DEVON Under-20s missed out on reaching the semi-finals of the National Under-20 County Shield with a 44-21 defeat against Eastern Counties at Shelford on Sunday.
The Green and Whites were badly hit with late withdrawals due to injuries picked up on Saturday afternoon, including to South West trialist backs Damon Akerman and Alfie Lang, and had to travel to Cambridgeshire with just 17 players.
However, they probably had more territory and possession than their hosts but could not convert it into points, unlike Eastern Counties who were very clinical.
Devon, with Ivybridge scrum-half Connor Banks looking lively and flanker Max Coles impressing as a stand-in winger, dominated the opening 15 minutes, but could not score and then were left stunned as Eastern Counties went 22-0 up in the space of eight minutes.
That spell midway through the first half, which saw Aaron Forrest, James Storey and Jake Duffield score tries and Robert Smith kick two conversions and a penalty, proved decisive.
Smith added another penalty on 36 minutes before Devon hit back with tries by Ivybridge backs Jordan Shakespeare and Jordan Smith-Cronin, which were converted by their club team-mate Mitch Pinkus, to leave the half-time score 25-14 to Eastern Counties.
The home team increased that advantage to 30-14 immediately after the break with a touch-down by Chris Lewis.
But after that Devon dominated again and wasted two glorious chances to score. They were also ruled to have been held up over the line on 58 minutes.
Eastern Counties showed them how to score with further tries against the run of play by Sam Easton and Owain Collard.
But credit to the young Devon side they kept going and after Eastern Counties had been reduced to 13 players for two yellow cards the visitors were awarded a penalty try at the death, which Pinkus converted via the crossbar.
Meanwhile, Devon’s senior team will be in action next Monday when they host Cornwall at Tiverton in the annual Tamar Cup.