A YOUNG Dorset & Wilts side fell to defeat in their opening game of the County Championship.

The Twin Counties side, with only five of last season’s squad available, were still in contention at the break with just three points separating the two sides in the clash which was played at Royal Wootton Bassett.

However, as the second half progressed it became obvious that the more experienced outfit would take the spoils as the hosts tired.

Berkshire raced into an 8-0 lead through Reading full-back Chris Laidler with a penalty goal and Readingensians’ prop James Baker, who crashed over for a try.

The Counties replied through Devizes fly-half Rory Brow slotting a penalty then lock forward Lewis Paget, also from Devizes, crossed the whitewash to touch down for a try for Dorset & Wilts.

The visitors added another five points with a touchdown from Readingensians flanker Arron Hopkins, and Laidler added the extras.

Salisbury centre James Kaminski burst clear, chipped ahead, gathered in the loose ball and despite being held back, crashed over for a try to make the score at the break 15-13 in favour of the visitors.

Berkshire captain and number eight Nico Maybury, from Bracknell, grabbed a try with Laidler kicking the conversion and now the visitors were two scores clear.

However, driving over from a maul close to the Berkshire line, Royal Wootton Bassett second-row David Hogg raised the roof playing in front of his own crowd as he crashed over to ground the ball.

With the score now Dorset & Wilts' 18 points to Berkshire’s 23 a converted try would have put the Counties in front.

But as they chased the game two further touchdowns for Berkshire were scored, a second from prop Baker and another from wing-forward Hopkins with Laidler converting one and Reading University substitute Ollie Mann adding the extra two points with the final score of the game.

Dorset & Wilts coach Don Parsons said: “We had a young side out, most of their players came from clubs that compete at league level five where our lads play mostly at levels six and seven so it was always going to be tough against a far more experienced side.

“But we gave away too many penalties and field position and they put our scrum under heavy pressure.

“Now we must look forward to our game in two weeks at Whitney against Oxfordshire.”