TEAM manager George Loughlin praised Royal Wootton Bassett for banding together to ensure they didn’t get stuck in the mud as they carved out an historic triumph at Salisbury.

Bassett shrugged off heavy conditions and the loss of two key players as they left it late to secure a deserved 18-15 victory in South West One East.

The visitors had to do without skipper Gavin Ougan and veteran Tim Gallimore, whose return from a ski trip in Europe was held up, forcing a reshuffle of their pack.

Loughlin said: “We deserved it but it was a really tough game. It could have gone either way because it was a mudbath and pouring with rain.

“But what was really great from us was that we played as a real cohesive team unit.

“We had a few players missing or unavailable, but the lads who came in worked really hard together. We think it is the first time we have won down at Salisbury.’’

The home side dominated possession in the first 15 minutes but solid Bassett tackling and defence held them out.

Gradually the away side began to put decent attacks together and a series of forward drives was rewarded when stand-in skipper, hooker Phil Bardwell, broke the defensive line in the 20th minute.

Recent recruit, second row Richnyx McKenzie, was on hand to race in under the posts for his debut try for the club, scrum-half Tom Fieldsend slotting the conversion.

Bassett opted to take two penalties late in the half, both slotted over by Fieldsend, and looked as though they might go in with a healthy first-half lead only for a powerful Salisbury scrum on the Bassett line to lead to a drive and touchdown by Serge Griffiths in the corner.

Midway through the second half, a period of Salisbury pressure saw Dan Hammond touch down.

With the game going into the final 10 minutes, a misfield at the back saw the ball bobble up and Salisbury touched down through Ollie Bowden to seize the lead.

Bassett’s veteran utility back Jon Clarke came on for his first minutes as an emergency flanker as the away side ran out of fit forwards.

A surge saw the ball go loose and Clarke was on hand to pounce on the loose ball for the winning try.

Swindon are now without a South West One East win in five matches after they slipped to a 29-12 home defeat to Oxford Harlequins.

In Southern Counties South, Swindon College Old Boys were nudged out in their mid-table battle with county rivals Devizes, who secured a 13-7 win at Nationwide.

Supermarine’s first match of 2018 ended in a ninth straight defeat as Pewsey Vale shut them out 26-0.