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Home > News > Twickenham temptation for North West County trio
Your News Twickenham temptation for North West County trio

LANCASHIRE, Cheshire and Cumbria are all one good performance away from a place in the County Championship finals at Twickenham on Sunday, May 29, 2011.

For the Red Rose side, a win over Cheshire at Macclesfield on Saturday would leave them one victory away from a successful defence of the Bill Beaumont Cup title they won last season.

For Cheshire, victory over their neighbours would take them back to Twickenham for a possible repeat of their last appearance in 2009, when they beat Hertfordshire, who entertain Gloucestershire at Old Albanians on Saturday in the other Semi-final.

If we play well we can win, said Joint Cheshire Team Manager David Partington: Weve got a fair chance, but we will need in improve on our performance last time out against Warwickshire.

Lancashire are the reigning champions; their coaches have been there and their players have been there; theyve been there and done it. There is no way we could consider ourselves to be favourites in any shape or form. The only thing weve got is home advantage.

But were playing Lancashire and their history in the County Championship doesnt need repeating. Historically, they are the best side in the competition and have been for many years. They embody everything thats good about the County Championship and if there were more like them, the competition wouldnt be fighting for its life.

Were testing ourselves against the best and looking forward to the challenge. I think winning two games away has sparked some excitement in the Cheshire rugby fraternity and hopefully they will turn out in good numbers to support us on Saturday.

Cheshire make four changes to their starting line-up, with Craig Ross (Caldy) and Jack Moorhouse (Macclesfield) coming into the threequarter line at wing and centre respectively and lock Tom Holmes (Sedgley Park) and flanker Evan Stewart (Macclesfield) joining the pack.

Lancashire make a number of enforced changes with Adam Armstrong (Barking), Mark Turner (Liverpool St Helens) and Mark Rylance (Caldy) starting for the first time this season and Fylde front-row forward Tom Lavelle and flanker Mark Stephenson named amongst the replacements.

The interesting factor this season is that on Saturday there are two clear Bill Beaumont Cup 'semi-finals' involving four unbeaten teams Lancashire & Cheshire in the North/Midlands group and Gloucestershire & Hertfordshire in the South/South West section. said Lancashire coach Mark Nelson: In previous years it's required mathematical calculations to decide the finalists.

Macclesfield will be a tough place to visit, especially as Cheshire have that club's contingent of players available after league action, but I have every confidence in the spirit and ability of our squad of players. We will certainly offer a stern challenge to Cheshire.

Yorkshire face the most important match of the season when they entertain Warwickshire at Hull RFC in the game that will decide who is relegated into Pool Two of the competition next season.

The White Rose men have never been out of the top flight of the Championship and the game becomes a major challenge for captain Dan Cook, who makes his first appearance of the campaign after being injured in the Yorkshire Cup final three weeks ago.

We played better against Lancashire last weekend than we did in our opener against Cheshire, but now were out of the Twickenham running and facing an even more important test, said Team Secretary Graham Siswick: Its a massive game for us now. Last time we met two years ago there was nothing riding on the outcome, Warwickshire sent an under-strength team and we put 60 points on them. This could be rather different.

One team with Twickenham very much in their sights are Cumbria, who have Surrey visiting Aspatria in the County Championship Shield Semi-final (2pm).

Cumbria are expecting to have the side which beat Notts, Lincs & Derby last weekend available for the game, but they can expect a full-bloodied challenge from a Surrey side which demanded the countys return to the historic championship.

Richie Andrews and ex-England Counties XV captain Duncan Cormack, experienced club coaches, will jointly coach the Surrey side.

Both the top-tier Bill Beaumont Cup (Division One) and County Championship Shield competitions culminate in prestigious finals at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday May 29, either side of Englands match against the Barbarians on that day, so there is every incentive for the teams on the brink of that showpiece.

There is also an added incentive for players who are on the verge of selection in the England Counties XV that will play in Spain in the first two weeks of June. While a number players have already been penciled in for that three-match, two-week tour, some places are still up for grabs and will hinge on performances this coming weekend.

Cheshire (v Lancashire at Macclesfield RFC, 3pm): Fergus Mulchrone (unattached); Craig Ross (Caldy), Jack Moorhouse (Macclesfield), Jamie Anthony (Stockport), Ed Stobart (Sale Jets); Tom Foden (Bham Solihull), Danny Carlton (Manchester); Gavin Woods (Caldy), Tommy Taylor (Sale Jets), Martin Kent (Coventry), Tom Holmes (Sedgley Park), Dave Marwick (Stockport) capt, Adam Bray (Lymm), Evan Stewart (Macclesfield), Jon Sewell (Caldy).

Replacements: JJ Dickenson (Caldy), Jack Collister (Caldy), Derek Salisbury (Caldy), Tom Cruse (Stockport), Matt Owen (Macclesfield), Tom Chappell (Chester), Dave Williamson (Lymm).

Lancashire: Adam Armstrong (Barking); Mark Turner (LSH), Tom Hughes (Preston G), Matt Riley (Sedgley Park) capt, Oliver Brennand (Fylde); Alex Davies (Plymouth Albion), Steve Collins (Fylde); Dan Birchall (Sedgley Park), Mark Rylance (Caldy), Peter Altham (Fylde), Louis McGowan (Rotherham), Gareth Rawlings (Longton), Sam Beaumont (Fylde), Steve McGinnis (Fylde), Juan Crous (Sedgley Park).

Replacements: Simon Griffiths (LSH), Tom Lavelle (Fylde), Grant Ferguson (Fylde), Mark Stephenson (Fylde), Matt Charters (Preston G), Chris Johnson (Huddersfield), James Moore (Vale of Lune).

Yorkshire (v Warwickshire at Hull, 3pm): Chris Georgiou (Otley); Steve Parsons (Rosslyn Park), Jamie Broadley (Harrogate), Kyle Dench (Harrogate), Curtis Wilson (Otley); Richard Vasey (Caldy), Tom Barrett (Wharfedale), Craig Hampson (Leeds Carnegie); Jimmy Browne (Harrogate), Scott Plevey (Hull)/Ben Sowery (Wharfedale), Chris Steel (Wharfedale), Dan Cook (Hull) capt, Alex Ball (Birmingham Solihull), Seoni Onesi (Hull), Dan Salomi (Wharfedale), Rob Baldwin (Wharfedale).

Replacements: Joe Quinn (Otley), Scott Plevey/Ben Sowery, Paul Turner (Cleckheaton), Nick Sharpe (Huddersfield), Joel Gill (Otley), Richard Vasey (Caldy), Jon Feeley (Sheffield Tigers).

Beaumont Cup

Pool 1 North

May 7: Lancashire 46 Warwickshire 12 at Sedgley Park, Yorkshire 10 Cheshire 18 at Sheffield RUFC; May 14: Lancashire 26 Yorkshire 15 at Fylde, Warwickshire 15 Cheshire 36 at Coventry; May 21: Cheshire v Lancashire at Macclesfield (3pm), Yorkshire v Warwickshire at Hull (3pm), Hertfordshire v Gloucestershire at Old Albanians (3pm).

Pool 2 North

May 7: Northumberland 24 Durham 19 at Tynedale; May 14: Eastern Counties 22 Northumberland 39 at Shelford; May 21: Durham v Eastern Counties at Hartlepool Rovers (3pm).

County Championship Shield

Pool 1

May 7: Staffordshire 17 Cumbria 48 at Burton on Trent; May 14: Cumbria 32 Notts, Lincs & Derbyshire 10 at Penrith.

May 21: Cumbria v Surrey at Aspatria (2pm).

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