Friday, May 25, 2012
FIVE Saracens players, including this season’s rugby league recruit Joel Tomkins, are in the Hertfordshire side hoping to turn the tables on champions Lancashire in Sunday’s Bill Beaumont Cup final at Twickenham Stadium (May 27, 11am kick off).
Lancashire are hoping to be crowned English rugby union’s county champions for the fourth year in a row after beating Hertfordshire 32-23 in last season’s final.
But with Old Albanian RFC player-coach James Shanahan pulling the strings at fly-half, and the Saracens quintet bolstering a team also coached by the vastly experienced Paul Turner, Herts are hopeful of a different result this time.
Tomkins, an England rugby league international who switched codes from Wigan RL to Saracens last November, has made five appearances for his new club.
The 25-year-old Warrington-born centre scored a length of the field try to help Wigan win the RL Challenge Cup final against Leeds at Wembley in August 2011.
He has been adding to his understanding of rugby union during Hertfordshire’s successful campaign in the Bill Beaumont Cup, in which they won the Division One South pool despite last week’s (May 19) narrow loss to Gloucestershire.
Hertfordshire won the pool in style scoring at least four tries in each of their three matches and topping the table by two points ahead of Cornwall.
Lancashire finished top of the North group with wins over Northumberland, Yorkshire and Cheshire.
Hertfordshire have played attractive rugby looking to move the ball by hand on almost every occasion.
The backs have played well as a unit, there has been some excellent finishing especially by wings Michael Allen and Ben Ransom and scrum half Stefan Liebenberg has a sharp eye to take the opposition unawares.
The tight possession, however, may well be where the game is won or lost on Sunday as Lancashire will be strong in this area.
Hertfordshire have made one change in their starting line-up for the final with Tom Newton of Tring at full back and Old Albanians’ Richard Gregg moving to the bench.
Hertfordshire team, v Lancashire, Bill Beaumont Cup final, Twickenham Stadium, Sunday May 27, 11am:
Tom Newton (Tring); Ben Ransom (Saracens), Joel Tomkins (Saracens), Chris Lombaard (Old Albanian), Michael Allen (Hertford); James Shanahan (Old Albanian), Stefan Liebenberg (Old Albanian); Jared Saunders (Saracens), Brett MacNamee (Hertford, capt), Petrus du Plessis (Saracens), Tom Jubb (Cambridge), Eoin Sheriff (Saracens), Ollie Cooper-Miller (Old Albanian), Rod Farenheim (Old Albanian), Billy Johnson (Bedford).
Replacements: Rob Schillaci (Hertford), Stuart Bailey (Old Albanian), Marco Cecere (Old Albanian), Craig South (Hertford), Tom Mowbray (Chinnor), Tom Coleman (Bishop’s Stortford), Richard Gregg (Old Albanian).