Yorkshire women's team claim Twickenham glory after White Rose men suffer heartache

YORKSHIRE’S women romped to a seven-try demolition over Surrey to make amends for the men’s agonising defeat against Kent as the White Rose experienced a mix of delight and despair at Twickenham.

Barnsley back-rower Becky Patrick scored two second-half tries as the women won 37-7 to be crowned champions of the Gill Burns County Championship on Saturday evening.

It restored the pride of the travelling Yorkshire contingent, after the men suffered a heart-breaking 31-30 defeat despite putting in a performance full of character earlier in the day.

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Dan Scarborough’s side battled on despite playing nearly the whole second-half without fly- half Eddie Crossland, who was crucially red carded for a high tackle.

Just champion: Yorkshire's women's team celebrate their resounding victory in the Gill Burns County Championship final at Twickenham on Saturday.Just champion: Yorkshire's women's team celebrate their resounding victory in the Gill Burns County Championship final at Twickenham on Saturday.
Just champion: Yorkshire's women's team celebrate their resounding victory in the Gill Burns County Championship final at Twickenham on Saturday.

The men led 15-9 at half-time thanks to two tries from Otley’s Sam Taylor, but Kent capitalised on the sending off to grab two converted scores through wingers Andrew Denham and Garry Jones.

A man-of-the match display by Sheffield No 8 Ryan Burrows, a line-break try by Rotherham prop Loma Kivalu and 48-metre wonder penalty kick by Ionians centre Lewis Minikin put Yorkshire back ahead, 25-23.

Minikin traded penalties with Kent’s Sam Evans, and Leeds’ wing Henry Macnab skirted two defenders to score.

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But Minikin, who had been dead-eye off the tee, succumbed to the pressure on the big stage, both his conversion and a final minute penalty kick skirted wide.

Instead of elation the 30-year-old threw his tee to the ground in frustration, and the men’s wait for a first title since 2008 continues.

Yorkshire men’s captain Joe Makin – who has been representing Yorkshire in the end of season county championship for over a decade – said: “Some days you just don’t get the luck.

“I play with Lewis week in, week out, and nine times from 10 he’ll slot those.

“We’re a close group and have all got round him.”

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Having watched the despair of their male colleagues, head coach Tom Baxter’s women side suffered a gruelling opening 10 minutes against Surrey.

Captain Lauren Bolger was stretchered off in a long delay due to a head injury, and her replacement Sarah Foster suffered an ankle injury.

Despite that, Yorkshire’s women rose to the challenge and took the lead when Sheffield lock Katie Patrick bulldozed the red-shirted Surrey line, laying the platform for vice-captain Amy Gould and Danie Green’s quick hands with the full-back striding over on the left.

Fly-half Alix Taylor-Roberts struggled from the tee, missing what appeared to be a routine penalty just before the half-hour mark, but within two minutes a quick tap-and-go by West Park scrum-half Hannah Dawes ended with Gould carrying over for the second try.

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Surrey centre Jayne Meadows was sin-binned for a high tackle, and Yorkshire capitalised, pinning the southerners back before Driffield No 8 Lois Brown crashed through four defenders on the left to deliver a suck-punch score and make it 15-0 at the break.

Yorkshire dominated the second-half, Harrogate centre Adaoha Akwiwu’s sumptuous run saw her score the fourth try before blindside Becky Patrick burst through the helpless Surrey girls on the hour mark.

Taylor-Roberts slotted the fifth conversion attempt to loud cheers from the travelling Yorkshire supporters.

As the short rain shower gave way to evening sunshine, pocket-rocket Georgina Holmes got on the end of some neat interplay to run a sharp inside line and score by the left post.

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Surrey remained spirited, and a quick two-on-one overlap down the right saw replacement Ellie Grove skirt Holmes to break their duck.

But Becky Patrick pounced on a kick-chase to beat three defenders and score Yorkshire’s seventh try to seal the county’s third women’s title.

A delighted vice-captain Amy Gould said: “We got thrown in the first 10 minutes, losing our captain and her replacement.

“We had to completely readjust our team, take it back to basics, reset and go from there.

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“We’re fortunate we have a massive forward pack that was dominant and did a lot of the hard work, making it easier for us to shift the ball out back and wide, which we did really well.

“We’ve redeveloped since the 2019 win and this year we’ve had a fantastic group of players, we gelled from the start and it’s been a fantastic campaign.”