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Dorset & Wilts suffer early blow
6:20am Wednesday 2nd May 2012 in Rugby
A YOUNG Dorset & Wilts side face an uphill struggle to reach the final of the RFU County Shield after suffering a 27-14 defeat to rivals Oxfordshire in their opening pool game.
The Twin Counties struggled to put out an experienced side for the game because many of their regular players were involved in play-off matches for their clubs, and as a result now need to turn things around if they are going to make their third successive Twickenham appearance.
Team manager Don Parsons was only able to name his team a couple of hours before kick off, which gave him no choice but to go with a number of unproven players.
“Players we had pencilled in for the squad from Dorchester, Chinnor and Salisbury were all involved in league playoff games,” Parsons explained.
Also, nine of the 22 were involved in the Bath Combination Cup Final between Chippenham and Oldfield Old Boys on Wednesday evening and they reported in with injuries, so we had no option but to blood some youngsters and they were the positives we can take from this defeat.
“We gave debuts to flanker Alex Bradley from Bishops Wordsworth School and Bath University student Paddy Flood, both 17-year-olds, and they stood up to the plate.
”We now have to hope that Berkshire beat Oxfordshire next week and we can have all of our squad available for selection for our second game at Bournemouth against Berkshire on May 12 if we are to progress any further in the competition.”
Dorset & Wilts were kicking into the elements in the first half, and struggled to find any rhythm as the home side ran in three converted tries, two of which came from interceptions.
Oxfordshire also added a penalty as they took advantage of the conditions.
But the Twin Counties came out for the second period in confident mood, and with the wind at their backs started with some good periods of possession.
They were quickly rewarded as Corsham’s Rhys Jones crossed for a try, which was converted by Swindon fly half Adam Westall.
Following a series of rucks and mauls Paddy Flood pushed over for another try which Westall converted, but more late pressure came to nothing as Oxfordshire kicked a penalty to end the game.