UNDER 20 COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP
By Bill Hooper at the Rutts Pitch Ivybridge
Matt Grieveson’s final penalty kick gave Devon a last-gasp win against Cornwall 31-29 and dashed Cornish hopes of a home quarter-final in this season’s Under 20 County Championship.
The result gives Devon a home quarter-final against Berkshire, whilst for Cornwall they will have to travel to the south of London to face Kent, both ties will be played on Sunday 15th February.
It’s a game that Cornwall will on reflection know they should have won, especially as they led 26-16 mid-way through the second half having scored four tries and looking the stronger side.
Sadly some questionable decision making and five yellow cards – three in the closing minutes – in the game saw the momentum shift in Devon’s favour, whilst injury time saw the lead change hands on three occasions to set up the dramatic finale.
Despite a bright start by Cornwall it was Devon who opened the scoring with a penalty from Newton Abbot fly-half William Castleton.
Cornwall then suffered the first yellow card as fly-half Sam Fox was sin-binned for a late tackle.
Castleton repeated the dose twice more as Devon went 9-0 up by 17 minutes and Cornwall had prop Tommy Phillips yellow carded for a tip-tackle.
Cornwall needed a score and it came from a good forward drive near the Devon line with skipper Todd Prisk getting the un-converted try.
Devon struck back almost immediately when winger Correy Whane manged to wriggle out of a tackle to score under the posts, Castleton added the extras for an eleven point lead.
As half-time approached Cornwall got a vital score through flanker Adam Hughes, the first of his brace, which Rhys Brownfield converted to leave Devon 16-12 up at the turn.
Cornwall upped their game early in the second half as the scrum began to dominate the Devon pack. Devon prop Ashley Crouch was dispatched to the sin-bin allowing Cornwall to score to quick tries through the excellent Hughes and then thanks to centre Jack Simmons following good play from replacement back Ashley Taylor. Brownfield added both conversions and Cornwall appeared well on the way at 26-16.
Sadly, the wheels then fell off the Cornwall wagon, a kickable penalty was turned down for a scrum and that came to nowt!
Devon then got a sniff when flanker Jack Ferguson scored a try which Grieveson converted to trail by just three points.
Cornwall lost replacements Sam Furse and John Tyler to the bin in quick succession whilst Devon also had prop Will Cole sent to the increasingly busy cooler.
Scrum-half Kier Murphy took a quick tap penalty to dart over the Cornish line for Devon’s third try and a two point advantage on the scoreboard as the clock ticked past eighty minutes.
Devon were then penalised for obstruction allowing Brownfield to kick Cornwall back into the lead. Could they hold on?
However, the final twist saw Cornish flanker John Haines sin-binned for dissent presenting Grieveson with a last-gasp chance to sneak the win, which he duly delivered in the gathering gloom and drizzle of a Devon winter afternoon.
Devon 31 pts
Tries – Whane, Ferguson, Murphy; Cons: Castleton, Grieveson; Pens: Castleton (3), Grieveson.
Yellow cards: Crouch 45, Cole 74.
Cornwall 29 pts
Tries – Prisk, Hughes (2), Simmons; Cons: Brownfield (3); Pens: Brownfield.
Yellow Cards: Fox 9, Phillips 20, Tyler 73, Furse 74, Haines 80+7.
Devon: S Fellowes (Teignmouth), C Whane (Newton Abbot), D Squire (Brixham), B Massingham (Ivybridge), J Bond (capt), W Castleton (both Newton Abbot), K Murphy (Tavistock), A Crouch (Barnstaple), J Daley (Devonport S), W Cole (Newton Abbot), C Edbrooke (Sidmouth), B J McDonald (Old Reds), Rouse (Exmouth), J Ferguson (Kingsbridge), B Hawley (Exmouth).
Replacements: S Harrison (Exeter Saracens), M Allen (Kingsbridge), R Hull (Sidmouth), J Walker, M Grieveson (both Ivybridge), L Stannard , T W (both Devonport S).
Cornwall (Redruth unless stated): T Eley (Truro), L Thomas, J Simmons (Hartpury College), R Brownfield (Pirates Amateurs), T Sandercock (Cornish All Blacks), S Fox (Wadebridge Camels), D Rutter; T Phillips, J Martin (Truro), J Tyack (St Ives), T Prisk (capt), A Marsh (Truro), A Hughes (Penryn), J Haines (Cornish All Blacks), N Stanleick (Camborne).
Replacements: S Furse (Newquay Hornets), A Smith, T-L Southworth, T Pellow (Penryn), ATaylor (Cardiff Met), R Stevens (Hayle), J Tyler (Penzance & Newlyn Colts).
Referee: Charlie Gayther (Gloucestershire RRS).
TASC Cornwall man-of-the-match: Adam Hughes (Penryn) scored two tries and worked tirelessly in the backrow.