ROYAL Wootton Bassett rounded off their mixed South West One East campaign with a hard-fought 38-31 win away against Oxford Harlequins on Saturday.

Alan Low’s side slipped from promotion hopefuls to top-four chasers during the second half of the season, ending the year fifth in the table with 79 points from their 26 fixtures.

Injuries to leading duo Phil Bardwell and David Hogg did little to help Bassett’s cause, but head coach Low reflected on the campaign as one of a learning curve – and insists the club’s youngsters will benefit from unexpected game time in recent months.

“We picked up some key injuries that impacted our momentum,” said Low.

“Losing Phil Bardwell and David Hogg – two very influential players at our level – was a big blow.

“We didn’t have the platform from our set-pieces as we would perhaps expect. The way we looked at it was that if we are to push on over the next few years, then this period has provided some invaluable learning for our younger players.

“We quietly said that we wanted to be pitching around the top four this season, and we spent half of the season in second – which proves we can do it when everyone is available.

“That drop-off hurt us, but creating a sustainable model for the future is a big part of our plan.”

Saturday’s concluding fixture was Bassett’s sixth win in the second half of the campaign.

A six-game losing run between mid-February and early April hurt the club’s hopes of promotion via the end-of-season play-offs.

But defeating Oxford away from home can help carry some positive momentum into next season, according to boss Low.

He added: “Oxford haven’t travelled very well this year, but their results at home have been very strong.

“It was a good performance. Obviously things have been a little bit flat, so it was nice to get the win under our belts to take us into the off-season and gives us some encouragement ahead of pre-season.”

Elsewhere in South West One East, Swindon tasted defeat away at Marlborough in their last fixture before dropping into Southern Counties South.

Mike Thompson’s side lost 43-24 to end the season in 13th place – 23 points short of relegation survivors Trowbridge.

Swindon College Old Boys were also in action – they defeated Dorchester 28-36 in Southern Counties South to end the year in sixth.

Finally, Supermarine lost 93-5 away at Combe Down to finish bottom of the Dorset & Wilts One North table without a win to their name.