Cornish All Blacks hold on to lead despite tenacious last-quarter fightback by Titans
Taunton Titans 17 Cornish All Blacks 22
Local derbies are often close-run things and this one at Hyde Park, which saw the Cornish All Blacks complete the National Two South double over Taunton Titans, 22-17, was no exception.
In the end the All Blacks deserved their win, thanks to the overall dominance of their pack and three cracking tries. That said, they led only narrowly 12-9 at the interval and then, having surged further ahead 22-9 by the 53rd minute, lost momentum in the final quarter and saw the resurgent Titans come roaring back to within five points.
Taunton opened the scoring in the third minute with fullback Gary Kingdom landing a penalty after the Titans had worked powerfully up to camp in the visitors' 22 (he went on to score the lion's share of his side's points with three further goals in the 23rd, 31st and 69th minutes).
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
The All Blacks arguably won the game in the next 15 minutes with some superb attacking and handling rugby which earned them two tries in eight minutes and put them 12-3 ahead. They won a turnover, prop Tim Mathias made a determined 20 metres and passed outside to Neilsen Webber, and the centre breezed through a glaring gap to score.
Then No.8 Barry-John Chapman, who had a storming game, picked up near halfway, burst through tackles and linked with his backs to send full-back Kieron Lewitt in under the posts to score and convert.
The All Blacks now began to make handling errors and mistakes and Taunton reasserted themselves, with their pacy backs, led impressively by skipper, centre Jemba Bull, looking dangerous; but they lacked penetration and the visitors' defence was consistently rock-solid.
The Titans' only further first half reward for their efforts was two more Kingdom penalties.
The All Blacks' pack, the fulcrum of their game, was a constant thorn in Taunton's side – despite suspension having deprived it of its influential No.8 Josh Lord and prop Neil Bayliss.
The visitors now attacked from all angles, Lewitt landed a penalty, and in the 52nd minute they kicked to touch from a penalty award, won the throw-in (Titans' line-out was frequently in disarray), and from a catch-and-drive and innumerable rucks and mauls prop Martin Rice crossed near the posts for Lewitt to add the extras and increase the lead to 22-9.
In the last half hour, however, the All Blacks were under some sustained pressure. Taunton were now fired up and taking the game into the Cornishmen's 22.
James Forrester kicked through, followed up, and with the ball jumping about in-goal, the fly-half managed to touch down to reduce the lead to 22-14.
Kingdom's conversion rebounded but the Titans were soon in the 22 again with the All Blacks defending for their lives – which they did well. Home wing Jack Claydon might have crossed if he had fielded a beautiful cross-kick, but All Black wing Richard Bright contested the ball and Claydon knocked on.
Kingdom kicked his fourth penalty 11 minutes from time, but the All Blacks held out for a crucial away win.
All Blacks' head coach Cliff Rainford said: "We played very well in the first 20 minutes and then defended very well. Taunton played some very good rugby but our pack was the key and gave us the go-forward which released our backs for some really good tries."
His opposite number, Tony Yapp, said: "Launceston probably had the edge. They were more experienced; and our set-piece didn't really function. We didn't play that well and our line-out let us down, but we put Launceston under quite a lot of pressure.
"We have a young side and Launceston know how to see games out."