Cornwall Under 20s 18, Devon Under 20s 15
CORNWALL guaranteed themselves a home quarter-final in the National Under-20 Championship with an impressive victory over old foes Devon at Penryn on Sunday, writes Nigel Walrond.
The Duchy ensured they finished top of Pool Three by making it back-to-back wins after their 37-35 away triumph over Dorset and Wilts in their opening group game.
They now face a home last-eight tie on Sunday, March 30 against the runners-up in Pool Four, which contains Kent, Hertfordshire, Gloucestershire and Berkshire.
The outcome of that group is still very much up for grabs, with one round of matches still to be played.
Devon could also still qualify for the last eight if they win their second and final group match at home to Dorset and Wilts next month.
Delighted Cornwall team manager Chris Lea said: "It was a very close game and a superb advert for under-20 rugby.
"Our forwards were dominant over a strong Devon pack, while the backs made good use of the ball when they got it.
"The coaches – Ian Morgan, Mike Rawlings and Bryn Jenkins – are so proud of the boys and we can now look forward to a home quarter-final."
Cornwall had first use of a strong wind at their backs , but worryingly they failed to make the most of it in the first half and the game was all tied at 7-7 at half-time.
Devon opened the scoring after 10 minutes with a try by fly half Charlie Attis, who looked a class act - following a quick tap penalty, and he also converted for a 7-0 lead.
However, Cornwall levelled the scores five minutes before the break when good play by St Ives forwards Neil Stanleick and man-of-the-match Tyler Gendall set up a ruck close to the visitors' line, and Pirates Amateurs fly half Rhys Brownfield raced through the defence to score under the posts, and added the simple conversion.
Devon started the second half a man down after losing skipper and Cornish All Blacks back rower Chris Courtier to a yellow card late in the opening period, and the hosts took advantage with a 42nd-minute penalty from Brownfield to give them the lead for the first time.
Devon hit back almost immediately with an opportunist try from scrum half Ben Watts after he won the race to his own kick ahead, but the try went unconverted, leaving the visitors 12-10 ahead. A second simple Brownfield penalty established a one-point lead for Cornwall, and further Devon indiscipline saw them go down to 14 men for the second time in the game with the loss of centre Dan Sanders to the sin bin. Cornwall took advantage once more when a break by Brad Howe off the base of a scrum set up a try for winger Brad Janes in the corner to give them an 18-12 advantage.
Attis cut the deficit to only three points with a penalty, but Devon's hopes of victory disappeared when Courtier was shown a second yellow, and a subsequent red, by referee Adam Wookey in the closing stages for an alleged stamp.
Cornwall U20: J Kessell (St Ives), L Tidball (Truro), S Chapman (Cornish All Blacks), A Taylor (St Austell), B Janes (Truro College), R Brownfield (Pirates Amateurs/Bath Uni), S Fox (Wadebridge Camels); J Martin (Truro) J Innard, (Truro College), T Gendall (St Ives), T Prisk (St Ives, capt), H Baker (Wadebridge Camels), N Stanleick (St Ives), J Haines (Cornish All Blacks), B Howe (Helston/Truro College).
Replacements used: L Hattam (Redruth/Truro College), N Broadbank (Exeter Uni/Redruth), J Duke (Cornish All Blacks), J Willey (Truro College/Penryn). Not used: L McFadden (Pirates Amateurs), S Rodda (Newquay Hornets), B Tharme (Cornish All Blacks).
Devon U20: G Banfield (Kingsbridge), G De Mendonca (Ivybridge), D Squires (Ivybridge College), D Sanders (UNA), H Davis (Brixham), C Attis (Devonport Services), B Watts (Ivybridge); J Sargent (UWIC), T Phillips (Sidmouth), T White (Newton Abbot), P Hancock (Saltash), B McDonald (Exeter Coll), B Wannacott (Crediton), J Lee (Crediton), C Courtier (Cornish All Blacks, capt).
Replacements all used: A Crouch (Barnstaple), L Trickey (Topsham), E Northcott (Devonport Services), K Caunter (Dartmouth), W Massingham (Newton Abbot), M Grievson (Ivybridge), D Siddall (Paignton).
Cornwall: Tries: Brownfield, Janes; Con: Brownfield; Pens: Brownfield (2).
Devon: Tries: Attis, Watts; Con: Attis; Pen: Attis.
Yellow cards: Devon - Courtier 40, Sanders 54.
Red card (two yellows): Devon - Courtier 80.
Referee: Adam Wookey (Dorset & Wilts RRS).