Devon U20s reach quarter-finals by beating Dorset & Wiltshire at Ivybridge

27 Feb 2022 22:20 | Devon RFU

DEVON booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Jason Leonard Under-20 County Championship by beating Dorset & Wiltshire 26-3 at Ivybridge on Sunday.

Two tries in each half secured the Green & Whites a place in the last eight, where they will take on Kent away.

Ivybridge hooker Jacob Winters led the way on his home pitch with two tries, with fellow front-rower Matt Hicks and winger Ollie Moody also crossing the whitewash in the bonus-point victory.

It was the perfect way for the Devon team to bounce back from their heart-breaking one-point defeat away to Cornwall in their opening match.

Devon U20 head coach Nathan Gosling said: “I was really pleased. The boys played some good rugby out there. We threw the ball around, played the conditions well and dug in and defended well when we needed to. I was really happy.”

There had been pressure on the team going into the game, but Gosling said: “As a coaching group we have been really mindful on how we deal with the pressure. We have tried to take as much pressure as possible off the players and keep it as light as possible.

“We are not going to over-coach them because they are good players already. What we are doing is letting them find their way by asking the right questions and guiding them that way.”

Gosling admits it is good that the team’s journey continues with a knock-out game against Kent in March.

“It is nice to have the opportunity to keep progressing as they are a great bunch of boys who love their rugby and they are playing with a smile on their faces,” he said.

“We have gone through to the next stage now and we can start building now for the next game – all the games now are one-offs. The game is going to be away so we will be the underdogs so we have nothing to lose. We will give it our all.

“It will be a challenge but it will also be fun and we will give it a good go.”

Devon took just eight minutes to open the scoring on Sunday when host club hooker Winters scored and Brixham fly-half Bradley McKee converted.

Dorset & Wiltshire cut the gap with a penalty from Bailey Andrews a few minutes later, but Devon went 14-3 ahead on 23 minutes when Exmouth prop Hicks forced his way over and McKee again converted.

Devon’s back three always looked dangerous while their pack were a real threat close to the line.

But neither side were able to add any other points in the final 15 minutes of the first half.

However, early in the second period, Devon did increase their lead when hooker Winter scored his second of the match from a catch-and-drive move and McKee converted.

Five minutes later Okehampton winger Moody scored in the left corner after taking a floating pass from full-back Fred Smale.

Devon had further chances with some strong breaks through Dorset & Wiltshire’s line but just were unable to finish them off.

But they will take positives from the chances they created and the fact that they denied their opponents a try.

Devon: Fred Smale (OPM), Cameron Grizzle-Johnson (Cardiff Met), Toby Lean (Devonport Services), Jason Capaldi (Brixham), Ollie Moody (Okehampton), Bradley McKee (Brixham), Ollie Latto (Paignton), Matthew Hicks (Exmouth), Jacob Winters (Ivybridge), George Montgomery (Ivybridge), Liam Bayley (Exmouth), Warren Goss (Barnstaple), Jacob Brooks (Cullompton), Brandon Moore (Barnstaple), Devlin Welch (Cullompton). Reps: Harry Sprague (Exmouth), Cole Pengelly (Okehampton), Matt Arnold (Crediton), Jack Bull (Exeter Athletic), Oli Symons (Devonport Services), Joe Dodge (Crediton), Saul Holiday (Okehampton), Ben Owens (Exmouth).