By Ian Frizzle



THE first game of the season certainly did not disappoint, as these Dorset & Wilts Division One South local rivals clashed at Gainsborough Park.

The match was always going to be vital as Puddletown launched their campaign to rival the top sides in the league.

Captained by flanker Joe Malpas, this was a team determined to improve on last season’s performance.

The first half of the game was tightly fought with Sherborne scoring the first try from a well worked line-out.

James Elwood replied with a brace of penalties for the visitors.

Sherborne extended their lead with a penalty of their own before Sam Bailey, playing second row for Puddletown, broke through the home defence from 25 metres out and crashed over for a try, converted by Elwood.

Just before the break, Sherborne played a penalty advantage and scored a converted try of their own making it 17-16 at half-time.

It was the men in red that came out stronger in the second half and their pressure paid off when number eight Tom Nickisson broke down the blindside from a scrum on halfway, he neatly passed out to Elwood who scampered in to score in the corner, he duly converted his own try from the touchline.

Against the run of play, Sherborne wing Nick Cherrett scored a great individual interception try from his own half.

The conversion was successful which put the home side back in front at 24-23.

With the tension rising, it was Sherborne who transgressed in midfield and Elwood took the opportunity to put Puddletown back in the lead with another penalty.

Puddletown appeared to be the fitter side and on a day when the conditions were more suited to cricket, the heat started to take its toll on the heavier home pack.

With 10 minutes remaining, the Villagers' hooker Jez Beale made a break down the left wing, he offloaded to Pearce Mercer, who was making his return to the club after a season away.

Mercer outpaced the tiring home defence and scored an unconverted try in the corner to make the final score 24-31.

Puddletown coach Paul Chidley was delighted with a rare win against the old foe.

He said: “This is the first time in many years that we have beaten Sherborne and to get a victory in our first league game and at their ground is very satisfying.

"It shows what a great pre-season we’ve had and the effort that has been put in by the squad.”

Chidley named his Piddle Brewery man of the match as debutant Elliot Frampton who put in a dominant defensive performance at centre.

Frampton said: “After Sherborne scored the first try it was the wake-up call for us.

"From then on, our defence was strong and we made some cracking tackles.

"Hats off to the forwards, their scrummaging was superb and the backs gave us a real insight of things to come this season.

"Sherborne are a tough side, but the pre-season fitness training really paid off. I am honoured to win man of the match on my debut."

Puddletown are away again this week, when they go to Wimborne to play their seconds.