The Rugby Football Union may have been cursing under their breath when Cumbria put out Cornwall in the semi-finals of the CIS County Championship, thus depriving HQ of a final packed to the rafters with Trelawney's army. The supporters of Cumbria and Somerset by no means filled Twickenham, but what they lacked in numbers they made up for in noise and passion.
Their efforts - one fetching group came in matching hard hats - were surpassed by both sets of players, who were utterly committed. The juddering tackles reverberated around the under-populated stands.
Mark Richardson, the Cumbrian captain, a 19-stone ice cream manufacturer who looked like he might have been hitting the cornettos, prompted cheers whenever he went on a bullocking charge, swatting would-be tacklers like bothersome flies.
After opening skirmishes characterised by nervy handling and an exchange of penalties from Nicholas Edmonds and Mike Scott, the match sprang to life in the 33rd minute when neat passing by Cumbria saw both wings held up within inches of the line. The lock Andrew Bell muscled over from the resultant tap penalty.
Either side of half-time, Somerset snaffled unconverted tries for Christopher Rees and the gloriously named Jason King from line-outs close to the Cumbrian line. But seven minutes into the second half Cumbria produced the best moment of the match. Steven Davidson stormed down the right wing and drew the defence before putting away Stephen Milnes. Scott converted. Twenty minutes later the fly-half sealed Cumbria's first County Championship since 1924 with a long-range penalty.
Long before the end the chants of "Cumbria" were echoing around the ground. All that is needed now is a Carlisle United victory in today's Auto Windscreens final at Wembley to complete a triumphant weekend for the area.
Cumbria: G Cook; D Warwick, P Burns, M Lynch, S Davidson; M Scott, P Thompson; S Irving, M Armstrong, J McCune, A Bell, B Atkinson, S Milnes, S Cusack, M Richardson (capt).
Somerset: M Westcott; D Underwood, D Fox, A Webber, P Blackett; N Edmonds, L Hirons; J Barnes, C Rees, A Harris, M Rackham, M Curry, J King, M Venner (capt), S Withey.
Referee: B Campsall (Halifax).Reuse content