- Lancashire edge Cornwall in Bill Beaumont Cup final
- Huge Cornish support at Twickenham Stadium not quite enough
Lancashire 35 Cornwall 26
Photo: Getty Images
Lancashire lifted the Bill Beaumont Cup for the fourth time in five seasons after a pulsating victory over Cornwall at Twickenham.
Paul Thirlby opened the scoring for the Cornishmen with three minutes on the clock when his 45-metre penalty crept over the crossbar.
Lancashire’s Chris Johnson quickly restored parity before converting wing Nick Royle’s superb diving finish in the corner to edge his side ahead.
Thirlby replied with another three points, but Lancashire increased their lead to 15-6 within seconds when number eight Dominic Moon crashed over out wide after Daniel Birchall’s rampaging carry.
Cornwall’s already difficult task became even tougher when Royle grabbed his second, the former England Sevens man intercepting a wayward pass to race home from 35 metres for a score improved by Johnson.
But the Duchy side were resilient and clawed five points back before the break when centre Neilson Webber burrowed over from close range.
Cornwall emerged for the second period with great intent, and they found themselves within touching distance on 53 minutes as referee Wayne Falla awarded a penalty try for Lancashire’s collapsing of another catch-and-drive.
Photo: Getty Images
In an end-to-end half, Johnson kicked a penalty and a drop goal to one penalty from Thirlby to send Lancashire into the final 10 minutes with a seven-point lead.
The latter had the chance to tie the game at 28-28 three minutes from time when replacement Lewis Vinnicombe sneaked over, but he hooked his conversion well wide and Ben Rath sealed victory for Lancashire in the final play.
Lancashire captain, Louis McGowan said: “We didn’t expect an easy game, as soon we knew we’d drawn Cornwall we were ready for a tough spar. There was huge support from the South West and the atmosphere was incredible. It was awesome to play at Twickenham, on a personal level I’ve had a tough time with injuries this season and thought I was going to have to retire over Christmas so I’m ecstatic to come back.
“Credit to Cornwall for the way they pushed us right to the end, with five minutes to go they were kicking to equalise. I didn’t need to say a word to the lads though, they knew that we needed to dig deep and close them down. I’m immensely proud of every player that has travelled here with us today. There are a lot of young lads in this squad - it’s a good future for Lancashire.”
Lancashire vs Cornwall teams
Lancashire: 15 Sean Taylor, 14 Nick Royle, 13 Chris Briers, 12 Jack Ward, 11 Ben Rath, 10 Chris Johnson, 9 Steven Collins, 1 Daniel Birchall, 2 Jonathan Matthews, 3 Simon Griffiths, 4 Paul Arnold, 5 Louis McGowan (C), 6 Jonathan Nugent, 7 Steven McGinnis, 8 Dominic Moon.
16 Peter Altham, 17 Gareth Gore, 18 Philip Mills, 19 Evan Stewart, 20 Phil Baines, 21 Thomas Webb, 22 Andrew Riley.
Cornwall: 15 Jake Murphy, 14 Richard Bright, 13 Steve Johns, 12 Neilson Webber, 11 Tom Notman, 22 Paul Thirby, 9 Greg Goodfellow, 1 Darren Jacques, 2 Richard Brown, 3 Craig Williams, 25 Damien Cook, 5 Ben Hilton (C), 6 Chris Fuca, 7 Sam Hocking, 8 Ashley Lawton.
16 Neil Turner, 17 Jon Drew, 18 Matt Shepherd, 19 Luke Collins, 20 Steve Perry, 21 Lewis Vinnicombe, 23 Tom Rawlings