Disappointing home defeat brings Devon's campaign to an end
Devon 41 Kent 46
at Astley Park
Devon's Bill Beaumont Championship campaign ended in disappointment for another season as they dipped to a 46-41 defeat against Kent at Brixham on Saturday.
There is little room for error in the feeder division to the main competition and, by losing to Somerset seven days earlier, Devon were on borrowed time before they had even started. The glory days of regular trips to Twickenham for the final in the last decade seem a long way away now.
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The entertainment value was first-rate, with both sides playing attacking rugby from start to finish, although defensive coaches may have seen it differently.
What Devon can do to be more competitive next season remains to be seen. Kent and Somerset can call on players regularly performing at National Two level or even above.
Other than the odd Plymouth Albion player who wants to be part of the set-up, Devon are relying on players from National Three South West and below, which puts them at a disadvantage.
Sidmouth's Sam Richardson, who has been part of the squad for the past two seasons, said there was little Devon could have done to alter the outcome of the game.
"It was a great game of rugby to play in, and just like Somerset a really close affair," said Richardson.
"We have played well in both games – perhaps our tackling could have been a bit better against Kent – but, because of the format of the competition, we have come away with nothing."
Kent were ahead as early as the third minute when flanker Jamie Lindfield scored from a catch-and-drive move. It was the first of three before half-time for the Westcombe Park wing-forward.
From then on, it was ding-dong stuff right up to half-time when the teams caught their breath with Kent 31-26 up.
Richardson went over twice for Devon, James Tripcony bagged a try and Tom Kill wriggled over in the corner for one. Three of the four were converted by Tom Wheelan.
Kent went 34-26 up thanks to a penalty early in the second half, but that kick-started Devon into action.
Josh Squire kicked, chased and dotted down for Wheelan to convert to leave a point in it.
Two more Kent tries killed the game as a contest, although Devon pressed to the end, with hooker Chey Bryce going over and Wheelan adding a penalty.
A minute's silence was observed before the match in memory of former Devon lock forward Duncan Christophers, who died last week aged 44.
Christophers played for Brixham before moving to Newton Abbot in 1996.
A moving tribute was delivered by Brixham chairman Chris Forster. Christophers' funeral will take place this Friday at St Andrew's Church, Ashburton, at 2pm.
Devon: Tries – Tripcony, Richardson (2), Kill, Squires, Bryce; Conversions – Whelan (4); Penalties – Whelan.
Kent: Tries – Lindfield 3, Beaumont 2, May, Burcham; Conversions – Beaumont (4); Penalties – Beaumont.