Weymouth 10 Sherborne 45

SHERBORNE swept to the top of Southern Counties South with Weymouth head coach Paul Harding eager for his men to learn from their opponents’ clinical display.

A bonus-point victory saw Sherborne take over from Devizes in first place and Harding couldn’t compliment them enough as his side came out second best.

However, while praising Sherborne for their performance Harding wasn’t disappointed with the way Weymouth played and it was a much-improved showing from the one earlier in the season when the seasiders lost 64-0.

“We gave them a much harder game this time but they were the better side, plain and simple,” Harding told Echosport.

“They played some fine rugby, the sort of rugby we are striving to play and they did things we have been working on but they were technically better at doing them.

“They are capable of winning this division but whether they want to go up is another matter. It’s a big step up from Level Seven to Level Six rugby.”

In the only match in the division to beat the big freeze, Weymouth lost number eight Sam Morris to a back injury inside 15 minutes while back-rower Harry Charles had to switch to the centre before kick-off.

Weymouth started on the front foot and Nick Sheppard slotted a penalty to give the hosts an early lead.

But Harding’s men failed to control the ball at crucial moments and the Sherborne full back was always a threat when returning Weymouth clearances.

A couple of tries in the first period gave Sherborne a 24-3 lead at the break and although they ran away with it in the second half it wasn’t as one-sided as the score might suggest.

The bonus point was wrapped up but Weymouth did get a try of their own when James Borrington appeared to edge out Max Vallance for the score. Sheppard converted.

“We played better in the second half but they were really clinical,” added Harding.

“They managed to slow our ball down and put us under a lot of pressure when they had possession.

“But it was a really good opportunity to see a side playing rugby how we are trying to and doing it very effectively.

“Saying that, we didn’t play badly. Nick Sheppard did well and openside Gary Hamlin was outstanding.

“So there were definitely positives to take from it and it’s a learning curve for us.

“I couldn’t be more complimentary about them and their style of play but from our point of view we just need to keep improving and narrowing the gap between us and the teams at the top.”

* Weymouth Seconds lost 30-7 at North Dorset Thirds in Dorset & Wilts Two South and remain one place off the foot of the table.

* All other scheduled games were postponed on Saturday due to the snowy conditions.