Devon U20s should be proud of their efforts despite heart-breaking semi loss, says coach
HEAD coach Lewis Paterson has told Devon’s under-20 team they should be proud of their efforts this season, despite agonisingly missing out on a cup final place.
Devon looked like they were going to secure a place in the Jason Leonard Under-20 County Championship Division Two final when they went 33-29 up in the 79th minute of their semi against Notts, Lincs and Derbyshire at Ivybridge on Sunday.
But with the last play of the game, deep in injury-time, the visitors scored a try from close range to win 36-33 and set up a final with Lancashire.
“It is gutting,” said Paterson afterwards. “The game certainly produced a wave of emotions.
“But for the amount of effort that went in from November to then fall short with one play of rugby was really gutting for the boys. They just put so much effort in.
“Full credit to Notts, Lincs and Derby, they stuck at it to the end, but the Devon boys have really done something for the county this season.
“These boys have done just so well and are putting Devon Under-20 rugby back on the map. They have got us back up to the top tier and were just a minute away from securing a big trip.
“I do feel so sorry for the boys because of the amount of effort they have put in, but I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Devon took an early lead with a try by Brixham flanker Callum Smith, which captain Mitch Pinkus converted.
But then Devon found themselves down to 13 men for 10 minutes and Notts, Lincs and Derby down to 14. Mitch Pinkus and Ben Collins were the players shown yellow cards for the hosts.
It was while the visitors had a man advantage that they levelled with a try by Luke Brown, which Wells Harrison converted.
Two minutes later Notts, Lincs and Derbyshire took a 14-7 lead with a converted try by Tom Tucker.
Devon cut the gap before half-time to just two points with a try by Brixham centre Jesse Lowe.
And two minutes after the interval, the hosts went in front when Lowe added his second score, which Pinkus converted to put Devon 19-14 ahead. They scored despite being a man down after Smith was shown yellow just before the interval.
The visitors levelled the game almost instantly with a try by loose-head prop Henry Trimmer and on 49 minutes they went 24-19 ahead when tight-head Kane Kinklater crossed.
Devon replied immediately when the influential Lowe secured his hat-trick and Pinkus converted to put Devon 26-24 ahead.
In and end-to-end game, Notts, Lincs and Derbyshire went back in front when full-back Aaron Walker scored to make it 29-26.
That was how it stayed until the final minute of normal time when Devon threw everything at their visitors to try and snatch the victory. After a number of chances on the line, Ivybridge’s Adam Northcott crossed from a maul and his club colleague Pinkus converted to put Devon 33-29 in front.
The hosts were expecting time to be up, but the referee decided there was still four minutes to add on. Devon defended for their lives and twice looked to have stopped their visitors only for Notts, Lincs and Derbyshire to be awarded penalties. They took scrums on both occasions and with the last play, the visitors finally got over the whitewash through Tinder and Wells converted.
Devon U20s: 15 Aaron Smith (Teignmouth), 14 Ryan Lee (Barnstaple), 13 Brad Down (Hartpury College), 12 Jesse Lowe (Brixham), 11 Troy Willis (Barnstaple), 10 Mitch Pinkus (capt, Ivybridge), 9 Jay Toogood (Ivybridge), 1 Wes Vermigle (Ivybride), 2 Ben Collins (Ivybridge), 3 Marcus Prout (Ivybridge), 4 Dan Armstrong (Exmouth) 5 Morgan White (Exmouth), 6 Josh Mackin (Torquay Athletic), 7 Callum Smith (Brixham), 8 Robin Luscombe (Ivybridge). Replacements: Owen Garner (Ivybridge), Caleb Sampson (Withycombe), Alex Taylor (Withycombe), Adam Northcott (Ivybridge), Lewis Swatton (Devonport Services), Kye Munslow (Withycombe), Dan Johnson (South Molton).