Rugby: Bishop's Stortford v Cornish All Blacks report January 29
Bishop's Stortford 34, Cornish All Blacks 7
CORNISH All Blacks received an incredible five yellow cards as they suffered more disappointment on the road.
They fell foul at Silver Leys of young referee Alexis Manley, particularly with his interpretation of the breakdown area, and after having two players sin-binned in quick succession around the 51st minute to reduce them to 13 men, they had another three yellow-carded just past the hour mark to leave them down to 12.
All Blacks skipper Ben Hilton declined to comment on the referee's performance, other than to say the yellow cards had made life "difficult".
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Instead he chose to praise a Stortford side who made light of the difficult playing conditions to show why they are lying fifth in the table in their first season in National Two South.
"Stortford's back line was incredible, especially in those conditions. They play a high tempo, high risk game, but it seems to work for them," said Hilton, who heads off to France this week with the England Counties squad.
"Their one-on-one attacking threats are why they are where they are in the table and why they get so many bonus points.
"The pitch was a damp squib, but they still went out and tried to score as many tries as they could, and they didn't approach it negatively. They are a nice club, they play a great brand of rugby and they have got some dangerous backs."
It was not all doom and gloom for the All Blacks though.
"We can take some positives out of the game," said Hilton. "Stortford are a strong team but we stuck with them and made them work for their scores, when we had a full complement of players on the field, and they had to pull off some classy handling skills to score some of their tries, whereas on some of our away trips, we have been guilty of giving away soft scores."
The All Blacks were all over their hosts in the opening stages and took the lead with a 13th-minute try by winger Kyle Speare, making his first-team debut after his move from Bude, which was converted by full-back Kieron Lewitt.
"Kyle has been carrying a lot of injuries, but I got him to come back and give it a go, and I think he will only get better and better," said Hilton.
"He learned a lot on Saturday. It is a big step-up from Bude, but he has got all the right attributes, a lot of pace and some good footwork, and he has just got to learn that defenders are that much better at this level, but I'm sure he will be great."
Soon after the touchdown, Stortford lost hooker Will Roberts to the sin-bin, but the hosts worked their way back into the game and led 17-7 at the break, with tries by winger Jono Child and centre Sam Winter, with fly-half Tom Coleman converting both and adding a penalty.
Stortford's fourth try came from centre John Neville, while prop Tim Mathias and fly-half Jake Murphy were in the bin for the All Blacks, with the fifth arriving after the yellow cards of Hilton, Lewitt and Nielson Webber.
That was scored by full-back Nick Hankin, converted by Coleman, before prop Adam Gelman added another touchdown four minutes from time.