CORNWALL retained the Tamar Cup on Monday night at St Austell, but they were pushed all the way by a spirited Devon side.
The Duchy eventually ran out 24-12 winners, with their fourth and final try coming in the last minute of the match.
Devon, with Albion’s Cameron Setter impressing at fly-half, dominated large spells of the contest, but Cornwall, inspired by former Plymouth captain Jake Murphy, always looked dangerous when they did get their hands on the ball and attacked.
As well as Setter, Devon’s squad also included fellow Albion player Matt Crosscombe, Plymstock Albion Oaks’ Tim Coats and Aiden Taylor, Ivybridge’s Charlie Briant, Matt Grieveson George Wilson, Lewis Paterson, Ben Watts and Adam Northcott and Tamar Saracens’ Chey Bryce.
Saltash winger Will Morton started for Cornwall, while his club colleague Lewis Wells came on as a replacement.
Devon, with Setter pulling the strings at fly-half, dominated possession in the opening 30 minutes.
However, it was not until the 24th minute that they actually created a clear-cut chance. Although they were penalised on the line on that occasion they did take the lead six minutes later when Okehampton’s former Devonport Services forward Martin Browne crossed from a catch-and-drive move. Setter, who was handed the goalkicking duties on the night, was unable to convert in the strong wind.
That try did seem to wake up Cornwall and six minutes later they went in front when impressive Wadebridge flanker Ben Humber scored following a great 70-metre move earlier which featured Murphy. Camborne’s David Mankee converted the try to put the Duchy 7-5 ahead.
On the stroke of half-time, Cornwall went 14-5 ahead when Humber, who had made some great tackles earlier in the game, added his second after more good play by Murphy. Mankee again converted.
Cornwall camped on Devon’s line at the start of the second half and got five penalties in a row but were unable to make them tell.
Ivybridge players Briant and Watts nearly linked up for a Devon try on 53 minutes but Cornwall made a last-gasp tackle to push the visitors into touch.
But the Green and Whites did cut the gap to just two points on 65 minutes when Bideford prop George Snell crossed after earlier good play by Setter, who brilliantly converted.
But Cornwall, cheered on by a large crowd and with Matt Shepherd on the field, were not going to surrender the Tamar Cup lightly and almost instantly they scored a third try through Launceston’s former Albion back Jon Dawe.
And in the last minute of the match, Cornwall sealed the game when Kyle Speare crossed on the right after the hosts went wide quickly after intense pressure under the posts.
Both counties are likely to have different sides for the County Championship, which starts on May 5.
That weekend, Albion are due to play Rosslyn Park, while Saltash are at Twickenham in the RFU Senior Vase final.
Cornwall: Mitch Vague (Penryn), Will Norton (Saltash), Jake Murphy (capt, Barnstaple), Jon Dawe (Launceston), Kyle Speare (Barnstaple), Richard Kevern (Redruth), David Mankee (Camborne), Andrius Zacharovas (Camborne), Matt Ballard (Wadebridge), Jon Drew (Camborne), Jack Heazelton (Truro), James Hoskin (St Ives), BJ Chapman (Newton Abbot), Ben Humber (Wadebridge), Grant Randlesome (Penryn). Reps: Rob Elloway (St Ives), Zac Cinnamond (Launceston), Lloyd Duke (Launceston), Lewis Wells (Saltash), Taron Peacock (Camborne), Jake Champion (Camborne), Dan Pearce (Launceston), Damien Cook (Camborne), Rhodri McAtee (Camborne), Matt Shepherd (Plymouth Albion).
Devon: Charlie Briant (Ivybridge), Matt Crosscombe (Plymouth Albion), Rhys Palmer (Okehampton), Matt Grieveson (Ivybridge), Kyle Browne (Newton Abbot), Cameron Setter (Plymouth Albion), Jacob Nash (Brixham), George Snell (Bideford), Ashlee Crouch (Barnstaple), Wes Vermigle (Ivybridge), Tim Coats, George Wilson (Ivybridge), Dean Abrams (Okehampton), Tom McGratton (Okehampton), Martin Browne (Okehampton). Reps: Lewis Paterson (Ivybridge), Ben Watts (Ivybridge), Aiden Taylor (Plymstock Albion Oaks), Adam Northcott (Ivybridge), Chey Bryce (Tamar Saracens), Morgan White (Exmouth).