THE Twin Counties suffered defeat in their opening County Championship Plate pool match at Royal Wootton Bassett RFC.

Firstly, a young Counties side with only five of last season’s squad available were still in contention at the break with just three points separating the two sides, but as the second half progressed it became obvious that the more experienced outfit would take the spoils as the Twin Counties youngsters tired.

Berkshire raced into an 8-0 lead through Reading full-back Chris Laidler with a penalty and Readingensians prop James Baker who crashed over for a try.

The Counties replied through Devizes fly-half Rory Brown slotting a penalty then lock forward Lewis Paget, also from Devizes, crossed the whitewash to touch down for a try.

The visitors added another five points with a touchdown from Redingensians flanker Arron Hopkins and Laidler adding the extras.

Salisbury centre James Kaminski burst clear, chipped ahead, gathered in the loose ball despite being held back and crashed over for a try before the break.

Berkshire captain and number eight Nico Maybury, from Bracknell, grabbed a try with Laidler kicking the conversion and now the visitors were two scores clear.

However, driving over from a maul close the Berkshire line, Royal Wootton Bassett second row David Hogg raised the roof playing in front of his own crowd as he crashed over to ground the ball.

A converted try would have put the Counties in front, but as they chased the game there were two further touchdowns for Berkshire, a second from prop Baker and another from wing forward Hopkins with Laidler converting one and Reading University substitute Ollie Mann adding the extra two points with the final score of the game.

Dorset and Wilts coach Don Parsons said: “We had a young side out, most of their players came from clubs that compete league level five where our lads play mostly at levels six and seven so we were always going to be tough against a more experienced side.

"But we gave away too many penalties and field position and they put our scrum under heavy pressure. Now we must look forward to our game at Witney RFC (on May 17) against Oxfordshire.''