- Bill Beaumont Cup holders knocked out by Cornwall
- Strong second half sees Shield holders past Sussex
Three tries by Old Albanians scrum half Stefan Liebenberg were not enough to save England’s defending county champions Hertfordshire from being knocked out of this season’s Bill Beaumont Cup with a 41-29 loss away to Cornwall last Saturday (May 18).
Cornwall won Division 1 South as a result and will now meet Lancashire in the Bill Beaumont Cup final at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday (May 26).
Hertfordshire battled hard to hold on to their title, knowing they needed to avoid defeat in the final pool match in front of around 3000 spectators at Camborne RFC.
Liebenberg scored his second and third tries in the second half either side of a penalty try for Cornwall to make the score 34-29 to the hosts with a few minutes remaining.
But an added-time try by Paul Thirlby, which the Redruth fly half converted, sealed victory for the Black and Golds to send them to the Home of England Rugby for the first time since the 2008 County Championship Shield final, when they lost to Northumberland.
And it will be Trelawney’s Army’s first appearance in the top-tier final since 1999, when Cornwall beat Gloucestershire 25-15.
They were also at Twickenham in 2001 for a loss to Yorkshire, but that was a one-off challenge match in a county season disrupted by the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.
Elsewhere in the Bill Beaumont Cup, Kent were relegated to Division 2 when they lost 36-20 away to Gloucestershire, while Eastern Counties suffered a second loss in their two matches, 34-6 away to Northumberland.
County Championship Shield holders Surrey are through to defend their title at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday (May 26) after winning 35-8 away to Sussex in last Saturday’s (May 18) semi final at Worthing.
Surrey will take on Cumbria, 13-11 home winners over Warwickshire, in the third of three county finals to be staged alongside the England v Barbarians match.
Dorking wing Ryan Jeffery scored Surrey’s first try and had a second attempt disallowed for a foot in touch.
Sussex were unlucky to see a penalty from fly half Tom Stokes hit a post before Surrey’s captain and fly half Neil Hallett (Wimbledon) kicked a penalty.
Stokes landed a penalty for Sussex to trail 8-3 and the gap was the same by half time after a second try for Jeffery and one for the home team by Tom Polhill of Chichester.
The Surrey forwards asserted themselves in the second half and with Hallett kicking a penalty and converting a trademark solo try by centre Matt Noble (Dorking) the lead was 23-8.
Sussex lost second row Jake Brown (Burgess Hill) to the sin bin, and a clever chip ahead was grabbed by full back Matt Betty (East Grinstead) for Surrey’s fourth try, converted by Hallett, before the fifth and final Surrey try when replacement scrum half Will Crow danced through several tackles and slipped the ball to Dorking prop Ben Knight.
The County Championship Shield final, Cumbria v Surrey, will kick off at 5.15pm on Sunday, May 26 at Twickenham Stadium.
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RFU County Championship 2013 results and fixtures:
Bill Beaumont Cup
Division 1 North
May 4: Durham 29 Lancashire 40; Yorkshire 21 Cheshire 15
May 11: Durham 29 Cheshire 31; Lancashire 35 Yorkshire 25
May 18: Cheshire 20 Lancashire 13; Yorkshire 20 Durham 5
Division 1 South
May 4: Gloucestershire 19 Cornwall 24; Kent 26 Hertfordshire 50
May 11: Hertfordshire 56 Gloucestershire 22; Kent 17 Cornwall 23
May 18: Cornwall 41 Hertfordshire 29; Gloucestershire 36 Kent 20
Bill Beaumont Cup final:
Lancashire v Cornwall (Sunday, May 26, Twickenham Stadium, 3.15pm)
Division 2 North
May 4: East Midlands 14 Northumberland 34
May 11: Eastern Counties 17 East Midlands 23
May 18: Northumberland 34 Eastern Counties 6
Division 2 South
May 4: North Midlands 50 Devon 34
May 11: Devon 11 Somerset 30
May 18: Somerset 36 North Midlands 40
County Championship Division 2 Plate final:
Northumberland v North Midlands (Sunday, May 26, Twickenham Stadium, 9.30am)
County Championship Shield
April 27: Notts, Lincs & Derbyshire 3 Leicestershire 81
May 4: Cumbria 71 Notts, Lincs & Derbyshire 0
May 11: Cumbria 38 Leicestershire 17
April 27: Buckinghamshire 12 Warwickshire 41
May 4: Warwickshire 25 Essex 20
May 11: Essex 32 Buckinghamshire 12
April 27: Surrey 67 Oxfordshire 12; Berkshire 17 Dorset & Wilts 23
May 4: Berkshire 36 Surrey 49; Dorset & Wilts 58 Oxfordshire 14
May 11: Oxfordshire 50 Berkshire 10; Dorset & Wilts 12 Surrey 41
April 27: Hampshire 41 Middlesex 19
May 4: Sussex 26 Hampshire 23
May 11: Middlesex 27 Sussex 29
May 18: Semi finals: Sussex 8 Surrey 35, Cumbria 13 Warwickshire 11
County Championship Shield final:
Cumbria v Surrey (Sunday, May 26, Twickenham Stadium, 5.15pm)