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Smith's late try secures Devon U20s a dramatic victory over Berkshire

25 Mar 2018 23:54 | Sara Raine

AARON SMITH scored a try with the last play of the game, which captain Mitch Pinkus calmly converted, to secure Devon Under-20s a dramatic 28-27 victory over Berkshire at Newton Abbot on Sunday.

The win means Devon and Berkshire both finished on seven points in Division Two Pool Four of the Jason Leonard Under-20 County Championship. However, the regulations appear to suggest that Devon will finish top of the group as wins and draws seem to count ahead of points difference.  If that is the confirmed, then the young Green and Whites will earn a home quarter-final tie and promotion back to Division One.

They had led on Sunday from the fourth minute until the 70th with Exmouth’s Max Keen scoring a hat-trick of tries, which were all converted by Pinkus. But two tries in five minutes put Berkshire 27-21 ahead before Smith’s last-gasp score won the match for Devon.

Devon finished unbeaten in the pool, having drawn 10-10 away at Somerset last month.

On a heavy pitch at Rackerhayes, the hosts made a great start with flanker Keen scoring in the fourth minute after prop Wes Vermigle had been stopped just short. Pinkus easily converted.

Berkshire responded eight minutes later with a try in the right corner from flanker Andrew Denham following line-out move.

Devon then showed good defence to keep their visitors out. Home scrum-half Jay Toogood was looking lively and made a great break but was just stopped 20 metres out.

However, the hosts did get a second try just before half-time when Keen crossed in the right corner after great hands by Smith and an earlier good break by Toogood. Pinkus, in fine form with the boot, brilliantly converted from the touchline to give Devon a 14-5 half-time lead.

That was cut to four points in the opening minutes of the second period when, after a great break by impressive scrum-half Oliver Cole, prop Paul Englezos scored. Berkshire, though, again missed the conversion and Devon hit back with another try by flanker Keen, which Pinkus again converted to make it 21-10.

Berkshire really upped their game after that and on 62 minutes they bagged a third try through lock Ryan Kinsella to make it 21-15.

Denham then went over for his second try of the day after Devon had lost the ball trying to play out of their own half. Fly-half Rowan Grundy did add the conversion this time to put his side in front for the first time.

They extended their lead when Devon failed to gather a high kick forward and Ally Walton picked up and scored, but, crucially, the conversion was missed.

With time almost up on the clock, Devon threw everything at their visitors and after intense pressure the ball came out to full-back Smith, who had the simple task of falling over the line to score.

The pressure was on Pinkus to convert, but he kept his nerve to send the ball between the uprights and win the game for his side.

DEVON: 15 AARON SMITH (Teignmouth), 14 RYAN LEE (Barnstaple), 13 JESSE LOWE (Brixham), 12 LEWIS SWATTON (Devonport Services), 11 TROY WILLIS (Barnstaple), 10 MITCH PINKUS  (capt, Ivybridge), 9 JAY TOOGOOD (Ivybridge), 1 WES VERMIGLE (Ivybridge), 2 BEN COLLINS (Ivybridge), 3 MARCUS PROUT (Ivybridge), 4 DAN ARMSTRONG (Exmouth), 5 MORGAN WHITE (Exmouth), 6 CALLUM SMITH (Brixham), 7 MAX KEEN (Exmouth), 8 JOSH MACKIN (Torquay Athletic). REPS: 16 OWEN GARNER (Ivybridge), 17 LOUIS CHAPMAN-COOMBE (Withycombe), 18 ALEX TAYLOR (Withycombe), 19 M WRIGHT (Newton Abbot), 20 SAM FULTHORPE (Exmouth), 21 BRAD DOWN (Hartpury College), 22 DAN JOHNSON (South Molton)