League reorganisation has presented Salisbury with new opposition in Regional 2 South Central this season.

Chichester were welcomed to Castle Road for the first league fixture between the clubs on Saturday.  It was a perfect day for running rugby and both teams committed to playing an expansive game but their ambition was all-to-often frustrated by inaccuracy.

The hosts dominated much of the first quarter in which Chichester rarely entered Salisbury’s half. Salisbury were well served by debutant scrumhalf Sean Higgins and Ollie Bate at flyhalf who moved the ball quickly, generating momentum and pace. Salisbury’s backrow were also competitive with James Kennedy’s midfield charges forcing the visitors onto the back foot. However, it wasn’t until Bate converted a penalty on 14 minutes that Salisbury scored. Scant reward for dominating territory.

The lead was overturned minutes later when Salisbury failed to clear from the restart. Chichester charged-down the clearance which then presented them with a clear run in for the first of their three trys. The hosts appeared untroubled as they continued to move the ball quickly and exploit promising lines of running. They were disrupted by an injury to centre Blake Ryder on 35 minutes but this didn’t dampen their adventurous spirit. Salisbury continued to stretch Chichester and were rewarded with three more penalties from Bate to establish a 12 – 5 half-time lead.

Salisbury started the second half with an interception by Will Murley, a 50-metre dash for the line and a try under the post converted by Bate. With a 19 – 5 lead on 44 minutes the hosts should have gone on to close-out the game but could not sustain pressure and convert possession to points. Chichester were determined to get back on terms and scored having hacked on a loose ball and won the chase for the line. They failed to convert but with the score at 19 – 10 on 48 minutes, the host’s lead was by no means secure. The remainder of the half was scrappy with neither side able to play with any real fluency. Possession frequently changed hands and it was Chichester that had the last word when they elected to a run a penalty in front of the posts on 80 minutes. The conversion narrowed the score to 19 – 17.

Salisbury’s performance was certainly promising but they have much to work on, indicative of the first match of the season. They will travel to Guildford next Saturday.