Lancashire’s senior squad started their defence of the Bill Beaumont County Championship Cup in the most positive way against Northumberland on a beautiful day at Percy Park RFC. On their way to scoring 10 tries, they led by 15-47 at half-time and finished with a 20-64 victory.
Head Coach Mark Nelson’s plans were constrained in the run up to the game because of a clash with Sedgley Park’s play-off match at Chinnor. Next Saturday’s fixture against Eastern Counties will also be affected by commitments elsewhere at the end of this long league system. Champions of National Two North, Sale FC, have an outstanding fixture at Luctonians and the Hereford club is fighting desperately to avoid relegation. This will rule out around ten Sale players who were originally named in Lancashire’s extended squad. On a positive note, the Sedgley contingent will now become available as will a group of U’20s players who weren’t available at Northumberland due to their U’20s Final appearance a day later.
Despite the selection problems, the Lancashire squad were far too strong for Northumberland. Tries were notched by Evan Stewart (2), Lewis Allen, Anthony Bingham, Phil Mills, Adam Aigbokhae, Tom Ailes, Scott Rawlings (2) and Dan Birchall. Fly-half Chris Johnson kicked seven conversions.
Lancashire’s remaining two group games are at home. They face Eastern Counties at Sedgley Park on Saturday (ko 3pm) and finish by welcoming Cheshire to the Woodlands on Saturday, 19th May.
——————- ———————[Team photo above]
Lancashire’s extraordinary Jason Leonard U’20s County Championship 2018 campaign reached a suitable climax on Sunday at Birmingham Moseley RFC.
Lancashire U’20s were in Division Two and were drawn against Staffordshire and Northumberland. The Red Road county demolished Staffordshire by 0-69 in the North Midlands and followed this up with a 53-11 victory over Northumberland at Wigan RUFC.
This earned them a quarter final in Wigan against Buckinghamshire whom they overcame by 72-7. The semi-final was once more at Wigan RUFC, this time against Berkshire. This was a very close, exciting tie in which, with ten minutes to go, saw Lancashire 19-32 in arrears. The home team then scored 26 points without response to finish 45-32 victors.
The Final was between Lancashire and Notts Lincs & Derby at Birmingham Moseley’s ground. Lancashire started off as they finished the semi-final. In the 1st minute Matthew Bargh scored the opening try, followed a few minutes later by another by the squad’s leading try scorer, Fylde flanker James Torkington.
NLD notched their first try before in the 13th minute Jack Granby hit back immediately and this was extended by Elliot Horner. Fly-half Will Hunt converted three of the tries for a 26-5 lead by just the 18th minute.
NLD scored their 2nd try but Lancashire scored again, this time through Fylde hooker Ben Gregory, for a 33-12 advantage. Once again, the gritty NLD team hit back to reduce the deficit. Not even Will Hunt’s try in the 37th minute, set up by a fine run by Tom Carleton, could silence the Midlanders. Their fourth try kept them in the game at 40-26 down at the interval.
It was unlikely that the furious to and fro of the first 40 minutes would continue in the 2nd half. Four tries were shared equally, Lancashire’s by ‘Torky’, his 2nd, and Jacob Browne, for a final score of 54-38. The Red Rose’s goal kicking fly-half Will Hunt had a personal haul of 19 points.
Many congratulations to every player in the squad and especially to coaches Martin Scott and Neil Ryan, not forgetting the backroom staff as well. They’ll look back on the achievement of five wins in which they scored 293 points and conceded 88. Fylde’s seven players – skipper Nick Ashcroft, Ben Gregory, James Torkington, Toby Harrison, Tom Carleton, Henry Pearson & Sam Fisher – contributed excellently to the whole team effort.
The victory gains Lancashire promotion to Division One of the Championship in 2019.
Finally, Lancashire’s Women’s squad continued their excellent start to their Gill Burns County Championship campaign. They began their 2018 challenge with a good 5-27 win at Durham and followed this up with another fine performance on Sunday, 12-47, at North Midlands. They complete their group games when they welcome East Midlands to Southport RUFC on Saturday (12th May, ko 2pm).