Hampshire made a dream start to their RFU Championship Shield campaign with a confident 44-13 win over Dorset & Wilts at Gosport Park.
Senior coach Ian Chandler enthused about the impressive all-round team performance that saw the home side dominate the game.
‘Gosport Rugby Club did us proud and as soon as the players arrived they realised how important the whole thing was to everyone,’ he said.
‘As a result, they produced the performance to match the occasion.
‘It has been a little while since the senior county side has had anything to smile about.
‘In the past it was often a case of ringing players up a few days before or even on the morning of the game.
‘This time all our senior clubs have bought into it.
‘We set out to make an impact in this year’s competition and show the quality of rugby in the area even if we don’t have any National League clubs.’
Gosport’s Wayne Dugan, in his first game back after a month’s club rugby ban, made up for lost time with a hat-trick of tries.
The home side hit the ground running, putting the visitors on the back foot from the start.
Bournemouth’s Alex Sutherland knocked over an early penalty before Wayne Dugan went over in the corner for his first try courtesy of a pass from brother Wes.
Hampshire had forward Tom Hankey yellow carded for persistent infringement and the visitors reduced the deficit to 10-8 with a try and a penalty.
Dugan added his second try with Sutherland adding the conversion and a penalty to give Hampshire a 20-8 lead at the interval.
‘Our forwards played well as a unit giving us good ball going forwards,’ said Chandler.
‘That enabled outside half Pierre-Alex Clark (Tottonians) and centre Joel Knight (Havant) to run the game.’
Any chance of a Dorset & Wilts fightback was nipped in the bud early in the second period when Dugan completed his try hat-trick following a superb Clark break.
‘Both the Dugans are class acts and could easily be playing at a higher level,’ said Chandler.
‘We had to talk to Wayne about playing on the wing because he is normally a centre at his club.
‘He is almost unstoppable from five yards, though, because he can either step around you or run through you.
‘His final try was the turning point because there was no way back for the opposition after it.’
Hampshire went on to make their superiority count with three further tries.
Their dominant scrummage earned them a penalty try, before Curtis Barnes (Portsmouth) collected a Clark kick ahead in his stride to add another score.
Knight rounded the afternoon off in fine style with the try of the game from a move that started 10 yards from Hampshire’s own line.
Hampshire meet Berkshire at Reading RFC next Saturday for a place in the play-offs of the competition.