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Leicestershire Book Semi Final Place

North Midlands RFU County Championship News

Last Updated: May 19, 2014 10:42am
St. Stephen, Worcester
By Paul Bolton
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LEICESTERSHIRE booked their place in the County Championship Shield semi-finals with a 41-30 win over Warwickshire at Hinckley.

Warwickshire had led Pool One but were deducted four points on Friday for fielding two ineligible players in their victory over Buckinghamshire two weeks ago.

That opened the door for Leicestershire who secured a trip to Cumbria, winners of Pool Two, with victory in an entertaining local derby.

Warwickshire were in contention until the last ten minutes when a try from number eight Chris Bale (South Leicester) and conversion from his club-mate Mark Lord gave Leicestershire an 18 points advantage.

Warwickshire twice led early on through a penalty from Nuneaton fly-half Huw Thomas then a try from Broadstreet wing Andy Murray either side of a try from South Leicester centre Andy Gates which Lord improved.

But once Leicestershire went ahead again with a try from Hinckley flanker Matt Fearn, which Lord improved, they stayed there.

Lee Robinson, the former Bristol and Leicester Tigers wing who now plays for South Leicester, powered over in the first minute of the second half and Lord converted to stretch the lead to 13 points.

Warwickshire responded with a try from Nuneaton’s Sam Gibbons and a penalty from Thomas which reduced the deficit to just four points before South Leicester’s Dave Weston, who took over the kicking duties while Lord was in the sin bin, landed a penalty and then converted a try from his club-mate Gareth Kerr.

Warwickshire ensured that Leicestershire still had work to do when captain and number eight Chris Wood of Broadstreet scored ten minutes from time.

Bale’s try finally sealed the win but Warwickshire claimed a bonus point when Old Coventrians lock Aaron Crofts scored their fourth try late on.

Notts, Lincs & Derbyshire beat Staffordshire 22-15 in their final Pool Two match at Burton.

NLD opened up a 22-0 lead at half-time with tries from the Ilkeston pair of Adam Corcoran and Matt Watkins and Scunthorpe scrum-half Will Harrison.

Staffordshire rallied strongly in the second half with Dan Smith (Stafford), Max Hughes (Walsall) and Taz Wara (Longton) scoring tries while other chances to overturn the deficit were squandered.

In the County Championship Bill Beaumont Cup First Division North Midlands were beaten 54-20 by Hertfordshire at Old Albanians and now face a relegation decider with Gloucestershire at Bromsgrove on May 24.

North Midlands’ defeat followed a heavy reverse against Cornwall last week but Gloucestershire also went down to their second successive defeat, losing 33-27 to Cornwall.

Those results mean that the losers of the match at Bromsgrove on May 24 will be relegated to the second tier of the competition next season.

Despite the defeat North Midlands head coach Dan Protherough was encouraged by the efforts of his team.

“We played quite well at times and the pleasing thing is that we were much more competitive this week than we were against Cornwall,” Protherough said.

“We showed a lot of heart and played with a lot of energy and hopefully we can build on this performance against Gloucestershire in what is now a crunch match for both counties.”

Stourbridge centre Stefan Shillingford scored North Midlands’ opening try, a charged-down effort, which Bournville fly-half Alex Warner improved.

Birmingham & Solihull prop Stefan Thorp went over for the second try just before half time and Warner added a penalty which reduced the gap.

North Midlands could overturn Hertfordshire’s growing lead in the second half but replacement Rod Petty (Birmingham & Solihull) crossed for a consolation try to reward them for an improved display.

East Midlands will face Durham at Darlington on May 24 in a promotion decider for a place in the top flight of next season’s County Championship Bill Beaumont Cup.

Durham beat Eastern Counties, who lost to East Midlands last week, to set up the winner-takes-all contest.

 

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