CORNWALL produced a strong second half display to beat Devon 38-13 and retain the Tamar Cup at Brickfields on Tuesday night.
Devon, in Division Two of the County Championship, gave as good as they got in the first 40 minutes against last year’s runners-up and were only four points behind at the break.
But after the interval, as the rain lashed down, Graham Dawe’s Cornwall side pulled clear on their hosts.
Despite the defeat there were plenty of encouraging signs for Devon, who have not won a County Championship game since their relegation in 2010.
Dan Williams and Russell Morris stood out in the pack, particularly in the first half, while young fly-half Joe Simmonds producing an encouraging display.
Newton Abbot forward Williams, who played for Plymouth during the 2013/14 season, scored Devon’s only try mid-way through the first half while Cornwall were down to 14 men after another ex-Albion man, Rupert Freestone, had been sin-binned.
Williams’ converted try pulled Devon level after Cornwall’s Matt Shepherd, playing at scrum-half, had given his side the lead with a try and conversion after just four minutes.
Shepherd, taking his chance at nine in the absence of Greg Goodfellow, was the pick of the Duchy players, although young Launceston back Billy Searle came on as a replacement for his debut and made his mark with a try and two stunning conversions.
Devon, with Ivybridge’s former Cornwall man Lewis Paterson lining up for them at centre, led for six minutes in the first half when Simmonds kicked a penalty while the Duchy were still down to 14.
But once the Black and Golds were back to full strength, Shepherd kicked a penalty before Lewis Webb scored a converted try to make it 17-10.
However, with the last play of the half, Simmonds, brother of Exeter and Albion flanker Sam, added a three-pointer for the home side to leave them just four points behind.
Any hopes of them shocking last year’s County Championship finalists, though, disappeared early in the second half.
Redruth winger Robin Wedlake scored in the corner after good play by Nielson Webber just two minutes after the restart. Shepherd brilliantly converted from out wide.
By the 54th minute Cornwall were 31-13 up after Webb went over again after the Duchy had pushed Devon off a scrum in their own 22.
The game went quiet for a bit before Devon were held up over the line in the 69th minute and then messed up the five-metre scrum.
Cornwall had the final word when Searle slid over in the right corner after a great team move and a good juggling skills by the visitors.
The Duchy did have Chris Courtier sin-binned at the death but it was too late for Devon to take advantage.
Both teams still have plenty to work on before the County Championship starts on May 9 but there were positives for them to take away from Tuesday’s match.
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