Devon claim first County Championship win over Cornwall for eight years
CORNWALL 19 DEVON 20
DEVON claimed their first County Championship win over Cornwall in eight years at a rain-soaked Camborne on Saturday.
It was a tremendous victory for the new-look Green and Whites, who last year had been beaten 56-11 by their big rivals at Ivybridge on their return to the top tier of county rugby.
Devon had led 17-0 at the break on Saturday and, although Cornwall hit back after the interval, the visitors were able to just hang on, although there were a few nervous moments in the closing stages.
The Devon players and coaching staff could not hide their delight when referee Veryan Boscawen blew the final whistle.
The county’s last top flight victory had come against Cornwall at Camborne in May 2010.
Since then the Green and Whites, who were finalists six times between 2000 and 2008, have had some tough years. They went five seasons without claiming victory before winning two out of their three games in 2016 to be promoted back to the top division along with Kent.
They found their return last year tough, but they played well against highly-fancied Gloucestershire at Brixham last weekend.
And that performance appeared to give the players confidence and they took it into Saturday’s game against a much-changed Cornwall side, who have lost many of their stars that have helped them reach the last five finals at Twickenham.
Playing down the slope first half, Devon got on top early, with Tom Putt kicking well and their hosts struggling to adapt to the conditions.
Putt had the chance to put the visitors ahead in the seventh minute when Cornwall were penalised in possession, but his kick just went wide.
However, six minutes later he did put Devon in front with a penalty from almost the same spot.
The game was then held up for nearly seven minutes due to an injury to Cornwall’s Plymouth Albion-bound fly-half Fraser Honey. He had to be replaced and while the hosts were still re-jigging, Devon increased their lead.
Cornwall lost the ball on halfway and Devon kicked it forward. Matt Crosscombe gave chase with two Duchy players. Crosscombe thought he had scored but it did not matter as referee Boscawen awarded the penalty try and reduced Cornwall to 14 men for 10 minutes by sin-binning Mitch Vague.
At the restart, the hosts were awarded a penalty at the other end. However, rather than go for goal they went for the corner and lost the line-out.
And in first half injury-time Devon increased their lead to 17-0. A good break by Putt nearly put full-back Charlie Briant in to score. He was just pushed into touch inches from the line. However, Devon stole Cornwall’s line-out and attacked. After a number of phases, captain Nathan Hannay got the ball down over the line from close range. Putt added the simple conversion to leave the home support stunned.
Putt attempted a penalty from the halfway line straight after the interval. That was just off-target and seven minutes later Cornwall cut the gap to 17-5 when Penryn flanker George Jones scored from a good drive.
Devon then lost Crosscombe with an injury, after Cornwall centre Duncan Tout had also been forced off. The wet surface was making it difficult for players to keep their feet and hold of the ball.
But five minutes later Jake Murphy did show good feet to skip around a few Devon players and score under the posts. Replacement fly-half David Mankee added the conversion to leave Cornwall just five points behind.
However, Devon responded by going up the other end and patiently keeping the ball with their forwards before they were eventually awarded a penalty that Putt crucially put over to make it 20-12.
Six minutes from time, Redruth’s Tom Notman went over from a driving maul and Mankee converted to put Cornwall just one point behind.
In the dying minutes the hosts pressed. They got into Devon’s 22 but the visitors defended well and eventually Cornwall went wide and lost the ball. The Green and Whites secured it from the scrum and ran the clock down before kicking out to end the game.
Devon will now visit Kent next week knowing they need to win to stay in the top flight with relegation decided over a two-year period.
Cornwall: Mitch Vague (Penryn), Tom Notman (Redruth), Duncan Tout (Tonbridge), Jake Murphy (Barnstaple), Jon Dawe (Launceston), Fraser Honey (Bury St Edmunds), Taron Peacock (Camborne), Andrius Zacharovas (Camborne), Tommy-Lee Southworth (Camborne), Jon Drew (Camborne), Ed Pascoe (Redruth), Luke Hattam (Redruth), BJ Chapman (Newton Abbot), George Jones (Penryn), Grant Randlesome (Penryn). Reps: Matt Ballard (Wadebridge), Jess Tompsett (Redruth), Damien Cook (Camborne), Ben Humber (Wadebridge), Richard Keverne (Redruth), David Mankee (Camborne), Jack Simmons (Redruth).
Devon: Charlie Briant (Ivybridge), Jack Bond (Barnstaple), Rhys Palmer (Okehampton), Matt Crosscombe (Plymouth Albion), Kyle Browne (Newton Abbot), Tom Putt (Brixham), Ben Watts (Ivybridge), George Snell (Bideford), Ashlee Crouch (Barnstaple), Tom White (Newton Abbot), Nathan Hannay (capt, Honiton), George Wilson (Ivybridge), Tom McGratton (Okehampton), Dean Abrams (Okehampton), Wayne Sprangle (Tiverton). Reps: Aiden Taylor (Plymstock Albion Oaks), Wes Vermingle (Ivybridge), Tim Coats (Plymstock Albion Oaks), Ben King (Ivybridge), Kye Munslow (Withycombe), Connor Bedwell (Brixham), Billy Pinkus (Ivybridge).
Referee: Veryan Boscawen (RFU)
Scorers: Cornwall: tries: Jones, Murphy, Notman; cons: Mankee
Devon: tries: penalty, Hannay; Con: Putt; Pen: Putt 2