Durham, Hampshire and Notts, Lincs and Derby triumph in rugby finals

In the Under-20 final, Durham rallied from 23 points midway through the first half to claim Jason Leonard’s first title with a 53-33 win over Hampshire.

After taking the lead early on through Magnus Broadley, Durham quickly conceded four tries in a row with Thomas Hare and Ben Griffin both crossing after a skillful pass from Hampshire.

Sam Vince and captain Jack Philips moved Hampshire further on before last year’s losing finalists responded, first through Will Robinson.

Tom Campbell and Korede Sanusi crossed over after a patient phase game to bring Durham to just four points at half-time.

After the restart, Alex Radcliffe crossed to put Durham in the lead before Hamish Yeldham fumbled after having received the ball from the sideline to give his team a 10-point lead.

Ted Reid produced an excellent solo score to break through the Hampshire defense and launch for Durham’s seventh before Robbie Richardson added another for the victors.

Harry Rabjohn’s late score was nothing but consolation for Hampshire as Reid took the final score of the day to seal the title.

Durham lock Alfie Blundell said: β€œIt feels amazing, we’ve worked so hard for this, I couldn’t be more proud.

β€œWe’ve never been that far behind this season, and we came together and focused on playing like we’ve done all season and we fired it up in the second half.

β€œThe set-up is incredible, all the managers and the RFU have put together an incredible tournament, we couldn’t ask for more.

“Some guys will now be looking to break into semi-professional rugby, but even those returning to club rugby won’t forget this.”

Hampshire captain Jack Philips said: β€œI am immensely proud of all the lads. I’ve been with them since the under-15s and reaching a national final at the under-20s to top it all off was just amazing and it’s a real honor to be the captain of the team.

“It’s brilliant to finish the season, we really enjoyed it, putting club rivalries aside and building a huge team with the best players in the country and playing the game we love, we wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

In the Gill Burns Division 2 final, Hampshire took revenge on defending champions Eastern Counties to secure the trophy with a 53-8 victory.

In a rematch of last year’s final, Hampshire flew out of the blocks with three tries in the first 16 minutes when co-captain Natasha Bullock scored on either side of a fine try from Nina Hoadley.

After converting a penalty, Eastern Counties secured their first try of the afternoon when Danni Lee scored before Hampshire responded with two late scores through Katie Wadeson and Hannah Kemish.

Hampshire picked up where they left off with two tries in the first 10 minutes of the second half, first through Samantha Wharton before Kemish ran 20 meters for her second.

The eastern counties withstood wave after wave of Hampshire attack for much of the second half before Emma Andrews and Emelia Green clashed in the closing stages to wrap up a dominating victory.

Hampshire try scorer Green said: β€œI wasn’t part of the team last year but I knew our main aim was to go out there and absolutely crush this and as a team we have done that.

β€œComing to the team from the Under 18s has been fantastic, the women have been very accommodating, I expected to be a little more on the bench, so starting has been very nice.

β€œMy average number of tries has been one per game and it’s great to finish it in the final with the last try of the game.

“This is the most important thing, getting girls to play rugby and in front of all these people showing that women’s rugby is yet to come.”

Eastern Counties captain Chantelle Higgins said: β€œThe girls gave 110 per cent but Hampshire brought it to us, they were more dominant and we have a lot to take from that.

“It’s incredible to play in front of the fans, everyone counts and everyone is part of the team and it’s what encourages us to keep going.”

In the Division 3 final, Cassie Milestone was the star of the show for Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Derbyshire, scoring four tries in their 34-22 win over Devon.

Milestone opened the scoring in a frantic first half, converting their own try before Devon responded with a Rosie Tidball try.

A quick score from Chloe Hill put Devon ahead for the first time before Holly Felton answered NLD with a powerful score.

Milestone put his team back in the lead on the stroke of half time, before Tidball responded after the break by completing a brace of his own to keep Devon within arm’s reach.

The NLD fullback secured her hat-trick by finding a gap in the Devon defense before NLD and Devon exchanged tries with Abigail Lee and Sammie Harris scoring respectively.

Milestone had the last word with a fourth try to the death to avenge the NLD’s loss in the final last year.

The hero of the four tries, Milestone, said: β€œAfter remembering the amount of pain we were in when we lost the final last year, we’ve been talking about it all season and finally getting that win is quite an incredible feeling.

β€œI still don’t think I’ve scored four, but my four tries wouldn’t have come without everyone on that field with me.

β€œIt’s amazing to represent the NLD, it’s a huge area, there are a lot of clubs spread out and I’m so proud of all the girls who have put on a blue jersey today and have shown what we can do.

“It’s unreal to be able to play on these grounds with these players and the coaching staff we have, it feels like the whole county has moved up a notch and we all have big dreams for the next division.”

Devon’s try scorer Harris said: β€œWe’ve had an amazing 10 weeks together, we’ve worked shift after shift, we’ve worked so hard and today you were just the best team.

“It’s a real honor to represent Devon, the girls I’m with are so good in their individual ways, so I’m honored to play every single one of them.”

You can watch the County Championship Finals on the England Rugby YouTube channel here