Sharmans Cross Road witnesses the reprisal of a familiar fixture on Saturday as Cornish All Blacks take on Birmingham & Solihull in what could turn out to be one of the decisive encounters in Bees’ season.
Defeat and they will have lost for the second consecutive week and three of their seven matches in all and while their pre-season hopes of promotion will not be dead, they will no longer be the favourites they were before a ball was kicked.
Victory could catapult them into second and within striking distance of undefeated Redruth.
“Losing is not even something I’m considering,” said head coach Russell Earnshaw.
This will be the third time the sides have shared the same pitch in a year. Unfortunately they also shared the same fate at the end of last term as both were demoted from National One and what was a relegation dog-fight is now a shoot-out for promotion.
Thankfully for Bees, Earnshaw has shaken off the effects of the injury that forced him from the field in last weekend’s embarrassing loss to Wharfedale.
It is just as well for the hosts, when they last faced the Launceston outfit without their coach and conscience, they played terribly and lost a game that would have kept them up. One wonders whether he would have been so keen to come back had Mounts Bay been the guests to Solihull.
The All Blacks, however, have not been so fortunate. They must play what will be one of their toughest matches of their campaign without lock Tim Collier who is suspended for picking up three yellow cards in five matches.
That, according to Earnshaw, makes the visitors more threatening.
“They tend to play a bit narrow when he’s in the side. They’ll be a lot more expansive and because of that they’ll be pretty dangerous,” he said.
Not that Bees always require their opponents to be that inventive. Much as they did when they lost at Redruth in the first game, Bees gifted Wharfedale a win last Saturday.
Having been spanked by Stourbridge the previous week the Yorkshire side abused Bees’ generosity and racked up a 41-12 scoreline. Earnshaw may have recovered physically but mentally it still hurts.
“If you look at the game they scored some ridiculous tries, we made so many stupid mistakes and glaring errors in that first half,” he said.
“Those individual errors were followed by a snowball effect where they started playing quite well and by the end they were a good side that stuck to its plans and defended well.
“But we’ve had a good chat this week and got some clarity into what we are trying to do. Hopefully that will come through on Saturday.
Happily for Earnshaw he is able to call on Scott Young who will come back at outside centre after back row forward Rob Connolly was forced to fill in last week. Wing Mitch Culpin is also back as is Jim Jenner.