Hartpury College RFC restored their lead at the top of National League 2 South to 12 points after a superb six-try 40-13 victory over midtable Launceston.
The hosts, clearly wounded by the loss to fellow high-fliers Cambridge last week, emerged with great intent in this match and raced into a 19-3 lead after just 13 minutes.
Chris Fortey bagged the first as he touched down at the back of a catch-and-drive for five points, which was swiftly followed by a carbon copy from Ross Moriarty that Billy Burns converted.
Launceston’s Kieron Lewitt slotted a penalty, only for Jaike Carter to slice the Cornish All Blacks open almost immediately and release Ben Vellacott.
The visitors, who had become somewhat of a bogey team for Hartpury after three clashes without defeat, barely touched the ball during the onslaught, but they eventually managed to build some pressure and Lewitt struck his second penalty.
It was only brief respite, however, as a bulldozing carry from lock Joe Batley (pictured), captain of the College’s U18 side, set the platform for Steve Leonard to cross for the bonus point eight minutes before the break.
Hartpury began the second half where they left off and Launceston centre Neilson Webber was quickly shown a yellow card for killing the ball after Burns had been dragged down inches short.
The home side opted for a scrum from the resultant penalty, which concluded with a free kick that was spun wide to the onrushing Carter for a try in the corner.
Vellacott then scampered up the narrowest of blindsides to complete his brace four minutes later as Burns’ fifth conversion from six attempts brought up the 40-point mark.
With the clock ticking into the final quarter, the game became gradually more fragmented as both teams rang the changes.
Launceston enjoyed the better of the closing stages and hammered away in opposition territory, but the All Blacks found try-scoring opportunities hard to come by in the face of a watertight defensive unit.
Their persistence eventually yielded a yellow card for second-row Jonny Hill, leaving Hartpury to play the final eight minutes with 14 men.
Still the hosts held firm, but the Cornishmen finally broke through on the final whistle when prop Tim Mathias pounced upon a lost lineout to rumble over from 10 metres.
Hartpury would like to thank Launceston for an excellent match and wish them well for the rest of the season.
Hartpury’s next match is away at Southend on Saturday 18th January.
Final score: Hartpury College 40-13 Launceston
Tries: Vellacott (2), Fortey, Moriarty, Leonard, Carter
Conversions: Burns (5)
Steph Reynolds; Reuben Haile, Steve Leonard, Terry Fanolua (Ben Roberts 71), Jaike Carter (Ben Roberts 68-71); Billy Burns (Gareth Thompson 60), Ben Vellacott; Alec Clarey (Des Merrey 7), Chris Fortey (Will Tanner 53), Wayne Thompson; Dave McKee (Joe Batley 21), Jonny Hill; Ross Moriarty, Alex Woodburn, Nathan Thomas