- Surrey defeat Cumbria by narrow margin at Twickenham Stadium
- Will Crow try and boot of Neil Hallett enough to defend title
Cumbria 16 Surrey 21
Photo: Getty Images
Surrey successfully defended the County Championship Shield with a narrow victory over Cumbria.
Surrey began the stronger of the two teams and opened their account on five minutes courtesy of captain Neil Hallett’s straightforward penalty.
Try-scoring opportunities were scarce in an attritional first half and Alistair Ledingham spurned the chance to level the scores when his shot at goal dropped short from 45 metres.
The Cumbria fly half made amends three minutes later with two successful strikes - the second from a difficult angle by the touchline.
Surrey lost No.8 Ian White to the sin bin but soon after the 14 men were awarded a penalty try and Hallett added the simple extras.
Ledingham failed to reduce the deficit before the break as he pushed another penalty attempt wide, but he was on-target seven minutes after the restart to bring Cumbria to within a single point.
Hallett restored Surrey’s four-point advantage with his second penalty five minutes later. Ledingham however proved the scourge of Surrey again as the 20 year old weaved through from a tapped penalty for his side’s first try before converting superbly from out wide.
Photo: Getty Images
In keeping with the unpredicable nature of the game however, Surrey struck back immediately when replacement Will Crow rolled his way over the line following Matt Betty’s piercing run, although Hallett failed to kick a seemingly routine conversion.
Hallett and Ledingham then both missed penalty attempts as nerves frayed, but the former knocked over another three-pointer with the final kick of the match to secure Surrey’s second consecutive Shield victory.
Surrey captain Neil Hallett said: “It was very physical, Cumbria competed so well at the break-down and at times put us off our stride. We’ve had a very good build up to this final but they certainly tested us and fortunately we were able to dig deep and hold out.
“There is such small margin for error – they had a penalty to take the lead with around six minutes to go which could have swayed it but I always thought that it was going to be our day, I knew that we had the fire-power and the belief.”
Cumbria vs Surrey teams
Cumbria: 15 Greg Smith, 14 Andrew Miller, 13 Martin Armstrong, 12 Neil Warnock, 11 Paul Lancaster, 10 Alistair Ledingham, 9 Ben Walker, 1 Billy Coxon, 2 Ian McDowell (C), 3 Richard Harryman, 4 Reece Tomlinson, 5 Ryan Birchell-Feeney, 6 Gary Hodgson, 7 Tom Lindsay, 8 Ryan Johnson, 16 James Thornton, 17 Christopher Tweddle, 18 Robert Marrs, 19 Phillip Dixon, 20 Fergus Ledingham, 21 Michael Fearon, 22 Kurt Maudling
Surrey: 15 Matt Betty, 14 Ryan Jeffery, 13 Matt Noble, 12 Sean Cunningham, 11 George Owen, 10 Neil Hallett (C), 9 Stephen Munford, 1 Ben Knight, 2 James Catton, 3 Charlie Connor, 4 Armand Roux, 5 Matt Higgins, 6 Scott Moore, 7 Jonathan Vermont, 8 Ian White, 16 Sam Johnson, 17 Joey Nanai, 18 Cathal Murphy, 19 Harry Watts, 20 Will Crow, 21 Fraser Macdonald, 22 Fraser Mosley