LANCASHIRE and Fylde rugby union coach Mark Nelson hopes to return from the capital city with some silverware next weekend after the Seasiders’ disappointment at Wembley.
Nelson takes the Red Rose side to the County Championship final at Twickenham on Sunday, bidding to win the cup named after Fylde great Bill Beaumont for a fourth successive year.
Their cup final opponents will be Hertfordshire in a match which will serve as a curtain-raiser to the England v Barbarians clash.
Lancashire clinched their place in yet another final with a thrilling 36-29 success against Cheshire in a winner-takes-all clash at Broughton Park.
Both counties had won their previous two group games against Northumberland and Cheshire.
Fylde players were again to the fore, with Chris Briers, Paul Arnold and Evan Stewart sharing three of the five tries.
A proud Nelson said: “In all three group games it has been tight in the first half and the strength of the squad has been shown to pull us through.
“We used our rotating subs to maximum effect and have won all three games in a very tough group.
“These game comes down to very small margins but we are delighted we got there.”
Looking ahead to Sunday, Nelson is relishing the chance to pit his wits against an old acquaintance.
“I know their coach Paul Turner very well. I coached him at Sale and he is now at Wasps.
“There are a lot of Saracens players in their side and they will be a very tough proposition.
“This will be my eighth final and they are all tough, but I expect this one will be right up there among the toughest.”
“We have to play without the shackles. We must not be overawed and we must go out to enjoy it.
“My commiserations to Blackpool, though, and it makes us all the more determined to try to come back with the trophy.”
Evan Stewart has been named as Fylde Player of the Year in his first season at the club.
Flanker Stewart joined the Woodlands club from Macclesfield, where he was skipper last season, and scored 16 tries in 25 appearances.
He crossed the whitewash again on Saturday to help Lancashire reach the County Championship final.
Callum McShane is the Young Player of the Year and fellow scrum-half Mark Norris the Wanderers Player of the Year.
The Saracens Player of the Year is shared between Chris Cardwell and Jamie Blakey, while James Blakey won the Vikings’ award and Steve Stead the Vandals’.