DEVON 12 ROYAL NAVY 28
THE Royal Navy were forced to work hard for a 28-12 victory over a new-look Devon side at Brickfields on Wednesday night.
Going into the final few minutes the Navy were only 16-12 up, but two late tries made sure of the victory.
The Navy, preparing for their Inter-Service Championship, dominated large spells of the game and wasted a number of try-scoring chances.
But Devon, with eight Ivybridge players in their squad, defended really well and looked dangerous on the occasions they did get into attacking positions, especially with their pacy back three.
The county coaches will have been pleased with their opening game, especially as they were unable to call on Barnstaple, Newton Abbot and key Exmouth players.
Last year, Devon lost the same fixture 57-10, so there will be a lot more optimism in the county camp.
But the Navy, playing their eighth match since January, gradually got into the game.
They cut the gap with a Nathan Huntley penalty on 19 minutes before he kicked two more in first half injury-time to give the servicemen a 9-5 lead at the break.
Straight after the interval, Devon had Ivybridge hooker Jay Geraty sin-binned and almost immediately Harry Collins scored for the Navy and Huntley converted.
That made it 16-5, but Devon hit straight back with a try down the left by Tom Goodman, which Dan Powell converted.
Devon had to show some great defence after that. Navy winger Ben Chambers was just denied by a try by a foot in touch, while the county had to defend forward pressure on the line.
But then Devon had a chance to take the lead after getting a penalty and going for the corner, but they were just stopped short from the catch-and-drive move and then pushed into touch themselves when they tried to go down the blindside.
The Navy, who included Albion flanker Jarrad Hayler in their starting line-up, put the game beyond Devon when Greg Loydall scored in the 77th minute from 20 metres out.
Deep in injury-time replacement Ben Fox added a third try for the Navy after Greg Welling had been stopped just short following a great run.
The Navy begin their Inter-Service Championship next Wednesday when they host the RAF at Portsmouth.
Devon’s second warm-up game for their County Championship will be on April 26 when they travel to St Austell to take on Cornwall in the Tamar Cup.
Ivybridge’s Charlie Briant, Lewis Paterson, Ben Watts and Jon Morgan all started for Devon, with Nathan Reeves, Tom Scoles, Dom Loomes and Geraty replacements.