London Cornish defeated by 14-man Tottonians
Cornish returned from deepest Hampshire disappointed and frustrated after going down 25-13 to a Tottonians side who had a man sent off in the second half.
In warm sunshine, the hosts started strongly. A searing run by inside centre Ben Dolbear looked certain to result in an early try, but a superb Cornish cover tackle ended the danger.
Tottonians broke through again, but great defence from Mark Osei-Tutu, playing in the second row, stopped Scott Rogers' marauding run.
Soon after, another Tottonians attack was stopped illegally, and Robbie Searle kicked the home side in front after 19 minutes.
Cornish responded with a flurry of attacks, and one such sortie was stopped by the referee ruling that Totts' Gareth Allen had lifted an attacker above the horizontal. Allen was dispatched to the sin-bin, and Luke Spells slotted the penalty from a tight angle on the right hand side to put Cornish level after 22 minutes.
Benefiting from the man advantage, The Exiles took the lead five minutes later as an inch perfect through kick landed in the arms of inside-centre Matt Hakes who galloped through beneath the posts. Spells converted from right in front for a 10-3 lead.
Tottonians ended the half on the front foot, and the period of pressure that they built up led to the concession of a number of penalties. One such infringement was in front of the sticks, with Searle's kick sailing through to reduce the gap to four points.
Three minutes later, Cornish loose-head Mike Bond was adjudged to have made a high tackle, and received a yellow card. To their credit, the Tottonians supporters all agreed this was a harsh verdict.
Tottonians benefited from the man advantage, and, from a penalty, kicked to touch five metres out and the rolling maul was driven towards the Cornish line until Ally Ramus was able to touch down in the far left corner. Searle's conversion attempt missed, but Tottonians led 11-10.
Once more, having conceded, Cornish hit back well, and launched a final attack of the half, winning a penalty as a result. Spells' successful kick ensured that the visitors led at the break 13-11.
The second half saw both sides concede a number of penalties. Totts benefited first as Searle lined up a kick from 40 metres which was successful to put the home side back in front.
Shortly after this was the moment that, ultimately, decided the entire game. With 21 minutes to go, Tottonians tight-head Tom Pearson was adjudged to have thrown a punch, and was red-carded.
Despite this disadvantage, the Hampshire side stepped up the intensity and barely missed a tackle in the last quarter.
It was this, and some disappointing decision making from Cornish which led to Tottonians scoring a total of eight points in just 11 minutes following the sending off.
First, following the concession of a penalty 20 metres out from the posts, Searle kicked successfully. Then, Tottonians launched a marauding attack down the left hand side of the pitch, which resulted in second row Olly Northover grounding the ball in the corner. Searle's kick from the touchline struck the post, but the home side had done enough to win.
The overwhelming emotion afterwards was one of immense frustration.
Cornish have played two of the league's top sides away from home in the opening weeks of the season and have competed well with them both.
The potential is there for The Exiles to do some damage in the division when they can field a full strength line-up.