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New faces give County rugby a fresh look

10 May 2013

  • A question of balance for selectors
  • Reshaped sides add new dimension

Ambition and loyalty occupy the minds of the selectors in Pool 1 of the Northern section of the Bill Beaumont Cup this weekend as the changing landscape of player availability impacts on the shape of teams who are available for the second batch of matches.

Important league fixtures shaped the composition of last weekend’s County programme and this weekend those parameters have been adjusted again.

A key game in the Northern programme is at Fylde RFC, which stages the Roses match. The Red Rose men, shorn of their Fylde contingent last weekend because of club commitments, restore a handful to county duty for what Lead Coach Mark Nelson still regards as a match that embodies the traditions of the game.

A 40-29 away win over Durham last weekend gives the side positive momentum, but Yorkshire, who ended a run of four successive defeats by Cheshire on Saturday, are also in buoyant mood.

“The fact that we had 15 new players in the squad at Hartlepool shows the strength in depth we have in Lancashire and it's great to see that younger players were able to step up to the mark in the senior side," he said. "We had young lads coming in who have been part of this year's Under 20s squad who have also shown they can handle this level. We have a good system in place, where the Under 20s and senior squads work together and have developed good continuity.

“Some of the guys have had a hard week, not only playing on Saturday, but also in Monday's Lancashire Cup final and now they face this coming Saturday as well. But they want to do it. They value county rugby. I hope that all Lancastrians will want to play and this team is very representative of the clubs in the county.

“Although we won our first game, we are now coming up against the traditional opponents we have each year and after, it is another massive ask when we travel to play Cheshire.

“But first of all, let's look forward to Saturday and hopefully a great turnout from the Lancashire rugby community, because the side represents all the county and shows that opportunities are there for anyone to come through the ranks and pull on the shirt.”

Yorkshire looking for winning spirit

Yorkshire overcame an important hurdle when they beat Cheshire at Bradford & Bingley RFC last weekend and they will be looking to the spirit that carried them through that difficult test as they approach another crucial Roses encounter.

The White Rose side have the benefit of a Hull Ionians contingent who were not available last weekend and they call up seven of them in a team that shows eight changes to the starting line-up, largely because five players are ruled out through unavailability and injury. The White Rose line-up contains a new Ionians half-back pairing in Chris Reakes and Adam Thomas, with Andy Boyde from Doncaster Knights coming into the back row and taking over the captaincy.

“We are without flanker Ben Morris and captain and scrum half Chris Hallam, but we came out on top in another tight game and we were pleased with the commitment from a bunch of players who were very keen to play for Yorkshire,” said Team Manager Graham Siswick. “The players put their bodies on the line for the cause really and proved to be a very committed group.

“A dozen had not played for the county before and we were really pleased with their approach and their determination. It was great to see a strong contingent from Hull Ionians appearing for training earlier in the week and they give us good options for the next two games.

“Lancashire have a great record, especially on their pitch, but we’re not overawed, and we’re confident that we can do well this year because the attitude of the players is first class. They’re all really focused and Saturday’s win did us the world of good.”

Choosing between loyalty to a group which served them so well last weekend and the option of beefing up a squad with players unavailable last time out has obviously challenged Cheshire, who are now locked in a Pool One survival battle with first round losers Durham at Gateshead RFC.

Cheshire have 11 changes to the squad that lost against Yorkshire, the most conspicuous being the absence of unavailable Doncaster No 8 Adam Kettle, who was such an influential figure last weekend. On the credit side, players from Macclesfield and Caldy return to the fold after club commitments last Saturday, while promoted from last weekend’s Cheshire Under 20 line-up beaten by Berkshire at Twickenham are Stockport full back Michael Barlow and Under 20 replacement Mike Finnemore, a try scorer at Twickenham last weekend.

Cumbria entertain Leicestershire in a ‘winner takes all’ County Championship Shield match at Penrith, with the winner going into the Semi-finals.

The two sides have both put Notts, Lincs & Derby to the sword in recent weeks and Cumbria go into action with just one change from the side that triumphed 71-0 last weekend, lock Robert Marrs from Wigton coming into the side.

Bill Beaumont Cup

May 11, 2013: Lancashire v Yorkshire at Fylde (3pm), Durham v Cheshire at Gateshead (3pm). Pool 2 – Eastern Counties v East Midlands at Cambridge RFC (3pm).

May 18, 2013: Cheshire v Lancashire at Macclesfield (3pm), Yorkshire v Durham at Scarborough (3pm). Pool 2 – Northumberland v Eastern Counties at Alnwick RFC (2pm).

May 26, 2013: Final at Twickenham – Pool 1N winner v Pool 1S Winner

County Championship Shield

Pool 1

May 11, 2013: Cumbria v Leicestershire at Penrith RFC (3pm).

Lancashire (v Yorkshire at Fylde RFC, Saturday, May 11, 3.00pm): Sean Taylor (Preston Grasshoppers), Nick Royle (Vale of Lune), Chris Briers (Fylde), Jack Ward (Preston Grasshoppers), Andrew Riley (Sedgley Park), Steve Collins (Sedgley Park), Ryan De La Harpe (Fylde), Dan Birchall (Fylde), Phil Mills (Preston Grasshoppers), Pete Altham (Fylde), Louis McGowan (Sedgley Park) capt, Gareth Gore (Preston Grasshoppers), Alistair Murray (Preston Grasshoppers), Steve McGinnis (Fylde), Dominic Moon (Preston Grasshoppers).

Replacements: Simon Griffiths (Fylde), Jon Nugent (Stade Dijon), Mark Rylance (Caldy), Evan Stewart (Fylde), Philip Baines (Preston Grasshoppers), Tom Webb (Fylde), Chris Johnson (Fylde).

Yorkshire: Michael Bateman (Hull Ionians), James Twomey (Otley), Jamie Broadley (Sheffield Tigers), Tomasi Tanumi (Beverley), Chris McTurk (Darlington Mowden Park), Chris Reakes (Hull Ionians), Adam Thomas (Hull Ionians), Jason Moss (Bradford & Bingley), Tom Rice (Hull Ionians), Steve Johnson (Hull Ionians), Gregor Hayter (Sheffield Tigers), Royce Cadman (Hull Ionians), Andrew Boyde (Doncaster Knights) capt, Anthony Maka (Hull), Gavin Jones (Blaydon).

Replacements: Stephen Depledge (Otley), Greg Wood (Sandal), Adam Tamanis (Doncaster Knights), Jack Bergmanas (Doncaster Knights), Toby Williams (Otley), Joe Makin (Hull Ionians), Kerry Wood (Hull Ionians).

Durham (v Cheshire at Gateshead RFC, 3pm): Peter Evans (Billingham), Tom Jeffrey (Blaydon), Nathan Holmes (Durham University), Chris Hyndman (Billingham), Jamie Sole (Blaydon), Andrew Baggett (Blaydon), Matthew Mellish (Westoe), James Hallam (Blaydon), Richy Thirkell (Horden), Josh Bayford (Durham University), Chris Wearmouth (Blaydon) capt, Dan Palmer (Horden), Harrison Collins (Durham University), Rob Bell (Blaydon), Scott Powell (Westoe).

Replacements: Ralph Appleby (Darlington MP), Andrew Rollins (West Hartlepool), Daniel Burns (Billingham), Jon Boatman (West Hartlepool), Daniel Finney (Billingham), Joe Evans (Billingham), Eldon Myers (Billingham).

Cheshire: Michael Barlow (Stockport), Jack Moorhouse (Sale FC), Danny Ridge (Birkenhead Park), Dom Kohler (Caldy), David Williamson (Lymm), Reece Hayes (Chester), John Broxon (Caldy), Gavin Woods (Macclesfield), Christian Jones (Caldy), Derek Salisbury (Caldy), David Marwick (Macclesfield) capt, Ross White (Chester), Jon Sewell (Caldy), Harry Broadbent (Caldy), Nick Pearson (Sheffield Tigers).

Replacements: Matt Beesley (Sandbach), Matt Ibbotson (Birkenhead Park), Henry Platt (Sale FC), Sam Stelmaszek (Sale FC), JJ Dickinson (Caldy), Michael Finnemore (Macclesfield), Oli Higginson (Lymm).

County Championship Shield, Pool 1

Cumbria (v Leicestershire at Penrith, 3pm): Greg Smith (Wigton), Andrew Miller (Aspatria), Matt Armstrong (Workington), Neil Warnock (Penrith), Paul Lancaster (Carlisle), Alistair Leddingham (Wigton), Ben Walker (Kirkby Lonsdale), Billy Coxon (Kendal), Ian McDowell (Penrith) capt, Richard Harriman (Kendal), Reece Tomlinson (Kendal), Roberts Marrs (Wigton), Gary Hodgson (Penrith), Tom Lindsay (Aspatria), Ryan Johnson (Penrith).

Replacements: Fergus Leddingham (Wigton), Michael Fearon (Workington), Will Miller (Wigton), Chris Tweddle (Workington), James Thornton (Penrith), John Storey (Wigton), Phil Dixon (Aspatria).