- Herts and Surrey hope to go one better on Twickenham return
- Kent win promotion but Eastern Counties edged out
Hertfordshire will meet Lancashire at Twickenham Stadium this Sunday (May 27, 11am) in a repeat of the 2011 Bill Beaumont Cup final.
Lancashire won last year’s meeting 32-23 at the Home of England Rugby to earn the title of county champions for the third year in a row.
Herts qualified for another crack at unseating the red-rose county by winning the Division One South pool despite a 27-25 loss in their final pool match away to Gloucestershire.
This year’s county competitions included bonus points for the first time and Hertfordshire finished top of the pool with 12 Competition Points from two wins, three try bonuses and one losing bonus.
Cornwall were second on 10 points, followed by Gloucestershire on six and relegated North Midlands with five.
Herts gained two bonus points from their visit to Cinderford to play Gloucestershire last Saturday (May 19) with tries by Old Albanians flanker Ollie Cooper-Miller, Hertford wing Michael Allen, Saracens wing Ben Ransom and Saracens lock Eoin Sherriff, and a defeat by fewer than eight points.
Lancashire needed a resilient second-half performance to get the better of Cheshire at Chester last Saturday (May 19) and win Division One North, with four of the champions’ five tries in a 36-29 win coming after the interval.
Surrey will meet Leicestershire in the final of the County Championship Shield at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday (May 27, 4.30pm), straight after the England v Barbarians match.
Surrey’s 22-man squad, including 15 players from Dorking RFC, won their semi-final 37-20 away to Cumbria in Aspatria last Saturday (May 19).
In a re-match of last year’s semi-final won by Surrey at the same venue, Dorking scrum half Steve Munford collected 17 points from three penalties and the conversions of all his side’s four tries.
No.8 Ben Lucas and wing Mike Terelak, both from Dorking, scored tries as Surrey led 17-10 at half time.
The Surrey front row of Tom Bristow (Dorking), Nathan Kemp (Wimbledon) and Charlie Connor (London Irish Amateurs) helped turn the screw in the third quarter, and two tries by Wimbledon flanker Chris Lewis converted by Munford eased Surrey 34-13 ahead.
With both sides making full use of the rolling substitutions rule, Cumbria dug deep and scored a converted try.
But Munford’s third penalty set the seal on Surrey returning to Twickenham with the chance to go one better than last year’s 43-22 final defeat by Dorset & Wilts.
Leicestershire snatched a dramatic 24-22 win over Dorset & Wilts in their Shield semi final at Vipers RFC thanks to a conversion by South Leicester’s Mark Lord of an added-time penalty try.
Kent won Division Two South of the Bill Beaumont Cup to earn promotion back to the top tier for next season.
They followed up their excellent 46-41 win away to Devon the previous weekend with a 32-28 defeat of Somerset at Aylesford last Saturday (May 19).
The eight-man Westcombe Park contingent in Kent’s squad contributed four of the county’s five tries as they built a 32-16 lead before a late, two-try Somerset fightback.
Canterbury full back Martyn Beaumont got the scoring with a penalty for a Kent side that also included players from Blackheath, Old Elthamians and Medway.
Tries by No.8 Jon West and wing Kieran Leeper (both Westcombe Park) with a conversion by Beaumont had Kent 15-6 up at half time.
Canterbury wing Ricky Mackintosh, Beaumont and Westcombe Park flanker James Lindfield scored further tries, with a conversion apiece for Beaumont and Westcombe Park fly half Joe Simpson.
Durham beat Eastern Counties 32-31 at Cambridge last Saturday (May 19) to win promotion from Division Two North.
Eastern Counties had needed a win to have a chance of reaching the final, depending on bonus points, but after a narrow defeat the previous weekend at Warwickshire they were left reflecting on what might have been.
Durham led 17-3 at half time before Jason Billows (Shelford) scored a try for Counties converted by Adam White (Cambridge).
Durham regained their 14-point lead before losing two players to the sin bin in quick succession, helping Counties to a penalty try and try by captain Toby Berridge (Cambridge), both converted by White to level the scores at 24-24.
Fly half Andrew Baggett’s penalty put Durham back in front after 67 minutes and though Eastern Counties led for the first time when White converted a try by Harry Robbins (Cambridge) they conceded an added-time try to Durham No.8 Paul Vinnicombe.