Devon miss out on reaching Under-20 County Shield semi-finals
Eastern Counties Under-20s...44 Devon Under-20s...21
DEVON paid the price for a costly 10 minute spell in the first half of their Jason Leonard National Under-20 County Shield quarter-final at Eastern Counties.
The young Green and Whites, who were hit by a host of late withdrawals and travelled to Shelford with just 17 players, conceded three quick tries midway through the opening period to trail 22-0.
They did hit back towards the end of the half and went in at the break 25-14 down.
Devon, who showed great spirit all afternoon, had their chances after the interval but could not turn their pressure into points, unlike their hosts who outscored them three tries to one in the second half to win 44-21.
The visitors, who were forced to play flanker Max Coles on the wing due to injuries, made a good start and pinned Eastern Counties in their own half for the first 12 minutes.
But it was the home team who opened the scoring on 18 minutes when impressive full-back Aaron Forrest showed great hands to gather a pass behind him and burst through to score. Nottingham University fly-half Robert Smith converted that and also added a penalty from the restart.
And within a minute of the next re-start Eastern Counties had scored a second try when hooker James Storey forced his way over after Henry Cowling had intercepted a pass and broke and then Forrest had just been stopped on the right. Smith again converted.
It got better for the home team when two minutes later they scored again through centre Jake Duffield to make it 22-0.
After that costly few minutes, Devon regrouped. Kingsbridge forward Robin Luscombe came agonisingly close to scoring in the left corner after intercepting a pass and running 60 metres but he was just stopped five metres short.
In perfect conditions for rugby, Smith added a penalty for Eastern Counties on 36 minutes, but then Devon finally got on the scoresheet. Good play by scrum-half Connor Banks put his Ivybridge team-mate Jordan Shakespeare into score in the right corner.
Fellow Ivybridge man Mitch Pinkus brilliantly converted from the touchline.
And with the last play of the half, Devon added a second try when Jordan Smith-Cronin went over on the right. Pinkus again converted to send the visitors into the dressing room on a high.
But Eastern Counties hit them with a fourth try just after the interval when centre Chris Lewis touch-down on the right after good play by Smith.
Devon should have hit back on 56 minutes. They had an overlap on the left but dropped the ball five metres from the try line.
Two minutes later they were held up over the line. They continued to press but could not add any points and Eastern Counties showed them how to do it with flanker Sam Easton touching down on 68 minutes.
Cambridge winger Owain Collard added another on 80 minutes after he broke down the left wing and Devon ran out of numbers with two players down injured.
But the visitors kept going and after Eastern Counties had two players sin-binned Devon were awarded an injury-time penalty try after a drive was illegally stopped on the line.
Pinkus converted via the crossbar, but there was not enough time to add any more points.
Devon Under-20s: Michael Sandercock (Paignton), Max Coles (Ivybridge), Jordan Smith-Cronin (Ivybridge), Jordan Shakespeare (Ivybridge), Jake Prophett-O’Neill (Exmouth), Mitch Pinkus (Ivybridge), Connor Banks (Ivybridge), Ben Logan (Honiton), Aidan Taylor (Exmouth), Sean Harrison (Withycombe), Jordan Watson (Brixham), Jack Sturton (Ivybridge), Tom Arnold (Plymouth University), Ben Morris (Plymouth University), Robin Luscombe (Kingsbridge). Replacements: Martin Carrick (Newton Abbot), Joe Buller (Tiverton).