LANCASHIRE 34 CUMBRIA 16
Lancashire will contest the destination of the BARLA County Championship with Yorkshire after defeating spirited Cumbria.
Despite scoring three tries, the visitors were largely outclassed although deservedly hauling themselves back into the contest having trailed 24-6 at half-time.
Lancashire capitalised on an early Cumbrian error, switching the ball left where Bury centre Michael Los crashed in. Orrell St James stand-off Jack Houghton was good with his passing, prompting and onfield kicking but couldn't master the tricky goal-kicking conditions, being unable to land any of his seven efforts.
The Red Rose county doubled their advantage after six minutes when big Ajay Hussey (Newton Storm) charged over from fifteen metres. More adventurous play from the Lancashire side brought their third try in the tenth minute as Ben Sheils (Saddleworth) finished well at the right corner. There was no respite as Callum Gregory made it 16-0 from Houghton's kick.
Oldham St Annes hooker Cameron Hague dashed in from dummy half after 25 minutes for the fifth Lancashire try. Finally, Cumbria responding and after building a couple of minutes pressure impressive Ulverston substitute Jonah Kelly ran a short line to the posts and Millom's Jack Newbegin added the goal.
20-6 looked a likely half-time score but Lancashire had other ideas and after a despairing tackle denied Gregory, no-one was at home at dummy half to prevent Hague claiming his second try.
Cumbria were a different team in the second half, improved with Barrow Island's Martin Brun moving to front row, while Ryan Wilson (Walney) was never far away from the action.
The visitors got the first try of the second half when Rio McQuiston (Millom) ran straight for the line and they were right back in the contest when Alex Marsden (Egremont) came up with a superb finish on the inside after a dropped kick. Newbegin's second goal made it 24-16 and Lancashire were rocking. Their response was to re-introduce Hussey while Oliver McMahon (Thatto Heath) also impressed with his work rate.
As composure returned, so too did the Lancashire attack and Houghton slid a good kick behind the line that was well finished by Gregory for his second. Then in the final minute, direct work moved Lancashire close and Tom Yates (Thatto Heath) was too big and powerful near the line. Los converted to make the final score 34-16 to Lancashire.
LANCASHIRE: Dan McGahan (Widnes Moorfield), Callum Gregory (Thatto Heath), Michael Los (Bury), Sam Worrall (Latchford), Ben Shiels (Saddleworth), Jack Houghton (Orrell), Jordan Fishwick (Hindley), Ajay Hussey (Newton), Toby Goodmarsh (Leigh Miners), Tom Yates (Thatto Heath), Connor Davies (Thatto Heath), Harrison Chappell (Mayfield), Oliver McMahon (Thatto Heath). Subs: Luc Slater (Orrell), Max Walsh (Oldham St Annes), Ben Hogg (Orrell), Cameron Hague (Oldham St Annes).
Tries: Los (3), Hussey (6), Shiels (10), Gregory (21, 62), Hague (25, 35), Yates (69).
Goals: Houghton 0/7, Los 1/1.
CUMBRIA: Ryan Wilson (Walney), Ben Postlethwaite (Seaton), Morgan Ackerley (Wath Brow), Alex Marsden (Egremont), Jackson Traverse (Seaton), Pat Cush (Ulverston), Jack Newbegin (Millom), Daniel Hartley (Millom), Deon Crowe (Hensingham), Rio McQuiston (Millom), Tyler Richardson (Hensingham), Martin Brun (Barrow Island), Will Hadwen (Barrow Island). Subs: Ethan Clements (Wath Brow), David Beck (Ulverston), Jamie McQuire (Millom), Jonah Kelly (Ulverston).
Tries: Kelly (30), McQuiston (52), Marsden (56).
Goals: Newbegin 2/3.