Lancashire start Bill Beaumont County Championship campaign with big win as Fylde and Preston Grasshoppers players score

Lancashire began their first Bill Beaumont County Championship campaign for three years with a comfortable 52-14 victory over Leicestershire at Firwood Waterloo.

By Peter Buckton
Sunday, 8th May 2022, 1:09 pm

The Red Rose laid down some solid foundations in their bid for a record-extending 26th county title with an eight-try victory at the Blundellsands ground in Liverpool.

Looking to move the ball at every opportunity and play attacking rugby, Lancashire were on the scoreboard within four minutes thanks to their enterprising scrum-half Matt Sturgess.

One of 10 Fylde players in the match-day squad of 23, Sturgess chased his own chip to score.

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The Lancashire squad that began the Bill Beaumont County Championship campaign at Waterloo

This set the tone for the rest of the game, with both teams competing at the breakdown and possession changing hands frequently.

Leicestershire forged their way into the Lancashire 22 but couldn't capitalise on their assaults.

Lancashire showed them how it's done with some good handling phases and patience, resulting in a try in the corner for Preston Grasshoppers winger Jordan Dorrington.

Captain Chris Johnson, of Sale FC, started his good afternoon's kicking with the first of six goals.

Centre Sam Stott, another of the Hoppers quartet involved, scored next out wide after a quick tap-penalty.

Sale's Simon Griffiths was next to cross the whitewash as the Red Rose continued to score at a rate of a point a minute.

Sturgess side-stepped his way over on a run from inside his own half, his second try of the game giving Lancashire a 33-0 lead at half-time.

Leicestershire started the second half well but strong carries by Preston prop Peter Altham got Lancashire back on the front foot.

Altham crashed over himself for the next try but Leicestershire's efforts were finally rewarded with their first score, a breakaway try from inside his own half by Euan Kelly, converted by fly-half Ian Smith.

Lancashire responded quickly as a series of forward drives opened up the Leicestershire defence for Stott to score his second.

A speedy break by replacement Sam Carleton on his Lancashire debut resulted in a try for Fylde teammate Henry Hadfield to bring up the half-century.

Leicestershire had the last word as a try by their excellent number eight Isaac Norton was goaled by Smith.

Lancashire's second and final group game is Saturday's mouthwatering Roses match at West Park Leeds against Yorkshire, who won their opener 52-40 away to Northumberland.

The Lancashire team could change significantly as the 11 Sedgley Park players selected will become available, having missed the opener due to club commitments.

Also next weekend, Cheshire start their North division campaign at Leicestershire and are Lancashire supremo Mark Nelson's favourites to win the group as they must face neither of the Roses rivals.

The Red Rose last won the title in 2018, their 13th Twickenham final (and ninth win) in 16 years.

Lancashire team: Simpson (Blackburn), Hadfield (Fylde), Stott (Preston), Johnson(Sale, captain), Dorrington (Preston), Smith (Fylde), Sturgess(Fylde); Griffiths (Sale), Gregory (Fylde), Altham (Preston), Garrod (Fylde), Parkinson (Fylde), Corrie (Fylde), Harrison (Preston), Lamprey (Preston); Trippier (Preston) Kyle-Clay(Fylde), Murray (Preston), Rawlings (Fylde), Dorrington (Preston),Bingham (Rossendale), Carleton (Fylde).