Spike Rainford prepares Cornish All Blacks for Cambridge test
The Cornish All Blacks face their biggest home challenge of the season so far as they look to move up the National League Two South table this weekend.
The Launceston men were given a difficult set of early-season fixtures and they currently sit four places off the bottom in 12th place.
The situation is no less demanding this weekend when second-placed Cambridge come to Polson Bridge.
However, the one side above Cambridge, Hartpury College, suffered their only loss of their campaign so far at the hands of Rainford’s men.
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And Cambridge are arguably even more vulnerable having lost two league fixtures already this season to Ampthill & District and Hartpury.
“They are not infallible,” said Rainford. “The things we know about them are that they have a big pack and they have some decent backs that can run the ball back as well. They will be pretty formidable right across the park.
“Their pack will give them a good platform to play from and we have to try and combat that and make sure our defence is up to scratch. If we can do that, and keep the game pretty close, we can put ourselves in a good position to squeeze a result out of it.”
The All Blacks came close in that objective last week, losing 22-20 at Clifton, as they chased their first away win of the season.
The result did earn them a losing bonus point for their first league points away from Polson this term.
“It was a positive for us,” said Rainford. “I said that to the guys after the game as well. We can’t be all down about it, despite the fact we should have won the game. We had opportunities to win the game in the last five minutes, but they didn’t quite come off for us.
“We took another step forward in achieving something we hadn’t managed to do before. If we can keep doing that, win some of them and continue winning our home games, it will leave us in a really good position as we go through the season.”
Another pleasing element for Rainford was the continuing improvement of centre Ryan Westren, who previously spent nearly a year on the sidelines following a knee injury.
Rainford said: “I thought Ryan acquitted himself very well last week. He is starting to carry the ball really well now and find space. He committed himself well in defence too.
“Our captain Ben Hilton is back now and it was another solid game from him. Bryn Jenkins came on with 25 minutes to go and made a big impact. I’m still waiting for physio reports on a couple of players, but we have got a bit of strength in depth so we will be strong this weekend.”