30 April 2006
Scotland sevens international fly-half Ali Warnock clinched a thrilling 27-22 victory for Notts, Lincs & Derbyshire over Staffordshire in their opening County Championship Plate Pool Two game at Stafford yesterday.
Warnock, back from international duty, scored a hat-trick of tries, the last of them with the last attack of the game to clinch a nerve-jangling victory.
NL&D were 14 points adrift at one stage but Warnock of Nottingham began their fightback when he crossed for his first try after 50 minutes.
His second and a conversion from Scunthorpe full-back Tim Robinson levelled the scores at 17-17. Robinson landed a penalty which gave the Three Counties the lead for the first time in the final minute of normal time, but Staffordshire regained the lead full-back Josh Fowles (Newcastle-under-Lyme) went over for an uncoverted try from the restart.
That looked like being the decider but seven minutes of injury-time were played which allowed Warnock to snatch the winner. Robinson converted all three tries and he also kicked two penalties.
Staffordshire's other tries came from flanker Matt Aston (Stafford), number eight Jim Morris (Lichfield) and winger Luke Fowles, Josh's elder brother, of Waterloo.
Tom Bartram added a conversion.
Former England Counties coach Paul Westgate tasted victory in his first game in charge of Leicestershire with a 40-19 win over Eastern Counties at Syston.
Skipper and number eight Damien Evans (Leicester Lions) gave Leicestershire an early lead when he crossed for an unconverted try and two penalties from Mark Lord (South Leicester) put them back in front at 11-7 with two first half penalties.
Left wing Russ James (Coalville), flanker Adam White (Coalville) and prop Mark Bailey (Belgrave) crossed for further tries, two of them improved by Lord, which gave Leicestershire a 30-7 lead before Eastern Counties responded with two tries in quick succession.
But Leicestershire finished strongly with White and James crossing for late unconverted tries.
In Pool One of the Plate East Midlands beat Kent 38-35 in a fast and open game at Wellingborough.
East Midlands went 26-0 up by half-time and then pulled 33-7 clear before Kent rallied to reduce the deficit to 33-21. Two late Kent tries set up a tense finale.
Dunstablians hooker Steffan Myburgh scored two tries with centre Francois Hattingh (Dunstablians), scrum-half John Lansbery (Luton), winger Tevela Kwilimbe (Cambridge) and flanker Nick Sharp (Ruby Lions) scoring the other East Midlands tries. Fly-half James Offer (Luton) added four conversions.