WITH just 14 players, including call-ups from both the Colts and the Gladiators, the visitors were always likely to struggle in this contest.

However, they started brightly with an opening attack eventually being snuffed out by the award of a penalty, allowing the hosts to take a grip on the game which they only relinquished at half-time. Although Dorchester scrapped well, winning numerous turnovers and dominating the scrum, the ball would then be spilled or a penalty given away, which kept handing the initiative back to New Milton.

The hosts were then able to use their extra man to good effect, and had they managed to get more passes to hand the first-half scoreline would have been even more one-sided.

At half-time. the visitors resolved to keep trying, to keep supporting each other, and to play for pride. The same messages had been given before the start but somehow it worked this time with a galvanised Dorchester side applying pressure much more effectively throughout.

After about 10 minutes scrum half Kieron Fry, on loan from the Colts, went over for Dorchester’s first try, converted by captain Dan Cree.

However, New Milton did not sit back on their laurels from the first half, breaking out with a long downfield kick, and although their flying winger was gently nudged into touch, the line judge failed to spot it and the hosts capitalised to go through the middle under the posts.

The home side’s tails were now up and another attack followed soon afterwards, with the home defence overlapped resulting in a score in the corner.

This was the last territory the hosts had though as Dorchester dominated the final quarter of an hour.

A pushover try appeared to be on the cards when the county town reverted to an eight-man attacking scrum, but the hosts’ loosehead refused to budge, and the pressure eased slightly, only for a great run down the right by Dave Clarke to finish the scoring with the visitors taking the second-half honours 12-10.

Had Dorchester managed to use their first-half possession the way they did in the second half, the result could have been different.