Devon U15 girls continue winning run in 15-a-side format
DEVON Under-15 girls impressed again in their second South West festival, which was staged Downside School in Somerset on Sunday.
It was their second festival and repeated the format from the first at Tavistock RFC where they played round robin 15-a-side games in the morning before partaking in a small sevens tournament in the afternoon.
Once again Devon proved their strength in the 15-a-side format winning all three of their games against local rivals Cornwall, Somerset and Gloucestershire, just like they had done at Tavistock.
In their first game, Devon took on closest rivals Cornwall, who they had narrowly beating 12-5 in the first festival.
But the Green and Whites started a little more enthusiastic this time round and raced into a quick lead when Holly Burrow finished off a well-worked move after extremely brave work on the floor from Darcy White.
This was shortly followed by scores by Daisy Womack and Chloe Phillips, who both showed fantastic positional sense to cut through the Kernow defence.
Burrow doubled her tally and ever-present front-row Molly Thomas walked in after a well-set driving maul from an attacking line out to make it 25-0 at half-time.
The second half saw the Cornish get the upper hand at scrum-time, but Devon managed to maintain enough possession to add to their tally, with Phillips adding her second, electric winger Rebecca Squires dotting down her first county XV's try and debutant Lauren Pike bulldozing over from 20 yards to bring the final score to 40-0.
Next up for Devon were Somerset, who have proven to be tough opposition over the years for Devon.
A tight first half saw Womack and Squires finish breakaway tries before a quite bizarre hailstorm descended on the players, spectators and coaches, who were left stranded with no cover.
The hardy Devon outfit though were spurred into life in the second half led by some fantastic carries from prop Charlotte Gale in midfield. They soon pulled away when replacement Chloe Huxtor finished two fantastic outside breaks from her own half to score a rapid brace before Burrow and Chloe Phillips added their third tries a piece in just two games to give Devon a 30-0 win.
Last up were Gloucestershire, who Devon dispatched with relative ease in the first festival. This time around, however, Devon were made to work extremely hard with the Gloucestershire outfit having improved drastically.
Devon did get an early score when an experiment play to Alex Tamlin in the centre paid off and her tireless hard carrying in midfield saw her rewarded with a try.
Gloucestershire hit back shortly after to be the first side of the day to cross the Devonian line and bring the half-time score to 5-5.
The second half continued to be a tense match up with possession regularly exchanging hands and Gloucestershire ringing the changes bringing on plenty of strong ball carriers.
It was, however, Devon who regained the lead when Kina Massey scored from close range after good interplay in midfield from fly-half Niamh Shirley.
A further breakaway from Squires offered a cushion for Devon, but Gloucestershire struck back with a well-executed move down the blind-side.
With five minutes to go Gloucestershire enjoyed much of the possession but the Devon defence was too strong pushing them back onto their own try-line before an error was eventually made to give the Green and Whites a 15-10 win.
The afternoon saw the sevens competition played in some not so glorious conditions but none the less some fantastic rugby.
This season the two format festival allows the girls to try both forms of the game, with Devon electing to rotate their XV and sevens squads from festival to festival to allow fair game time and experience.
First up was once again Cornwall, who offered a great match up with Devon in a fantastic game of sevens.
Devon did start the better when Alice Hornby scored a quick brace from turnover opportunities. The remainder of the half was end-to-end with both sides showing much promise in both attack and defence.
The second half started with Cornwall reducing the deficit after moving the ball well but Devon had the final score when Millie Sinclair Thompson picked up loose ball to run in from 50 metres to give her side a 15-5 victory.
Next up were the formidable Somerset team, who had yet to lose in the sevens format. Some fantastic work from Chloe Brown, Zoe Cross and Caitlyn Yeandle in defence saw the Somerset team work hard to maintain the ball but their strength out wide was too much resulting in a 29-0 loss for the Green and Whites.
Last up was Gloucestershire, who once again showed they were much-improved since their first outing in Devon. Danielle Preece, Bryony Vass and Lulu Sinar all had great counterattacks but the whitewash was not crossed in what were becoming tricky conditions and Gloucestershire did eventually run out 15-0 victors.
The final festival will be held in Gloucestershire on March 24 with the strong Devon squad looking to continue their 15-a-side prowess and look to overcome Somerset in the sevens tournament.