- Red Rose county retain County Championship title
- Two tries in last five minutes seal victory
Gloucestershire 6 Lancashire 36
Photo: RFU Archive
Lancashire scored five tries to none to defeat Gloucestershire in the final of the Bill Beaumont Cup for the second successive season today (Sunday May 30) at Twickenham Stadium.
Bill Beaumont, the former England captain and now vice-chairman of the International Rugby Board whose name is borne by the County Championship competition, was a more than interested spectator as he assisted RFU President John Owen in presenting the trophy to Lancashire captain Matt Riley.
Beaumont’s son Sam, 24, was at No.8 - having played in the second row for Lancashire when they defeated Gloucestershire 32-18 in last year’s final - and was one of eight players from his father’s old club Fylde in the Red Rose county’s 22.
Lancashire opened smartly with a try after two minutes by fly half Steve Collins. A close-range lineout catch and drive was held initially but scrum half Craig Aikman popped the ball up from a ruck for Collins to sprint round an empty blind side.
Collins was unable to convert his try then Gloucestershire fly half Tim Stevenson and Collins each missed a kick at goal before Stevenson converted a penalty in the 22 as the match settled into a pattern of tough attrition with neither goalline seriously threatened.
That was until the 36th minute when a blistering Lancashire attack from a lineout 40 metres from the Gloucestershire line brought the opening try.
Charles Baleirara and Paul Arnold - two replacement forwards on the field as part of the rolling substitutions which have been on trial throughout this season’s County Championship - led the charge, along with lock Gareth Rawlings. And the 29-year-old Arnold, a regular try scorer for his club Caldy, applied the scoring finish near the posts, with Collins converting.
Trailing 12-3 at half time, Gloucestershire opened the second half with a 49th minute penalty by replacement Danny Trigg but Lancashire soon restored their nine-point lead when Gloucestershire tried to counter-attack from their 22, got penalised for going off their feet after the tackle and Collins landed a 20-metre kick for 15-6.
With 54 minutes gone Lancashire had their third try. An adventurous break up the left ended with wing Mark Turner on a speedy and swerving 25-metre run to dot down near the posts and Collins converted.
With 10 minutes remaining Gloucestershire scrum half Tom Richardson punted long into a huge gap in the Lancashire half, and gave chase, but prop Adam Lewis matched him stride for stride and, after a couple of rucks, Lancashire forced a turnover to clear the danger.
Arnold claimed his second try with five minutes remaining and the galloping Baleirara followed him over, with Trigg converting twice, as Lancashire claimed the title of England’s county champions for the 20th time.
Lancashire’s 23-year-old captain Matt Riley may not be around for a hat-trick of titles - he is attending a wedding in Mexico at the end of next season - but he was happy with his second winner’s medal.
“There were a lot of turnovers through good defence and a bit of fatigue on a hot day,” said Riley. “It was only in the last few minutes that we made sure of winning.
“Mark Turner’s was a dream try and a few of the forwards scored so it was a good all-round performance.
“The majority of last year’s squad were here again, which helped, and I think the rolling substitutions work well, especially in the heat. We switched a couple of the big guys on and off, and Charlie [Baleirara] and Paul [Arnold] in the forwards both scored tries for us.
“Bill Beaumont just said ‘well done’ to me as I went up to collect the cup, although his son Sam is a bit embarrassed at wearing his own name with ‘Bill Beaumont Cup’ embroidered on our shirts.”
Gloucestershire vs Lancashire teams
Gloucestershire: M Knight (Lydney); T Jarvis (Firenze), C Ashwin (Bristol), J Gadd (Bristol), N Codlin (Cinderford); T Stevenson (Cinderford), T Richardson (Stourbridge); M Long (Birmingham & Solihull, capt), P Fincken (Newbury), C Meddick (Dings Crusafders), D Hodge (Newbury), R Cadman (Hartpury College), E King (Cinderford), J Preece (Birmingham & Solihull), G Curry (Dings Crusaders). Replacements: T Brockett (Dings Crusaders), S Wilkes (Clifton), B Purbrook (Clifton), D Barry (Bristol), M Brown (Gloucester/Cinderford), J Williams (Birmingham & Solihull), D Trigg (Cinderford).
Scorers: pens: Stevenson, Trigg.
Lancashire: M Riley (Sedgley Tigers, capt); M Waywell (Fylde), T Brady (Sale Sharks), A Hurst (Fylde), M Turner (Liverpool St Helens); S Collins (Rochdale), C Aikman (Fylde); A Lewis (Fylde), P Ince (Caldy), R O’Donnell (Sale Sharks), L McGowan (Coventry), G Rawlings (Longton), J Nugent (Caldy), S McGinnis (Fylde), S Beaumont (Fylde). Replacements: N Flynn (Sedgley Tigers), C Baleirara (Sale Sharks), D Baines (Macclesfield), P Arnold (Caldy), O Brennand (Fylde), J O’Brien (Waterloo), R de la Harpe (Fylde).
Scorers: tries: Collins, Arnold 2, Turner, Baleirara; cons: Collins 2, O’Brien 2; pen: Collins.
Referee: L Pearce.