SWANAGE & WAREHAM II 22

PUDDLETOWN 27

PATCHED-UP Puddletown secured a last-gasp 27-22 win over Swanage & Wareham in a thrilling Tribute Dorset & Wilts One South clash at Bestwall.

Injuries sustained in the heavy 63-0 defeat at North Dorset the previous week had left the Villagers without some of their key players for this fixture.

Despite travelling with a squad of just 16, they put in a spirited display to match their hosts and secure the victory with the last move of the game.

Storm Eunice was still very much in evidence with its gusting wind blowing straight across the pitch.

READ MORE: North Dorset 50-5 Weymouth & Portland - match report

Nevertheless, the game started brightly with both teams showing their attacking intent and after soaking up some early Swans’ pressure it was Puddletown who took the lead, second row Sam Knott barrelling over in the corner following a driving maul from his forwards.

The hosts equalised 10 minutes later but almost immediately the visiting pack took control again with another text-book catch and drive for flanker Joe Malpas to make a typical blind-side dash to the whitewash.

Swans fought back to take the lead with a converted try but the Villagers were not to be outdone and right on half-time the move of the match saw some excellent interplay between full-back Baz Dovell and winger Ollie Raines to set up centre Tom Doyle for a clear run to the line.

Into the second half and Swans were first on the scoreboard to regain a two-point lead only for the visiting pack to respond once more, driving over for stalwart Jon Wilson to score one for the front row. Captain Tom Nixon added the extras.

Another unconverted try for the hosts brought the scores level and with just minutes to go both sides were searching for the chance to take the win.

In the end it was a Puddletown turnover on halfway that led to Pearce Mercer taking the final pass and sprinting clear.

However, as the referee blew his whistle, joy quickly turned to concern as it became clear the big number eight had been injured in the tackle as he scored.

Subsequently confirmed as having suffered a broken arm, Mercer will play no further part in the Villagers’ final five games of the season.

The win lifts Puddletown into fourth place the league, with the next fixture being a home game against Bournemouth Thirds on Saturday, March 5.

Puddletown man of the match: Joe Malpas