FOUR tries in a fantastic performance from Pearce Mercer secured a dominant 29-5 victory for Puddletown over Aldermaston in the semi-final of the Southern Counties Junior Vase.

The triumph came against a Berkshire side who were very much an unknown quantity as it had been many years since the two sides had met.

The Villagers played against the elements in the first half but were first to put points on the board after seven minutes.

The home side were penalised for not releasing in the tackle, they gave some backchat to the referee and the mark was moved 10 metres closer to the posts where captain Sam Bailey stepped up and slotted the ball between the sticks to give the visitors a three-point lead.

Aldermaston then had their best period of the game and took advantage of having the bigger, heavier pack and with the elements behind them.

They pressed the Puddletown try line through a number of pick and go phases until one of their back row forwards drove over to score an unconverted try.

Within five minutes the Villagers were back on top, with number eight Mercer running a great line and latching on to a neat pop pass from scrum-half Lucas Frizzle to score under the posts before Bailey added the extras.

Just before the end of the half, Aldermaston had a line-out on the Puddletown 22m line.

The ball was overthrown and Mercer picked up the bobbling ball at the rear and sprinted through the home defence to run the length of the pitch to score and once again Bailey converted.

The second half saw the visitors playing with the wind and the rain, fly-half Tom Yeatman made excellent use of the boot to keep his side in good field positions but the home defence stood firm.

But the pressure told 20 minutes into the half and the men in red were awarded a scrum 15 metres out from the home try line.

Puddletown’s lighter pack drove the home scrum back and Mercer picked up at the base and broke to the blind side where he smashed through the covering tackles to score his third try.

Puddletown continued to have the best of the possession and territory and, with 10 minutes to go, Mercer once again got the ball in open play and scythed through the flailing defence to score his fourth try of the game.

Bailey converted to make the final score 29-5.

Puddletown coach Sam Cload was pleased with the Puddletown performance in very testing conditions against a big forward-orientated team.

Cload made special mention to the strong defence of the whole matchday squad and of course the four-try scorer and man-of-the-match Mercer.

Puddletown now progress to the Southern Counties Final against Oxford Rugby Club on February 24.

The winners of the Southern Counties final will then face the victors of the South West final.

The winners of that game would go onto meet the winners of the London Division and would then progress on to Twickenham for the National final.


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