Hartpury College 40 Cornish All Blacks 13
CORNISH All Blacks' travel sickness continued as their attempts to climb the National Two South table again hit the buffers with a heavy defeat at runaway leaders Hartpury College.
While the Cornishmen are unbeaten at home this season, they have only won twice on the road in ten matches and it is wrecking any hopes they had of getting into the promotion shake-up.
Getting anything at Hartpury was always going to be difficult, but the All Blacks travelled in confident mood, boosted by memories of their 21-18 victory over their rivals at Polson Bridge in late September.
However, they were always playing catch-up after a disastrous start in which they conceded two tries inside the first six minutes, and a third soon after.
All Blacks assistant coach Tom Rawlings said: "It was going to be a tough ask, but we travelled up with high hopes, especially after the previous weekend's win against second-place Canterbury.
"Unfortunately we gave away a couple of soft penalties, and they pinned us back in our 22 on two occasions in the first five minutes and scored two early tries, and that really stung us quite hard.
"That was a bit frustrating, but you can't afford to come up to Hartpury, who are top of the league, and let that happen.
"Suddenly you are trying to claw back a game and it went out of reach very, very quickly.
"In the second half, our replacements came on and made a very good impact and we pulled a score back at the end."
The All Blacks face another tough test on Saturday when Ampthill and District visit Cornwall, and Rawlings said: "It was a frustrating day at the office, because we know we are better than that.
"Hartpury were a good attacking team and threw the ball around very well, and their skill level was very high, and they scored some good tries, and it was hard to stop on occasions.
"I was proud of the effort the guys put in, but Hartpury are a very good team, that is why they are at the top of the league, and we have got to try and build on what we did well in the game. Our scrum was strong again against a very big Hartpury pack, and at times in the second half, when we injected a little bit of intensity into our game, it definitely made a difference, and those are two elements we will take into the Ampthill match."
Hooker Chris Fortey and back rower Ross Moriarty bagged early catch-and-drive tries for the hosts, with fly-half Billy Burns - the younger brother of England fly-half Freddie - converting one, before former Exeter Chiefs Academy scrum-half Ben Vellacott bagged the third, after full-back Kieron Lewitt had kicked a penalty for the All Blacks.
Lewitt struck again, but Hartpury collected their try-scoring bonus point before the break with a touchdown from centre Steve Leonard, converted by Burns, to make it 24-6 at the interval.
Further tries by winger Jaike Carter and Vellacott again, both improved by Burns, put the College side out of sight, but prop Tim Mathias' late try gave the All Blacks some small reward for their efforts, with Lewitt converting.