APPALLING conditions confined Royal Wootton Bassett to a draw at Banbury on Saturday as Alan Low’s in-form side were made to pay for a series of handling errors.

Following a week’s break for the Rugby World Cup final, Bassett returned to South West One East action but were denied victory for the first time this season as Banbury – a team also in the promotion hunt – held Low’s side to a 6-6 draw.

Without key players Jordan Rye, Josh McCafferty and Scott Douglas, Bassett again benefitted from their improving youth system once more by fielding teenage brothers Maikeli and Alma Volavola.

Understandably, the game wasn’t for rugby purists.

However, Bassett butchered two chances in the opening five minutes – one try-scoring attempt was held up before another effort minutes later was forced into touch.

Similarly, three kicks at the posts were squandered before the visitors had a ball held up when over the line in the second half.

Low described the 6-6 score as a fair reflection of the game, but he made no secret of the fact that his team left points out on the pitch.

He said: “We had chances to win the game and a couple of decisions went against us in the second half.

“Credit to Banbury and the way our boys played, though. Conditions were terrible.

“We played some really good rugby at times, and defended well.

“We just lacked execution – and the younger lads would’ve certainly learnt a lot from the weekend.”

Bassett’s draw means they are now just one point clear at the top of the region’s second tier, despite boasting an unbeaten record from their opening nine games.

A trip to Buckingham awaits Low’s troops this weekend before Beaconsfield’s visit to Ballards Ash takes place before the second seasonal break.

Having thrown away a healthy December lead in South West One East only a year ago, Low is keen for history not to repeat itself.

He added: “We deliberately had a quiet week (during the break).

“We were successful in getting Phil Bardwell back after his rib injury, and we hope to have Scott Douglas (collarbone) back in the team before the upcoming break.”

In Southern Counties South, Swindon picked up a helpful 17-11 win at home to Grove, while Swindon College Old Boys beat Thatcham 15-5.

Bassett 2nd were in action in Dorset & Wilts North One as they defeated table toppers Frome 2nd 39-0 at home.

That result closed the gap between second placed Bassett and Frome to just three points.

In Dorset & Wilts Two North, Supermarine fell to a 37-17 defeat at home to Westbury.

Swindon 2nd were 21-19 winners away at their SCOB counterparts.