Brix dazzle the All Whites

By Tim Leigh in Rugby

Devon Cup

Brixham 55,

Newton Abbot 20

The Devon Cup has long meant a lot to Brixham. With Newton just above them in the league and after some recent disappointing performances, Brixham expected a tough quarter-final clash.

So where did it all go right? After an opening half in which the teams took turns to score, Brixham turned around just 22-20 in front. In the second period Newton scarcely had a sniff at scoring while Brixham had five tries, plus other opportunities.

In the slippery conditions both sides made mistakes but, perhaps, Brixham made fewer.

Despite most of the tries being scored by the forwards, it was not so much a battle of the packs as Newton might have wished and the Brixham support play and recycling made the difference.

With the pitch in good condition despite the rain, New­ton had the wind and slope in their favour. Brixham were penalised at the first scrum and the All Whites were ahead by three points.

Ben Lovell equalised for Brixham soon after and the Fishermen were ahead after eight minutes when prop Russ Morris broke clear from a ruck on the 22 and dived over unchallenged, Lovell converting.

Newton attacked from the restart and were held but when a Brixham line-out went astray they were back on level terms – Newton running the ball through the unsuspecting defence.

The restart kick was re­claimed by Brixham winger Billy Roberts. His run made good yards and three quick phases later flanker Scott Puleston was over in the top corner for a try. Lovell missed the touchline conversion.

After an attacking spell, a rolling maul earned Newton a try to level the scores – 15-15 within the space of 20 minutes. The conversion put them ahead.

Brixham took little time to regain the lead. Several attacking phases took Brix­ham to the Newton 22 and number eight Sam Thomas broke through to threaten the line – his smart offload to flanker Joe Lovell secured the converted try.

The scoring rate slowed. Newton spent some time in the Brixham half trying to punch through with their forwards to no avail. Brixham went upfield and were denied their fourth try when Morris was penalised for a double movement – though both the spectators and opposition initially thought the try was given.

Newton slotted a long-distance penalty at the end of the half to leave them two points adrift at the break.

The second half began with Brixham in attacking mode and scrum-half Martin Worth­ington came close to crossing the whitewash after just two minutes. On the seven-min­ute mark the Fishermen restarted the scoreboard.

A scrum on halfway; Sam Thomas off the back to within 15 metres of the line, two phases later and the ball found Russ Morris in midfield. The efforts of five defenders were not enough to deny him his second try. Lovell converted.

Seven minutes more and Brixham thought they had another try when a five-metre catch-and-drive ploy crossed the line. Newton were pen­alised and were again on the next attempt. On the third go the referee awarded Brixham a penalty try (easy conversion) and Newton got a yellow card.

The third Brixham try of the second half soon followed. After some scrappy play in midfield, Worthington emerged with the ball and carved deep into the Newton defence before being brought down. The ball was recycled quickly and lock Malcolm Onsando was on hand to score his maiden try for Brixham in exuberant fashion.

Newton were now 23 points behind and chasing the game. Their efforts were not aided by handling and kicking errors and their defence was tested by Brixham’s persistent offence.

With less than 10 minutes remaining Brixham struck again. Newton were attacking in midfield. A neat chip kick was intended for their winger but was fielded by centre Tom McLean.

He evaded a number of Newton players before being brought down short of the line. The ball went left, where winger Billy Roberts had more success. Lovell, though, had no such luck with the conversion.

A minute later Brix­ham broke the half-century when Noah Nash broke through in midfield. His run took him halfway to the try-line, hooker Kyle Cain in support did the srest with a celebratory dive over the line. Ed Barnes added the conversion and the scoring was complete.

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