DORSET & WILTS 39
EASTERN COUNTIES 17
A SECOND-HALF hat-trick of tries for Devizes’ left-wing Lewis Dodds helped sealed a place in the final of this national competition for the Twin Counties against Cheshire who overcame Lancashire by 22-17 in the other tie.
This was the biggest test for Dorset & Wilts in this season’s campaign as, after racing into a 14-0 lead at Bournemouth RFC, the visitors began to run off the effects of the long journey from East Anglia and their big pack began to put the home side under pressure.
With just 10 minutes on the clock, the Twin Counties led 14-0 courtesy of tries from Salisbury centre Harry Bazalgette and right-wing Callum Mactaggart, which were both converted by Sherborne centre Rhodri Hopkins.
Then the visitors began to bring their big pack into play and drove forward to crash over the home line to open their account with a try and then slotted home the conversion.
Hopkins landed a penalty kick in the 25th minute followed six minutes later by a touchdown for the visitors following a drive from a line-out close to the Dorset & Wilts’ try line.
As half-time beckoned, it was the Twin Counties who were scrambling to defend and it came as some relief when the referee brought first-half proceedings to a close with the score 17-12 to the Twin Counties.
After the restart,it was obvious that who managed to score the next try would probably take the honours and progress into the
The home management team brought on Dodds and what an inspired substitution it proved out to be as he had only been on the park for a few seconds when he latched on to a pass on the
halfway line then outsprinted the covering defenders to cross for a try.
Another 15 minutes had passed and Dorset & Wilts won possession close to the visitors’ line and a drive from the pack saw Bournemouth lock Sam Bailey barge over to score.
Seventy-five minutes had elapsed when the referee awarded the Twin Counties a penalty inside their own 22 metre line.
Sherborne School scrum-half Ciaran Johnston was first to react, he took it quickly, sprinted forwards before working the ball to Dodds who raced in from fully 60 metres without a finger being laid on him and, with Hopkins converting, the Twin Counties led 34-12.
The visitors were down but not yet out and in the last minute of normal time and following a period of pressure they managed to cross for their third try of the afternoon.
Five minutes into overtime and Dodds was away again to complete his hat-trick and seal the game.
The final will be played at Mosley RFC on Sunday, May 7.
Meanwhile, the senior Dorset & Wilts XV County Championship warm-up game against Somerset at North Dorset RFC on Sunday, April 30 has been cancelled.