Staffs v Hampshire LIVE
Hampshire secured their first ever victory at Twickenham following a five-try 33-11 triumph over Staffordshire in the Country Championship Shield final.
Hants have dominated the competition this season but they started slowly at a place where they had never previously won.
Their last Shield title came when the match was played in Aldershot but, after a nervous opening, Hants managed to find their feet as tries from Pierre-Alex Clark and Wayne Dugan gave them a 12-point buffer at the break.
Staffordshire hit back through Dan Clarke’s touchdown and a penalty apiece by Charlie Maskrey and Grant Hallam, but Hampshire’s extra quality shone through when Wes Dugan, Joel Knight and Gavin Hart crossed the whitewash in the third quarter.
It was Staffs who controlled the opening exchanges but they failed to produce anything tangible on the scoreboard, despite having three shots at goal in the first 20 minutes.
Hallam and Maskrey both had long range efforts which missed the target and that profligacy was to prove costly.
Craig Wilson’s men continued to dominate possession but a stray pass was intercepted by Clark and the fly-half had the pace to go all the way.
That score evidently lifted Hampshire as a second touchdown was soon forthcoming. Unlike the previous effort, which had a hint of fortune about it, this try was excellently constructed.
Instigated by Wes Dugan, who dummied through a hole and sped away from the would-be tacklers, the scrum-half found his brother out wide and the winger did the rest, stepping inside one defender and handing off another.
Alex Sutherland brilliantly converted from the touchline and Ian Chandler’s team had a 12-0 lead at the interval.
Wilson needed a response from his charges in the second period and he received it as their well drilled pack charged their way to the line.
Clarke was the beneficiary of the drive as they got themselves back into the contest. Hants were now under pressure and conceding needless penalties, infringements Maskrey and Hallam were more than willing to punish having found their range in the second half.
It was suddenly a one-point game and Staffordshire’s spirits were raised by their stirring response, but those hopes were dashed by two tries in five minutes.
Once again, it was the backline that made the difference as Dugan sniped his way through a hole to score before Knight followed suit, taking advantage of Clark’s midfield break.
The centre’s touchdown sealed the victory but Hampshire wanted to finish with a flourish and Hart powered over in what proved to be the final move of the match.
1 Joe Tarrant - Bournemouth
1 Kev Birt – Lichfield
2 Ben Allman – Bournemouth
2 Dan Clarke – Lichfield
3 Ken Dowding - Chichester
3 Danny Poole – Lichfield
4 Alistair Ramus - Tottonians
4 Liam Hucknall – Burton
5 Elliot Worrall – Ivybridge
5 Joe Gazzard - Burton
6 Joseph Rees - Bournemouth
6 Jack Neal – Burton
7 Stephen Cruddas - Havent
7 Sam Longstaff – Longton
8 Gavin Hart - Havent
8 Dan Smith – Longton
9 Wes Dugan (captain) – Gosport & Fareham
9 Dan Jones – Longton
10 Pierre-Alex Clark – Tottonians
10 Lee Borgan (captain) – Longton
11 Curtis Barnes – Portsmouth
11 Nick Palmer – Leek
12 Joel Knight – Havent
12 Richard Fielding - Lichfield
13 Robert Searle – Tottonians
13 Grant Hallam – Longton
14 Wayne Duggan – Gosport & Fareham
14 James Floyd - Leek
15 Alex Sutherland – Bournemouth
15 Charlie Maskrey – Stoke-on-Trent
16 Ryan Wilkie – Portsmouth
16 Brad Eldershaw – Longton
17 Luke Marks – Havant
17 Jack Fielding – Cardiff Met University
18 Darren Crabb – Portsmouth
18 Luke Hardern – Leek
19 Graham Butterworth – Havant
19 Carl Williams – Stafford
20 Harry Dolbear – Tottonians
20 Ashley Martin – Newcastle Staffs
21 Jacob Hiscock – Winchester
21 Will Sant – Stoke-on-Trent
22 Luke Chandler - Bournemouth
22 Joe Maskrey - Longton