WEYMOUTH 15 Dorchester 34
WEYMOUTH were dealt a harsh lesson by rivals Dorchester on the opening day of the new season.
Having made the step up to Southern Counties South following last term’s promotion, the former were in dreamland at the half-time interval as they held a 15-6 advantage at Monmouth Avenue.
However, the county town outfit flexed their muscles in the second period and went on to record a fairly comfortable victory.
In front of a large crowd, the visitors started the brighter of the two sides and spent the first 15 minutes camped in the Weymouth half.
James Baker narrowly missed with two penalty attempts before he opened the scoring with a shot from in front of the posts.
The hosts, however, buoyed by Dorchester’s failure to cross their line, grew in confidence and began to put together some attacks of their own, eventually leading to an equalising penalty courtesy of Nick Sheppard.
Baker though, restored Dorchester’s lead almost immediately but Wey-mouth were now very much in the game. And following a penalty kicked to the corner, the hosts set up a driving line-out and crossed for the opening try in the left-hand corner.
The attempted conversion from Sheppard was superbly struck but came back off the post.
Then, in the last moments of the half, as the visitors tried to drive the ball out of their own 22, they lost possession and quick hands enabled Weymouth to score a second try through Joel Wilson.
This time the score was converted by Sheppard and Weymouth led by nine points at the break.
Some choice words from the Dorchester coaching team appeared to have the desired effect as the county town completely dominated the second 40 minutes, not allowing their opponents any time or space and driving them back at every scrum.
Weymouth defended bravely but it was only a matter of time before their resistance crumbled – four converted tries without reply making the final score look quite comfortable.
First, number eight Ali Vivian drove over after Rich Bament was held up just short.
Then, James Newsam and Dave Gower harassed the Weymouth scrum-half into a mistake behind yet another retreating scrum and Gower was awarded the score.
Dorchester were now looking for the bonus point, which duly arrived when Bament cut a lovely angle to touch down under the posts and then full-back Matt Read was the beneficiary of good work by replacement Luke Weller, showing good pace to round the home defence.
Weymouth head coach Paul Harding said: “They put us under a lot of pressure in the first 10 minutes and we didn’t really deal with it particularly well. They missed a couple of kicks before slotting one over.
“After that we played reasonably well and we managed to get some parity with their forwards. Our line-out was good, as was our scrummage, and our backs looked very dangerous when they had the ball.
“We were 15-6 up at half-time but in the second half we learnt some harsh lessons and Dorchester thoroughly deserved their win. Their forwards bossed it in the second half and we had a poor 15-minute spell where they ran in three tries.
“Credit to them as they played very well. It was a good fixture to start with as it has given us a benchmark of what we need to do.
“We were able to compete for 45 to 50 minutes but once they got on top we didn’t have the experience to be able to do the right things and make the right decisions.
“Their physicality at the breakdown and domination of the scrum was our downfall. It was a good lesson for us and we are all aware now of what is involved in playing at this level.”