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Honor James


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Lancashire County ARL retained the over 35’s BARLA County Tri-Series with wins over both Cumbria and Yorkshire at the Millpond stadium Featherstone.

Yorkshire County ARL (0)0
Lancashire County ARL (6)16

Lancashire opened the series in scorching style with what was probably the quickest try of any Tri-Series on record.

Lancashire kicked off to Yorkshire, who made the fatal error of allowing the ball to bounce leaving fullback Ian Ward to scorch in on the loose ball, which left the confused Tykes’ defence scratching their heads in amazement. The Darren Makinnon extras completed the Red Rose’ flying start on the first leg of their title defence. This remained the only score of the mainly uneventful twenty minutes half.

Lancashire doubled their advantage eight minutes into the second half with Ward again going over for the four pointer between the uprights. Safraz Jama knocked over the two points and Lancashire were ahead 12 - 0.

This scoreline, which the game looked to be finishing on, remained until in the last minute, when Jason Roach crossed for a third Lancashire try to round off the scores at 16 - 0.

Yorkshire County ARL (4)14
Cumbria County ARL (0)6

The second game was delayed for around an hour due to Cumbria’s late arrival, following an horrendous journey from the North West due to a coach breakdown, which saw them arrive only a matter of 30 minutes before kick off.

The Cumbrians however showed no signs of their transport ordeal as they toughed it out with the Tykes in a bruising first half.

Wayne Hirst made the crucial breakthrough a couple of minutes before the end of the half when he went in for a try wide out to give Yorkshire a 4 - 0 edge at the break.

Carl Morton nipped over eight minutes into the second half again, with an effort too wide out for the extras to be added, which meant that Yorkshire were 8 - 0 to the better.

Cumbria were back on terms three minutes later when Dave Wynne went in for a try and the extras from Warren Stainton, put the Cumbrians within two points at 8 - 6.

Their joy was short lived however as three minutes later, Steve Morton went in for Yorkshire’s third try. Mark Gibson hit the extras to put the hosts into a 14 - 6 lead and that’s how it stayed.

Cumbria County ARL (0)6
Lancashire County ARL (18)18

Every thing hinged on the final game with all three Counties still in with a shout, but it meant that Cumbria would have to pile the points on in a win over Lancashire to claim the prize, while Yorkshire could only wait in the wings and hope that Lancashire lost by just enough points to leave the Tykes in the driving seat.

However the slide rules and calculators were put down after five minutes when Jason Roach crossed to put Lancashire a step neared retaining the title. Safraz Jama supplemented with the conversion to put his side into a 6 - 0 lead.

Further tries for Lancashire with first Gary Richardson on ten minutes followed by Mark Forster on fourteen minutes, both of which were added to by Jama saw the Red Rose go into the second half with an 18 - 0 under their belt.

The Cumbrians had the only say in the points department in the second period, with a Kevin Hetherington try goaled by Paul Deans. This however was not enough to prevent the Lancastrians from picking up the title.

Once again the day despite a little let down by the weather the event provided a great day of rugby entertainment at excellent and welcoming facilities. The new Yorkshire County committee should be congratulated for their hard work in hosting the tournament which will move to Cumbria next year.

Lancashire were worthy winners but were tested by the other two counties and were presented with the trophy and their medals jointly by the new BARLA Chair Sue Taylor and new Yorkshire Chair Graham Brierley.

The three players of the tournament for their respective Counties were Craig McKinnon (Cumbria) Paul Reilly (Yorkshire) and Gary Fletcher (Lancashire).

Speaking after the games, a jubilant Lancashire Vice Chairman Chris Parr spoke of Lancashire’s expectations, when he revealed that this was the first leg of his County’s assault the BARLA County Tri-Series, saying,

"I’m very proud of our lads today and while I really appreciate their efforts in regaining this title, I see this as, one down and three to go now. We came close to winning the four titles up for grabs last year, but things didn’t go quite to plan."

"We picked up the 35’s and the 17’s in what I would describe the first half of last year’s series, but an adjustment to the timing of the under 19’s and open age competitions, hit our preparations badly and we suffered greatly from player unavailability."

"We aim to put that right this year and with the interest that the series has raised so far in Lancashire, we’re quite confident that we can go on and do an unpresented clean sweep of all the four competitions."

CUMBRIA: Paul Dean, Craig McKinnon, Gary Broadbent, Alan Kendall, Paul Henderson, Steve Eddy, Andy McClure, David Wynne, Graham Broatch, Kevin Hetherington, Paul Southward, Trevor Dryden, Steven Stoddart, Warren Stainton, Lee Rutherford

LANCASHIRE: Mark Forster, Ste Bird, Ste Caley, Neil Babbs, Sean Richardson, David Scott, Andy Tucker, Matt Mahoney, Gary Richardson, Jason Roach, Gary Fletcher, Safraz Jama, Stephen Fletcher, Matt Calland, Mike Ward, Ian Ward, Kieron Kavanagh, Eddie Kilgannon, Anthony Hollins, Darren Makinnon, John Welch.

YORKSHIRE: John Dudley, Gary Woodcock, Paul Roberts, Maurice Mayne, Lee Whiteley, Chris Peach, Paul Sebine, Paul Bradwell, Paul Tharme, Marc Gibson, Paul Reilly, Stephen Morton, Martin Luxford, Lee Kelley, Craig Simons, Kevin Dickens, Wayne Hirst, Carl Morton, Adam Hughes, Simon Owen.

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