DEVON U20S 15 GLOUCESTERSHIRE U20S 30
DEVON were unable to hold on to a narrow half-time advantage against Gloucestershire in their opening National Under-20 group game at Keyham.
The match, which was switched from Brixham to the Royal Navy’s artificial surface in Plymouth due to the bad weather, was in the balance until the last six minutes when Gloucestershire scored a converted try and a penalty to run out 30-15 winners.
Gloucestershire, with a powerful pack, did dominate territory and possession but Devon always threatened on the counterattack with their speedy backs.
The pace at which Devon could turn defence into attack was highlighted in the seventh minute when they opened the scoring through Exmouth winger Harvey Ridgeway.
Devon had been defending their own line, with Gloucestershire having three penalties inside the 22, but after stopping their visitors scoring, the Green and Whites broke from a tap penalty and Ridgeway ran in down the right to score.
Gloucestershire hit back with a good try by scrum-half Sam Boyland, which Joe Carolan converted.
The home team had Devonport Services’ Joe Daley sin-binned on 22 minutes and while he was off the field Gloucestershire scored a second try through Lydney centre Carolan, who also converted to make it 14-5.
But Jordan Petherbridge got Devon back into the game with a drop-goal and then in first half injury-time Devon scored another length-of-the-field counterattack try through winger Jack Bond. Petherbridge converted to give them a 15-14 lead at the break.
Ten minutes into the second half Carolan put over a drop-goal of his own to edge Gloucestershire 17-15 in front as the rain lashed down.
Carolan then kicked a penalty from nearly the halfway line midway through the half to make it 20-15
However, Gloucestershire then found themselves down to 14 men when Ashley Kockeran was yellow carded as Devon threatened down the right.
Despite dominating the second half, Gloucestershire continued to look nervous of Devon’s counter-attack game, but those nervous were ended when Lydney’s Tyler Jerum went over for their third try. Carolan converted and he also added a late penalty.
Ivybridge’s Billy Pinkus, Sean Harrison and Joe Walker all started for Devon, while team-mate Damon Ackerman was a replacement.
Devonport Services were represented by Daley, Tyler Busfield and Luke Stannard, Plymouth University by Will Mason and Ben Morris, while Albion forward Jim Massey started but had to go off midway through the second half with an injury.
Devon: Luke Simmons (Launceston), Harvey Ridgeway (Exmouth), Dean Squire (Brixham), Billy Pinkus (Ivybridge), Jack Bond (capt, Newton Abbot), Jordan Petherbridge (Barnstaple), Harry Rumens (Sidmouth), Haydon Down (Sidmouth), Sean Harrison (Ivybridge), Will Mason (Plymouth Uni), Jim Massey (Plymouth Albion), Ashley Bradnock (Crediton), Jonathan Merrin (Kingsbridge), Joe Walker (Ivybridge), Tyler Busfield (Devonport Services). Reps: Joe Daley (Devonport Services), Richard Hull (Sidmouth), Ben Morris (Plymouth Uni), Jordan Watson (Brixham), Tom Bottoms (Newton Abbot), Luke Stannard (Devonport Services), Damian Ackerman (Ivybridge).