OAKMEADIANS fly-half Jerry Cook was sent off midway through the second half as Dorset and Wiltshire collapsed to a 38-22 home defeat against Surrey in the County Championship Plate.

Cook was dismissed for alleged illegal use of the boot by referee Richard Parker-Sedgemore when the Twin Counties were already trailing 38-17 in their pool one clash at Chapel Gate, Bournemouth.

The Oakmeadians player had already slotted over one penalty and two conversions and supporters of both sides felt the red card issued by the man in charge was harsh.

But Dorset and Wiltshire were still able to grab a late try through Newbury flanker Dave Thorpe, who crossed the line twice after coming on as a second-half substitute for Swanage and Wareham hooker Robert Elford, who suffered a facial injury.

It leaves the Twin Counties' hopes of progressing into the semi-final of the competition hanging by a thread.

They must beat Somerset by a big margin of at least 35 points at Bridgwater on Saturday in their final pool game and hope unfancied Hampshire can pull off a shock by defeating Surrey at the same time, also by a huge margin.

That is an unlikely scenario, however, as Hampshire suffered their second defeat, 42-22 at Basingstoke on Saturday, while Surrey are top of the pool with a 100 per cent record.

Dorset and Wiltshire could still progress if they hammer Somerset and finish runners-up in the group.

But they would need Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Derbyshire to crush Eastern Counties in pool two and other results in that group and pool three to go their way as well.

Surrey, packed with players from Esher, London Welsh and Rosslyn Park, romped into a 23-3 half time lead as full-back Neil Hallett slotted over six penalties and left winger Duncan Traynor ran in a try.

Cook replied with one penalty but the Twin Counties were always up against it and Traynor grabbed his second touchdown early in the second half to propel Surrey 28-3 in front.

Hallett slotted over his seventh penalty before Elford went off injured and was replaced by Thorpe.

The Newbury man immediately made an impact as he took a pass from Chippenham winger Dave Martin and crossed for a try converted by Cook to cut Dorset and Wiltshire's deficit to 31-17.

Man-of-the-match Hallett burst through a gap in the Twin Counties' defence to touch down in the corner and also slotted over an excellent conversion from the touchline to take his tally of points in the game to 28.

Cook was shown the red card, but Dorset and Wiltshire's 14-men didn't drop their heads and Martin put Thorpe away again to grab his second try.

Chippenham centre Andy Williamson's conversion was successful to trim Surrey's winning margin to 16 points.

Twin Counties joint team manager Martin Hill said: "Surrey had a couple of quality players in key positions and that was the difference between the two sides.

"All credit to our lads. They never gave up and finished the game with 14 players and still had enough spirit to run in a late try."

Results - County Championship Plate, Pool One: Hampshire 31 Dorset and Wiltshire 38, Surrey 32 Somerset 18, Dorset and Wiltshire 22 Surrey 38, Hampshire 22 Somerset 42.

Pool Two: Eastern Counties 33 Leicestershire 25, Notts, Lincs and Derby 21 Staffordshire 12, Eastern Counties 22 Staffordshire 7, Leicestershire 10 Notts, Lincs and Derby 46.

Pool Three: Essex 7 East Midlands 29, Kent 49 Buckinghamshire 19, Buckinghamshire 8 Essex 17, Kent 13 East Midlands 29.

Remaining fixtures, Pool One: Somerset v Dorset and Wiltshire, Surrey v Hampshire.

Pool Two: Notts, Lincs and Derby v Eastern Counties, Staffordshire v Leicestershire.

Pool Three: East Midlands v Buckinghamshire, Essex v Kent.