Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hills' Tries Fire North to County Shield Title

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hills' Tries Fire North to County Shield Title

Article excerpt

Byline: By Alan Hedley

Barry Hills, the Keith Pattinson Journal Trophy NE Player of the Year, scored two tries as his Northumberland side claimed the Tetley's County Shield title at Twickenham.

The Tynedale centre touched down in the 31st and 62nd minutes as Kevin Westgarth's side turned an 8-3 half-time lead into a comprehensive victory.

They were helped by Oxfordshire's indiscipline, with Matthew Hutchings and Tom Johnson sin-binned, while captain Paul Hennessey was sent off for verbally abusing a touch judge.

It was third time lucky at Twickenham for Northumberland captain David Guthrie after defeats in the 1995 Tetley's County Championship final to Warwickshire and with Blaydon against Old Patesians in the 2001 National Intermediate Cup final.

He said: "My wife Lisa didn't come down because she felt she was a jinx after the last two occasions.

"But everything's been put right with today's result."

Westgarth said: "Oxfordshire played well in the first period and out-muscled us in the tight areas. But their indiscipline cost them and we managed to lift our game in the second half."

Oxfordshire coach John Brodley was pleased that his side, drawn largely from Chinnor, had at least reached the final and like Northumberland will be promoted into the Tetley's County Championship next season.

He said: "We took players from South West One and South West Two clubs and a sprinkling of second team players from some bigger clubs. We competed well against a predominately National League Three side with a couple of National One players.

"We have come from nowhere to Twickenham in a year and next season we will be in the Championship proper so I don't think we should be too disheartened."

Northumberland will see playing in the main competition as a justified conclusion to the season.

Chairman of selectors Danny Hodgson said: "It was vital we were promoted back to the Tetley's County Cup competition. …

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