Devon manager Gareth Jones ponders squad after Royal Navy defeat
DEVON team manager Gareth Jones says the 22-14 defeat by the Royal Navy at Devonport was a real 'eye-opener' for him as he plans for the looming County Championship campaign.
A combination of bad weather, league commitments and preparing the under-20s for their own competition meant Devon had to put the senior side on the back burner.
Yet the scratch side put out against the Navy was competitive from start to finish, even if they understandably lacked some cohesion at times.
The Sidmouth quartet of Tom Whelan, Josh Bess, Jack Pyne, James Perry and Sam Meadham all caught the eye.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
No one realised how much work Whelan got through at stand-off until he went off injured in the second half.
Pyne had an outstanding game in the second-row alongside Okehampton's Sam Turner and must have gone down in the selectors' notebooks.
Perry was immense in the loose with numerous carries, and he deservedly got on the scoresheet in the second half.
Devon have one more warm up game before the serious stuff starts – Cornwall at Plymouth Albion on April 22 – and the odds are a sizable number of the team who faced the Navy will be in it.
There were virtually no players from level five clubs involved – only Brixham were able to release men as they have nothing left to worry about in the league – and last year's captain Sam Richardson was out with an ankle injury.
Leaving any one out of the squad will be difficult for Jones on the evidence of what he saw at the Rectory.
"Club coaches were circulated and asked to submit players they thought were realistic – and I was surprised by the quality of what turned up," said Jones.
"Obviously some of the players are known to Devon, but quite a few of them were not.
"I can only praise the judgment of the coaches. I had my eyes opened to the depth of talent in Devon.
"We were not able to train together at all before the match and only had an hour and half run through beforehand.
"When the forwards hit the first scrum they had not gone down as a unit before, but you would not have known it.
"Inevitably there were mistakes as the players were not used to playing together. But I felt we were worth one more try and least and had it been 22-21 at the end the Navy could not have complained."
The first half was a quick-paced affair with the Navy 15-7 up at the end of it.
Josh Jones kicked a penalty for the Navy and there were drive-over tries in the forwards from Tom Holliday and Sumo Thompson, the latter converted by Tom Davies as Jones had limped off.
Devon's try was dotted down under the posts by Max Venables after a mazy run by flanker Jamie Rudkin drew the Navy defence out of position. Tom Whelan converted.
Three minutes into the second half Devon were back within a point. The Navy were caught napping on the right and the ball worked inside to prop James Perry, who dived in under the bar. Sidmouth team-mate Whelan converted.
There was lots more rugby played in the middle of the park, but not too many scoring chances.
Devon suffered from a little lack of direction at times in the second half after fly-half Whelan went off injured.
A push-over try by No.8 Ian Cooper on the hour which Davies converted, made the game safe for the Navy.