County Championship - Devon 31 pts v Surrey 33pts
Surrey having trounced both North Midlands and Somerset in their previous games and whom Devon had incidentally lost to both, meant this on paper should have been an easy afternoon’s work for Surrey.
Nevertheless, despite starting in commanding form in the end Surrey were mighty relieved to hear the final whistle. This victory meant that Surrey having been promoted this year, were undefeated in their group games and now face Eastern Counties in the Final, next Sunday May 31st at Twickenham – prior to the England v Barbarians International game.
Despite making several changes to ensure all the squad got some valuable playing time, Surrey began in sparkling form with a try by full back Oli Turner after only three minutes. Centre Matt Noble added the conversion to give the visitors an early 7-0 lead.
Devon fly half Joe Simmonds then kicked the first of what was to be three first half penalty goals for the home side.
In between Surrey showed their cutting edge with further tries by fly half Cameron Pimlow and one apiece for wings Mike Terelak and James Faaatuatu,. Noble added two more conversions, so the interval was reached with the visitors in commanding form, leading 26-9 and Devon seeming likely to be on the wrong end of a cricket score.
The second half began with Devon captain Dean Avery being yellow carded for persistent infringements and then replacement Dom Loomes was given a straight red card for taking out Surrey lock and captain Armand Roux in the air. This was followed by replacement Kier Murphy battling over for the home side’s first try.
Back bounced Surrey and skipper Armand Roux scored his team’s fifth try, which Noble converted to push the visitors even further ahead.
The home side with grit and determination then began to turn the game around completely as they drove deep into Surrey territory. Fly half Simmonds grabbed himself a fine solo try, which he converted and then added a further penalty goal to set up a tense final period. Surrey replacement prop Seun Olayanju and centre Ed Carne both received yellow cards, while Tom Goodman and scrum half Jordan Petheridge received identical punishment for the home side.
In the final minute of time, Devon scored their third try by wing Matt Crosscombe, which once again Simmonds converted, leaving the visitors clinging on to a narrow lead.
Surrrey: 15 Oli Turner ( London Irish Wild Geese)14 Mike Terelak, 13 Matt Noble, 12 Ed Carne ( all Dorking), 11 James Faaatuatu (East Grinstead), 10 Cameron Pimlow (Dorking), 9 Tom Eastham (London Irish Wild Geese); 1 Ben Knight, 2 James Catton, 3 Richard Nunn, 4 Armand Roux CAPTAIN, 5 Elliot Awin, 6 Oli Edwards (all Dorking ), 7 Harry Elbrow (Esher), 8 Harry Watts (Dorking)
Replacements : Sam Johnson, Seun Oliyanju, Nick Haigh Ted Lee, Will Crow, Will Bennett (all Dorking ), Matt Betty ( East Grinstead)