FOR the first time in the competition's history, two non-league sides have reached the semi-finals of the Hampshire Gales Plate - and both have realistic chances of causing upsets.

Southampton University want to put aside their disappointing showing in the BUSA midweek competition to claim some silverware this season, but they will come up against an equally determined Alresford side.

The mid-Hampshire outfit have endured a miserable season and will also see this as they chance to redeem something as they face the swift drop back to Hampshire Two next season.

Although Ben Holdsworth is not available for the students, they are still able to select a full-strength side that has been receiving some coaching tips and assistance from Tottonians coach Bob Millard.

Hampshire Under-20s regulars Chris Davies and Adrian Tomsa are also included in their line-up, although the latter has to settle for a seat on the replacements bench.

"This is probably the strongest side we could field," said winger James Weeks. "We are really looking forward to it as it would mean a lot to the lads to win this, especially as this is Simon Foster's last game before graduating amongst others."

New Milton & District tackle a side they have not played since 1992 when they venture into the unknown to play Jersey United Banks - the third time the Channel Island representative has reached this stage of the competition in successive years.

The pair met in Hampshire Division Two before the Banks were ceremoniously removed from the competition 13 years ago and the Foresters are under no illusions about their task.

They name as strong a side as possible, but skipper Matt Rule and winger Tom Morgan are still out as the club comments, "we know nothing of them so we have to concentrate on our game instead of worrying about theirs."

In the Bowl, two sides destined for the drop look to salvage some glory this season as Alton receive Southampton while Petersfield travel to Trojans tomorrow in the other game.

The Saints, relieved they do not have to play two games in two days after their match with Old Amplefordians was moved to a fortnight's time, have their strongest side out for the testing visit to sloping Anstey Park.

All the big guns return for this clash with Wayne Allen back at hooker and Paul Brant starts at scrum-half.

It does give the city side a glimpse of success and they know if they win, they will play a side they have already beaten this season - Petersfield in the league and Trojans in a friendly.

Trojans have a number of players away as they look to make home advantage count against the East Hampshire side.

Nigel LeBas and Ian Hudson are both in the southern hemisphere so Graham Rapier and Nick Bate get starting places while James Pennington and Tim Zeale switch positions from last week's victory over US Portsmouth.

A debut is also offered to recent signing Dave Adamson, who joins the club from Edinburgh Vandals, a side that plays in National Division Two of the Scottish leagues.

"It should be a very exciting game against a side from a league above us and we are looking forward to it," said coach Pete Surtees.