DORSET & WILTS U20s finally got their Jason Leonard County Championship season started with a 22-6 victory over Hampshire in Trowbridge.

The Twin Counties side gave championship debuts to no less than 15 players.

In a nervy start for both teams, they exchanged penalties in the opening 20 minutes, Alex Peel on target for Dorset & Wilts with his effort matched by Jonah North.

On 25 minutes the away side took the lead through another North penalty, but Peel continued his excellent kicking by adding two more penalties to take the hosts into a narrow 9-6 lead.

Although the score was fairly low and tight, both teams were trying to play but nervous errors broke the fluidity of the game.

Bradley Whatley, Conrad Carkeet and Alma Volavola were fantastic in the scrums, dominating the Hampshire front row, while Tom Elbrow and Cam Wills carried with real physicality in breaking through tackles.

The backs were also busy with centres Jordie Wayman and Reece Makin strong defensively and when attacking always looking threatening which caused the visitors real problems.

Dorset & Wilts coach Martyn Peel used his bench well bringing on the impact players. Oli Johnson came on for Makin and caused a reshuffling of the back line, with skipper Peel moving into 12 with Johnson coming into 10. Last year’s South West representative James Kennedy replaced Ben Goodall.

The second half started more cohesively, the hosts were putting together some phases with Conrad Carkeet and Alex Murchison called upon and carrying well.

The set piece was still going well for Dorset & Wilts with mounting pressure on the visitors.

Soon into the second half Ethan Goudie scored the first try of the campaign for the Twin Counties. After quick ball, he had time and space was able to sprint on and dive over in the corner.

Peel missed the extras., but on 65 minutes he extended the lead to 17-6 with another penalty.

The game now began to open up and Hampshire put pressure on the hosts’ defence for extended passages. A great defensive stand saw James Kennedy turn over to win a penalty, which allowed Dorset & Wilts to clear their lines.

After an overthrow at the lineout Hampshire tried a clearing kick, but the loose ball bounced up awkwardly for home full-back Matt Strong to grab in full stride on the bounce about 30 metres out, and use his electric pace to step two defenders and race over the line. Peel missed the extras.

In the final moments Hampshire took the game to Dorset & Wilts in search of a consolation score, but the determined defence kept the visitors out to see out the game.