Rainford targets return to top form on tough trip to Shelford
It has been a tough month and a half for the Cornish All Blacks but head coach Spike Rainford is determined to see renewed progress when his men make the long trip to Shelford this weekend.
The Launceston club have made remarkable progress in Rainford's first season in charge at Polson Bridge but their winning momentum stalled in February.
Since then, they have lost three of their last five National League Two South games against Southend, Redruth and Lydney. There are mitigating circumstances, such as injuries to key players and a lop-sided fixture list that has seen them play away three times in a row this month.
Last weekend's defeat at struggling Lydney was still a surprise, given their hosts' humbling 69-0 loss at Redruth the previous week.
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However, all will be forgiven if the All Blacks produce a good performance at Shelford this weekend.
Rainford said: "Lydney had 11 players come back compared to the previous week. They are fighting for relegation and are a very different team at home. They were very dogged and stuck to their task, unfortunately we got suckered into playing their style of game.
"We had a couple of players out but that is no excuse, we just didn't hit the mark when we got there.
"The big batches of away fixtures is one of those things that has been thrown up this year. We had a week off then three away games on the trot and then another week off.
"I don't think you could ask for any more of a disruptive five-week spell really.
"Players like to get settled into a routine of a game at home and a game away to keep the ball rolling. We will do what we can to get the best out of the players when we get to Shelford this weekend.
"If we can go to Shelford and get a result then we have won two out of three on the road and got a bonus point from one we've lost.
"I'm sure if you gave any club that option they would see it as a fair result. We set our standards very high this year and we were disappointed to lose to Lydney last week.
"We will have our eyes on Shelford this week, that's our next target, and we have five games left after this. We want to finish the season on a roll and on a high."
Rainford will still be without a number of his most trusted men this weekend. He said: "Mike Rawlings [shoulder injury] is still out and Jamie Tripcony is out with a knee injury. We hope to have Barry-John Chapman back this week after he was out with a shoulder injury.
"Kieron Lewitt was out last week with a bug that has been going around. Taking those guys out of the side will make a difference so fair play to the guys that stepped up."
While the All Blacks are still battling to improve upon last season's seventh-placed finish, Rainford admits they are slowly turning their attention to next season.
He said: "We are tentatively thinking about next season but there is a lot of paperwork for people to sign before anything is decided. I would like to get things sorted as early as possible."