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Under-20s suffer narrow defeat against Cornwall in opening County Championship match

03 Feb 2019 22:08 | Sara Raine

DEVON narrowly lost 29-20 in their opening Jason Leonard Under-20 County Championship match against Cornwall at St Austell on Sunday.

The game went right down to the wire with Cornwall scoring a converted try with the last play of the game to secure the win and cruelly deny newly-promoted Devon a losing bonus point.

Despite missing the likes of experienced players like Jay Toogood, Marcus Prout, Wes Vermingle and Robin Luscombe due to injury or illness, Devon battled hard down in Cornwall and showed good character to come back from an early 10-0 deficit to take the entertaining contest down to the final seconds.

The game could have gone either way in the last 10 minutes, but in the end it went with home advantage.

“It just slipped away from us at the end,” said Devon head coach Lewis Paterson.

“But for our development moving forward there were a massive amount of positives.

“We have a really dangerous side and that was our first game.

“We knew we would be up against it going down into Cornwall and taking on a well-drilled Cornwall side. It was always going to be a difficult game but we have got so much from it. There was loads of positives.

“We are going to continue to grow. We had a couple of injuries and had to make some late call-ups with Marcus Prout and Jay Toogood dropping out, but to see the response from the team was fantastic.

“I am really proud of the boys and we know we have some real potential."

Devon, playing uphill first half, made a slow start and Cornwall went 10-0 up in the opening nine minutes with Launceston winger Reuben Edwards going over in the right corner and Redruth full-back Aaron Simmonds converting that try and then adding a penalty.

But on 18 minutes Devon got back into the game. After a good break they kicked forward and chased. Initially Cornwall’s last man did well to pick up and jink away from three tackles but he then threw the ball straight to Ivybridge centre Will Lamont, who showed good pace to run in and score.

Captain Sam Brown was unable to add the conversion but he did kick a penalty six minutes later to make it 10-8.

Cornwall responded immediately to Devon closing to within two points with a fine backs try scored by full-back Simmonds to make it 15-8, which was how the game stayed until half-time.

After the break Cornwall were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes when Noah Stanier-Smith was yellow carded and Devon took advantage of the extra man straight away. They went for the corner from the resultant penalty and after pressure Ivybridge forward Nathan Davies showed good strength to beat a tackle and stretch out to score. Brown brilliantly converted to level the match at 15-15.

Cornwall missed a penalty before they did go back in front on 63 minutes when Mawgan Osborne went over from close range and Simmonds converted.

With the game proving exciting to watch, Devon hit back six minutes later when Bideford’s Callum Davies went over from close range after some good forward pressure. Brown just missed with the conversion, meaning Devon trailed by two points.

The visitors had a good chance almost straight from the restart but they were penalised for holding on in the 22.

And in the closing stages, Cornwall got into Devon’s 22 and kept the pressure on and with the last play of the game, Jake Penprase scored from close range and Simmonds converted.

Devon’s next match will be against Gloucestershire at Crediton on Sunday, February 24.

Devon: 15 Ollie Gibbon (Topsham), 14 Nick Headley (Exmouth), 13 Will Lamont (Ivybridge), 12 Sam Brown (Taunton), 11 Bradley Down (Hartpury), 10 Harry Ottaway (Newton Abbot), 9 Sam Fulthorpe (Exmouth), 1 Callum Wood (Exmouth), 2 Martinas Dromantas (Barnstaple), 3 Callum Davies (Bideford), 4 Ethan Pearce (Crediton) 5 Dan Armstrong (Exmouth), 6 Nathan Davies (Ivybridge), 7 Rudi Evans (Topsham), 8 Asipeli Vea (Sidmouth). Reps: Owen Garner (Ivybridge), Reece Bartlett (Devonport Services), Toby Turner (Kingsbridge), Jake Smith (Exeter Athletic), Reegan Spencer (Plymstock Albion Oaks), Finlay Marks (Topsham), Will Throgmorton (Newton Abbot).