FORDINGBRIDGE II 19 Puddletown 17

A MAKESHIFT Puddletown side narrowly missed out on victory at Fordingbridge Seconds.

Injury, unavailability and late withdrawals forced the Villagers to take to the field with an unfamiliar line-up, which included both lock Mark Stephen and flanker Connal Newbery being asked to step up into the front row.

And step up they certainly did, to inspire a superb fighting performance from the whole of the visiting side, very nearly stealing the win in the dying seconds but for a try-saving tackle from the home full-back.

In the end, the away side had to be content with a losing bonus point as some reward for their afternoon’s endeavours.

Fordingbridge were first to settle and after 15 minutes their pressure brought the first score with an unconverted try out wide.

Puddletown’s reply was swift though and five minutes later Martin Spicer’s break found Scott Price on his shoulder and the mercurial fly-half made ground before slipping the ball to winger James House to finish off the move.

Skipper Tom Yeatman added the extras, only to see the lead slip away as Fordingbridge banked two tries in quick succession, the bounce of the ball favouring the scorers on both occasions.

Back came the Villagers and once again it was Spicer who made the hard yards from a tapped penalty before releasing Stephen to hand-off his man and touch down in the corner for his first try in Puddletown colours.

The score remained unconverted but the visitors kept up the pressure into the second half, and if anything started to look the better side.

Sam Tompkins came on for his debut and within minutes the 18-year-old winger had made his mark with a try-saving challenge before Spicer, yet again making ground from another tap and go, set up the ball for prop Jeremy Michael-Beale to drive though the cover and cross the line.

Yeatman’s kick failed to secure the two points that would have tied the scores.

The game played out with the Villagers still in control and so close to victory as Aaron Fookes sprinted clear down his wing only to be tackled into touch just metres short of the line.

Dorset Piddle Brewery Man of the Match: Mark Stephen