THE SURPRISE winners of the Second Division championship are turning into the shock battalion of the Treize Tournoi.
The Lancashire Lynx's collection of hopefuls and cast-offs yesterday completely upstaged the return of Paul Sironen to the country where he last played on the 1994 Kangaroo Tour. They took a second French scalp to add to that of St Esteve last week and gave themselves an excellent chance of becoming Britain's representatives in the final.
Among those they have to thank for that is Doc Murray, the full-back who scored four tries in France last week. Murray failed to make the grade at Wigan, but the New Zealander looked a thoroughly good player at this level as he set up the two tries, for Neil Parsley and John Donno, that overturned Villeneuve's early lead.
The French hit back to within two points, but two tries before half- time gave Lancashire a lead that they were able to hang on to, despite tiring badly after the interval.
Chris Kelly was the architect of the first, with a long ball to Steve Gee, and then, on the stroke of half-time, Steve Taylor's magnificent pass to Parsley set up Kelly for a try of his own.
The French, failing to get Sironen sufficiently involved in play, still managed to narrow the gap through a try from the former Keighley player, Grant Doorey.
But Taylor, a prop of great promise who has missed most of this year through injury, crashed over from close range after a lovely weaving run from the Second Division player of the year, Phil Jones.
That was enough of a cushion to see the Lynx home, although they were made to fret by late Villeneuve tries from the former Paris St Germain hooker, Vincent Wulf, and a second for Laurent Carrasco.
"We were tired out after the trip to France last week and we didn't play as well as we can," said the Lancashire coach, Steve Hampson. As the only English club with two victories in this competition, however, they could hardly be better placed.
Lancashire Lynx: Murray; D Jones, Solomon, Campbell, Parsley; P Jones, Ruane; Taylor, Donno, Briscoe, Gee, Smith, Walsh. Substitutes used: Prest, Kelly, McLoughlin.
Villeneuve: Bantuet; Perolari, Minut, Frayssinous, Cornut; Devecchi, Plath; Bloomfield, Wulf, Doorey, Carrasco, Sabatie, Despin. Substitutes used: Collado, Sironen, Peralta, Canal.
Referee: C Albi (France).