Devon women's head coach positive despite tough start

29 Apr 2018 22:13 | Sara Raine

DEVON women’s head coach Greg Richards felt there were plenty of positives, despite the team’s 41-7 defeat to Berkshire in their opening County Championships match on Sunday.

The powerful visitors capitalised on nearly every mistake Devon made at Crediton, particularly in the second half.

Berkshire only led 10-0 at the break, but three tries in eight minutes early in the second half took the game away from Devon.

The hosts, however, kept going and did manage a consolation try late on through captain Amy Alford.

“It sounds stupid with that scoreline, but in between their tries we actually played some really good rugby,” said Richards.

“It was our first game together. There are people from eight different teams and five different leagues and it could easily have been a lot closer.

“They (Berkshire) were really good when they did get a turnover – they punished us with a score.

“There is a lot to work on, but we are positive for next week.”

Devon have a new-look team this season and Richards is confident they will grow.

“I think we only had six players from last season,” he said. “And four of five of the team are in their first season of playing rugby. So there are lots of positives.

“Like I said, in between their tries we did play some really good stuff.

“For the standard some of the players play at to step up to this level was really good.”

Devon, who have a host of players unavailable due to injury, actually made a promising start at Crediton. They had some good early pressure but could not turn it into points and on nine minutes they found themselves behind when Berkshire fly-half Liz Hearn made a great break down the left wing to score from 50 metres.

On 22 minutes, she added a second after producing a fine dummy to make it 10-0.

The visitors missed a penalty eight minutes later and in the final minutes of the half it did look like Devon were going to score. They pressured Berkshire’s line but eventually knocked the ball on a couple of metres out.

In the opening eight minutes of the second half both teams were ruled to have been held up over the line, with Jennie Hammer the unlucky player for Devon.

That close call seemed to wake up Berkshire, who produced a deadly few minutes with three tries.

The first of those came from full-back Louisa Burgham, who turned Devon over on her own 22 and ran the length of the field to score under the posts for an easy conversion for Rachel Humphreys.

Two minutes later replacement Lucy Mercer went over for Berkshire before Pippa Robinson followed suit from a scrum after a Devon line-out was ruled not straight.

Two more tries followed for the visitors through Hayley Matthews and Chloe Baker, before number eight Alford scored under the posts from some good play by Devon.

The inexperienced Green and Whites certainly deserved their try for their efforts.

They will be hoping to bounce back next Sunday when they play Gloucestershire at Teignmouth (2.30pm).

Devon: 15 Charlotte Green (Cullompton), 14 Louisa Higby (Topsham), 13 Sarah Hurford (Cullompton), 12 Corinne Walsh (Topsham), 11 Jennie Hamer (Cullompton), 10 Jennie Moss (Totnes), 9 Charley Wright (Cullompton), 1 Elena Wallis (Plymouth Albion), 2 India Chambers (Withycombe), 3 Izzy Jackson (Plymouth Albion), 4 Ndi Ekanem (Plymstock Albion Oaks/Plymouth Univerisity), 5 Kirsty Scotter (Exeter University), 6 Beckie Stephens (Withycombe), 7 Gemma Parish (Cullompton), 8 Amy Alford (capt, Cullompton). Reps: 16 Charlie Keirle (Withycombe), 17 Kerry Ackerman (Topsham), 18 Phaedra Leveridge (Cullompton), 19 Lisa Pringle (Plymstock Albion Oaks), 20 Manny Kwan (Plymouth University), 21 Sophie Robinson (Plymstock Albion Oaks), 22 Kelly Browring (Withycombe)