DORCHESTER were left to rue a slow start against North Dorset and, despite a spirited late surge, had to settle for a losing bonus point in their 26-21 Counties One Tribute Southern South defeat.

In front of a large crowd celebrating ‘Farmers Day’ supported by Highwood, NFU Mutual, Symonds & Sampson, and Synergy Vets, Dorchester played into the wind in the first half.

Their visitors started much the stronger and two converted tries in the first eight minutes had Dorchester on the back foot.

Martin Oxland’s side managed to work their way into the game only to concede a third converted try when they were caught napping by a quickly-taken penalty close to their line.

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Early in the half, the county town outfit had to reshuffle its back line when full-back Kiran Fry injured his shoulder, giving John Bowden his first-team debut for this season.

Bowden was quickly into the action making a number of strong tackles in defence but Dorchester went in at half time 21-0 down and looking a little shellshocked.

The second half was a much more even affair but North Dorset did add a fourth try, the flanker crossing in the right corner.

Entering the final 10 minutes trailing by 26 points Dorchester rallied and, showing great spirit, finally got their attacking game together.

Jamie Morgan cut a perfect line to touch down under the posts, soon followed by Brook Legg showing his renowned pace to round the defence and again score between the posts.

Then, to cap the spirited display, skipper Steve Tucker was on the end of a great team move. Morgan converted all three tries to earn Dorchester an unlikely bonus point.

It was clear to see that when the side played to their potential and dug in to support each other, the result could have been different.

At times, Dorchester’s pack were giving their opposition a torrid time, this lifted morale across the side showing the game was there to be won.

Director of rugby Oxland felt there were many positives to take from the game but the side needs to put in an 80-minute performance week after week to come away with a positive outcome and show their quality.

The team now have a weekend off to recharge and come back with vigour for another testing fixture against table-topping Sherborne. Oxland will be hoping his injury list improves in the run up to the next matches.

Meanwhile, Dorchester A were handed an away walkover when Wimborne Thirds could not raise a team for their Dorset & Wilts Cup fixture.

This now gives them a tantalising local derby for the semi-final against Puddletown at the end of February, in what will then be the third meeting between the sides this season.

So far, the county town’s A team have one win under their belt, with the next league fixture at Greenfields in January.