilder (All Golds); Joe Purcell (Burtonwood Chargers); Paul Bolger (West Wales Raiders); Kyle Johns (St Austell RU); James Collings (Somerset Vikings); Sam Snell (Okehampton RU); Luke Collins (RC Hilversum RU); Harry Aaronson (Moortown RU); Jake Lloyd (Leigh Miners Rangers); Decarlo Trerise (Cornish Rebels); Aaron Thomson (Exeter Chiefs RU); Liam Whitton (Halifax Panthers); Jack Ray (Unattached); Josh Tora (Royal Navy); Matty Turton (Leigh Miners Rangers); Chris Chard (Army Infantry); Jamie Prisk (Cornish Rebels); Andy Kay (Devon Sharks); Josh Hartshorne (Thornhill Trojans); Will Odgers (West Wales Raiders); Nathan Conroy (East Leeds); Aaron Jones-Bishop (Hunslet RL); Charley Bodman (Hunslet RL); Tom Ashton (Rochdale Hornets); Brad Howe (Redruth RU); Myles Tate (Keighley Cougars); Jacob Beer (Hunslet RL)
LOANS IN: Louis Collinson (Batley Bulldogs); Adam Rusling (Hull Kingston Rovers); Nathan Cullen (Hull Kingston Rovers)
ONE TO WATCH
A man who needs no introduction to the Keighley Cougars supporters, Harry Aaronson has been lighting up the division this season in the Duchy.
Returning to professional Rugby League after a spell away from the game, Aaronson adds experience to the sports newcomers despite his relatively young age.
Born in Oldham, Harry came through the youth systems at both Wigan and Huddersfield before signing with the Swinton Lions.
Becoming the Lions youngest ever player in 2015 after making his professional debut aged just 16, he played a part in helping the club achieve promotion to the Championship.
After finding gametime hard to come by, he moved across the Pennines to sign with the Cougars for the 2017 season.
Quickly establishing himself in the side, his lighting pace and ability for the spectacular left the Keighley faithful breathless at times as they adopted the talented youngster as one of their own.
However, the clubs financial difficulties in 2018 resulted in Aaronson having to leave and re-join Swinton.
Gametime again was hard to come by, and he would move on loan to Oldham and become a key part in his hometown’s club promotion to the Championship at the end of that year.
But the pandemic would cancel the 2020 season and with life away from the sport requiring more of his focus, he made the decision to step away from the sport.
Harry would have a brief spell in Rugby Union with Moortown before making the decision to join Cornwall ahead of their inaugural campaign where to date he has been their star player thus far.
Whether it be at full-back, half-back, or on the wing, his contributions have been crucial and has to date chipped in with 8 tries this season.
PREVIOUS MEETINGS (LAST FIVE MEETINGS ONLY)
12th June 2022: Cornwall RLFC 12-56 Keighley Cougars
By Joshua Chapman