Lancashire are Champions!

Date: 27 May 2013

Report courtesy of Peter Elliott, Lancashire RFU Press Officer

Lancashire regained the Bill Beaumont Cup after eighty minutes of enthralling rugby in the Twickenham sunshine.

A close game was rounded off by Ben Rath’s try two minutes from time to confirm the destination of this season’s County Championship title.

Captain Louis McGowan claimed the trophy from Bill Beaumont, amid thousands of travelling Cornish supporters who had made the game an occasion to remember.

“When I knew we were to play Cornwall, I knew it was going to be a tough game. What helped us was losing to Cheshire last week, and I knew that today would be tough. But I’m really proud of the lads today,” said McGowan afterwards.
“It was awesome to lift the trophy. After so many injuries this year, I was contemplating retiring at Christmas. The lads had me in tears afterwards,” he added.

“I thought it was a really closely fought game, a real contrast of styles, and I’m glad that we came out and played a good brand of rugby. Cornwall are a really tough team to break down, it was very confrontational up front, and I’m just glad that we managed to hold our nerve and keep that lead,” said coach Mark Nelson.

“They came back and had a purple patch, which they were always going to do, and got back into the game, which was full credit to them, but we just managed to keep them at arms’ length, and with the four point split we got the drop goal, and then just create some space for Ben Rath to do what he does best.”

Jack Ward and Phil Mills with the Bill Beaumont Cup

Jack Ward and Phil Mills with the Bill Beaumont Cup. Photo via Phil Mills’ Twitter

Cornwall got their large support cheering early on, with a long-distance Paul Thirlby penalty after just three minutes. But Chris Johnson pegged that back with a penalty of his own after eight minutes, after a good spell of play that saw Lancashire work themselves into the Cornwall 22.

Nick Royle scored the first of his tries 13 minutes in, diving in at the corner after a great passage of play, where Ben Rath had carried the ball over the halfway line, laying off to Sean Taylor, who drew the last defender before passing to Royle. Johnson’s conversion was pin-point accurate from the wing, for a 10-3 lead.

Thirlby missed a penalty goal attempt on 20 minutes, but a minute later, made up, to reduce the lead. That was for nothing though, as Dominic Moon found himself as the extra man out wide on the end of a back line move, to dive over in the left corner, and as Johnson’s conversion kick sailed wide, Lancashire were 15-6 ahead.

Royle’s second try came after half an hour, intercepting on Cornwalls’ ten metre line, to find himself through, giving Johnson a simple conversion for a 22-6 lead.

Despite being three tries down, Cornwall fought for every inch. Their pack had dominated the scrum, and had stolen line-out ball. So it was to be no surprise that when they found the opportunity, they took it. Nielson Webber was the beneficiary of a good passage of play, where their pack drove him over for the first Cornish try of the day three minutes from the whistle. Thirlby missed the conversion, while Johnson went for goal on the whistle from halfway, but missed his effort.

After coming back out from the break 22-11 behind, Cornwalls’s forwards dominated the early passage of play, winning a penalty try after a driving maul was collapsed after 53 minutes. Dan Birchall was yellow carded for that offence, and after Thirlby had converted, the lead was cut to 22-18.

Down to 14 men, and with Cornwall smelling the chance of taking a Lancastrian scalp, it was down to the defensive qualities of Nelson’s men to keep Cornwall at bay during the next ten minutes. Just before Birchall returned to the field, Johnson kicked another penalty after great work by Sean Taylor, who harried Thirlby into dropping the ball on his 22 line, giving Lancashire the next three points.

But Cornwall knew they were only a converted score behind, and Thirlby was able to draw them closer with a penalty goal which went in off the post after 64 minutes, and it was only a four point lead which Lancashire took into the final period of the game.

Johnson added to his place kicks with a well-worked drop goal on 68 minutes, after several phases of play, as Cornwalls’ defence had stood firm. With five minutes to play, Cornwall scored another try; Lewis Vinnicombe accepting the pass from scrum-half Greg Goodfellow to ghost over the line in the corner. With a kick to equalise from touch, Thirlby scuffed his shot, so Lancashire were well and truly off the hook.

So it was left to Rath with two minutes left, to take the plaudits after the hard work by Johnson, to put the game out of reach, after Johnson’s conversion for a final 35-26 winning margin.

Rath had just returned from England Counties Under 20 duty in Georgia: “In the space of eight days I’ve been played for England Counties Under 20s, and now here, scoring a try at the end, it is amazing,” he said.

That win sees Lancashire continue their recent good record in the competition, and have now won the competition for a record 22 times.

Lancashire: 15 Sean Taylor (Preston Grasshoppers), 14 Nick Royle (Vale of Lune), 13 Chris Briers (Fylde), 12 Jack Ward (Preston Grasshoppers), 11 Ben Rath (Fylde), 10 Chris Johnson (Fylde), 9 Steve Collins (Sedgley Park), 1 Dan Birchall (Fylde), 2 Jon Matthews (Otley), 3 Simon Griffiths (Fylde), 4 Paul Arnold (Fylde), 5 Louis McGowan (Sedgley Park) (Captain), 6 Jon Nugent (Stade Dijon), 7 Steve McGinnis (Fylde), 8 Dominic Moon (Preston Grasshoppers)

Replacements: 16 Pete Altham (Fylde), 17 Gareth Gore (Preston Grasshoppers), 18 Phil Mills (Preston Grasshoppers), 19 Evan Stewart (Fylde), 20 Phil Baines (Preston Grasshoppers), 21 Tom Webb (Fylde), 22 Andy Riley (Sedgley Park)

Cornwall: 15 Jake Murphy (Cornish All Blacks), 14 Richard Bright (Cornish All Blacks), 13 Steve Johns (Coventry), 12 Nielson Webber (Cornish All Blacks), 11 Tom Notman (Redruth), 22 Paul Thirlby (Redruth), 9 Greg Goodfellow (Redruth), 1 Darren Jacques (Redruth), 2 Richard Brown (Redruth), 3 Craig Williams (Redruth), 25 Damien Cook (Redruth), 5 Ben Hilton (Cornish All Blacks) (Captain), 6 Chris Fuca (Redruth), 7 Sam Hocking (Unattached), 8 Ashley Lawton (Camborne)

Replacements: 16 Neil Turner (Redruth), 17 Jon Drew (Redruth), 18 Matt Shepherd (St Austell), 19 Luke Collins (Redruth), 20 Steve Perry (Barnstaple), 21 Lewis Vinnicombe (Redruth), 22 Tom Rawlings (Cornish All Blacks)

Tries: Royle 13 32, Moon 23, Rath 78
Conversions: Johnson 13 32 78
Penalty Goals: Johnson 8 62
Drop Goal: Johnson 68

Tries: Webber 37, Penalty 53, Vinnicombe 75
Conversions: Thirlby 53
Penalty Goals: Thirlby 3 21 64

Half-time: 22-11
Referee: Wayne Falla


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