SALISBURY RFC travelled to the home of The Bard, and although they recorded a third successive league victory 27-17, they will be disappointed at a failure to maintain an excellent start, writes RICHARD LLOYD.

A glorious day saw Salisbury attack with real intent from the off, forcing Stratford upon Avon into a number of early tackles close to their line and a yellow card for the home side after only five minutes.

The subsequent kick to touch and lineout drive powered Aiden Gill over the line for the first score, converted by Boyd Rouse.

Salisbury looked dangerous every time they had the ball, with Rouse and centre Nik Wooton dominating the gain line and after a series of thrusts with the move swinging left and right across the pitch, debutante Ross Stanley playing at centre took the opportunity from halfway to show his pace to outstrip the cover for a fine try.

Rouse’s conversion taking the score out to a 14-0 lead and seemingly a convincing away victory.

But the game now developed into a pattern with neither side able to convert their attacking intent into points, being undone by dropped passes, turnovers and a high penalty count.

Close to the half-hour mark, Stratford’s impressive fly-half, Jimmy Southall, sliced open the Salisbury defence leading to a touchdown out on the right which he couldn’t convert.

Stratford were now enjoying more possession and Salisbury struggling to exert pressure, so it was a relief when Joe Goldsmith earned a valuable penalty for Rouse to further extend the lead.

But a dropped pass in the 22 handed the initiative back to the home side gifting them a straightforward run-in to take the teams into half-time at 17-12.

The Cathedral City side came out for the second half with real purpose.

Rouse kicking well to gain territory. A Joe Tully break looked to be the catalyst for an early score, but lineout problems took away the initial opportunity, before a lung-busting break from Liam Gilbert set-up a position for Rouse to kick his second penalty.

He then followed up with a fine chip out of defence, carried on by Rory MacTaggart and skipper Josh Green, to allow Greg Harris to weave his way over, Rouse again converting.

The travelling support were now hoping for the fourth try and a bonus point, but it was Stratford who scored next, bringing the score uncomfortably close at 27-17 where it stayed throughout an often tense final quarter.

It was a deserved victory for a young side who will be looking to continue their improvement when North Wiltshire rivals Swindon visit Castle Road on Saturday.