WHEN Salisbury RFC visited Banbury in November a fine match was capped when the visitors recovered from a 17 point half time deficit to triumph in an epic encounter, writes NEIL TONGE.

Since then Banbury have gone from strength to strength and sit handily in the play-off spot in the division.

Salisbury on the other hand have enjoyed a torrid time with their form affected badly by injury and unavailability. Another setback has seen Callum MagTaggart, who has been enjoying a fine first season in adult rugby, sidelined with a broken hand.

The visitors started powerfully and looked to be a well drilled side but Salisbury have proved to be resolute in defence before this season and were not to be cowed.

After some testing of each others’ defences it was Nick Wotton who broke and drew the cover before putting Dan Hammond away for a score.

Banbury finally levelled with a well rehearsed move and drew ahead with the conversion but the city side continued to push them hard.

Gareth Blackborow returned to the front row alongside Scott Neary and Gary Williamson, and Dom Porter and Chris Beaumont put in big shifts in the engine room behind them.

At half back David Tonge and James Bagguley are striking up an understanding, Bagguley enjoying his best game in a Salisbury shirt.

The second half followed the same pattern with both sides enjoying periods of pressure.

Skipper Josh Green and his back row of Jared Cardew and Duncan Grocock seemed to be everywhere while centres Jon Goldsmith and Christian Metson were giving nothing away.

Hammond and Rory MacTaggart looked hard for work and a strong cameo from grizzled prop Richard West cheered the crowd however despite several sniping breaks from Green, Tonge, Bagguley and Hammond, Banbury’s defence held firm and at the other end they were rewarded with two more tries for their 19-5 win.

Salisbury travel to Wimborne in a rearranged fixture on Saturday and will be hoping to build on this encouraging performance.

Salisbury United continued their good form since Christmas with a 40-12 victory over North Dorset.

Jamie Wright opened the scoring with a penalty before Ash Wright crossed for the first try, closely followed by Jack Gurney.

Salisbury took control in the third quarter with two tries for Ollie Dykes, and a try apiece for Archie McEwan and a touchline score for lock Luke Green.

The game looked set to fizzle out before Tom Pottage inspired a wonderful score for Charlie Gentleman to complete the game.