The 2017 Bill Beaumont Senior Men’s County Championship is underway with 27 county sides from across the country trying to seal a place at Twickenham on Sunday, 28 May.
This year marks the first year of the newly renamed and restructured competition. The teams have been divided into three tiers with 12 in Division One, eight in Division Two, and seven in Division Three.
The top team in each pool will progress into their respective finals which will take place on the same day as England's match against Barbarians at Twickenham.
Cornwall start treble campaign
Cornwall’s campaign to win the competition for the third year on the bounce got off to a good start with a 34-14 win over Surrey.
The defending champions came from behind, scoring four tries in the final quarter to secure the bonus-point victory at Richmond.
Head coach Graham Dawe said the team will take time to adjust as they missing are 15 players from last year’s winning side.
“We took time to gel as a side but as the game went on we saw that cohesion coming through, all the work we have put in showed through," said Dawe.
Cheshire slip up
Fellow 2016 finalists Cheshire had a trickier start to their campaign, losing 26-17 to Yorkshire.
A tense opening half saw Yorkshire pull ahead through two penalties before four second half tries sealed the win for a side searching for their first championship since 2008.
Meanwhile Lancashire, who have featured in eight of the past 10 finals, convincingly beat Northumberland 48-26.
They will now meet Eastern Counties this weekend who lost their opening fixture 24-21 to East Midlands, last year’s Division 2 winners.
Hampshire continue winning run
Both Durham and Leicestershire recorded bonus points wins in Pool 1 while in Pool 2 Hampshire and Somerset also sealed a winning bonus point in their opening games.
Hampshire secured their first ever victory at Twickenham last season with a five try triumph over Staffordshire in the Division 3 final.
Meanwhile in the competition’s third tier, Oxfordshire won a thrilling Pool 1 one match against Buckinghamshire, winning 32-25 and currently sit at the top of their group. In Pool 2, Sussex overcame Dorser & Wilts 28-10.