GALLERY: Richards proud of Devon's performance against Berkshire in women's County Championship
DEVON women’s head coach Greg Richards said the team could be proud of their efforts against Gill Burns County Championship Division One Pool Three winners Berkshire on Sunday at Crediton.
Devon lost 22-5, but they really pushed a strong Berkshire side hard at Blagdon.
Berkshire were only 5-0 up at half-time and there was only 10 points in the game until three minutes from time when the visitors scored a third try.
Last year, Devon had lost 41-7 to the same opponents at the same venue, while Berkshire had beaten a strong Gloucestershire side 30-12 in their opening group game.
It was the Green and Whites’ performance on Sunday that pleased Richards after the team had produced a disappointing display in their opening group match when they lost 66-10 at Gloucestershire.
“To be honest, after the first game we didn’t look like we deserved to be in this tier of the competition,” said Richard. “But they can be proud of that this week.
“For large parts of the game we were competing, if not the better team. They (Berkshire) were just better when they had a chance. When it was tight they had two chances and they scored two tries. We probably had four chances and didn’t score one.
“But compared to two weeks ago that was so much better. I think it gives the girls some belief as well.”
He added: “The first 10 minutes were going to be crucial if we were going to be competing and show that we are good enough to be here – and we did that. It is definitely a step in the right direction.
“We missed so many tackles two weeks ago. Even players I have never seen miss a tackle missed four or five each. Gloucestershire had some really big ball carriers and I don’t know if we got intimidate but this week was more like it. I wouldn’t say it is still anywhere near what we are capable of, but it is a massive step in the right direction.”
Richards admitted it is disappointing that this year, unlike in previously seasons, Devon only had two group games.
“We picked a big squad and we have managed to give everyone who was fit some game-time, but a third match would have been nice just to go and try and build on this,” he said.
Devon went behind in the 18th minute against Berkshire when Reading flanker Lil Knight went over on the right following a tap penalty.
The hosts had the chance to cut the gap straight away when they were awarded a penalty after Berkshire had messed up the restart. Cullompton’s Charlotte Green went for the posts but she just missed with her kick at goal.
Devon defended really well in the first half and put in some really big hits to restrict Berkshire to just the one try.
After the interval Richmond’s Sophie Barnett kicked a penalty for the visitors to make it 8-0 before Devon had a really good spell of pressure but they could not get anything out of it.
And they suffered a kick in the teeth when Wasps player Kate Hallet forced her way over under the posts on 61 minutes. Barnett converted to make it 15-0.
But Devon responded well and Cullompton winger Sarah Hurford scored a great try on 66 minutes. Full-back Emma Mingo gathered a Berkshire clearing kick and fed her club team-mate, who ran in from 40 metres down the left wing.
The hosts went looking for another try, but in the 77th minute Berkshire sealed the game when powerful centre Alice Denton ran in under the posts for a try, which was converted by Barnett.
Devon: Emma Mingo (Cullompton), Sarah Hurford (Cullompton), Jocelyn Saxelby (Plymstock Albion Oaks), Liz Lennox (Cullompton), Bex Partridge (Topsham), Charlotte Green (Cullompton), Charley Wright (Cullompton), Charley Kierle (Cullompton), Claire Knighton (Cullompton), Georgia Bartlett (Cullompton), Laura Harris (Topsham), Jade Wallis (Topsham), Gemma Parish (Cullompton), Mollie Hussell (Cullompton), Amy Alford (Cullompton). Reps: India Chambers (Cullompton), Molly James (Newton Abbot) Ellen Lloyd (Plymstock Albion Oaks), Beckie Stephens (Withycombe), Zoe Harrison (Exeter University), Bathan Ayling (Plymouth Albion), Annie Jones (Totnes).