DORSET & Wilts began their Bill Beaumont County Championship campaign with a solid 34-8 victory over Eastern Counties at Royal Wootton Bassett.

The Twin Counties were untouchable from the off as hooker Gareth Davies, winger Tom Stewart and skipper Tom Ougan all crossed for tries in the first half.

Fly-half Mike Pope could only convert one try, though, but did kick a penalty to extend the hosts’ lead to 20-0 at the break.

In energy-sapping conditions on a warm day, the home side saw their progress stall and it took fresh legs from replacement Phil Bardwell to score a try on his home ground after determined work from his forwards.

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Bardwell’s club teammate Dan Hale then produced a moment of magic for the try of the game, darting through the Eastern defence from inside his own half and stepping hard on the accelerator to sprint through for the hosts’ fifth score, Pope converting.

Eastern Counties had little to shout about, with a Luke Boynes penalty their only score until the fly-half breached the home defence for a solitary try to complete the scoring.

Dorset & Wilts, who included Puddletown forward Sam Knott in their line-up, next face Somerset at Taunton tomorrow (3pm).

Somerset currently top Pool Two after their crushing 69-15 triumph over Essex.