Devon find champions Cornwall too strong at Ivybridge
DEVON found reigning champions Cornwall too strong for them in their second Bill Beaumont County Championship match at Ivybridge.
In front of a bumper crowd at Cross-in-Hand, that also included RFU president Peter Baines, Devon, who have returned to the top flight this season after a seven-year absence, lost 56-11.
Like against Gloucestershire the week before, Devon were competitive first half, but Cornwall turned on the style after the break to continue their winning run.
The Duchy, led by former Devon coach Graham Dawe, are now just one win away from a fifth consecutive Twickenham final – a feat Devon achieved between 2004 and 2008.
Cornwall took an early lead with a penalty by Camborne fly-half David Mankee.
Two minutes later they increased their advantage with a converted interception try by influential Plymouth Albion back Robin Wedlake.
However, Devon hit back on eight minutes. Exmouth centre Ollie Rice charged down a kick and managed to dive on the loose ball for a try. Sidmouth fly-half Tom Whelan hit the post with the conversion.
Cornwall scored a second try on 14 minutes when Redruth scrum-half Jack Oulton took a quick tap penalty and fed Plymouth Albion full-back Matt Shepherd to score to the left of the posts. Mankee converted to make it 17-5.
Devon, though, responded with two Whelan penalties to leave them just six points behind.
But almost straight after his second kick the game had to be stopped for 10 minutes for a serious looking head injury to Devon captain James Harris.
Harris, fortunately, was eventually able to walk off the field to applause from both sets of supporters.
Six minutes after the restart, Cornwall added a third try courtesy of Redruth hooker Richard Brown after intense pressure started by a great run down the left by former Albion flanker Sam Matavesi.
Mankee added the conversion and also a penalty four minutes later to make it 27-11.
Devon thought they had cut the gap on the stroke of half-time with a try by Barnstaple’s Will Topps from a quick tap penalty, but it was disallowed.
Cornwall added a fourth try immediately after the interval through Redruth’s Lewis Winnicombe after more great play by Matavesi, who was really influential after coming on as an early replacement.
Fiji international Matavesi then added a fifth try on 55 minutes, before Redruth winger Tom Notman also crossed, which Shepherd converted.
Wedlake added his second on 75 minutes before Penryn forward George Jones crossed in injury-time for Cornwall’s eighth after Devon player-coach Lewis Paterson had been sin-binned.
Devon have to pick themselves up ready to face Kent at Barnstaple next Saturday.
DEVON TEAM: 15 CHARLIE BRIANT (Ivybridge), 14 WILL TOPPS (Barnstaple), 13 OLLIE RICE (Exmouth), 12 LEWIS PATERSON (Ivybridge), 11 TOM SCOLES (Ivybridge), 10 TOM WHELAN (Sidmouth), 9 CAMERON SETTER (Plymouth Albion), 1 RUSSELL MORRIS (Brixham), 2 ASHLEY CROUCH (Barnstaple), 3 MATT FINN (Ivybridge), 4 JACK FAHY (Exmouth), 5 GEORGE WILSON (Ivybridge), 6 MATT HARVEY (Brixham), 7 JAMES HARRIS (capt, Exmouth), 8 SAM THOMAS (Brixham). REPS ALL USED: 16 MIKE RICHARDS (Exmouth), 17 ISAAC DALTON (Exmouth), 18 MATT DOWRICK (Newton Abbot), 19 TOM McGRATTAN (Okehampton), 20 RYAN DINGLE (Ivybridge), 21 JACK BOND (Newton Abbot), 22 MITCH PINKUS (Ivybridge).