- Leicestershire reach Shield final
- North Midlands relegated, East Midlands edged out
Leicestershire booked their place in the County Championship Shield final with a 23-18 win against Cumbria in their semi-final at Aspatria.
They will now meet Shield holders Surrey in the final at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday June 1, the side that beat them in the final two years ago.
Leicestershire opened up a 23-8 lea at Aspatria through tries from Hinckley back row Matthew Fearn, South Leicester back row Josh McLaurin and Hinckley prop Dave Peck.
Fly half Ricky Allan of South Leicester added two penalties and then converted Peck’s try which helped Leicestershire to withstand Cumbria’s late fightback.
East Midlands’ hopes of an appearance in the County Championship Bill Beaumont Cup Second Division Plate final were ended by a 24-8 defeat by Durham at Darlington.
East Midlands led 8-0 at one stage with Towcestrians centre Dave Devlin-Jones crossing for a first half try and Cambridge fly half Jack Green kicking a penalty.
But the sin-binning of Cambridge lock Martin Wolfenden late in the first half proved decisive as Durham scored ten points early in the second period when East Midlands were down to 14 men.
A late interception try from Durham centre Cameron Mitchell killed off any chances of an East Midlands recovery.
North Midlands were relegated back to the Second Division of the County Championship Bill Beaumont Cup after they were beaten 45-19 by Gloucestershire at Bromsgrove's Finstall Park ground.
North Midlands knew that only a win would keep them in the top flight of the competition but the early encouragement of a 12-0 lead soon disappeared against a powerful Gloucestershire side who had run Cornwall close the previous week.
Stourbridge prop Mark George and Luctonians wing Adam Knight crossed for early tries for North Midlands and fly half Tom Jones (Luctonians) added a conversion.
But Gloucestershire were soon level and once they took the lead the result was never in doubt. A try from Rod Petty (Birmingham & Solihull) which Jones improved briefly slowed Gloucestershire's progress.
"It was always going to be a tough campaign for us," said North Midlands head coach Dan Protherough. "If you look at the three counties on our group they all have a strong tradition of county rugby and they were picking from players in National One and National Two."
"We introduced a lot of young players this season who were playing against players from a higher level than were used to playing against and hopefully that experience will stand them in good stead for future seasons."