County Championship Shield, Twickenham Sunday, June 1 2008
NORTHUMBERLAND stormed to a 25-11 victory over Cornwall at Twickenham to lift the County Championship Shield.
The two counties lying furthest apart in England locked horns at the Middlesex venue on Sunday as part of a triple-bill of rugby action, including England's 17-14 win over Barbarians.
And it was England's most northerly county which came out on top.
Cornwall had opened strongly but Northumberland managed to weather the storm before taking control.
On 10 minutes quick thinking by stand off Gavin Beasley saw full back Jack Smales set free wide on the left and he beat his marker to scamper in from 30 metres out and touch down. Beasley put the conversion attempt just wide of the post but he atoned 8 minutes later when he slotted home a penalty to put Northumberland 8-0 up.
As the battle for the ball in the loose heated up both sides conceded penalties and Cornwall pulled themselves back into contention when Mark Scrivener scored for 8-3 after 21 minutes.
Northumberland were looking to play the most positive rugby and their backs looked dangerous whenever they got the ball, with Beasley running the show at stand off.
As the first half wore on Northumberland were camped in the Cornwall half and after pressuring the home defence in their 22 Jack Smales and Gavin Beasley took advantage of a hashed clearance attempt to send Beasley over the line for 13-3. The conversion attempt was hooked just wide of the left hand post.
Once again Cornwall rallied and on the stroke of half time Scrivener notched his second penalty of the match and the sides changed ends with Northumberland leading 13-6.
In the second half Cornwall came out with all guns blazing in an attempt to get back into the game but once again tenacious defending by Northumberland kept the opposition out.
Having weathered the storm, Northumberland then increased their lead. The attack shaped to go right but Beasley looped a long pass out left and the ball was fed in to Andrew Murray who crossed the line to put Northumberland 18-6 to the good.
Cornwall replied through Paul Thirlby who battered his way over the line for 18-11.
But that was as good as it got for Cornwall.
At the other end Northumberland sealed their win with a try from winger Peter Cole. Beasley chipped a superb cross field kick to the right and winger Cole sniped in between two stranded defenders to cross the line for 23-11. Beasley added the conversion for 25-11.
Northumberland then played sensible rugby to contain Cornwall and see
the game out for a well deserved victory and be crowned Shield champions.
THE ROUTE TO SHIELD GLORY
- Northumberland 29 North Midlands 5
- Northumberland 39 Durham 17