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Cumbria 20 pts v Surrey 37 pts
Surrey made the long trek north to face Cumbria – who like themselves were previously unbeaten this season, in the Semi–Final of the County Championship Shield. The incentive for the winners being a place in the Final at Twickenham next Sunday, after the England v Barbarians game and in front of potentially a big crowd.
After a warm Cumbrian welcome from their hosts, Surrey were delighted with the excellent playing surface at Aspatria Rugby Club.
Surrey began in positive mood and went ahead with a penalty goal from scrum half, Steve Munford. The home side knuckled down and bounced back with a try by winger Phil Fell, which was converted by Greg Smith, to ease Cumbria into a 7-3 lead. Surrey then began to play some excellent rugby and after a splendid period of play, they grabbed two quick tries. Firstly No 8 Ben Lucas drove over and then some slick handling saw wing Mike Terelak score a try. Both were converted by Munford to push Surrey 17-7 in front.
With half time approaching, Cumbria converted another penalty goal to bring the interval score line to 17-10, in the visitors favour.
The second period began with the home side in determined mood and spurred on by the large partisan home crowd, Smith successfully kicked another penalty goal to reduce Surrey’s lead, to a narrow four points. Not to be outdone, back came Surrey and Munford kicked another penalty to ease the visitors further ahead.
The next part of this fascinating match saw Surrey really turn the screw and their front row of Tom Bristow, Nathan Kemp and Charlie Connor began to boss their counterparts, while locks, Skipper Armand Roux and Matt Higgins won lots of possession and the back row cleaned up at the breakdowns. This platform and some excellent phases of rugby from Surrey enabled them to really take control of this game. After some good quick handling, Surrey scored a try by flanker Chris Lewis. With their tails up and the visitors firmly in the ascendancy, Lewis smashed through several tackles to grab his second try, after some splendid rugby from the visitors. Munford added both conversions to put Surrey 34-13 ahead.
With both sides making full use of the rolling substitutions rule, Cumbria dug deep and tore back into Surrey. From a surging drive by their pack, Cumbria’s forwards scored a try and Smith kicked the conversion to lift the home side’s hopes.
Once again though the visitors drove up the pitch and another penalty goal was kicked by Steve Munford, to give him a personal tally of seventeen points for the day and to secure a well earned victory for Surrey and for the second year running, a trip to the hallowed turf of Twickenham, where they will meet Leicestershire.
Interestingly Cumbria voted Surrey lock Matt Higgins Man of the Match, but the Surrey contingent felt that fellow lock and captain, Armand Roux shaded it as Man of the Match, if only for his inspiring leadership.
SURREY: 15 Tom Hunt, 14 Mike Terelak, 13 Alrich Muller, 12 James Faulkner (all Dorking), 11 Stuart Phillips(Guildford), 10 Rich Lang, 9 Steve Munford, 8 Ben Lucas, 7 Jon Vermont (all Dorking), 6 Chris Lewis (Wimbledon), 5 Matt Higgins, 4 Armand Roux – Captain (both Dorking), 3 Charlie Connor (London Irish Amateurs), 2 Nathan Kemp (Wimbledon), 1 Tom Bristow (Dorking)
Substitutes: 16 James Catton (Dorking)