Devon Under-15 girls open campaign with victory over Gloucestershire
DEVON under-15 girls opened their county championship campaign with a conclusive 36-12 victory over Gloucestershire in a highly-competitive game at Banbury on Sunday.
It had been a number of years since Devon had played Gloucestershire, but they had previously been one of the challenges for top spot in the South West region.
Devon found themselves defending a number of Gloucestershire attacks out wide early on. Eventually that pressure was turned into points when they crossed the whitewash to take an early 7-0 lead.
But Devon came back strongly and enjoyed longer periods of possession after numerous good tackles from the back-row of Isabella Hartley, Corri Friend and Keira Worrall led to useful turnover ball.
Good hands among the backs saw Harriet Bond gallop in from 30 metres. Captain Olivia Churcher added the extras from the kicking tee to level the match.
Momentum swung in Devon’s favour as they started to dominate the set piece and they camped on Gloucestershire’s line.
Good defence from the opposition prevented a further score before half-time, despite strong carries from Asia-Mae Newton and Jasmine Squires around the fringes.
The second half started in emphatic fashion when the whole Devon bench came into play with destructive effect.
Immediately from kick-off a stray Gloucestershire kick found itself in the hands of Caitlin Piper, who linked well with fellow new additions Molly Thomas and Grace Eckford before Phoebe Bishop went over the try line for a crucial score.
Gloucestershire responded well and got themselves back in the game with a fine chip and chase to level the match at 12-12.
However, that was to be Gloucestershire’s last meaningful attack as Devon’s mobility and fitness around the park became too much to handle.
Two quick scores followed to give Devon a healthy lead. First came from another substitute Chloe Phillips, who picked up loose possession to score under the sticks, and the second came from back-of-the-match Bond, who rounded her opposite number to complete her brace and cap a fine performance. Churcher converted both efforts.
Continued dominance at the set piece led to much possession and territory for Devon.
Following a line-out a break from base led to Churcher going over from close range before almost immediately doubling up from similar fashion to give Devon a 36-12 win.
Devon will face a much-improved Oxfordshire side next on November 19.
Devon squad: Cat Walker, Evie Walker, Harriet Bond, Tilly Ryall, Abi Froom, Daisy Womack, Olivia Churcher, Maddison Lidstone, Holly Keast, Asia Newton, Jasmine Squires, Hannah Hughes, Keira Worrall, Corri Friend, Bella Harltley, Molly Thomas, Izzy Partridge, Caitlin Piper, Phoebe Bishop, Grace Eckford, Chloe Phillips, Jess Phillips
Meanwhile, Devon's under-18 girls won their opening match against Gloucestershire 62-12 at Banbury.