County Championship Shield - Group Stage
CUMBRIA’S county rugby team are just one match away from playing at Twickenham after three Kendal players and one Kirkby Lonsdale man helped the side beat Leicestershire 38-17.
With the experienced veterans of Billy Coxon and Richard Harryman dominating the mauls and scrums, and Reece Tomlinson and Gary Hodgson winning a plentiful supply of ball in the line outs, Cumbria settled down after a shaky first 15 minutes dominated by the Midlands boys at Winter Park, Penrith.
Alistair Leddingham (Wigton) was first on the scoresheet with a long range penalty, but Leicestershire swept back a few minutes later, and their captain and fly half Lord Mark cut through from a ruck, to gain the first touchdown before converting it himself.
This stunned the Cumbrians into action and Alistair Leddingham gave an audacious dummy from a set scrum to dash over from 30 metres to make it 10-7.
Soon after, a long kick to the right corner gave Cumbria field position. They won possession and moved the ball to the left wing and when the referee awarded a penalty, Coxon used his experience to take a quick tap and pass to his fellow prop Harryman. He headed for the tryline and popped a return pass for Coxon to score.
Six minutes before half time, Kirkby’s Ben Walker made a fine break round the blind side of a scrum from his own half. As the cover hounded him down, he made a perfect pass to full back Greg Smith (Wigton) who scored an excellent try in the right corner.
Just before the break, Leddingham kicked a 40-metre penalty to increase Cumbria's lead to 23-7.
In the second half, Leicestershire counter attacked, using the elements in their favour.
After a penalty for each side was kicked, Leicestershire hammered on the home line, and eventually the defence was broken when No.8 Ben Ashfield popped up in midfield to score. Mark kicked the simple conversion, and Leicestershire were back in the game at 26-17.
Leddingham scored under the sticks with a terrific 80-metre effort following good work from clubmate Will Miller, who made a fine break down the left before adding the conversion, to score the decisive try of the game.
Tom Lindsay (Aspatria) dived over the line for a good forwards try to make it 38-17 and win the game for Cumbria.
Cumbria play Warwickshire next Saturday at Aspatria at 3pm for the chance to play at Twickenham.