SALISBURY RFC were forced to shuffle their side once more but welcomed the return of the experienced pairing of Jon Goldsmith and Rob Larcombe alongside Rory MacTaggart making his debut on the wing, as they narrowly lost to Stratford-upon-Avon 18-24.

The visitors started in a determined mood, Dom Porter carrying with determination and Rich Goffin tireless in the loose. Further pressure from the hosts led to a score under the posts, easily converted and then a second score on the break saw them stretch their lead to 14 points.

Salisbury stuck to their game plan and, taking advantage of a yellow card for the hosts, Josh Green drove from a scrummage and found Dave Tonge in support who put Dan Hammond in at the corner for a try. Porter then showed a turn of pace as he made sixty yards before being pulled down, Tonge’s delayed pass saw Juan Tanamera running a sublime line and diving over untouched, Matt Loader converted for a 14-12 half time score.

Loader drew first blood after the break with a penalty but Salisbury were frustrated by the tactics employed by some of Stratford’s wilier old warriors who slowed the ball down, by fair means or slightly more questionable methods, at every chance.

Both sides were more impressive in defence and the hosts scored in the corner to take a four point lead and it looked like the end but the game still had twists in it. Defending frantically Stratford strayed offside and Loader kicked the points to narrow the lead to a point but a final try in the corner for the hosts secured their win.