Cheshire have won their first two northern pool games in the Bill Beaumont County Championship Cup series by a single point. Having dispatched Eastern Counties by the narrowest of margins they defeated Yorkshire by 21 points to 20 at Huddersfield YMCA’s Laund Hill ground last Saturday.

Yorkshire had the better of the early exchanges but found it difficult to break through a resolute Cheshire defence. A Lewis Minikin penalty put them in front on seven minutes but they had to wait until the half hour to extend their lead when Minikin rounded off a spell of pressure with a try in the left hand corner, landing the difficult conversion himself.

Cheshire responded with a try close to the posts by flanker David Jones five minutes later which fly half Tom Morton converted with ease.

On the stroke of half time Minikin put Yorkshire further ahead with his second successful penalty but from the restart Cheshire took play into the Yorkshire half. The whole of stoppage time was played close to the Yorkshire line and after several phases the ball was grubbed behind the Yorkshire defence with Cheshire full back Rhys Hayes winning the foot chase to dot down.  Morton’s conversion put his team in front with the last kick of the half.   

At the start of the second half Cheshire used the slope on the Laund Hill pitch to good effect, kicking well out of hand to establish position close to Yorkshire’s line. The tactic was rewarded when Jones crashed through for his second try on 48 minutes with Morton converting.

The eight point deficit proved a bit of a wake-up call for Yorkshire who grafted hard to get back on terms. Minikin was tackled close to the line in the right hand corner before inside centre James Tincknell cut through for the Tykes’ second try with Minikin adding the extras.

Yorkshire continued to press but a combination of impatience, carelessness and some determined defence from Cheshire denied the home side further points. Minikin had the chance to nose his side in front with a penalty kick on 65 minutes but his effort bounced wide off the post.

With time running out Yorkshire’s replacement full back Tom Hodson came into the line and cut a mazy run. He evaded several tacklers before being brought down just short. Although the ball came back and was recycled through three more phases the chance to win the game and, in all likelihood, make further progress in the competition was lost when the ball was eventually knocked on.

Yorkshire coach Gaz Lewis commented, ‘The result was obviously disappointing. We had our chances to win but credit must go to Cheshire. They were very physical in defence and took their chances well.’ Yorkshire play Lancashire in their final pool game at Fylde next Saturday. Lewis added, ‘We haven’t seen a ‘Roses’ match for a good few years and the lads are keen to finish the campaign on a high’.

Richard Sykes. Huddersfield Daily Examiner.

Huddersfield RUFC players Lewis Bradley and Jack Maplesden started the game for Yorkshire with Tom Hodson taking the field from the bench on 55 minutes.

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