Encouraging signs for Devon, despite Tamar Cup defeat to Cornwall
DEVON RFU...17 CORNWALL RFU...33
DEVON produced an encouraging display against county champions Cornwall in the annual Tamar Cup match at Tiverton on Monday evening.
Although Devon went down 33-17, the match, played in front of a decent-sized crowd at Coronation Field, was a lot closer than the scoreline suggests.
There were certainly plenty of positives for the Green and Whites to build on ahead of their return to the top flight of county rugby in May.
Devon, who lost last year's Tamar Cup clash 45-10, made a brilliant start to the match and dominated the opening 15 minutes.
Sidmouth fly-half Tom Whelan, who last season was playing in National One for Rosslyn Park, missed a penalty in the fourth minute.
But three minutes later the home team did take the lead when Barnstaple’s Will Topps went over in the left corner for the game’s opening try. Whelan brilliantly converted from the touchline to put Devon 7-0 up.
Camborne full-back Rhys Brownfield kicked a penalty for the Duchy on eight minutes, but apart from that the visitors struggled to get going early on against a fired up Devon team.
Cornwall were then reduced to 14 players for 10 minutes when Penryn’s George Jones was yellow carded in the 15th minute.
Whelan kicked the resultant penalty to make it 10-3 to Devon, but rather than hamper Cornwall, Jones’ sin-binning appeared to inspire them and they finally got into the match.
Brownfield put over a penalty on 21 minutes before surprisingly missing one three minutes later.
Cornwall were having a good spell and, just seconds after they returned to 15 players, they were awarded a penalty try after opting for a five-metre scrum from another penalty, which saw Whelan yellow carded for Devon. That put the Duchy ahead for the first time at 13-10.
The Green and Whites had a good chance on 34 minutes but could not finish it off and Cornwall made them pay by going up the other end and scoring in the left corner through Redruth’s Tom Notman.
That made it 18-10 to the visitors and they increased that in the 40th minute when Notman scored again after Everard Reid intercepted a Devon pass deep in his own half and broke up field before off-loading to his supporting team-mate.
Brownfield was unable to convert and the big talking point of the game came in first half injury- time when Cornwall centre Duncan Tout was sent off by former Premiership prop Nick Woods on advice of his touch-judge for an alleged kick.
Devon, who changed their line-up at the break, made a great start to the second period with Okehampton flanker Tom McGratton scoring on the right after earlier good play by Lewis Paterson. Whelan added the conversion to leave Devon just 23-17 behind.
Cornwall replacement David Mankee crucially put the Black and Golds two scores ahead with a penalty on 59 minutes later.
But after that it was attack v defence for nearly 20 minutes. Devon threw everything at Cornwall but just could not get the ball over the line.
The visitors defended really well to keep the home team out and in the last minute Chris Fuca scored from a five-metre line-out to give the scoreline a rather flattering look.
Devon will play Cornwall again on May 13 at Ivybridge in the County Championship.
Devon first half: 15 Charlie Briant (Ivybridge), 14 Will Topps (Barnstaple), 13 Ollie Rice (Exmouth), 12 Alex Goldman (Exmouth), 11 Harvey Ridgeway (Exmouth), 10 Tom Whelan (Sidmouth), 9 Cameron Setter (Plymouth Albion), 1 Isaac Dalton (Exmouth), 2 Davy McGregor (Brixham), 3 Ashley Crouch (Barnstaple), 4 Jamie Tripcony (Ivybridge), 5 Jack Fahy (Exmouth), 6 Sam Thomas (Brixham), 7 James Harris (Exmouth, capt), 8 Dan Swain (Exmouth)
Devon second half: 15 Garin Price (Newton Abbot), 14 Damon Akerman (Ivybridge, 13 Ryan Lee (Barnstaple), 12 Lewis Paterson (Ivybridge), 11 Tom Scoles (Ivybridge), 10 Tom Whelan (Sidmouth), 9 James Mattin (Exmouth), 1 Matt Finn (Ivybridge), 2 Andy Hamilton (Tiverton), 3 Charlie Gibbings (Exmouth), 4 Jamie Tripcony (Ivybridge), 5 Mike Richards (Exmouth), 6 Robin Luscombe (Kingsbridge), 7 Tom McGratton (Okehampton), 8 Josh Rice (Honiton). Replacements: Ben Watts (Ivybridge), Luke Kenny (Newton Abbot)