Jason Leonard RFU Under 20 County Championship Semi-Final: Hampshire 29 pts v Dorset & Wilts 27. At Havant Rugby Club.
The Twin Counties will not be appearing in the final of this season’s competition. However, they came very close, and at half time very few would have laid odds against them missing out on a third opportunity of lifting the Silverware, having lost on the two previous occasions, once at Twickenham and a second more recent final game at Mosley Rugby Club in 2017.
The hosts were quick out of the blocks, crossed the whitewash directly from the kick-off, and landed the conversion. However, from that moment until the break it was mostly one-way traffic, all in the direction of the Hampshire goal line.
Dorset and Wilts crossed for three tries, one each from Bournemouth centre Fin Raworth, Bournemouth lock forward James Brooks and Sam Hales of Trowbridge, with no further reply from Hants. To make the score at the break Hampshire 7 points Dorset and Wilts. 15.
Then within a minute of the re-start, the Twin Counties extended their leading margin by seven more points courtesy of a try from Bournemouth prop James Saund converted by Wimborne fly half Jamie Foskett.
Hants. struck back with a try, then in the 47th minute Raworth crossed again for his second of the afternoon to make the score Hampshire 12 points Dorset and Wilts 27.
But from that moment on, the momentum changed and it was the Twin Counties who were forced onto the back foot conceding two more tries, both converted to put the hosts with one point of the Dorset and Wilts total 26 to 27.
In the 71st minute, the referee awarded Hants a penalty just inside the Counties half, but straight in front of the posts. Their full-back stepped up and bisected the uprights with an almighty kick from almost 50 meters out to put his team in front by one solitary point.
Now chasing the game, all was not over for the Counties and Raworth crossed again with the final move of the game, but the referee had spotted a forward pass in the build-up to the try and blew the final whistle to end the proceedings leaving the Dorset and Wilts lads to dwell on what might have been if only they had managed to hang on to their lead.
Bill Beaumont RFU County Championship Pool 2: Berkshire 19pts v Dorset & Wilts 50.
The Twin Counties head coach Dan Draper said after the game, “All credit to the lads today, we were forced to make changes to the squad for various of reasons, but the players that came into the squad made sure that despite the disruption it made little difference to our overall performance”.
“We started the game at pace and after 27 minutes we were 24 points to 5 in front, but Berks. put us under a bit of pressure late in the first half and scored a breakaway try to make the score at the break 12 points to 21 to our advantage”.
“After the break we took back control and brought on some fresh players to give a few of the starters who were beginning to flag a bit in the heat a rest, so all in all it was a job well done”.
“I believe we have earned ourselves a home tie in the semi-final, but as yet I am unsure of who we will come up against and where the game will be played”.
Dorset & Wilts crossed for 7 tries, 2 each from Eoin Baker of Chippenham and Sam Baker of Royal Wootton Bassett and one apiece from Connor Tomley Royal Wootton Bassett, Dan Hale Royal Wootton Bassett and Gus O’Connor Devizes. Baker added 5 conversions and a penalty with Rhys Floyd also of Royal Wootton Bassett adding another conversion.
The Dorset & Wilts Women’s team beat Middlesex by 35 points to 14 in the Gill Burns’ Cup at Wasps Rugby Club.
Dan Matsuzaka has exited Weymouth Football Club and former Celtic youth team player Chris McQueen has signed for the Terras for next season.
Portland United have acquired the signatures of Troy Walbridge and Baily Rowe for the 23/24 season.