Lancashire 13 Cornwall 18
Lancashire never recovered from gifting Cornwall seven easy points in the third minute of rugby’s county championship final at Twickenham and so had to hand over their tenure of the Bill Beaumont Cup to “Trelawny’s Army”.
But veteran lock Louis McGowan spoke for the entire squad when he vowed to be back next year.
“I want ‘Billy’ back,” he said of the coveted trophy.
Lancashire conceded an early penalty, missed by Matt Shepherd.
But the Cornish scrum-half made immediate amends by slicing through a scattered Red Rose defence from 25 metres out and adding his own conversion.
Lancashire battled their way back into the game with first-half penalties by Steve Collins and Chris Johnson, the second after a Cornish yellow card.
But Shepherd struck again with a penalty after centre Red Rose centre Chris Briers had also been sin-binned for an illegal tackle.
Mark Nelson rang the changes from the bench in the second half, but another killer snipe by Shepherd from a line-out drive gave him his second try to put Cornwall 15-6 ahead.
Billy Searle increased the lead with a penalty midway through the half, but Lancashire refused to give up the cup without a fight.
Skipper Evan Stewart burrowed over for a try converted by Johnson with seven minutes left.
But too many close-contact errors dashed their hopes of yet another final win, even though Cornwall were reduced to 14 men by their second sin-binning of the match.
Lancashire were up against it from the start in wet conditions which suited the Cornish game plan and restricted the Red Rose chances of getting the ball wide to dangerous runners like winger Anthony Bingham, who nevertheless managed some flashes of brilliance.
There was also a lot of hard work from the pack, with No.8 Matt Lamprey again to the fore.
“Credit to Cornwall,” said Nelson. “The conditions suited what they wanted to do. We spilled the ball on too many occasions, conceded two soft tries and gave ourselves too much to do against a very committed defence.
“I don’t think we put them under enough pressure in the first half and we know we could have performed at a higher level.
“The players are very committed and it hurts when you lose. We want to come back next year.”
Skipper Stewart said: “It is always massive to get to Twickenham, but Cornwall fully deserved the win.
“They put a lot of pressure on to make us make mistakes and the weather didn’t help, although we showed some good handling even when the weather was at its worst.
“Today was a stepping stone for the younger players and they’ll be back.”