Rawlings delighted by second half show
Plymouth Albion 67, Cornish All Blacks 0
CORNISH All Blacks' assistant coach Tom Rawlings was delighted with the second-half response from the players after they were thrashed in their opening pre-season friendly at Brickfields.
The two-division-gap between the sides looked every bit of that, and more, in the first half as Albion went on the rampage.
They scored two tries inside the first three minutes, five in the first 18 minutes, and with the All Blacks trailing 48-0 at the break and only youngsters on the replacements' bench, everyone feared the worst in the second period.
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But the All Blacks stepped their game up and only conceded 19 more points, with 14 of those coming while skipper Rawlings was in the sin-bin after what was deemed a late tackle on Albion fly half Paul Roberts.
"We were very, very happy with the response we got from the players in the second half," said Rawlings.
"That was what we wanted – a bit of passion, and a bit of pride – to kick-start our season, which started at Albion, not when we play Chinnor in the league on September 1.
"We were chasing some serious shadows in the first half," added the back rower.
"It was hard and we always knew we were going to be up against it. We were playing a Championship team, who put out a strong starting line-up.
"We had a couple of guys drop out before the game – hooker Tom Hurdwell and full-back Kieron Lewitt - with little niggles, which was a bit frustrating.
"We went in a bit disappointed after the first half, but we said we wanted a response, whether it be for 30 seconds in the second half, or for the whole of the second half, and we definitely got that response.
"It was a lot better, our attacking rugby flowed, our fly-halves and our key men were putting guys into space, and we kept hold of the ball and looked after it.
"In defence, we were more positive around the breakdown, we contested it a little bit, we made it hard for them and we didn't give them clean ball, something which we weren't doing in the first half.
"We kept our shape a lot better as well, and our first-up tackles were being made, which we lacked before the break."
The All Blacks gave a run-out to a lot of youngsters in the second period, including several members of last season's Cornwall Under-20 squad, and they did not disappoint.
"We had about ten 17 or 18-year-olds who all played against seasoned professionals who train every single day, and man for man, Albion had about five to ten kilos in weight on each of our players, which does make a difference, but they didn't look out of place.
"We want to give youngsters a go at the club, we want them to experience a good level of rugby at that sort of age so they can carry that on into their playing careers."
Albion got off to a cracking start, with two tries inside the first three minutes from former Truro College skipper Herbie Stupple and winger Tom Bowen, quickly followed by further touchdowns from debutant former Cornish Pirates winger Rhodri McAtee with two, and ex-All Blacks and Liskeard-Looe back rower Sam Hocking, with fly half Paul Roberts converting three.
There was no respite for the shellshocked All Blacks, who shipped three more tries before the break - from centre Paul Bailey, Hocking again, and trialist Sidmouth full-back Tom Whelan - with Roberts kicking one conversion to make it 48-0 at the break.
However, after the interval, it took a yellow card for Rawlings in the 58th minutes for Albion to add to their tally, through debutant replacement full-back Louis Messer, and a penalty try.
Roberts converted both, and former Camborne flanker Sam Matavesi completed the scoring with a try seven minutes from time.