A sizeable home crowd received some early Christmas cheer as they witnessed Salisbury secure a much needed, but last minute, 21 – 19 home win over Guildford on Saturday.

Backrower Josh Green will have been particularly pleased to have celebrated his 200th 1st XV appearance with a win and was very much in the thick-of-it as Salisbury worked tirelessly for the victory. They started brightly with a strong wind at their backs.

Prop Bobby Brown scored the first of his two tries on seven minutes from a maul close to the Guildford’s try line following an attacking scrum.

Tom Tully added the extras and the hosts then continued to play positively. Salisbury’s second try came on 14 minutes when they secured an attacking lineout, drove for the try line for James Hill to break and barge his way over.

Salisbury Journal: Salisbury's pack prepare for a scrum

After Tully’s second successful conversion Salisbury had a 14 – 0 lead.

Guildford then regrouped and enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and territory during the second quarter.

They attacked with aggression and purpose but were thwarted by a determine and robust Salisbury defence.

The pressure was, however, beginning to have an impact. Salisbury were warned for persistent infringements and were eventually reduced to 14 men with a yellow card in the 38th minute.

The visitors took advantage and kicked a penalty to the corner but didn’t find touch. Salisbury fumbled the catch and were then penalised for an offside.

Guildford moved the ball quickly from the spot to score under the posts. With the score at 14 – 7 at halftime, the match was very much in the balance.

Matters worsened for Salisbury soon after the restart. They were reduced to 13 men with a second yellow card, they were also playing into a strengthening wind and carrying some injuries.

Guildford’s second try came in the 48th minute following a number of simple phases which created space for number eight Ben Bushell to run in unopposed. The conversion levelled the score and momentum was with the visitors.

Salisbury Journal: Blake Ryder passes to his centre partner Eremasi Ranatora

Salisbury were fully restored to 15 men on 55 minutes. Despite forwards Hill, Brown and skipper Mike Adams consistently making yardage, the hosts could not establish a convincing pattern of play as both sides scrapped their way through the half.

Guildford took the lead with an unconverted try on 60 minutes and with the score at 14 – 19, the hosts began to play with greater intensity. They were determined to get a win but struggled to find any real fluency.

Their cause was made easier when Guildford were awarded a yellow card for persistent offences at a scrum. This ensured that Salisbury’s scrummage was dominant for the remainder of the match.

Guildford received another yellow card in the dying minutes with Salisbury hammering away at their line.

In the final minute Salisbury won an attacking scrum, worked through a number of rucks close to the line to enable Brown to force his way over for his second try.

Tully converted to secure the win and triggered rapturous celebrations from the home support.

An even sterner test faces Salisbury in their last fixture of 2023 when the travel to third-place Tottonians next Saturday.