CAMBORNE RFC ended a 19-year wait for a return to the fifth tier of English rugby in 2016 after storming to the South West 1 West title.

The Cherry & Whites shrugged off an opening-day defeat to go on and win 23 of their 26 games and amass 110 points, winning the league – and promotion to the South West Premier – by 15 points from second-placed Thornbury.

That opening-day loss on September 5, 2015 came in the form of an agonising 21-23 home defeat to Weston-super-Mare, as a much-changed Town side pushed the promotion challengers all the way at the Recreation Ground before a late interception try sealed a narrow win for the visitors.

But their opening victory of the new campaign came seven days later, with Town enjoying a comprehensive seven-try win over Bideford in which teenage quartet Ben Stean, Harvey Jones, Jay Tyack and Luke Trewhella all made their debuts.

Flanker Sam Matavesi scored a hat-trick for the Cherry & Whites, with James Goldsworthy, Dave Roberts (2) and Cameron Bone also dotting down.

A superb all round team performance to secure a deserved first ever away win at Avonmouth’s Barracks Lane ground a week later, with Town going up another gear after the break to outscore their hosts by five tries to two, winning 29-23.

Camborne backed that up with a third successive win to go third in the South West One table after a 14 try demolition over a Teignmouth side that arrived in the Duchy with only 13 players.

Sam Matavesi bagged his second hat-trick of the season, with Ben Stean doing the same, while Harvey Jones (2), Richard Kevern, Sam Bartle, Jack Simmons, Nick Johns, Taron Peacock and Tony Whittle also crossed for the Cherry & Whites in the 82-14 victory.

A narrow 20-18 victory at Bude in the Tribute Cornwall Cup followed before a comprehensive 46-0 whitewash of Chard at the Rec. Matavesi was in the thick of it once again with two of Town’s six tries as they climbed to second spot.

A 31-11 win at Clevedon and a 51-0 hammering of Coney Hill made it seven straight league wins as Camborne reached the top of the division, but were handed a setback when Matavesi, who joined from relegated Championship club Plymouth Albion in the summer, returned to the Devon side.

Town shrugged off that disappointment by extending their run to eight wins with a 20-7 victory at Drybrook, before earning number nine in a 24-8 victory at home to Bridgwater & Albion.

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Sam Matavesi breaks through the Chard defence to touch down for Camborne’s second try. Pic: CORNISHPHOTONEWS

But hopes of a perfect ten were scuppered in agonising circumstances, losing by a solitary point at Newent, although a brace of bonus points softened the blow.

The visitors made a good start with Goldsworthy going over, but they founded themselves 15-5 down at the break. Stean converted a penalty try to close the gap before Roberts nudged Town in front.

But a late penalty and converted try for the hosts did the damage, although John Drew’s first Camborne try late on rescued the two points.

But Town returned to winning ways back at the Rec a week later with a hard-won victory over a Wells side that contested well, particularly in the first half.

With results elsewhere also going their way the Cherry and Whites’ lead at the summit of South West One was now 11 points.

Town headed to third-placed Thornbury the following weekend knowing that, win or lose, they would top the table at Christmas ahead of the return fixtures in the New Year.

But it was not to be a winning end to 2015 as injuries and unavailability finally caught up with Camborne as they went down to a 38-25 defeat in Gloucestershire.

Despite the reverse the Cherry & Whites reached the halfway point of the season sitting proudly at the top of the South West One West table with a healthy seven-point lead and a vastly superior points difference.

The new year began with a dramatic late victory, courtesy of returning winger Alex Ducker, who joined from Penryn earlier in the week.

With Town 16-12 down as the clocked ticked past 80 minutes it seemed as if they would suffer back-to-back league defeats for the first time in 2015/16.

But in deteriorating conditions and with time almost up, the Cherry & Whites went through several phases of attack eventually working the overlap to send over Ducker and snatch victory at the death.

After scraping their way to that victory Camborne followed it up by swaggering to a six-try win at home to Avonmouth to maintain their 11-point advantage at the top, with Ducker celebrating his first game back at the Rec with a deserved hat-trick.

A 24-8 win at Teignmouth and a 33-0 whitewash of North Petherton strengthened Camborne’s title and promotion bid as the season entered its final third, with the Cherry & Whites then running out 13-5 winners at home to Clevedon in what would be their only league game in February.

They would win three times during the month, however, after struggling Coney Hill forfeited their league game at home to Town, before the Cherry & Whites beat Wadebridge 24-5 to reach the Cornwall Cup final.

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James Goldsworthy celebrates his try against Bideford

They continued their surge towards their long-awaited promotion back to the national leagues with a fine 31-13 win at home to Drybrook, with Damien Cook notching an excellent hat-trick in the process, before showing their steel to fight back from 18-3 down to win 39-18 at Chard.

After conceding two early interception tries to trail by 15 after the first quarter, the visitors responded through Kevern’s try before the break, before Ducker and Tommy-Lee Southworth turned the tables early in the second half.

The visitors found a new gear and Ducker soon clinched the bonus-point try before the same man completed another superb hat-trick late on.

A seven-try victory at Bridgwater & Albion took Town to within touching distance of the title, with a bonus-point win at home to play-off hopefuls Newent required to secure the championship with two games to spare.

It was not to be, however, as while the Cherry & Whites secured the victory in a pulsating encounter at the Rec, the two tries from Simmons and Dan Fletcher were not enough for the title-sealing bonus.

Though the Cherry & Whites were denied the bonus point they now had one hand and four fingers on the trophy and a return to National League rugby after nearly 20 years’ absence.

And the runaway leaders secured their overdue return to the national leagues a week later with a 25-0 win at Wells, with two tries from Ducker, one from Simmons and ten points from the boot of Rhys Brownfield completing the landmark victory.

At the final whistle there were scenes of jubilation and relief at the culmination of a long campaign and the ultimate achievement built on the hard work and spirit of all concerned.

Camborne’s celebrations following their title-clinching win really took off a week later at the Rec with a 12th successive victory over second-placed Thornbury in the final game of the season, with 11 points from Brownfield and tries from Ducker and Murray Westren completing a 23rd win of a memorable campaign.

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