Cornish All Blacks head coach Spike Rainford eyes derby victory over rivals Redruth
Cornish All Blacks head coach Spike Rainford hopes his side's National League Two South defeat to Southend will inspire them in their derby with Redruth this weekend.
The Launceston men were expected to earn their ninth win in ten league games but fell to a 20-17 loss in Essex last weekend.
And while such a setback would seem like bad way to prepare for what Rainford describes as the biggest game of the season, he is determined to use it as a positive.
"It would have been very easy to have gone to Southend, grabbed another four points, thought about winning ten of our last 11 and coasted into this weekend's game," he said.
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"The bonus is that everybody had a bit of wake-up call and heads are back on with concentration at its fullest. Everyone turned up with the right attitude to training this week.
"It was the one thing that came out of Saturday.
"You string wins together and the more it happens, the harder it becomes to maintain it. Southend are fighting against relegation and we went up there and didn't give them as much credit as we needed to.
"We were just not on our game that day. We made a mistake on Saturday and let it slip but now we're back at home and back on the pace."
The All Blacks are sixth in the table and could easily have been challenging third-placed Redruth and the sides above them, if their start to the season had been stronger.
They lost 46-24 in Redruth in September and it was not until the end of October when they really started to find their best form.
But all of that matters little this weekend, according to Rainford.
"We've had a good run and we want to get it going again," he said. "Redruth are having a cracking season and have done really well – you can't take that away from them.
"But this weekend is a derby game and the form book goes out of the window. It will be about who deals with the occasion the best on the day. If you let the emotions and the day take over, you risk throwing it away.
"If we can keep our heads and play our best game, anything can happen."
Rainford hopes that does not include the Reds earning their first-ever league win at Polson Bridge.
"It is not something I even want to start thinking about, to be honest," he said. "We're not planning on doing anything differently to what we have over the last several years. It is probably the biggest game of the season and a lot of clubs up and down the country look at it and don't realise how much passion and pride there is in this game."
The All Blacks have been fortunate with injuries this season. Back-row forward Mike Rawlings is their only confirmed absentee this weekend with a shoulder problem.
"We're not doing too badly," said Rainford. "You always get to this stage of the season and people are carrying a few knocks but nothing major.
"We will be full tilt for Saturday apart from Mike Rawlings still being out. We have got good cover and depth in the back row so we're looking alright."