THE Cornish All Blacks continued their impressive lead-up to their derby date with Redruth by earning a five-point National League Two South victory over Dings Crusaders.
The Launceston men took the four-try bonus point within the first 36 minutes with Ryan Westren’s double accompanied by tries from Barry-John Chapman and Jamie Salter.
All four were converted by full-back Kieron Lewitt, who also added a penalty to give his side an 18-lead by half time.
The visitors, who had wing James Oakley sent to the sin bin in the 20th minute, replied through Rob Dempsey’s try and eight points from the boot of the ever-reliable Mark Woodrow.
But, although the All Blacks continued to impress in the second half, they were unable to extend their lead in the second 40 minutes.
Dings, meanwhile, never gave up hope of taking league points from the game and were rewarded after scoring 14 points in the last two minutes.
Mike Uren and Josh Lloyds both went over for Dings while Launceston skipper Ben Hilton was in the sin bin, and Woodrow added the conversions to ensure his side took a losing bonus point away from Cornwall.
All Blacks head coach Spike Rainford was delighted with his side’s performance in their 31-27 win, right up until the final few minutes.
“The scoreline doesn’t reflect the game, to be honest,” he said. “We just had a couple of strange decisions that went against us, which give them a couple of scores.
“Up to 70 minutes, we were 31-13 up, but a couple of decisions went against us and we didn’t quite react quick enough. It cost us those scores.
“At the end of the day, we still secured the bonus point by half time. We felt we were always in control despite the fact they went home with a losing bonus point.
“It would have been nice to keep the scoreline at 31-13. But it was still a really good game from us.”
Rainford was also full of praise for centre Westren, who scored two tries in the first half. The former Cornish Pirate has steadily regained confidence and form this season after suffering a serious knee injury while playing for London Scottish in the Championship.
Rainford said: “Ryan is coming back every week and getting back to what he was like before his injury. I still think he is a little way short of where he was before, but he’s getting closer with every game.
“He is running at people with belief and direction. It will only take another couple of games now before he is back to the way he used to be.”
Saturday’s result was the perfect lift for Rainford’s men ahead of their Cornish derby at Redruth next weekend.
The All Blacks have now won five of their last six league games after a difficult start to the League Two South season.
However, a win at the Recreation Ground would complete a memorable league double over their great rivals.
Rainford said: “I’m really happy with the way we’re playing and the way it is coming together at the moment.
“Our first 65 minutes were probably the best rugby we have played all season. We did everything right.
“We were strong around the breakdown, good at the line-out and the backs played really well.”