Banbury Bulls maintained their 100 per cent start with a hard fought 17-13 victory at Marlborough on Saturday.
Two tries from Dan Brady helped Bulls get the victory in a bruising, physical Wadworth 6X South West One East encounter. But, despite their fifth straight success, Bulls were knocked off top spot by Royal Wootton Bassett.
Marlborough came out on top in both fixtures last season and more recruitment in the summer made them one of the favourites for promotion again. Bulls had to make a couple changes with Matt Goode and Joe Mills having their first starts of the season while Liam Lloyd and Felix Marot began on the bench.
Fly-half Goode put in some huge clearances to keep Marlborough pinned in their own half before Ben George got the opening score. Kallum Dixey and Duncan Leese combined to force a turnover after Marlborough tried to run it out from their own 22. A couple phases later George threw a dummy to hold the defence before diving over from close range and Leese converted.
Leese was held up over the line in added-time to end the first half and Marlborough came out fired up for the second half.
Two quick penalties from Will Grant kicked Marlborough back to within a single point.
Brady showed great endeavour to win a five metre scrum. George whipped the ball to Brady on the blind-side and the winger showed quick feet to beat his marker before diving for a score in the corner.
Brady was soon at it again. George found Brady down the blind-side on the halfway line and he beat his opposite number before throwing a dummy to beat the full-back and sprint over.
Bulls turned down a penalty to push for a fourth bonus point try but Marlborough won a penalty inches from their own line. Bulls were again reduced to 14 players when Marot was yellow carded for not rolling away.
With less than ten minutes left a comeback looked like it might be on when Lemeki Moala barrelled his way through the Banbury line to score and Grant converted reduce the deficit to just four points.
Marlborough threw everything at Bulls but the defence held out, Chris Davies put a big hit in to force a knock-on before Tom Eyston dived on the loose ball for Banbury. Davies gathered the ball and kicked it in to touch to end the contest.