DORSET & Wilts will travel to face Leicestershire for a place in after seeing off a sturdy challenge from Hampshire at Bestwall Park in Wareham this afternoon.

The home side clinched their third RFU County Shield Pool Three victory in a row to head into next week's semi final in good spirits, although they were given a stern examination by the visitors.

The Twin Counties played a quarter of the game with only 14 players on the park after right wing Wais Navunidakua was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle before home flanker James Newsome also saw yellow for killing the ball in front of his own posts.

The game kicked off in near-perfect conditions and following a sixth minute lineout close to the Hampshire goal line Newsome drove over to touch down for a try.

The visitors opened their account courtesy of fly-half Robbie Searle’s right boot with a 15th minute penalty then he followed it up on the half hour with his second, to put Hampshire 6-5 up.

With half time in sight and following a series of scrummages deep inside Hampshire territory, number eight Steve King picked up and drove across the visitor’s line to score a try and with skipper Dave Hogg (Royal Wootton Baseett) adding the extras Dorset and Wilts led 12-6 at the interval.

Now down to 14 with Newsome off, a fine flowing move for the Hampshire backs saw centre Richard Buck touchdown in the corner to put the visitors within a solitary point of their hosts.

But that is just about as good as it got for Hampshire as in the final quarter the stronger Dorset and Wilts pack took control and provided enough ball for scrum-half Dave Tonge and Navunidakua to run in late tries with Hogg converting both.

After the game Counties manager Matt Pallas said: ”It wasn’t pretty and we have played better, but we deserved to win, the lads have come together and worked hard in training. Now we must focus on the Leicestershire match next week.''