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DURHAM Under 20s 22 HAMPSHIRE Under 20s 25
National Under 20s Shield FINAL at Moseley FC

Report by Richard V Isaacs
Attached picture of winning Hampshire team taken by Richard V Isaacs

Hampshire's Under 20s produced a stunning second half display to overturn a sixteen point deficit to lift the National Under 20s Shield in thrilling fashion at Moseley on Sunday afternoon.

It was an incredible turnaround after Durham eased into a 19-3 lead going into the half-time break but Hampshire dug deep and when scrum-half Ben Holt scrambled over with just three minutes left on the clock, the men in blue finally grabbed the decisive lead.

And considering that Hampshire lost influential full-back Eddie Lewis to a suspected broken leg after just 12 minutes and then Jersey centre Jonny Glendening on the half-hour to a head injury - both requiring visits to A&E - the victory was even sweeter.

Lewis Dennett had given Hampshire an early lead shortly after Lewis left the field but Durham responded immediately when captain Luke Wilson charged down Hampshire's clearance kick and crossed for the opening try.

Hampshire were reduced to 14 men when back-row forward Kemp Price was sinbinned and the North-East side took full advantage when prop Elliott Beattie and then winger Jack Hedley went over for tries, one of which Wilson improved and another he casually missed to give Durham a comfortable 19-3 lead

But Hampshire gave themselves a boost just on the half-time whistle when Fraser Bruce drove over the line to narrow the interval gap to just 11 points.

Playing with the wind in the second half allowed Hampshire to push Durham backwards territoriality as well as in the scrums as they began to dominate up front.

Havant replacement prop Jerome Trail was the first to benefit from the forward domination as, from a line-out, he charged his way over but both sides were missing opportunities to put points on the board through missed kicks.

And just five minutes later, Felix Brasseur finished off a superbly worked try in the corner to cut the arrears to a single point although Dennett again missed the extras.

Durham did grab a penalty on 64 minutes for off-side but it was all Hampshire as the Northeasterners were pegged on their line for the majority of the remainder of the game.

The men in maroon's defence was finally breached by Holt diving over after an onslaught of scrums on the Durham line.  Dennett added the extras and Hampshire held out for a sensational victory.

Team manager Alan Morgan, who has led the side since they were Under 14s, was emotionally drained but extremely happy.  "It is a wonderful way to finish with this amazing set of players," he said.

"They did us proud today, digging in when it was needed and pulling it back superbly.  The forwards were incredible, they dominated the set piece and the backs were quick and played very well.

"I cannot quite describe how I am feeling - its just brilliant and I am very proud of all of them."

This victory will see Hampshire return to the Under 20s County Championship Cup next season having gained promotion by reaching the final of the Shield.

It is just all the sweeter that Hampshire take that step up as Champions.

 

U20win

Hampshire Under 20s team: Eddie Lewis (Havant), Felix Brasseur (Southampton University), Jonny Glendening (Jersey), Ellis Rudder (capt, Havant), James Wise (University of Leicester), Lewis Dennett (Hartpury University), Ben Holt (Cardiff Met University); Toby Hill (Hartpury University), Stefan Younghusband (Guildford), Tom Gregory (Tottonians), Dan Munden (Hartpury University), Fraser Bruce (Exeter University), Kevin Raqio (Tottonians), Kemp Price (Univ of West of England), Connor McCaffrey (Exeter University).  Reps: Jerome Trail (Havant), Ian Bennett (Basingstoke), Josh Bradley (Peter Symonds College), Josh Moore (Winchester), Ross Miller (Chichester University), Harvey North (Exeter University), Simon Johnson (Jersey).

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