Devon secure a home quarter-final after victory over Cornwall
Devon set up a home quarter-final against Kent in the National Under-20 Championship with victory over Cornwall in an entertaining encounter in Plymouth yesterday.
The Duchy appeared to be heading for the last eight themselves when they led 24-12 early in the second half, but Devon came storming back with 20 unanswered points.
With Dorset and Wilts running in six tries in their 36-18 victory over Somerset at Weston-super-Mare, it means Cornwall miss out on the knock-out stages.
Dorset and Wilts will play Berkshire at Maidenhead on Sunday, April 7, with Pool Three winners Devon tackling Kent the same day at a venue still to be confirmed.
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Devon got off to a great start, with fine link-up play between Newton Abbot's Jake Monnington and fellow centre, Devonport Services' Charlie Attis, creating the space for Newton openside flanker Chris Farrell to cut a lovely line to the whitewash.
However, the next 20 minutes were dominated by Cornwall, who camped in Devon's half and were rewarded with a pushover try from Cornish All Blacks No.8 Matt Bolwell, converted by St Ives scrum-half Max Bodilly.
Bodilly then had two penalty shots at goal – either side of a yellow card for Devon lock Tom Burt for persistent infringement by the hosts – and he slotted the second to make it 10-5 to the Duchy after 23 minutes.
Just before the half-hour mark though, Devon finally got back into the opposition half, and made it count with a score from UWIC full-back Oli Massy-Birch.
Newton Abbot fly-half Rob Avery-Wright banged over a superb touchline conversion, and Devon were 12-10 in front.
The ding-dong battle continued, with a superb midfield break by Pirates Amateurs fly-half Rhys Brownfield setting up a try for very impressive Truro College centre Tom Hendrickson, and Bodilly added the simple extras to put Cornwall 17-12 ahead at the interval.
The Duchy took the game by the scruff of the neck in the 46th minute when an excellent burst down the middle by Hendrickson took Cornwall deep into enemy territory, and a couple of phases later, skipper and flanker Neil Broadbank crossed for a try, converted by Bodilly, to put the visitors 12 points clear.
Devon, though, came roaring back into the contest, with two tries in eight minutes.
Burt charged down an attempted clearance kick and dived on the loose ball, with Avery-Wright converting, and the latter also added the extras to a try on the hour by replacement hooker Giuseppe Varano, which secured his team a quarter-final place, courtesy of the four-try bonus point, and put them 26-24 up.
An Avery-Wright penalty stretched the lead to five points, before dropping a goal to guarantee victory.
Devon: Tries – Farrell, Massy-Birch, Burt, Varano; Conversions – Avery-Wright (3); Penalty – Avery-Wright; Drop goal – Avery-Wright.
Cornwall: Tries – Bolwell, Hendrickson, Broadbank; Conversions – Bodilly (3); Penalty – Bodilly.
England were crowed RBS Under-20 Six Nations champions for an unprecedented third time in a row after a 28-15 win over Wales at Eirias Park, Colwyn Bay, on Friday.
Helped by their Exeter Chiefs quartet of Luke Cowan-Dickie, Sam Hill, Jack Nowell and Henry Slade, England proved too strong for their hosts, who had come into the game unbeaten.
Wales fly-half Sam Davies was a constant threat with the boot, but two tries from flanker Harry Wells and one from winger Nowell gave England the win as fly-half Slade added 13 points with the boot.