Rainford laments frequent loss of possession as All Blacks surrender losing bonus point
The Cornish All Blacks returned from their National Two South trip up the M5 to Bristol with no league points in the bag from a 38-25 loss to Clifton and an important lesson to be re-learned – do not give away possession.
The Polson-based club now stand tenth in the 15-strong National League Two South, with Clifton seventh.
Frustrated head coach Cliff Rainford said: "We turned the ball over cheaply and didn't react quickly enough to the turnovers.
"We didn't perform or play anything like to our potential. We seem to have got ourselves into a pattern of two good games and then one bad one.
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"Really it was a game we shouldn't have lost and should have won convincingly.
"Late on we brought on Richard Friend and Barry-John Chapman and it gave us a bit of pace again, but we were behind then and it was a question of too little too late.
"With ten minutes to go we had a losing bonus point but then we shipped a cheap try."
Experienced spectators from the All Blacks' camp said that it was a very frustrating and disappointing match to watch.
In the words of one: "We gave away so much possession, and what Clifton got we gave them."
The first half was very scrappy and, if the visitors to Cribbs Causeway were giving the ball away, they nevertheless had most of the territory.
Despite this, Clifton were 10-0 up in as many minutes, their fly-half Benedict Roberts opening the scoring with a penalty for offside and scrumhalf Callum Braley nipping through a gap close in to score for Roberts to convert after a series of scrums which the All Blacks had initially defended well.
Nevertheless, by half-time the All Blacks were still well in the match, full-back Kieron Lewitt having landed a penalty and Richard Bright crossing for a trademark try wide out four minutes before the interval.
The right wing had snatched up a loose ball near halfway and scorched right through to make it 10-8 at the break.
All Black flanker Mike Rawlings was now consistently making good ground and the visitors were attacking with a will, but it brought no reward and by the 54th minute they were behind 24-8 and the Bristol club pulling away.
In scoring terms it was arguably a couple of sucker-punches in the shape of well-weighted cross-kicks from Roberts which did for the All Blacks, home wing Samuel Harrison scoring under the posts from one, and centre William Pomphrey racing over further out for the other, Roberts adding the four extras.
The visitors did stage a ten-minute late comeback which might have got them the losing bonus point, but even that eluded them.
Home hooker and skipper Paul Fincken was sin-binned for killing the ball and Lewitt kicked his second penalty, and then replacement scrum-half Friend – who was livening up the action at the base of the scrum – nipped through on the open-side after a series of scrums to cross at the posts for Lewitt to convert and narrow it to 24-18.
However, yet another Clifton cross-kick found full-back Matthew Williams who scored, with replacement fly-half Bradley Barnes converting to make it 31-18.
Back came the All Blacks yet again with some powerful forward driving and replacement lock Chapman bullocked through from a rolling maul.
Lewitt converted to make the score 31-25.
Clifton though had the last word, their lightning fast wing Benjamin Foley grabbing a loose ball on halfway and blitzing away untouched to post his side's fifth try. Barnes added two more points.