Fylde’s Burtonwood earns county call-up

Fylde hooker Tom Burtonwood
Fylde hooker Tom Burtonwood
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Fylde RFC hooker Tom Burtonwood steps into the breach to claim a place in Lancashire’s starting line-up for Sunday’s County Championship noon showdown with Cornwall at Twickenham.

Burtonwood takes over from his unfortunate team-mate, Alex Loney, who misses the match after seriously damaging his Achilles in last Saturday’s victory over Cheshire, which clinched the Red Rose county’s place at HQ in the process.

Johnny Matthews (Sedgley Park) has been drafted on to the bench for the replacement hooker role.

Coach Mark Nelson says Lancashire are ready for the fray against a Cornish team, playing their fifth successive final.

Lancashire largely rely on the side that beat Cheshire for Sunday’s encounter against a Cornwall side considered by many as favourites for Sunday’s encounter.

Nelson said: “We have done the first part by qualifying for the right to play at Twickenham and now we have reached the final stage and we know what job we have to do.”

Nelson pinpointed the forward exchanges as being key to the outcome.

He said: “We are well aware of Cornwall’s strengths and I know their coach Graham Dawe very well and he will have them well drilled up front.

“That is where the first battle lines will be drawn.

“We have to get into their pack of forwards to allow a supply of possession to our backs.

“Though it is two years since we played Cornwall in the final at Twickenham, we know what to expect from them.

“I would far sooner play against them than some county like Surrey that we might not know much about.

“I have also spoken to James Shanahan, the Hertforshire coach, about Cornwall and had a good chat about them, which has been helpful.”

Nelson added: “A lot of our players have experience of playing at Twickenham in a county final and that will suit us.

“The kick-off is noon, which is unusual in itself, so it is important that everyone gets a good night’s sleep so that fresh and ready.”

Cornwall are expected to be backed by a sizeable body of fans.

Nelson said, however: “It won’t be easy to get all the way to Twickenham for such an early kick-off.”