Photo – Lancashire side of 2014 at Twickenham
A third consecutive County Championship final against Trelawny’s Army awaits Lancashire at Twickenham on Sunday writes Peter Elliott, Lancashire RFU Press Officer.
Having seen off Yorkshire last weekend with four tries in a 30 minute spell, the defending champions’ team to face Cornwall sees one tactical change from the previous starting line-up.
Influential half-back Steve Collins replaces Chris Johnson at fly-half, while the bench sees the return of Fylde’s Oli Brennand for his first appearance of the campaign.
Head coach Mark Nelson spoke about the campaign ahead of the final: “Getting to the final has been very fraught, as it’s essentially knockout rugby in many ways,” he said. “Sunday is a great opportunity for our players to play at Twickenham, in what is a world-class stadium. It’s the same opportunity for people to come and support the team. Overall, we want them to enjoy the experience.
“It’s the same opposition third time on the bounce. Cornwall feel far better and stronger, and are confident opponents. But we have got to get everything right.”
Speaking about the missed opportunity to have the game shown to a nationwide audience as was the case last year, Nelson added: “I’m very disappointed with it not being televised, and questions need asked about why!”
Sunday will be the final game in a Lancashire shirt for Paul Arnold, who will make his 36th appearance if he plays. A veteran of the 2003 cup-winning side, the 34-year-old lock said: “With my appointment to be head coach at Fylde and the inevitability of Anno Domini, I think that it’s time to call it a day in terms of playing for the Red Rose County.
“I made my Lancashire debut in 2002 against Kent at the Woodlands alongside Dean Schofield. Sunday’s game will be my 36th county appearance and perhaps my seventh or eighth final. I’ve so many good memories and stories from these 13 years.”
Lancashire’s appearance this Sunday matches Gloucestershire’s post-war record of seven consecutive finals, between 1970 and 1976, while Durham holds the overall record for consecutive appearances, with ten appearances between 1900 and 1910.
The Lancashire team to face Cornwall is – 15 Warren Spragg (Fylde), 14 Jordan Dorrington (Fylde), 13 Chris Briers (Fylde), 12 Scott Rawlings (Fylde), 11 Anthony Bingham (Rossendale), 10 Steve Collins (Sedgley Park), 9 Ryan De La Harpe (Fylde); 1 Ben Black (Sedgley Park), 2 Alex Loney (Fylde), 3 Adam Lewis (Fylde), 4 Jonathan Nugent (Bergerac), 5 Gareth Rawlings (Fylde), 6 Evan Stewart (Fylde) (Captain), 7 Steve McGinnis (Loughborough Students), 8 Matt Lamprey (Sedgley Park)
Replacements – 16 Louis McGowan (Caldy), 17 Pete Altham (Preston Grasshoppers), 18 Phil Mills (Preston Grasshoppers), 19 Paul Arnold (Fylde), 20 Chris Johnson (Fylde), 21 Oli Brennand (Fylde), 22 Niall Crosley