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COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP SHIELD FINAL AT TWICKENHAM

 

HAMPSHIRE 33 STAFFORDSHIRE 11

 

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Hampshire weathered a strong Staffordshire storm to lift the County Championship Shield in sensational style, running in five tries in the 33-11 triumph in their first senior visit to Twickenham in 54 years.

They had to resist a powerful Staffordshire outfit in the first half and turned around 12-0 to the good, by hook or by crook, very much against the run of play.

The Midlanders came out all guns blazing and pinned Hampshire in their own 22 for much of the opening quarter but missed three kickable penalties which their territorial advantage deserved.

But Hampshire continued to soak up everything that they threw at them and, incredibly, with the scoreline still blank, took the lead on 22 minutes.

Continuing to be held in their own defensive third, Tottonians’ fly-half Pierre-Alex Clark intercepted a Staffordshire pass and sprinted virtually the full length of the pitch to score the opening try of the afternoon.

And it was a similar story for Hampshire’s second try.  Skipper Wes Dugan gained possession as Staffordshire were, once again, in attack in their 22 and cut through to half-way before releasing a long pass to his brother and Gosport & Fareham team-mate Wayne who powered his way to the line despite a couple of challenges.

Alex Sutherland (Bournemouth) added the extras to give Hampshire the most unlikely of half time advantages.

But Staffordshire finally got their game together and pegged the lead back to a single point following a well worked try and a couple of penalties, one from the half-way line.

And it was starting to look perilous for Hampshire as the momentum, as it was in the first half, belonged to the side in green.

Once again though, Hampshire were having none of it and it was scrum-half Wes Dugan who ensured his brother wasn’t the only family member on the Twickenham scoresheet.

He broke through a tackle and drove himself to the line, scoring under the posts to open up the lead once again.  Sutherland made no mistake with the conversion and Staffordshire were done for.

The match was all over shortly afterwards when Clark made another superb break to set up Havant’s Joel Knight for Hampshire’s fourth try and, in injury time, another Havant man Gavin Hart drove over posting the fifth.

It was Hampshire’s first senior silverware since lifting the Championship Plate at Aldershot in 2008 but the first time they had a trophy to hold in front of the famous Royal Box.

Coach Ian Chandler was naturally delighted.  “This was a fantastic team effort because Staffordshire battered us for a good hour,” he said.

“The boys gave everything.  The spirit and camaraderie that they have shown, not only today but throughout the build-up and in the matches has been superb.

“It was what Simon Burns, myself and all of the coaches wanted to achieve for the county team right from the moment we took the role on. We wanted us to have pride and passion in the shirt, pride in wanting to play for the county.

“And, as Staffordshire threw everything at us, which is exactly what we got from them.

“They had been used to battering teams up front but our defence was outstanding, they got nowhere with it and didn’t have a Plan B once we soaked it all of that up.

“We took our chances in really ruthless fashion and once we scored our third try, Staffordshire had nothing left to give.”

And it completed a double for Hampshire having lifted the Under 20s County Championship Shield last month at Moseley in defeating Durham 25-22 in a thriller.

Hampshire Rugby – firmly back on the map.



For those wanting to read other match reports here are a few links to other sources:- 

 

 

RFU:

http://www.englandrugby.com/news/hampshire-secure-county-championships-shield/

 

PORTSMOUTH NEWS:

http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/sport/rugby/hampshire-lift-county-championship-shield-at-twickenham-1-7406724

 

STAFFORDSHIRE NEWSLETTER:

Rugby | Staffordshire beaten by Hampshire in County Shield final at Twickenham

 

 

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All 3 finals can now be found on the England Rugby YouTube channel:

Division 2 Plate Final & Bill Beaumont Cup Final - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeXiDUkhaxs


County Championship Shield Final - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4NHm1Gir-4

 

 

 

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