DORSET & WILTS 22
HEAD coach Don Parsons pointed the finger at the referee after Dorset & Wilts were denied a Twickenham hat-trick in dramatic circumstances.
The Twin Counties missed out on a third consecutive appearance at the home of English Rugby as they suffered a last-gasp 24-22 defeat at Leicestershire on Saturday.
The County Championship Shield holders saw their bid to complete a memorable treble fail in controversial fashion at Vipers Rugby Club.
Leading 22-17 going into the closing stages, the hosts claimed victory deep into stoppage time when referee Luke Haskins awarded the hosts a match-winning penalty try following a series of powerful scrummages.
Parsons claimed the officials had “ruined” the game and insisted the holders should have been awarded penalties – which would have given them the opportunity to relieve the pressure.
He said: “I don’t like to moan about referees. But you have three officials there for these types of games and they all have microphones.
“Leicestershire were off their feet and offside and it didn’t really go our way at all – we had two yellow cards and they had a penalty try.
“I thought their penalty count should have been considerably higher. In the last 10 minutes, we were in our 22 and it was line-out after line-out and scrum after scrum.
“I felt we were doing our best to try to keep them out. We were onside and they were standing up in the scrummage, piling over the top of the ruck off their feet and had their hands all over ball in the ruck. I felt a couple of penalties should have gone our way and we would have got away then, relieved the pressure and probably closed out the game.”
Parsons added that he intended to contact referee Haskins to offer him his feedback.
Dorset & Wilts, boosted by 10 Bournemouth players in the starting line-up, got off to an ideal start when Lions’ winger Robbie Searle crossed for an early converted try.
The home pack drove over from a line-out for a try by Luke Coltman to bring the scores level before Bournemouth centre Scott Chislett scored an interception try, which was converted for a 14-7 interval lead.
Leicestershire’s strong forward again responded by driving over again to restore parity.
A sign of things to come came Leicestershire moved in front with a penalty after Dorset & Wilts’ front row had been deemed to have stood up in the front row.
Wing Ben Stewart put the visitors back in front before an Adam Westall penalty increased the advantage to 22-17 with just six minutes remaining.
But during more than 10 minutes of injury time, Haskins awarded a series of penalties as the hosts’ powerful scrummagers turned the screw. Haskins eventually gave the penalty try which ended Twin Counties' hat-trick dreams.
Leicestershire will face last season’s losing finalists Surrey at Twickenham on Sunday.
Dorset & Wilts: Karim Lynch, Robbie Searle (both Bournemouth), Charlie Elton (Bradford-on-Avon), Scott Chislett, Ben Stewart (both Bournemouth), Adam Westall (Swindon), Sam Hardcastle (Bournemouth), Alan Low (Swindon), Frazer Wilford, Richard Carrel, Chris Hughes (all Bournemouth), Rhys Jones (Corsham), Jack Hennings, Tony Dunkerley (both Bournemouth), Liam Gilbert (Chinnor). Replacements (rolling): Dan Hobbs, Gareth Blackborrow (Salisbury), Callum Forrest (Bournemouth), Bobby Lyons (Chippenham), Tim Berry, Connal Knot, Charlie Vine (all Swindon).