Lancashire, 29, Yorkshire 14
Lancashire upped their game in the second half in in tremendous style to book their place in the final of rugby union’s County Championship at Twickenham next Sunday, all four tries for the Red Rose coming from the Fylde quartet of Jordan Dorrington (2) Ryan De La Harpe and Chris Briers.
Dorrington’s first at the Woodlands was accomplished enough - the second was an absolute stunner and he more than anyone else in the Red Rose team must be relishing the chance to roam in the wide-open spaces of Twickenham.
It had been a hard-nosed, no-quarter clash in the first half, the entertainment value being very much on the low side, with play scrappy and at times plain bad-tempered.
But in a second half dominated by Lancashire, the contest sprung to life, not least because of Dorrington’s gem, the fourth try of the match.
If Dorrington rightly earned the plaudits, not just for his tries but his overall, copy-book exhibition, there was an excellent supporting cast of Lancashire players for this Bill Beaumont Cup-tie, who really came into their own in the second half, in which the contest swung in Lancashire’s favour, quite dramatically so..
Evan Stewart came into his own in the second half, while number number eight Matt Lamprey was excellent throughout, as was his back row partner Steve McGinnis.
And Lancashire seemed to be galvanised by the introduction of Steve Collins, who sparked the back-line into life.
On an afternoon of bright sunshine, Yorkshire made a sharp start with Lewis Minikin almost sniping through the Lancashire defence, only to be halted by last-ditch defending.
Lancashire responded quickly, a knock-on thwarting Dorrington as he followed up his own kick ahead.
Dorrington figured prominetly in the next Lancashire attack, his jinking run causing confusion in the White Rose ranks before play was halted for what looked a harsh decision on a knock-on.
Yorkshire made the breakthrough after some closely-matched, early sparring with a penalty-try on 12 minutes - Lancashire were in complete retreat as their rivals pinned them back with a strong rolling maul, the touchdown goaled in front of the posts by skipper Joe Bedford.
To add to Lancashire’s troubles, skipper Evan Stewart was yellow-carded.
Lancashire fly-half Chris Johnson had the chance to reduce the arrears with a penalty, but pulled his kick wide.
Johnson nearly tricked his way through in the next attack, the Yorkshire defence almost caught napping by a quick tap-penalty - in the following passage of play a wayward pass ruined a promising position for the home side.
Johnson then made amends in no uncertain style, stroking over a penalty from all of 50 yards.
The match got feisty and after a flare up and the odd fisticuffs, Lancashire’s Gareth Rawlings and Yorkhsire hooker Ali Thomson were yellow-carded.
The upshot of the schmozzle was a penalty from long range by Johnson, which just fell short.
With the half-hour mark gone by, Yorkshire had had the better of it, with Lancashire not firing on all cylinders and with work to do, their cause not helped when left-winger Bingham had to leave the field after a smack in the face, amazingly unseen by a touch-judge standing a mere feet away and the miscreant getting away scot-free.
In the last play of the first half, Lancashire sprung in attacking life.
Taking advantage of a free ball after Yorkshire were penalised Scott Rawlings unloaded a neat pass and Dorrington, his bright yellow boots a blur, finished the job off with aplomb thanks to a 35-yard dash to the line.
Collins, on the field to replace Johnson, missed the kick, but by half-time Lancashire had inched ahead by 8-7.
After a period of stalemate in the first 10 minutes of the second half, the scenario changed - for Lancashire very much for the better.
On 53 minutes a period of pounding at the Yorkshire line drew a pay-off.
First Scott Rawlings nearly burst over, but seconds later a diving Ryan De La Harpe registered Lancashire’s second try, goaled by Collins.
Yorkshire responded with typically steely resolve, Elliott Hodgson at the forefront of a dangerous move on the right-wing.
Seconds later, the same player’s foot went into touch as Yorkshire put together a sweeping move.
Yorkshire’s Dan Solomi then became the fourth player to be yellow-carded.
A superb offload by Paul Arnold to Stewart almost paid dividends, but the Lancashire skipper’s pass only found a Yorkshire player - however, referee Gareth Holsgrove brought the play back for a high tackle on Dorrington,
Lancashire scored a try in the wake of the resulting penalty.
Collins weaved his way through neatly and found Chris Briers, who needed no second invitation and scrambled over for the try, goaled by Collins to make the score 22-7.
On 73 minutes, Lancashire - or rather Jordan Dorrington - scored a fantastic try, which he will never forget.
First he chased back determinedly to cut out a kick ahead by Yorkshire that looked as though it could bring the visitors back in the game and result in a score if the ball bounced in their favour.
Dorrington’s determined chase defused the danger and he swerved to turn defence into attack to devastating effect.
Starting from well inside his own ‘22’ he out-speeded a posse of Yorkshire players, weaving his way this way and that - he found Stewart in support, the Lancashire skipper then having the presence of mind to pass it back to Dorrington, who claimed a glorious try
There was one last blast by Yorkshire when Minikin skipped through for a noteworthy try, goaled by Bedford.