Burns keen to put Hampshire on the map

Hampshire are determined to maintain their ambitions of a showpiece Twickenham final when they travel to meet Berkshire at Reading RFC in the RFU Championship Shield tomorrow (1pm).

Friday, 6th May 2016, 10:00 am
Wayne Dugan Picture: Roger Smith

A second successive win for the county side will take them into the semi-finals – just one game from an appearance at the home of English rugby.

Team manager Simon Burns was excited by the manner in which his side demolished Dorset & Wilts 44-13 in their opening game.

He has every confidence the team can chalk up another success.

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‘We have restored a sense of pride in playing for the county,’ said Burns.

‘That showed in our friendly against the Royal Navy and in our first Championship Shield match.

‘At the end of both games the feeling was the players couldn’t wait to get back on the pitch to play again.

‘All the players enjoyed the step up and the opportunity to play with quality players around them.

‘With the prize a chance to play at Twickenham, the players don’t need a lot of motivation. It is also a chance to put Hampshire rugby on the map again.’

In their opening game last weekend, the Hants forwards dominated the match, providing a platform for the talented three-quarters to strike.

Burns is forced to make a few changes in the pack, but the players coming in are very experienced and skilful rugby players.

In the back-row, Havant pair Gav Hart and Steve Cruddas are brought in, and Chichester tight-head prop Ken Dowding appears in the front-row.

In the three-quarters, Tottonians’ Robbie Searle plays in the centre after recovering from injury.

That means club-mate Pierre-Alex Clark retains the outside-half spot where he excelled against Dorset.

Wayne Dugan plays again on the wing, where he grabbed a hat-trick of tries last Saturday.

‘Wayne normally plays in the centre for his club but he could do a massive job for us on the wing,’ added Burns.

‘It turned out to be an inspired decision and couldn’t have worked better.

‘Since we got this squad together there has been a buzz about them.

‘It would be tremendous for Hampshire rugby if we were able to reach the final at Twickenham.’

The final is due to be played immediately after the England v Wales international on Sunday 29th May 29.