HAMPSHIRE are looking to cover themselves in more glory when they meet Warwickshire in the RFU County Championship at Hooks Lane, in Havant, tomorrow (3pm).
Ian Chandler’s side go into the final game of the tier two group stage in pole position ahead of Somerset on points difference.
A bonus point win for the home side, providing they maintain their better points difference, will be enough to earn Hampshire a showpiece final at Twickenham.
Returning to the home of the RFU just 12 months after winning tier three of the competition and being promoted would be a remarkable achievement.
Chandler is glowing with pride after watching his squad go from strength to strength.
He knows, however, they still have a job to do if they are to achieve their ambition.
‘We will be putting the idea of Twickenham out of our minds,’ said Chandler.
‘Our focus will be on winning the game as well as we can.
‘Though we are two-thirds there, there remains a lot for us to do if we are to get over the finishing line.
‘We expect Somerset to beat north Midlands and though we have a 20-plus points difference advantage, that can soon be eroded.
‘Warwickshire are no mugs and probably have the best attacking full-back and winger of the four teams in our group.
‘They’ve shown they can score points and will be dangerous.
‘We just have to make sure we handle them.
‘Defensively, our record is a lot better than theirs and, again, it is an area where we need to impress.’
For a team representing a county without a National League player, Hampshire have exceeded all expectations.
After convincingly beating north Midlands in their opener, they held Somerset to a remarkable 36-36 draw at Gosport Park.
The West Country side, made up of a lot of National one and National two players, started as favourites to win the group.
However, they hadn’t reckoned with the tenaciousness of the Hampshire side, who refused to be beaten.
Chandler’s team have got where they are by playing a brand of exciting running rugby.
The coach insists that isn’t going to change against Warwickshire.
‘It is in the open field where we have excelled,’ said Chandler.
‘We are at our most dangerous when we have the ball in broken play, forwards and backs combining at pace.
‘Warwickshire are the same, so it should be an entertaining affair.’
Club Hampshire: Sutherland, Carr, Wayne Dugan Wayne, Gleadowe, Everett-Bolter, Alex-Clarke, Wes Dugan Wes, Marks, Snowdon, Wilkie, Rees R, Rees J, Perkins, Price, Hart
Replacements: Hibdidge, Sargent, Parkin, Gains, Goldbear, Farnes, Brierley