NEWTON Abbot’s Under-14 All Whites face Exeter Athletic away in the Devon Cup final on Sunday.

This team has matured as a cohesive unit with fitness key to plenty of expansive and spectacular scores, especially in the last 15 minutes of matches. Even when going behind in matches, this side has collectively kept their cool, sucked up the hard times, managed their anger from mistakes, and found a myriad of ways in better times to convert opportunities into some truly memorable tries. 

The U14 Cup campaign kicked off at a frosty Devonport Services on in December. Devonport put up a spirited fight early doors and had plenty of territory thanks to their steady kicking game. Devonport’s lads soon ran out of steam, eventually dropping their heads and, unfortunately, let Newton make ratatouille of their defences. Come the final whistle, the tally was a one-sided 50-5.  

Next up were Kingsbridge in the quarter-finals in February. This fixture was played up at Buckfastleigh, where the squad has been training all year thanks to NARFC’s generous ongoing provision of lakes. And, that Sunday, the weather was especially atrocious. The lads did well to adjust to the conditions and go in 15-0 at half-time.

But Kingsbridge showed up with a plucky, well-drilled unit and fought back in the second half, coming to within a converted try of a win with Newton depleted after captain Ryan left the pitch injured following a prohibited tackle. The final score was 25-19. 

And so onto the semi-final, which everyone expected to be against Teignmouth but turned out to be versus a valiant Sidmouth side who, despite an earlier loss in the season to the All Whites, looked the better side at times in the first and early second half. Missing a few key players, Newton held together throughout and were not to be toppled.

Despite going in 5-5 at half-time, the balance swung patient Newton’s way 10 minutes into the second half when Jack Lang, seemingly fed up with the match’s closeness, took matters into his own hands and danced through multiple tackles to notch an unforgettable try to make the score 17-5 to the All Whites.

This turned out to be the final score and there could be no doubt this was one of the side’s strongest performances of the season against stout and determined opposition. The All Whites took the punches, stood their ground, tackled like dervishes and earned, with cuts and bruises, their place in the cup final.

The Devon final is where this spirited and skilful team should be and was always headed. The fact the match is away should mean little to a side that has faced up to multiple adversities head on with pragmatism and hard work.