Quantrill wins kicking duel

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The Independent Online
Northumberland 9

Warwickshire 15

It is not surprising that the modern County Championship is shunned nowadays by the rugby establishment. A disappointing crowd of around 6,000 watched an equally disappointing game in which all the points came from the boot, five penalties to three, and neither side showed the skill expected of a Twickenham final.

However, those few spectators were witness to an incident usually associated with football fans when, half-way through the first half, eight Warwickshire supporters were escorted from their seats in the east stand by police after a burst of abusive football-type songs had caught the attention of stewards.

After the match the men were seen looting a local greengrocers and throwing a variety of vegetables at an elderly woman outside the ground which ended in their arrests.

The Midlanders started the match positively, despite the yellow card awarded to Mark Ellis for stamping in the first minute, with a series of forays into Northumberland territory which almost resulted in a try when Andy Smallwood attacked down the left wing only to put a foot in touch before diving over the line.

That was the first, and last, exciting moment of the first half. From then on it became a kicking duel between Warwickshire's Jim Quantrill and Northumberland's veteran stand-off David Johnson. At half-time Quantrill had given his side a 9-6 lead with three penalties to two. He added two further kicks in the second half while Johnson managed only one of his three attempts.

Northumberland did perk up a little with just 10 minutes to go but Smallwood saved Warwickshire with two outstanding try-saving tackles on Michael Old and David Rees near the end.

"It gives us all a chance to play at Twickenham. The Second and Third Division players don't get that chance any other way," Smallwood,Warwickshire's best player, said.

Denis Tolfts, the Warwickshire president said, the match was "a great advertisement for the County championship" which was, to say the least, looking through rose-tinted spectacles. With fans squeezed in to watch Bath beat Harlequins only yards away at The Stoop, and many more locked out, one wondered if the RFU got the venues for the two matches confused.

Northumberland: Penalties Johnson 3. Warwickshire: Penalties Quantrill 5.

NORTHUMBERLAND: M Old (Tynedale); G Ward (Novocastrians), R Wilkinson, I Chandler (Newcastle Gosforth), D Rees (Sale); D Johnson (Blaydon), S Clayton-Hibbott (Tynedale); R Parker (capped), E Parker (Tynedale), D Clark (Morpeth), K Westgarth (West Hartlepool), R Metcalfe (Newcastle Gosforth), R Hoole (Edinburgh Academicals), N Frankland (Newcastle Gosforth), D Guthrie (Blaydon).

WARWICKSHIRE: J Quantrill (Rugby Lions); A Smallwood (Nottingham), A Gillooly, M Palmer, D Watson, (Rugby Lions); M Gallagher (Nottingham), M Warr (Sale); G Tregilgas (capped), D Addleton (Coventry), S Revan, S Smith, P Bowman, D Oram (Rugby Lions), M Ellis (Kenilworth), S Carter (Coventry).

Referee: M Bayliss (Gloucester).