Cornwall Under-20s hopes of quarter-final place dashed by Devon
Devon 32 Cornwall 24
CORNWALL'S hopes of reaching the knockout stages of the revamped National U-20 Championship were dashed when they went down to old rivals Devon at Brickfields on Sunday.
It all looked to be going so well for the Duchy as they led 24-12 early in the second half, but Devon came storming back with 20 unanswered points.
With Dorset and Wilts running in six tries in their 36-18 victory over Somerset at Weston-super-Mare, it meant Cornwall were denied a quarter-final place.
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Cornwall did not make the best of starts to their pool decider in Plymouth as they shipped a try after only three minutes, with great work by home centres Jake Monnington and Charlie Attis sending in openside flanker Chris Farrell for a fine score. However, they dominated the next 20 minutes and their very powerful scrum provided a pushover try for Cornish All Blacks No8 Matt Bolwell, converted by St Ives and Truro College scrum-half Max Bodilly.
Devon were giving away numerous penalties, and referee Chris Newton eventually sent lock Tom Burt to the sin-bin for persistent infringement by his team, but Bodilly was only able to slot one of his two attempts at goal, which gave Cornwall a 10-5 lead after 23 minutes.
Devon looked dangerous whenever they moved the ball out to their backs, and on a rare incursion into enemy territory in the first half, full back Oli Massy-Birch raced through a gap in the visiting defence to score in the right-hand corner after quick hands through the back division.
Former Cornish All Blacks fly half Rob Avery-Wright knocked over a fine touchline conversion to put Devon 12-10 in front, but he missed with a long-range penalty chance soon after.
It was the visitors who were back in front by the interval after a superb midfield break by Pirates Amateurs fly-half Rhys Brownfield, which set up a try for hugely impressive Truro College centre Tom Hendrickson, and Bodilly added the simple extras to make it 17-12 at the turnaround.
Bodilly was off target with a penalty chance early in the second half, but he did convert the Duchy's third try of the game, after 46 minutes, when Hendrickson's excellent burst through the middle eventually resulted in a score for skipper and Redruth flanker Neil Broadbank, although he appeared to knock the ball on when grounding it.
That put Cornwall 12 points clear, and firmly in the driving seat, but memories of last year's defeat in the Duchy no doubt spurred Devon on, and they came roaring back with two tries in eight minutes.
Burt charged down an attempted clearance kick and dived on the loose ball, and the touchdown was given, despite question marks again over the grounding, with Avery-Wright converting, and the latter also added the extras to a try on the hour by replacement hooker Giuseppe Varano.
That booked Devon a quarter-final place, thanks to the four-try bonus point, and put them 26-24 up, and the gap was stretched to five by an Avery-Wright penalty.
With news coming through that Dorset and Wilts had managed a bonus-point win, Cornwall had to score a try to stay in the tournament, but Devon intelligently saw the game out, with Avery-Wright dropping a goal to secure victory.
CORNWALL: J Prisk (St Ives), Speare (Bude), Hendrickson (Truro College), S Chapman (Cornish All Blacks), Ducker (Penryn), R Brownfield (Pirates Amateurs), Bodilly (St Ives and Truro College), Cinnamond (Wadebridge Camels), Allsopp (UWIC), Gendall (St Ives), Hales (All Blacks), O'Keeffe (Truro), Instance (Stithians), Broadbank (Redruth, capt), Bolwell (All Blacks). Replacements: Dickinson (Truro College) for Bolwell ht, Williams (Truro College) for Hales 53, K Brownfield (Pirates Amateurs) for Gendall 80+4, Brewer (Wadebridge C) for Allsopp 80+4. Not used: Pretty (Wadebridge C and Truro College), Kessell (Redruth), Dimond (Wadebridge Camels).
Devon: Tries: Farrell, Massy-Birch, Burt, Varano; Con: Avery-Wright (3); Pen: Avery-Wright; Drop goal: Avery-Wright.
Cornwall: Tries: Bolwell, Hendrickson, Broadbank; Cons: Bodilly (3); Pen: Bodilly.