Dorset and Wilts U20s started their Jason Leonard Championship Division 1 campaign on the road and they were defeated by Hampshire at Overton RFC.

 

The visitors started off very promising with some good phases of play being put together, scrum half James Clancy was giving fly half James Bagguley and his backs some quick ball to use. The work rate in attack was only beaten by the Green and Whites defence, some very big tackles and hit were being made to keep the home side out. No. 8 Josh Mccaferty and Skipper James Hill were leading in the defensive efforts. After weathering the storm and defending the line against the downward slope, DW were the first to get on the score sheet. After some great defensive work the Hampshire back spilled up the ball which was recovered by a green and white shirt, the ball was quickly shifted across to winger Noah Cannon who against an unorganised defence used his pace to bolt past two defenders, Cannon lighting run left him with a one on one with the Hampshire full back, Cannon put in a well weighted chip over the full backs head, lock Hamish Janes was the quickest to the lose ball and was able to pounce on the ball and touch down whilst diving over the line. Centre Harry Bazalgette was able to add the extras. With their tails up DW begain to exert more and more pressure on what seemed a tiring Hampshire defence, however it was the end product that was lacking and would prove costly, whether it was Bagguley's cross field kick to Winger and Salisbury team mate Callum MacTaggart, which the ball over ran the pacey winger, or dropped balls in treating positions and Bazalgette missed penalty, Hampshire were lucky not to find themselves further behind. However the hosts took control of the game and started to manage the game better, putting in useful kicks over the top pinning the visitors in the corner. After some valiant DW defence Hampshire finally broke the line, after their winger evaded a tackle and was brought down just short of the line. After a few more phases it was an inside pass that broke the green and white barrier to score, the conversion not successful so the visitors still lead by 5-7. With a few minutes remaining of the half DW mounted another attack but a mistake was capitalised on by the Hampshire team and resulted in another score under the posts, this time the conversion was successful and at half time Hampshire lead 12-7. As the whistle for half time blew, the snow began to fall, Head Coach get the troops in the quirky changing rooms to rally the troops.

As the players came out for the second half the snow had ceased and the sun appeared, DW now with the hill began to assert more pressure on the Hampshire. After some repeat infringements at the set pieces Hampshire found themselves a man down in the sin bin for 10 minutes. DW went for the lineout 5 metres away from the Hampshire line. another set and drive was on the cards, but skipper Hill saw a gap an broke away from the maul and was stopped short of the line. More and more pressure was exerted on the home sides defence, but they could break the resilient Hampshire defence and when it looked like to happen individual errors proved costly. Missed touched kick from a penalty and a tap and go rather than taking three points were also very costly. As the Hampshire player returned from the bin, another Hampshire player was in the bin - this time for a high tackle on Bagguley, Bagguley had to removed due to injury and debutant Finn Dewar was brought on at full back and Jonny Dowell moved to fly half. Dewar made an instant impact with several line breaks with Dewar's pace and excellent footwork repeatedly resulted in line breaks. However from all the attempts the green and whites would not have another score on the score sheet. In the last 20 minutes the courageous DW defence began to tire and the home sides attack took advantage by scoring two further tries - one converted one unconverted to seal the victory. Harry Bazalgette also had to come off with an injury.

Not the best start on the score sheet but the performance was very positive, some great individual performances and much better work in defence from previous games. Josh Mccafferty, James Hill and Jared Cardew work rate was immense and they were all over the field in defence and attack. James Clancy made sure that the ball from breakdown was quick and accurate throughout his time on the field. Hamish Janes was the heart of the lineouts as well as carried and offloaded very well. No doubt that the progression from the squad over the last few years has been evident for all the see. The determination, commitment and desire the players shown on Sunday was fantastic, they left everything they had on the pitch.

Head Coach. Ali Lund said “We are pleased with pleased with parts of our game and know this was a great learning experience for our players. However, we are disappointed with the result. A few lapses in concentration in defence allowed Hampshire some easy scores and not being clinical enough in attack means we missed a number of excellent try scorers by opportunities. The game highlighted to us the step up in standard from last years competition and how accurate we need to be to compete in this competition”So there are promising signs from Sunday along with things that Lund will be looking at over the next few weeks before the next U20s fixture, where they will be on the road again against Gloucestershire U20s on the 25th February at Bristol Grammar School (to be confirmed).

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Richard Rees

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By JonesChris / Subscriber, bbp_participant, author on Feb 18, 2018