Cornwall denied promotion after heavy defeat by rivals

THROUGHOUT their British Inter County Championships campaign, Cornwall have been in one of the two promotion places, but all that changed in their final fixture when they suffered a heavy defeat away at promotion rivals Essex.

The weekend began positively when their Ladies’ B side won 4-2 after Natasha Hancock got the first point on the board with a 3-0 win.

Claire Irons came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 followed by an identical winning scoreline for Belinda Hall, before Jacqui Champion (18.69) emerged a 3-1 winner.

Their lead did not last long however, as the Men’s B side crashed to a humiliating defeat and won only nine legs from the losing ten sets.

OPENING WIN: Natasha Hancock won Cornwall's first point at the start of the ladies' B fixture before they eventually crashed to their heaviest defeat of the season, which subsequently cost them promotion to the top division.

Two players who did come of out of this travesty with some pride were Darren Mitchell (25.11) who won after being taken the full five legs and Martin Smith (28.87) who also won 3-2 which included a 12-dart leg which he finished with an outshot of 121.

Trailing 12-6 overnight, Cornwall’s hopes of a revival rested on a victory for the Ladies’ A team but that failed to emerge after they were beaten 4-2.

Nikki Furse (22.10) won in three straight legs while there was a 3-1 success for Tracey Hancock (19.80).

Cornwall were now under the cosh and trailing Essex 16-8, but despite losing the opening set of the Men’s A fixture, three wins on the bounce gave them new hope.

Kevin Bray (27.19), aided by a leg in 13, won 4-2 followed by a 4-1 success for Rob Ruberry (23.18) and a 4-2 victory by David Copplestone (25.80) followed.

The scoreline now stood at 17-11 in the host’s favour with eight to play but only Mike Jones (27.56) could deliver when winning 4-3 in 18, 16, 15 and 18, aided by a brace of 180s.

A 24-12 defeat was certainly not envisaged at the start of the fixture but this one and only poor performance of an otherwise successful campaign, has cost them a Premier Division place next season.

Essex are now only 11 points behind Cornwall and with a game in hand against relegation favourites Surrey, to be played over the weekend of May 19/20, any hopes of an upset are highly unlikely.

Northampton are in fourth and 16 points behind Cornwall and will play Dorset on the same dates.

So, it looks like Cornwall will have to be content with another season in division one where they will meet once again cross-Tamar rivals Devon, who are destined to be relegated from the top division.

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