Under-20s secure vital draw with Gloucestershire to stay top of the table
A last-gasp penalty by Exmouth’s Harry Ottaway secured Devon a 29-29 draw with Gloucestershire at Cheltenham in the second round of the Jason Leonard Under-20 County Championship.
The three points the young Green and Whites picked up on Sunday means they stay top of Division One, Pool Four and they will go into their final group match against bottom side Berkshire knowing a win or a draw will be enough to progress to the quarter-finals.
Devon got off to a good start and went 5-0 up with a try by Honiton winger Sam Heathcote, but Gloucestershire hit back and went into half-time 19-5 ahead after scoring three tries.
But after the interval, the visitors closed the gap when Barnstaple forward Byrn-Lee Jago went over for a try, which was converted by Ottaway.
And five minutes later, Devon levelled the game when Ivybridge full-back added their third touch-down of the afternoon, which Ottaway again converted.
With eight minutes to go, Gloucestershire re-took the lead with a penalty, but a minute later Devon got their bonus-point try through Taunton centre Connor Vickery, which Ottaway converted to take a 26-22 lead into the final few minutes.
Yet with two minutes to go, the hosts scored a converted try, which they hoped had won them the game.
However, Devon’s young team had other ideas and pressed from the re-start and with time up they got a penalty that Ottaway calmly slotted over for a share of the points.
Head coach Nathan Gosling said afterwards: “After a very slow first half the boys found themselves 14-5 down, but they shook themselves into life in the second half, playing some of the best rugby of the competition so far.
“The character and determination to never give up and fight was outstanding and it made us all very proud.
“The skills and decision-making almost took us to a great win. Adam (Northcott) made a very brave decision at the end of the game to take the draw, he is growing into a fantastic captain.
“The group are learning and growing all the time, and have heart and spirit in bucket loads.
“As a group we can’t wait until the next time we meet.
“The challenge is to kick-on again to keep on improving and continuing the journey further into the competition. I think there are some very exciting times ahead.”
Devon: Daniel Lilley (Ivybridge), Sam Heathcote (Honiton), Connor Vickery (Taunton), Sam Roberts (Kingsbridge), Devon Jewsbury (Brixham), Harry Ottaway (Exmouth), Sam Fulthorpe (Exmouth), Callum Davies (Bideford), Nathan Tomkins (Okehampton), Callum Wood (Exmouth), Toby Turner (Devonport Services), Charlie Mears (Exmouth), Bryn-Lee Jago (Barnstaple), Ethan Justice (Exmouth), Adam Northcott (capt, Ivybridge). Reps: Ethan Pearce (Crediton), Will Lancaster (Honiton), Jack Routley (South Molton), Tom Chapman (Barnstaple), Charlie Short (Hartpury Uni), Tom Cooke (Exmouth), Josh Woodland (Crediton).