Eastern Counties grab defeat from the jaws of victory against East Midlands in Bill Beaumont tie

Diss Rugby Club's Steve Hipwell powers over the line to score a try,

Diss Rugby Club's Steve Hipwell powers over the line to score a try, - Credit: Archant

Eastern Counties were left licking their wounds having suffered a narrow loss in the opening game of the Bill Beaumont County Championships, against East Midlands.

Despite this being the first time Eastern Counties team had taken the field together this season, they started with a bang and it wasn’t long before they were on the scoresheet.

Left-wing Ashley Elvers made a 50m break from within his own half to take play close to the line. Fellow Cambridge team-mate and loose head prop Shane Moynihan ran a great supporting line and barged over the line for the first try after only five minutes, the extras being added by Shelford full-back Simon Hrbeck.

The visitors struck back a few minutes later through their hooker Lutui Aleki, following some excellent driving play by the East Midlands pack, narrowing Counties’ lead to 7-5. East Midlands then took the lead with another try through their forwards, this time Lock John Walker dotting the ball down, taking the score to 7-10.

With only five minutes left before half time, Elvers who had been instrumental in the first Counties score, raced over from 22m line to score, Hrbeck converting to take Eastern Counties back in front at 14-10.

It wasn’t long into the second half before Counties were on the score sheet again, this time through Diss RFC’s Steve Hipwell, who powered his way over the line from 30m out. Hrbeck made it three kicks from three to put Counties 21-10 in front.

East Midlands narrowed this lead to 21-17 with hooker Aleki picking up a brace of tries, with fly half Stefan Jones converting.

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Counties were then put under enormous pressure by the visitors who spent much of the last quarter in the home team’s half.

However it was a mix up in the lineout by Counties that gifted East Midlands the winning score, with a throw to the front being missed and the ball landing in the hands of giant lock Carl Burgess who dived over the line unopposed, Jones adding a conversion to take the score to 21-24.

Eastern Counties host Lancashire at Cambridge Universities home ground at Grange Road next week, kick off 2.15pm

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