SALISBURY RFC travelled to Witney knowing that nothing less than a win would suffice if they were to avoid dropping into the relegation zone in place of their hosts.

Boyd Rouse returned from injury at outside half and George Bayliss made an eye catching debut in the second row turning over the ball from the kick off.

Both sides were playing with a purpose that underlined the importance of the result to both clubs but and when Joe Tully crossed for a try Salisbury hopes were lifted then dashed as the referee adjudged the ball not to have been grounded.

Witney made the most of this break to take the lead when their impressive fly half kicked a penalty.

The visitors’ response was not long in coming and from an attacking scrummage the front five drove Witney back, Richard Smart picked up and made ground before feeding Dave Tonge and a pass right saw Tully over and touching down safely. Rouse added the extras.

Salisbury were now in the ascendancy and when Rouse’ sleight of hand sent Joey Goldsmith clear, skipper Josh Green thundered up to carry the move on. Bobby Saunders was up in support and Rouse linked to send Richard Smart over for one of the scores of the season.

Rouse converted and from further pressure added a drop goal for a half time lead of 17-3.

The jaunty mood of the visiting support was shaken when Witney’s large pack, aided by a yellow card, drove a maul over and then capitalised again after a series of rucks. The steady boot of Ted Landray brought the sides level.

The game swung back and forth with mistakes a plenty and yellow cards shown to both sides to perplex the vociferous crowd before Salisbury, buoyed by the site of a very pink Vinnie Hayward on the sideline, applied pressure through a series of drives on the home line.

Ferocious defence kept them at bay until Tonge burrowed over near the posts and Rouse converted for a lead.

Salisbury defended this lead for 25 minutes until conceding a score from another forward drive in the dying seconds.

Hearts were in mouths as the metronomic Landray lined up his conversion but on this occasion it drifted wide and the Wiltshire club were able to celebrate a hard fought, deserved and much needed 24-22 victory.

This was a much better performance from Salisbury, the forward platform was rock solid with Green and Bayliss in the second row providing real drive allowing the back row of Saunders, Goldsmith and man of the match Smart, to dominate the breakdowns, and allow the half backs time to set the backs free.

This Saturday, sees basement side Stratford on Avon coming to Castle Road but there will be no room for complacency if relegation is to be avoided. All support will be welcome.

Salisbury United took a bonus point from high flying Oakmedians with a very good performance, despite losing 27-20.

Good pressure from the back row of James Hill, Ben Stridgeon, and Jon Bird resulted in a try for skipper Jake McConnell in for a try and Nik Wootton added another late in the game, the trusty boot of veteran Tom Pottage garnering the remainder of the points.