DORSET & Wilts’ Under-20s suffered the cruellest of defeats as East Midlands won the Jason Leonard National Under-20s final 20-18 with the last kick of the game.

The Twin Counties’ young stars experienced the same fate as the men’s senior team, who were beaten 32-31 by the North Midlands in near identical circumstances, albeit in the semi-finals.

It means the U20s’ wait to lift this particular trophy goes on after a third final loss, this one arguably the most heartbreaking with the winning penalty coming in the 83rd minute.

READ MORE: North Midlands 32-31 Dorset & Wilts - report

In the first 10 minutes of the game, the West Country boys lost three key players to injury, including two thirds of their first-choice front row, and they had to replace both prop forwards. 

Despite this, scrum-half Connor Moore kicked a penalty for 3-0 but it took time to re-organise the scrum and East Midlands crossed for two tries courtesy of skipper Ollie Holliday and Harry Nichols, one of which was converted by James Greensmith for a 12-3 lead.

As the match progressed, Dorset and Wilts threatened with their backs, forcing desperate defence from the Midlanders to keep them out. 

However, the Midlands buckled under the pressure, allowing Moore and fly-half George Yarwood to kick a penalty either side of half-time for a 12-9 deficit.

Replacement Morgan Wellard kicked Dorset & Wilts’ fourth penalty and more heavy pressure allowed Yarwood to make it 15-12 from a central position.

But Dorset and Wilts were then caught napping from a crossfield kick as East Midlands winger Logan McCabe pouched the ball and sprinted in unopposed for an unconverted third try. 

Dorset and Wilts went desperately close to a try of their own, winning possession before their forwards shoved hooker Louis Allum over the try line, only for the referee to rule he had been held up.

However, as the clock ran down, Moore kicked the Twin Counties back in front in a tense finale.

The stadium clock now approached zero and after restart the referee spotted an infringement up stepped Thomas Addison to bisect the uprights and snatch victory for his team, leading to jubilant celebrations in the East Midlands camp and devastation for the Dorset and Wilts boys.