Salisbury started 2024 with a trip to London Irish Wild Geese on Saturday and, despite a 27 – 14 loss, performed strongly in their first ever visit to Sunbury-on-Thames.

Irish dominated both territory and possession for much of the first half. Salisbury bravely countered this with a determined defensive effort which included some ferocious tackling.

Remarkably, the only score of the half came in the 35th minute.

A slick move from the hosts resulted in an unconverted try and a 5-0 half-time lead.

Salisbury Journal: Second-row Dom Porter juggles the ball. Picture by John PalmerSecond-row Dom Porter juggles the ball. Picture by John Palmer

Salisbury started the second half brightly. Their early dominance was rewarded on 45 minutes when Will Murley broke through and darted under the posts for a try.

Tom Tully easily added the extras to give the visitors a well-deserved 5–7 lead.

Salisbury then extended their lead in the 50th minute when backrower James Kennedy wrestled the ball free, hacked it through and grounded it for the visitors second try. Tully converted to extend the lead to 5–14.

Irish needed to raise their game and did so to score a converted try on 57 minutes to narrow Salisbury’s lead to just two points.

Momentum swung the host’s way in the final quarter and they were able to score a further three unconverted tries to secure a 27 – 14 win.

This was a very encouraging performance from Salisbury whose preparation had been badly disrupted by the extreme weather.

The forwards had worked tirelessly throughout to remain competitive which included second-row Dom Porter’s trademark midfield charges.

Irish sit amongst the top four in Regional 2 South Central for good reason, they possess a strong pack and a sharp set of backs.

Salisbury will consolidate during better midweek conditions and will be looking forward to hosting Winchester next Saturday.