Cornwall U20s 69, Somerset U20s 0
CORNWALL Under-20s head coach Tom Rawlings hailed his young players as they kept alive their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the National Under-20 Championships with a thumping win over Somerset.
The match took place in dreadful conditions on Sunday in a bit of a mudbath at Redruth's Recreation Ground, but it did not prevent the Duchy running in 10 tries.
It means victory over unbeaten old rivals Devon at Ivybridge in their final pool match on Sunday, February 10 will send Cornwall into the knockout stages for the first time in many seasons.
Devon beat Cornwall's conquerors last month, Dorset and Wilts, 18-7 at Sidmouth last weekend, but importantly failed to pick up a bonus point.
Cornwall's victory was only marred by the controversial sending off of 18-year-old replacement Neil Stanleick five minutes from time for allegedly stamping on an opponent - a decision that infuriated the Duchy camp.
A delighted Rawlings said: "It was a massive result for us and a great game of rugby to watch. Despite the awful conditions, our skill levels were very high.
"We had all of the ball in the first half and we went in 40-0 up at the break, but I have seen teams in those situations take their foot off the pedal and let sides back into it, but we continued to starve them of the ball and our defence was very good.
"All departments of the team played really well - our back line, half-backs Kyle Moyle and Luke Asbridge, and the forwards, who were outstanding.
"We bashed Somerset up at set-piece time, with props Mike Roach and Zak Cinnamond getting much the better of their opposite numbers in the scrums."
Commenting on the dismissal of St Ives back rower Stanleick, Rawlings said: "It was a shocking decision.
"He caught a restart kick and charged at the opposition. He was pumping his legs through the muddy pitch when a Somerset player tried to tackle him low and missed and got caught on the head by his boot. To see the referee pull out a red card was just astonishing."
Devon now stand in their way of finishing top of the group, and Rawlings said: "We didn't have a great first game against Dorset and Wilts, but on Sunday it all clicked at the right time for us, and we showed what we are capable of. Everyone bought into what we were trying to achieve. We now know that a win over Devon will see us qualify for the knockout stages, but we are all aware of the threat they pose.
"However, the form book goes out of the window in games like these. If we can play as well as we did against Somerset, we have got a great chance.
"We will have a couple of training sessions between now and the Devon game, and we will go up there, work hard and be focused, knowing what we want to achieve."
Flanker Chris Instance and winger Luke Tidball scored two tries apiece for Cornwall, while the rest were provided by Moyle, Tom Hendrickson, Sam Chapman, Matt Bolwell, Duncan Hales and Luke Asbridge, with Moyle adding five conversions, two penalties and a drop goal for a personal 24-point haul.