LANCASHIRE 18 CUMBRIA 22
Cumbria gained the upper hand in the Open Age BARLA Three Counties Championship following a close game played in the mud of Leigh Miners Rangers.
Lancashire were quick out of the blocks and belied the conditions when Jack Jones (Thatto Heath) threaded a kick through for Andy Nisbet (Pilkington Recs) to ground just ahead of Adam Prendergast (Thatto Heath) for the opening score in the third minute. Jones converted.
Good hands then saw Lancashire work the smallest of gaps and Thatto wing Ryan Heaton finished expertly after thirteen minutes to open a 10-0 advantage.
Finally, Cumbria managed to apply pressure and took advantage in the 17th minute when big Leon Crellin (Egremont) had the strength to hold off the defence and cross out wide. Halfback Connor Saunders (Ulverston) struck the posts with his conversion attempt but Cumbria were on the board.
It took until the half-hour mark for Cumbria to gain some territory and they took advantage again six minutes later thanks to alert play out of dummy half from Egremont livewire hooker Matty Henson. This time Saunders was on point and it remained 10-all at the break.
Lancashire looked the better side for the first ten minutes of the second half with Ryan Liptrot (Pilkington Recs) delivering well from dummy half and the likes of skipper Andy Lea, Mark Lomas (both Thatto) and Andy Morris (Pilkington Recs) making metres. With 45 minutes gone, Liptrot went over from dummy half but it proved too wide for Jones to convert. Ball control dropped for the Red Rose county and it was Cumbria that seized the initiative.
Lancashire scrambled but eventually Cumbria found a way over with an excellent backline play that released Lee Postlethwaite for the corner and the Millom wing finished superbly. Saunders converted brilliantly from the touchline to put the visitors in front - 14-16.
Cumbria maintained their better completions with the likes of skipper Johnny Goulding (Cockermouth), fellow prop Carl McBain (Barrow Island) and Ryan Wilson (Ellenborough) relishing their task in the wet.
It was becoming increasingly difficult to identify players on both sides, when just past the hour, Noah Robinson (Millom) went over from dummy half and Saunders added his third goal to open a 14-22 lead.
Cumbria defended magnificently with Barrow Island fullback Jake Stockdale marshalling things at the back in addition to fielding everything that came his way and two try-saving tackles. Eventually, Lancashire did find a try on the left for Connor Parkinson (Wigan St Judes) but it was too late and Cumbria celebrated a famous victory.
Ryan Hilliard (Pilkington Recs), Danny Dainty (Ince Rose Bridge), Connor Parkinson (Wigan St Judes), Andy Nisbet (Pilkington Recs), Ryan Heaton (Thatto Heath), Matt Whitehead (Oldham St Annes), Jack Jones (Thatto Heath); Adam Hesketh (Thatto Heath), Connor Dutton (Thatto Heath), Andy Lea (Thatto Heath), Adam Prendergast (Thatto Heath), Luke Fowden (Rochdale Mayfield), Jordan Gibson (Haydock). Subs: Matt Meaden (Ince Rose Bridge), Ryan Liptrot (Pilkington Recs), Mark Lomas (Thatto Heath), Andy Morris (Pilkington Recs).
Tries: Nisbet (3), Heaton (13), Liptrot (45), Parkinson (79).
Goals: Jones 1/4.
Cumbria: Jake Stockdale (Barrow Island), Jordan Stafferi (Walney Central), Sam Jones (Barrow Island), Leon Crellin (Egremont), Lee Postlethwaite (Millom), Adam Jackson (Barrow Island), Connor Saunders (Ulverston), Johnny Goulding (Cockermouth), Noah Robinson (Millom), Carl McBain (Barrow Island), Matthew Bewsher (Egremont), Callum Nelson (Barrow Island) Hanley Dawson (Millom). Subs: Matt Henson (Egremont), Jordan O'Leary (Seaton), Jason Graham (Ellenborough), Ryan Wilson (Ellenborough).
Tries: Crellin (17), Henson (36), Postlethwaite (52), Robinson (63).
Goals: Saunders 3/4.