Lancashire overcome Durham to set up intriguing Roses clash

The Red Rose side collected a win at Hartlepool after coming from behind. Here is the report from RFU North Press Officer, Tony Simpson - LANCASHIRE and Yorkshire set up another crucial Division One North Bill Beaumont Cup Roses match at Fylde on Saturday (May 11) when they both came through testing games yesterday in the opening tranche of fixtures. With Northern group teams heavily hit by protracted club commitments and forced to draw on a new seam of talent, there was an air of uncertainty about the opening games and while the outcomes followed traditional patterns, the matches had a very competitive edge. Promoted Durham were always confident of giving Lancashire a run for their money at Hartlepool Rovers and so it proved as the Red Rose men came from behind to claim a 40-29 win after being behind 17-14 at half-time and still trailing as the game approached the hour mark. The game was in the balance until the 79th minute when wingman Andrew Riley gathered a loose ball and sprinted 50 yards for a try which fly-half Steve Collins converted to give the visitors breathing space for the first time in an entertaining 10-try tussle. “I thought it was a fantastic performance by everybody involved,” said Lancashire Coach Mark Nelson. “Durham had a substantial group from Blaydon, the third-placed team in National One, plus a lot of quality players, so for our lads to go up there and win was a fine effort. “There was a really good feeling amongst the team as we travelled to Durham, which is largely due to the passion for Lancashire rugby that is generated by our manager Steve Rigby, Martin Scott and John Greenwood and which transmits to the players. “There were only a handful of established senior county players in the squad and we included lads from Eccles, Vale of Lune, Waterloo and Liverpool St Helens, who have not regularly had players in the county squad in recent times, but which underlined the strength in depth there is out there. “We also had players who have come through the Under 20s team and I think that contributed to the pride in the shirt that was shown and which carried us through.” The challenge now facing Nelson and his selection team is to blend the best of the Hartlepool performances with the high-quality talent that now becomes available, all of which may well be influenced by the Lancashire Cup final between Sedgley Park and Preston Grasshoppers on Bank Holiday Monday. Lancashire – 15 Sean Taylor, 14 Nick Royle, 13 Phil Baines, 12 Jack Ward, 11 Andrew Riley, 10 Steve Collins, 9 Callum McShane; 1 Sam Simpson, 2 John Matthews, 3 Nick Flynn, 4 Louis McGowan (c), 5 Gareth Gore, 6 Alistair Murray, 7 Billy Emerson, 8 Dominic Moon Replacements – 16 Anthony Harvey, 17 Nick King, 18 Phil Mills, 19 Mark Williams, 20 Sam Wallbank, 21 Tom Webb, 22 Curtis Strong Scorers – Tries: Moon 25, Baines 39, Webb50, Royle 60, Collins 66, Riley 79 Conversions: Collins 25 39 60 66 79

Cat: Senior