Jason Leonard Under 20 County Championship Division 1 Pool 4
Match report by Richard V Isaacs

Hampshire’s start to the Jason Leonard Under 20 County Championship saw them comprehensively beaten by a well-drilled Gloucestershire side in their rain delayed opener at Cheltenham on Sunday.

In a match held over after last weekend’s heavy snow in Bristol and played in the shadow of the famous Cheltenham Racecourse, the visitors were not at the races for much of the contest.

Cinderford winger Will Baldwin chalked up an impressive hat-trick within the first 17 minutes, using his pace to outstrip the Hampshire defence on each occasion and leave them with an uphill task on the AGP surface.

A superb piece of individualism from Hampshire’s full-back Cameron McDonald (Bracknell), slicing through the home side defence from a good 35 metres to cross did give his side some hope after eleven minutes when he cut the arrears to 12-7.

But once Baldwin added his third and Gloucestershire secured the bonus point in first-half injury time when flanker Ben Davies went over, the home side were well in control.

Hampshire did boost their chances immediately from the restart when Alton’s scrum-half Ollie Burden was on the end of a good move to post their second try of the afternoon.

That hope was extinguished quickly when full-back Bradley Dunn found plenty of space out wide to go over and when Hampshire prop George Cotterell was sin-binned, the hosts took full advantage.

With Hampshire a man down, Gloucestershire pushed the scrum around at will and Davies grabbed his second from close range, Tom Price adding his fourth conversion.

The score stood at 38-12 with 27 minutes remaining on the clock but Hampshire, who had some very good chances were just unable to convert any into points, dropping the ball or missing the crucial pass.

One such opportunity came just before half-time when they were camped on the Gloucestershire line and battering the defence five yards out but the ball was swung out and lost.

It was a frustrating afternoon for the men in blue as they suffered their heaviest group stage defeat since losing 8-43 to Surrey in 2013.

They will be hoping to bounce back when they welcome Cornwall U20s to Havant Rugby Club on Sunday 24th February, knowing that only a victory will suffice.

HAMPSHIRE team: Cameron McDonald (Bracknell), Ross Fraser (London Scottish/St Mary’s University), Sam Trodd (Trojans), Eddie Jenkinson (Chichester/Birmingham University), Josh Wise (Winchester), Nick Blumlein (Petersfield), Ollie Burden (Alton); George Cotterell (Bracknell), Stanley North (Hartpury University), Mike Gorry (Trojans/Oxford University), Will Butterwick (Trojans), Balazs Magda (Chichester), Will Owen (Havant), Keaton Leyland-Jones (US Portsmouth/Navy Presidents XV), Pita Koroi (London Scottish).  Replacements: Alex Hankins (Alton/Portsmouth University), Sam Walker (Trojans), Mua Inoke (Hartpury University), Luke Spring (Richmond), Cameron McGuigan (Havant), Ollie Fielder (Alton), Karter Whittock (Alton)

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