Getting shirty: All Blacks' Nathan Hannay (right) tugs at the jersey of Redruth's Addison Lockley. Pictures by Mike Cox.
Cornish All Blacks 20, Redruth 16
REDRUTH will take on the All Blacks at the Recreation Ground on April 18 facing just a four point deficit for the second leg of this season's Skinners Brewery Cornwall Super Cup Final.
For Sunday's first leg they fielded a smattering of players who had been involved in the previous day's National League One encounters, seven for the All Blacks and just three for the Reds.
Redruth were obliged, with the blessing of their opponents, to draft in four players from Exeter Academy, namely props Ruaidhri Murphy and Shane Kingsland, back row Alan Miller and centre Drew Locke, to bolster their injury hit squad. Redruth could only muster four replacements for the game.
And Reds' coach Nigel Hambly was delighted with his players' effort and commitment.
He said: "While we probably didn't deserve to win, I am pleased that we're in with a shout in three weeks' time.
"The Exeter boys bought in to what we're about and I really owe a great debt of gratitude to Robin Cowling and Ricky Pellow for helping us out. It was good for some of our young players to play with them, it gives them something to aspire to.
"I thought Adam Lewarne and Will Penney were excellent for us, as well as Drew Locke from Exeter, and young Ashley Hosking. What a great try that was. It was good to see us take our chances.
Unfortunately for Redruth the injury list from the Newbury game was added to, with Brett Rule hobbling off at half-time and Will Penney and Tom Duncan taking heavy knocks during the second half.
Redruth did get off to a great start with Rule kicking an early penalty as the home side struggled to get a foothold on the game. The Cornish All Blacks' cause wasn't helped when flanker Lloyd Duke was yellow carded after 13 minutes as the penalty count mounted up against his side.
Redruth increased their lead with a second penalty kicked this time by scrum-half Jason Pengilly following good work from fly-half Adam Hosking.
Drew Locke, in the centre, certainly caught the eye for the Reds, and is one to lookout for in the future.
As the rain poured down during the second quarter, the Cornish All Blacks came more into the game through their forwards.
Fly-half Joe Wearne kicked a penalty, and with Redruth down to 14 men with flanker Lewarne in the bin, the All Blacks scored a try from a scrum close to the Reds' line, No.8 Josh Lord powering over. Wearne added the conversion for a 10-6 half-time lead.
Camped down on the All Blacks' line, pressure from the Redruth pack saw prop Murphy drive over in the scoreboard corner to reclaim the lead for the visitors on 50 minutes.
Roared on by the Polson crowd the Cornish All Blacks finally broke the Redruth line in the second half as Wearne weaved his way through a bemused Reds' defence to score and convert his own try after 58 minutes.
Any thoughts that the All Blacks would run away with it were soon dismissed as Reds' winger Ashley Hosking hacked on a loose pass as the All Blacks pressed on the Reds' 22. The winger fly-hacked again before coolly gathering near the line to score in the Lanson suite corner.
Although the All Blacks pressed for much of the remainder of the match the only further score was a second Wearne penalty to leave them winners 20-16 with it all to play for in the second leg.
● Prior to the match a minute's silence was observed in memory of Paul Bawden and Tom Prout.
Guests of honour at Sunday's match was young Marshall Janson and his family. Both the Cornish All Blacks and Redruth coaching staff were displaying their respective Handstand shirts, red and yellow for Redruth and black and white for the Cornish All Blacks, which each side will be wearing at Sunday's Penryn Easter sevens tournament in support of the Handstand Appeal.