A COMMANDING Devon men’s side powered past North Midlands to win 39-20 in the Bill Beaumont Division 3 Final, writes Hannah Boyle.

Winger Matt Crosscombe scored twice and 14 points from the boot of Joel Ashworth secured Devon’s title.

Despite Devon having most of the possession, North Midlands struck first. Scrumhalf Joe Carter box-kicked from the back of a maul and the Devon defence let the ball bounce. North Midlands’ William Tanner hacked it through, and wing Tom Saddler had the pace to get to the ball first and bundle over the try line. Tanner added the extras to put them 7-0 ahead.

Devon began to test North Midlands’ defence in their 22 and eventually, the ball travelled through Devon hands until it reached Crosscombe who crossed the line.

Fullback Joel Ashworth then scored a penalty to put Devon ahead for the first time, which was followed by a Devon try from George Hillson. After collecting a kick in the backfield, Devon trucked it up and Robin Edbrooke made a dart for the try line. He was brought down just before the line but passed out the back door to put scrum half Hillson over before the conversion made it 15-7.

Thanks to two Tanner penalties, North Midlands went into halftime just two points behind, but after the break Devon began to pull away. Hillson got his second of the game through a weaving run that skipped around defenders and Ashworth extended the lead to 22-13.

Devon men in action
Devon men in action (Contributed)

A penalty in front of the sticks from Ashworth made the gap 25-13 before replacement hooker Kai Allton picked up a loose ball after a lineout and drove over the touchline with defenders hanging off him. The conversion was good, and the score was 32-13.

North Midlands brought themselves back into contention with a Sam Brown try as Callum Megram threw a long, looping pass to Matt Moseley who darted toward the line and offloaded to Brown. With the conversion, it was 32-20.

But Devon responded quickly with a break from Ashworth who passed to Rich Goldsby-West who then put Crosscombe in for his second. The conversion from the touchline was good and Devon ended the game 39-20.

Dan Parkes, Devon men’s head coach, said: “There was a lot of first-half pressure. After half an hour, it felt like we hadn’t left their 22 and yet we were 7-5 down. We encourage attacking rugby and as the game went on, that came through. Fair play to North Midlands, they defended well right till the end.”

“We’ve had a steady squad for the whole month. We’ve made some changes which is hard because you must drop players, but we’re really pleased with the game today. Everyone got on the pitch and had a good day out.

“We’re moving up the levels so hopefully we’ll be Division 2 next year and I’d like to think we’ll be back at Twickenham next year too.”

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