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Dan Smith writes happy ending for South Molton in Devon Junior Cup against Torrington

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: May 02, 2013

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THEY lost the plot for a while but 15 points in the last 15 minutes ensured there was a happy ending to South Molton's Devon Junior Cup final story.

Torrington, regarded as underdogs by everyone including themselves, had threatened to write a twist into the tale.

Having trailed since the 13th minute, they went in front with Ben Harper's try in the 64th.

But South Molton got back on script, hitting back instantly with a try by Dan Smith.

The barnstorming No 8 added another before Dom Stoneman put the result beyond doubt at 20-8 with a penalty in the last minute of normal time.

Gary Bucknell, the head coach, said: "I'm really pleased with the way we kept pushing right through the game.

"That is a big step forward this year – to play for a full 80 minutes.

"We have got a pretty young side and they kept their heads very well."

The whole season has been an uphill struggle for Torrington, who will be relegated from Tribute Devon One, but they seemed to get more joy playing up the slope at South Molton's Unicorn Park.

They will look back on the three missed penalties – which had become progressively easier – by Nick Evans.

It meant that, despite having the better of the second quarter of the match, they went into half time trailing 5-0.

It was a fickle turn for Evans, who a week earlier had scored 20 of Torrington's 28 points in the semi-final win over Totnes.

Not that the wing was solely to blame. Blaine Quinlan's kicking out of hand from fly half was inconsistent and they did not do enough to get Bill Ellis, their electric full back, in the game.

South Molton went ahead on 12 minutes, spinning the ball across the line before Courtney Lucas cut back into the heart of the Torrington defence.

Stepping inside two tackles, he found Kingdon running a superb supporting line.

The fly half showed great pace to beat the remaining defenders and great agility to score in the corner, taking the flag with him.

It looked ominous for Torrington but, helped by the hosts' high penalty count, they got themselves into the game despite Sam Howard hunting for tackles in midfield and Luke Doyle showing great composure under the high ball.

Even with Gavin Mitchell, the blind-side flanker, in the sin bin either side of half time for blocking Aidan Irving as he chased his chip ahead, the visitors were more than a match for Molton.

There were points for the 14 men three minutes into the second half when Ellis took on the kicking duties and slotted a penalty from in front of the posts to reward a spell of pressure.

Quinlan then kicked long into the right corner where the ball bounced agonisingly out of reach of Jack Horwell.

From there, Conor Kendrew, Torrington's best player at open-side flanker, caught Irving in possession and the visitors' claims for a try were ignored by the referee.

There was no doubt on 63 minutes as, after attacking patiently, Torrington were rewarded when Harper, who had replaced Mitchell, stepped out of one tackle and inside another to dive over the line.

Ellis missed the conversion but Torrington had the lead at 8-5. Never mind Mighty Molton, it was looking like Tremendous Torrington.

Perhaps, having worked so hard to get into the lead, they relaxed.

A clearance by Quinlan was run back hard and when the ball found its way to Smith there was no stopping him as he rampaged down the right touchline. Back in the lead, Molton flexed their muscles.

Andy Webber and Doyle both got close to the line before Smith picked up and showed them how it is done. At his boisterous best, he powered through under the posts for his 12th try of the season.

Stoneman knocked over his first successful kick with the conversion and added another with the last-minute penalty.

Torrington were wondering about a penalty count that was four times higher for the hosts while only they were punished with a yellow card. After his last match as captain, Adrian Avery was philosophical.

"The result isn't the be all and end all," he said.

"If we look back even three or four weeks, we never would have thought we would be in this position. We have had a great finish to the season and we can be proud of that."

Smith had scored three tries a year earlier as South Molton beat Salcombe to win the Devon Junior Vase, a competition for teams knocked out in the first round of the cup. This time, it was the real thing.

"Dan was pretty much out for the count at the end but there was no way he was coming off," said Bucknell.

"The fellas have worked really hard this year and that's a nice finish for them."

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