Devon installed themselves as slight favourites to win the South West pool of the RFU Under-20 County Championship with a hard-earned 18-7 win over Dorset and Wilts at Sidmouth yesterday.
Victory gives Devon two wins and top spot in the pool, with Cornwall to play at Ivybridge in the decider after Christmas.
Cornwall thrashed Somerset 69-0 in a Redruth mudbath yesterday to move into second place with one win in two starts.
If Devon beat or draw with Cornwall, they will top the pool. However, a defeat could put Cornwall top on points difference as yesterday’s win at Redruth ramped theirs up considerably.
“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves as we have not won the pool yet,” said Devon team manager Gareth Jones.
“Nothing has really changed much as you know before you start your best hope of winning the pool is to win all three matches and that’s exactly the position we are in.”
Devon were ahead from the fourth minute when Barnstaple’s Josh Lee went over for a try. Rob Avery-Wright added a penalty for an 8-0 lead, only for the visitors to hit back with a Josh Downie try that Ryan Webb converted.
Right on the stroke of half-time Devon opened up a 13-7 lead when Hayden Coles raced away to score. The second half became a slog in the mud and the rain with little to chose between the sides.
Devon had one more score in them though. Avery-Wright opened up he Dorset and Wilts defence with a cross kick, which Coles chased down to claim his second try.
Newton Abbot centre Jake Monnington went off injured in the dying minutes, with his club facing a National Three South West derby at Brixham on Saturday.
National Two South sides Cornish All Blacks, Redruth and Taunton were all without matches this weekend, as were National Three sides Barnstaple, Brixham, Exmouth and Newton Abbot.
However, there was action in South West One where Camborne won 23-22 at Sidmouth and Paignton were 47-16 losers at Old Redcliffians.
David Mankee kicked Camborne to victory with a penalty five minutes from time, taking his match tally to 18 points. Joe Parma scored the try.
Losing by a score is becoming a habit this season for Sidmouth which is starting to worry coach Jason Luff.
“That’s five or possibly six now and you can’t keep saying it is the luck of the draw or the bounce of the ball,” said Luff.
Paignton coaxed veteran scrum-half Liam Talbot out of semi-retirement to play at Old Reds and he scored their try.