April 29, 2007
Durham launched their RU County Championship Plate campaign in positive style when they defeated Leicestershire 45-14 at Leicester Lions on Saturday.
Having been relegated last season, experiencing what have become customary difficulties in terms of selection and with a new coaching team in place, the result was probable as much anyone dared have hoped for.
But with two home games to come in the group and the prospect of a semi-final and final if they can maintain the momentum, the mood in the camp could scarcely be more upbeat.
"We were well pleased with the result, but we're not getting carried away," said Durham President Jim Ainslie. "I was delighted for our coaches Ali McConway and Magnus Leask, who have done a great job in bringing the side together, and for the lads, who played really well, but also had to show some real spirit when Leicestershire hit back in the third quarter of the game and really put us under pressure.
"While all the side performed well, I was especially impressed with centre Rob McDermott, the Durham Univerity captain, while flanker Dan Cooper also played really well before he went off with an injury."
First-half tries from wingmen Oliver Brennand (Durham University) and James Fitzpatrick (Westoe), both converted by full-back Simon Moore (Middlesbrough) gave Durham a 14-0 lead in as many minutes and they made it 21-0 at the interval with a try by flanker Stuart Palmer (Hartlepool Rovers) and Moore converted.
Leicestershire then rallied to 21-14 with tries from winger and captain Warren Coles (Syston) and replacement lock John Hemsley (South Leicerster), fly-half Mark Lord of South Leicester converting both tries.
But Durham, having defended stoutly to keep the home side at bay, then pulled away in the final quarter with Palmer's second try and others from McDermott, replacement Jimmy Atkinson (Durham City) and Durham University scrum-half and captain Tom Basey.
Replacement Gareth Foreman (Hartlepool Rovers) added two conversions.
Durham now entertain Essex for the first time at Hartlepool Rovers on Saturday (May 5, 3pm)
Durham will have their Darlington contingent available for selection for this game.
In the other game in the group, Staffordshire beat Essec 34-20.