Cornish All Blacks set to name unchanged side for trip to London Irish
The Cornish All Blacks are hoping an unchanged starting line-up will produce a repeat performance in the National League Two South this weekend.
The Launceston club beat high-flying Cambridge at Polson Bridge last weekend in what head coach Spike Rainford describes as one of their best displays of the season so far.
They now travel to bottom club London Irish Wild Geese still searching for their first win of the season and, barring any late injuries, they hope the same men can produce another winning performance.
Rainford said: “We expect to field exactly the same line-up as last week. I think last week, the buzz was there as well as the enthusiasm to play the game.
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“It was hard to tell the three guys on the bench that didn’t get on last week, but it was such a close game and they came through.
“You dare not change a winning side like that, I think you have to go with it again and we won’t do that just for the sake of it.
“As I said to the guys, we made a positive step up at Clifton in our last away game. We got an away bonus point and that was a big improvement on our previous away games.
“It still wasn’t what we wanted but it was a step in the right direction. And then we had the game against Cambridge at home and that was a huge step again.
“We proved we can do it, we have to show we can do it away as well as at home.”
The All Blacks have gone close many times without winning on the road this term. Their 22-20 loss at Clifton two weeks ago saw them pick up their first away losing bonus point.
Rainford said: “Out of the four away games that we’ve lost, there’s only really one – up at Ampthill – that was a non-starter for us.
“We’ve been in all the games, it is just that little bit that has alluded us on the away trips.
“We’ve played Hartpury and Cambridge at home and won – they are both top of the league at the moment.
“It was just such a professional performance against Cambridge. Our defence was outstanding and there was just a feeling around us that it was going to come together.
“It was one of those days where there was only six points in it but we never really looked like we were going to lose the game or get caught at any point.
“Consequently, we did all the right things in the right parts of the field.
“It was the first time this season where we have put everything together. In the past, we have scored lots of points but let lots of points in.”
Rainford will have to do without prop Martin Rice, who has returned to former club Plymouth Albion on a part-time basis.
“I’m never one to try to hold anybody back,” said Rainford. “It has been great to have him for any part of any season. That’s not to say he won’t come back to us, either.
“They have asked for him to cover the British and Irish Cup games on a Friday night. It made sense to let him get some game time and help Albion out a little bit.”