CAMBORNE’S hopes of promotion from Tribute South West One West could be decided off the pitch as much as on it.
The Cherry & Whites, who take on Cornish promotion rivals St Austell at the Recreation Ground on Saturday (3pm) in a crunch promotion clash, are fighting a decision to penalise them five points following the abandonment of their game at Clevedon at the end of January.
The match had lasted only 20 minutes in a howling wind, with Camborne 6-0 down, when one set of posts collapsed.
The referee wanted to switch the game to an adjoining pitch but Camborne declined on what director of rugby Michael Symons said were “health and safety” grounds.
Subsequently, the league ruled the result should stand and Camborne be deducted five points for refusing to play on the alternative pitch – which could effectively cost the Cornish club ten points, if they had happened to get a bonus point win against the North Somerset side.
If Camborne lose their appeal to the RFU it could be a body blow to their promotion hopes in what is developing into an extremely tight battle at the top of the table.
Only the league winners go up to National 3 South West automatically, while the runners-up go into a play-off against the second placed team in South West One (East).
Last season Camborne lost out in the promotion play-off, losing 25-15 at Old Centralians ending their hopes of a return to the national leagues after a 17-year absence.
Symons said: “The appeal is ongoing and we are waiting to hear from the RFU, but if we are unsuccessful it would be a severe blow to our hopes of going up in a tight fight.”
Just 13 points separate the top six sides with Camborne currently in fourth, five points behind second-placed St Austell, though with a game in hand.
So it makes Saturday’s mouth watering clash pretty much a “must win” game for both sides and a bumper crowd of more than 600 is expected with the visitors rumoured to be bringing up to 200 travelling fans.
Camborne will go into the game with plenty of confidence after last Saturday’s six try demolition of North Petherton who they thrashed 40-16 (see page 87) with danger man Alex Ducker scoring a hat-trick of tries. It was their fifth straight league win. In contrast, St Austell, who beat Camborne 34-27 at Tregorrick Park back in November, lost 30-24 at third-placed Hornets – only their fourth league defeat of the season.
Symons is expecting a very tight game on Saturday.
He said: “Both clubs are really looking forward to the game and I think it is going to be close.
“It is a very important match for both clubs and a must win game for both, with the league being so tight.”
Camborne are hoping to have a pretty much full strength squad to choose from, with Joe Parma returning against North Petherton after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
James Goldsworthy is nearing a return, but won’t be fit for Saturday, while young centre James Briant is still missing.
Camborne are hoping to play their delayed home Cornwall Cup semi-final against Penryn on a midweek date in early April with the final against either Saltash or St Austell, now pushed back from Easter until Saturday May 3.
Redruth’s battle against relegation from National Two South continues at fellow strugglers London Irish Wild Geese on Saturday.