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Frustration ends for Leicestershire

County Championship Shield Final

Last Updated: Jun 1, 2015 09:30pm
Castle, City of Leicester
By The RFU
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Leicestershire ended years of frustration in the final of the County Championship Shield by securing their first title following a 34-17 triumph over Cumbria at Twickenham.

Mark Powell’s side controlled much of the first half and were probably unfortunate to go into the break only 19-10 ahead through Mark Lord’s score and a pair of Kris McFedries' tries.

Cumbria’s response before half-time came through Ryan Johnson’s converted touchdown and Glen Weightman’s three-pointer, but Rick Aley’s penalty shortly after the interval extended the margin to 12 points.

Leicestershire were then awarded a penalty try before Alexander Salt went over to confirm a thoroughly deserved win.

Leicestershire Head Coach Paul Walsh said: "We're really poud of the boys, we've lost in three finals before now, seven of today's side were here for all those losses so it means so much to get over the line today."

Kris Bratton crossed the whitewash late on for Cumbria but it was Leicestershire who walked away with the trophy.

Surrey were the bane of Leicestershire’s County Championship Shield existence having defeated them twice in finals between 2012 and 2014.

With Richie Andrews’ men receiving a promotion to Division 2 following their three consecutive successes, it gave the Midlands’ outfit a chance to rid themselves of that heartache.

In total they have suffered four defeats in Shield finals leading into this encounter, but the pressure of those losses failed to show in the opening 15 minutes.

Leicestershire were excellent and dominated the early exchanges, despite Weightman kicking the first points of the match. Cumbria struggled to deal with the power of the opponents’ loose trio and a powerful surge from No. 8 Chris Bale set-up the position for the first try.

The gargantuan Bale carried the ball deep into the 22 before play was shifted wide to Lord who crossed the whitewash unopposed.

Worse was to follow for the North West side when poor defence allowed McFedries to canter over the line for a second try.

However, Dan Bowman’s team managed to find a response against the run of play. This time it was Leicestershire that made the mistake as a loose pass was pounced on by Johnson who sped away for an opportunistic effort.

That and Weightman’s conversion reduced the deficit, but the respite didn’t last long when McFedries scored a carbon copy of the second try by darting down the shortside.

It proved to be a decisive part of the game as the Midlands’ team took that momentum into the second period.

They dominated proceedings and Aley’s three-pointer was the initial reward for their excellence.

Matters improved further and that elusive title got nearer as a driving maul powered towards the Cumbrian line before it was illegally halted.

The referee had no other option but to go under the posts and award a penalty try which took the score to 29-10 in Leicestershire’s favour.

Everything was going wrong for Cumbria with their opponents completely in charge of the encounter.

It was therefore no surprise to see Leicestershire add to their tally through Salt, who took advantage of some patient build up play to touch down.

Leicestershire captain Luke Coltman said: "This is one of the proudest days of my life as a rugby player, I thought we played really well today if a little sloppy in defence at times, but to come out as winners here is just brilliant."

To Cumbria’s credit, they fought back and controlled the final quarter. The pressure eventually led to a yellow card and a late try for Bratton, but it proved to be mere consolation as the Midlands’ outfit deservedly went away with the spoils.

Scorers: 

Leicestershire: Tries: Lord, McFedries 2, penalty try, Salt. Conversions: Aley 3. Penalties: Aley

Cumbia: Tries: Johnson, Bratton. Conversions: Weightman 2. Penalties: Weightman.

Teams:

Leicestershire: 

15 Mark Lord; 14 Mitch Lamb, 13 Will Cave, 12 Adam Nunney, 11 David Weston; 10 Rick Aley, 9 Kris McFedries; 1 Rhoddy McNaughton, 2 Luke Coltman (captain), 3 Dave Peck; 4 Will Ward, 5 Mark Deaville, 6 Matthew Fearn, 7 Alexander Salt, 8 Chris Bale

Replacements:

16 Wes Cope, 17 Ewan Bartlett, 18 Kieron Stone, 19 Stu Bale, 20 Jamie Skerritt, 21 Dylan Weddle, 22 Gareth Kerr

Cumbria:

15 Andrew Miller14 Kris Bratton13 Matthew Minett12 Danny Barker11 Damian Armstrong10 Glen Weightman9 James Gough (captain)1 Arran Sullivan2 Tom Graham3 Richard Harryman4 James Thompson5 Liam Hayton6 Andrew Bowe7 Ryan Birchall-Feeney8 Ryan Johnson.

Replacements:

16 David Todhunter, 17 Graham Andrews, 18 Dan Yeoman, 19 Phillip Dixon, 20 Liam Tunstall, 21 James Ellar, 22 Matty Roper.

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