Payne pilots Northumbria RL to triumph

Newcastle Thunder assistant coach Jason Payne was celebrating yesterday as his Northumbria University team we’re crowned BUCS Champions following a thrilling final against Leeds Beckett University.

Having qualified for the knockout phases of the BUCS Championships by topping the Premier North table, Payne and his side, which features seven members of the Thunder first team squad, headed to Bath to take on a team who had twice beaten Northumbria in the past two seasons.

Determined to make it third time lucky, Northumbria took the match by the scruff of the neck in the first forty, storming to an 18-0 lead before the break.

14 of those points came via the efforts of three of the Thundermen in the team, with Paddy Hargreaves opening the scoring with a quarter of an hour played, with a try taken from dummy half that Tom Shaw converted.

Lewis Young increased Northumbria’s advantage as half-time approached by selling Becket a dummy to create a gap, before employing his trademark attributes of pace and neat footwork to beat the opposition fullback and score.

Shaw was again on the mark with the extras before a good half got even better, with a length of the field try for Liam Richmond thanks to good interplay with Ieuan Jones and another conversion from the Thunder half back.

Young and Shaw took the lead to an imposing 24-0 after the restart, as the Thunder fullback intercepted a pass on his own line to streak away and claim his brace before his club-mate made it a perfect four from four with his kicks at goal.

While Beckett halved the gap with some patient play, Northumbria were looking good for their lead, however, an opportunistic score with three minutes to play set up a grandstand finish.

Northumbria though managed to hold firm and ensure that Thunder’s Sam Luckley, Liam McAvoy, Sandy Rae and Dan Turland, joined Hargreaves Shaw, Young in ending the campaign in triumph.