Lancashire produced a stirring fightback to retain rugby’s Bill Beaumont Cup and inflict back-to-back defeats on Cornwall at Twickenham.
he Red Rose county have now appeared in six consecutive finals, and have won five of those – but they had to do it the hard way this time as they came from 16 points behind early in the second half to beat Cornwall 36-26.
Coach Mark Nelson said: “We were quite a considerable number of points behind but we never lost our belief.
“The players, led by the captain, kept us going forward and the forwards kept us in the game.
“They’re a great group of players and it was a great comeback.”
Captain Chris Johnson added: “We probably weren’t playing our best rugby but we came back. It was a really good win and I’m so pleased for the lads.”
Johnson drew first blood for the holders with a routine penalty on 11 minutes.
The advantage was short-lived as Ben Black was penalised to present Cornwall with the chance to level and Kieron Lewitt, who had missed an early penalty, this time made no mistake. (3-3)
But Lancashire responded with a quick break deep into Cornwall territory and, from a lineout, registered the first try of the afternoon through Mark Rylance. Johnson added the conversion.
A Lewitt penalty closed the gap and then a sensational, if slightly controversial, Lewis Vinnicombe try put them in front for the first time 13-10.
Lancashire’s Paul Arnold was sent to the sin bin – and that proved costly as Cornwall cashed in before the break.
First Lewitt kicked the resulting penalty to extend the advantage then replacement Jamal Ford-Robinson used all his strength to drive through and add his side’s second try of the day.
Lancashire then found themselves three scores behind early in the second half when Simon Griffiths was caught offside and Lewitt ‘s kick made it 26-10.
But tries from Evan Stewart and Johnson agot them back in it.
Lancashire moved ahead again when Matthew Lamprey registered his first try for his county. Johnson again converted. (26-29)
And the victory looked certain as more pressure ended with Stewart releasing Tom Burtonwood to dive over.
Johnson again converted to stretch his side’s lead to 10 points at 36-26.