- Lord conversion puts Leicestershire in final
- North Midlands relegated despite Crane try
Photo: Ian Palfreyman
Leicestershire booked their place in the County Championship Shield final but North Midlands were relegated in the County Championship Bill Beaumont Cup on a day of mixed fortunes for Midlands counties.
Leicestershire snatched a dramatic 24-22 win over Dorset & Wilts in their Shield semi-final at Vipers RFC thanks to Mark Lord’s conversion of an injury time penalty try. Leicestershire will now meet Surrey in the Shield final at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday, May 27 (4.30pm).
But North Midlands were beaten 29-5 by Cornwall at Camborne which, coupled with Gloucestershire’s win over Hertfordshire at Cinderford, condemned them to an immediate return to the Second Division of the Bill Beaumont Cup.
Leicestershire, who had won all three of their Pool Two matches with ease, encountered much stiffer resistance at Vipers and Dorset & Wilts were 14-7 up by half time.
Wing Ben Stewart (Bournemouth) and centre Scott Chislett (Bournemouth) crossed for tries that were converted by Adam Westall (Swindon) but Leicestershire’s captain and hooker Luke Coltman (South Leicester) drove over from a maul and his club-mate Lord added the conversion.
Coltman scored his second try ten minutes into the second half and Lord converted to level the scores again.
Photo: Ian Palfreyman
Lord then kicked a penalty to give Leicestershire the lead for the first time but Dorset & Wilts responded with an unconverted try from left wing Robbie Searle (Bournemouth) followed by a penalty from Westall.
The sin-binning of loosehead prop Alan Lowe left Dorset & Wilts with only 14 men when the match went into injury time and Leicestershire’s pressure produced a penalty try for a scrum offence which levelled the scores and left Lord with a straightforward winning conversion.
Nottingham wing Rhys Crane marked his North Midlands debut with a first-half try at Camborne but Cornwall scored 17 unanswered points in the second half.
The defeat would not have been too damaging for North Midlands had Hertfordshire, the South Group winners, beaten Gloucestershire, but their defeat sent North Midlands down.
North Midlands had 12 debutants in a much-changed 22-man squad.
Warwickshire, who had already completed their programme, saw their already slim hopes of promotion from the County Championship Bill Beaumont Cup Second Division disappear after Durham beat Eastern Counties by a point at Cambridge to clinch the North Group.