DEVON player-coach Lewis Paterson says all the pressure will be on Cornwall on Saturday when the teams clash at Ivybridge in their first County Championship meeting for seven years (3pm).
Cornwall, coached by Graham Dawe, will arrive at Cross-in-Hand as reigning champions and having opened their campaign with a 34-14 win at Surrey.
Devon, on the other hand, have just returned to the top flight of county rugby and suffered a disappointing 55-12 defeat at Gloucestershire last Saturday.
Paterson, who is one of seven Ivybridge players in Devon’s squad, is confident the Green and Whites can improve from last week’s performance at Cleve.
“I think you will see a different Devon side. I certainly hope so,” said Paterson, who is part of a Devon coaching staff that also includes Dan Parkes and Jon Hill. “There have been a few changes. People in key positions who were unavailable against Gloucestershire are back, which should help us.”
“Gloucestershire were a good side and played a very good tempo of rugby and they exploited us second half, but that was just one half of rugby that we need to address.
“We did play well first half. We just need to make sure we identify our wrongs from last week and make sure as a county, a squad and players that we keep building.”
He added: “I think this Saturday will be a different game.
“Well done to Cornwall on their big win last week. They have been county champions for the last few years and they will be expected to win on Saturday.
“No-one’s expecting anything from us as it’s our first year back at this level.”
Paterson cannot wait for Saturday’s match. Not only is it at his club ground, but it is also against his former county.
“I am very excited for this game,” he said.
“For me personally, it is a big game. A big part of my rugby career was in Cornwall and I owe a lot to Cornish rugby.
“It is also nice to have a big county game at Ivybridge.
“From what I’ve seen on social media, I think there will be a very big crowd.
“The Cornish will bring a lot of supporters and the die-hard Devon fans have been waiting for this game for long time.
“I think everyone is very excited.”
Paterson admits he is likely to get a bit of stick from the Cornish contingent on Saturday, having previously pulled on the black and gold Duchy shirt.
“I will expect it, probably more so from the players,” said the centre. “To be fair to the Cornwall supporters, they are a big rugby family. They give me some stick on the pitch but are quite nice afterwards.”
Paterson, though, is not the only one to have been involved with both counties.
Cornwall coach Graham Dawe helped Devon to six finals between 2000 and 2008, including five in a row. He helped them win three titles – 2004, 2005 and 2007.
However, he has since coached Cornwall to three consecutive finals, winning it the last two years.
Dawe has uniquely won the County Championship as both a player and a coach with Devon and Cornwall.
However, he has insisted he will not have any mixed emotions on Saturday. He says his focus is totally on trying to help Cornwall claim a second successive group win, which would put them in a great position to reach Twickenham again.
Although Cornwall beat Surrey 34-14 last weekend, Dawe was not totally happy with their performance and is looking for more on Saturday.
He has also warned his team about complacency, as he knows from the recent Tamar Cup meeting, that Devon will be up for a meeting with Cornwall.
“Although we won the match against Surrey there are many areas of our game that we need to work on,” said Dawe. “And nobody should be complacent.”
RFU president Peter Baines will be a guest at the game and a marquee is being brought in for pre and post match functions.
Devon: Charlie Briant (Ivybridge), Will Topps (Barnstaple), Lewis Paterson (Ivybridge), Ollie Rice (Exmouth), Tom Scoles (Ivybridge), Tom Whelan (Sidmouth), Cameron Setter (Plymouth Albion), Russell Morris (Brixham), Ashley Crouch (Barnstaple), Matt Finn (Ivybridge), Jack Fahy (Exmouth), George Wilson (Ivybridge), Matt Harvey (Brixham), James Harris (capt, Exmouth), Sam Thomas (Brixham). Reps: Mike Richards (Exmouth), Isaac Dalton (Exmouth), Matt Dowrick (Newton Abbot), Tom McGrattan (Okehampton), Ryan Dingle (Ivybridge), Jack Bond (Newton Abbot), Mitch Pinkus (Ivybridge).
Cornwall: Matt Shepherd (Plymouth Albion), Lewis Vinnicombe (Redruth), Robin Wedlake (Plymouth Albion), Jake Murphy (capt, Barnstaple), Tom Notman (Redruth), David Mankee (Camborne), Jack Oulton (Redruth), Andruis Zacharius (Camborne), Richard Brown (Redruth), Craig Williams (Redruth), Bryn Jenkins (Barnstaple), Tony Whittle (Camborne), Grant Randlesome (Penryn), George Jones (Penryn), BJ Chapman (Redruth). Reps: Matt Ballard (Wadebridge), Sam Matavesi (Camborne), Brad Howe (Redruth), Tommy Phillips (Redruth), Chris Fuca (Redruth), Seti Raumakita (Plymouth Albion), Joe Elderkin (Redruth).