JASON LEONARD CUP U.20S COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP
CORNWALL 29 – 20 DEVON
By Bill Hooper at Tregorrick Park
With the final play of the game centre Jake Penprase, surged towards the try-line from a horde of players, to dot down bonus point try and confirm an opening day win for Cornwall in this season’s Championship.
Cornwall deserved the win in a pulsating game that flew by and was credit to rugby at this level.
Cornwall head coach Josh Lord was delighted with side’s start to the Championship. He said. “I am delighted we got the bonus point win against a very good Devon side who will cause the other side’s in the group plenty of problems. I thought our game management was top draw; we made some good choices for a young side.
“We want to play heads up rugby and back the player with the ball, at times we played some excellent rugby, however as ever there will things to look at before the next game away to Hampshire.”
The young black and golds made a great start with a try after just four minutes, strong running from skipper Jack Hodge and good hands from full-back Aaron Simmonds put flying winger Reuben Edwards in at the corner, Simmonds landing a touchline conversion to the roar of the crowd.
Simmonds was again on the money moments later with a penalty kick to put Cornwall 10-0 up.
Falmouth’s Alistair Harding looked threatening with ball on the wing as did club mate Stan Somers in the back row.
Devon were give a life-line when Cornwall looked to run the ball from their own line, the Cornish player was tackled and lost possession enabling Devon to work the short side for wing Nick Headley to score an unconverted try.
Devon edged a little closer when skipper Sam Brown knocked over a penalty.
Cornwall’s scrum-half Owen Davey had a tidy game as did No.8 Jamie Eddy, whilst the mid-field combination of Gilbert and Penprase looked threatening when they had the ball.
It was a titanic struggle at the breakdown and at time tempers flared but Cornwall’s nerves were soothed when Simmonds went over in the corner following a fine mid-field break from centre Connor Gilbert.
Simmonds missed the conversion as he did a penalty chance shortly after to leave Cornwall 15-8 up at half-time.
Devon began the second half strongly aided by a yellow card to Cornish lock Noah Stanier-Smith.
Further pressure saw Devon’s flanker Nathan Davies go over, with Brown adding the conversion to tie the scores 15-all.
Cornwall needed a score and it came from Somers following good forward play, with Simmonds obliging with the conversion.
Devon wouldn’t lie down and they scored a third try when prop Callum Davies was driven over, crucially the conversion hit the post and stayed out.
Cornwall’s win was secured with the final play when Penprase dived through from a powerful maul with Simmonds adding another conversion.
The final whistle was greeted enthusiastically by the sizeable crowd in the grandstand.
Backs coach Richie Kevern was equally pleased with the result. “The whole side played really well, I was particularly impressed with Owen Davey at scrum-half he controlled the game and I thought Jamie Eddy at No.8 had a strong game. The boys all stuck to the game plan and got their reward at the end with the bonus point try which could be vital.”
Huge credit must go to the trio from Redruth Hodge, Gilbert and Simmonds who only got home in the early hours of Sunday morning have played for Redruth at Canterbury the previous day.
Cornwall: 15 Aaron Simmonds (Redruth), 14 Reuben Edwards (Launceston), 13 Jake Penprase (Bath Uni), 12 Connor Gilbert (Redruth), 11 Alistair Harding (Falmouth), 10 Will Trewin (Cardiff Met), 9 Owen Davey (Truro); 1 Jack Hodge (Redruth) (Capt), 2 Rory Mead (Bude), 3 Chae Jenkins, 4 Dan Goldsmith (both Launceston), 4 Noah Stanier-Smith (Camborne), 5 Stan Somers (Falmouth), 7 Aden Brassington (St. Ives), 8 Jamie Eddy (Pirates Amatuers) Reps 16. Harry Lightfoot (Launceston), 17 Mawgan Osborne (Pz & N Colts), 18. Eddy Hall (Pirates Amateurs), 19. Alex Bartlett (Launceston), 20. Jamie Murray (Redruth), 21 Adam Long (Camborne), 22 Ben Plummer (St Austell).
Cornwall scores: Tries, Edwards, Simmonds, Somers, Penprase, Cons, Simmonds 3, Pen, Simmonds.
Devon: 15 Ollie Gibbon (Topsham), 14 Nick Headley (Exmouth), 13 Will Lamont (Ivybridge), 12 Sam Brown (Taunton) (Capt), 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).
Devon scores: Tries, Headley, N Davies, C Davies, Con, Brown, Pen, Brown
Referee: Joe Binfield (Gloucs)