WEYMOUTH & Portland handed Wadworth 6X Dorset & Wilts One South leaders Swanage & Wareham a severe test but still came away with a 34-18 loss at Monmouth Avenue.

The Swans started poorly, giving away three penalties in the first seven minutes. Alex Toms capitalised to convert the last of these for an early 3-0 lead.

But Swanage were soon back in control from a line-out as scrum-half Chris Tomes crossed the line before Steve Woolley converted.

On 15 minutes, a quickly-taken penalty had winger Harry Spyers going in for a try out wide before Toms again stepped up for three points, slotting home his kick from the Swans’ 22 to reduce the arrears to 12-6.

However, the Seahorses slipped further behind on 30 minutes as flanker Luke Robinson scored an unconverted try following a five-metre line-out.

Two minutes before the break, the visitors were in the hosts’ 22, and, from a scrum, number eight Kirk Jones powered over the line, to score a bonus-point try, Woolley adding the conversion for a 24-6 half-time lead.

After the break, Weymouth were much improved and 10 minutes into the second half a fumbled ball on the halfway line by Swans saw the speedy Norton Rogers picking the ball up to run in an unconverted try out wide on the right.

From the restart, the Swans retaliated, winning a penalty. As the ball was passed along the three-quarters, centre Barnaby Knibb crossed the line to put the away side 29-11 up.

The game then degenerated to a scrum encounter but a loose ball, recycled by scrum-half Lewis Allan, enabled Rogers to break clear to score under the posts, Toms kicking for 29-18.

Swanage continued to attack and, with 10 minutes to go, another five-metre line-out saw Swans’ other flanker Matt Roberts go over out wide to complete the scoring, Weymouth edging the second half 12-10 on points.

Seahorses’ coach Simon Litster said: “It was a respectable scoreline, there were a lot of positives to take after the fightback in the second half.

“We gave them a bit of a fright and we basically won the second half in terms of points score.

“Matt Driver won the man of the match again. He’s put in several really good performances. It was a good flanker’s display, rucking well and turning the ball over.

“All 15, plus the bench, lifted their game in the second half. Each one of them stepped it up and proved that they can compete at this level.”

Weymouth host Wimborne Seconds on Saturday in their final game before Christmas.

Weymouth: Comben, B Hayne, Oaksford, Richards, Leatham, Driver, D Hayne, A Bowditch, Allan, Toms, Harris, Legg, Beynon, Rogers, Farley. Reps: Sankey, Ritchie, Tibble, Hurrell, Keable-Kinsella, Norton

Swanage: Atkins, Spyers, Knibb, Dennett, Hardy, Woolley, Tomes, Wyburgh, Foskett, Audley, L Smith, Desmond, Robinson, Roberts, Jones. Reps: G Smith, Scott

Results: Swanage & Wareham II 10 Wimborne III 40; Swanage & Wareham III 46 Dorchester III 27

Fixtures: Swanage & Wareham BYE; East Dorset v Swanage & Wareham II (2.15pm).