Banbury Bulls saw their Wadworth 6X South West One East play-off hopes all but disappear at Salisbury.
They gave themselves too much to do after Salisbury raced into an early 31-0 lead and, despite a strong comeback, Bulls slipped to a 46-35 defeat on Saturday.
Salisbury took the lead when poor defending saw Salisbury break through the Banbury line and Mike Dauwalder was put through after some quick off-loading to touch down under the posts and Nik Wotton converted.
Moments later Bulls lost the ball five metres from their own line and Josh Green crashed over from close range with Wotton converting. A mix-up in defence saw centre Alex Park burst through the Banbury line with ease to dive over and Wotton added a tricky conversion.
David Tonge sprinted over from his own half after more poor defending and good off-loading from Salisbury. Things got worse when Dan Brady was forced off with a knee injury and then Tonge threw a brilliant pass to Max Bishop who scored in the corner.
Bulls finally got into it shortly before halftime from a line-out when good work from the pack worked the ball to the line before Ed Phillips touched down.
Jed Boyle intercepted a loose pass and sprinted his way over just before halftime. Salisbury’s restart didn’t travel ten metres and should have been a Banbury scrum but the referee blew the halftime whistle!
After the restart, Boyle and Tommy Gray combined well and Salisbury were forced to kick the ball out five metres from their own line. Ian Isham found his man in the line-out before gathering the ball at the back of a rolling maul and scoring.
But a loose pass went straight to Park who sprinted his way over from the halfway line. What looked like an obvious crossing penalty wasn’t given and Green scored his second try with Wotton added the extras.
The Banbury pack won a scrum against the head and Ed Berridge drove over but Sam Stoop got a yellow card for an off the ball incident and Wotton kicked the resulting penalty.
Berridge forced a knock-on and the backs countered quickly, Duncan Leese passed inside to Jack Briggs who dived over. Stephen Potter was stopped short but popped a pass to Justin Parker who spun out of a tackle to touch down.
Bulls were soon back in to the Salisbury 22, Parker was stopped short but popped a pass up to Phillips who dived over. Duncan Leese’s attempted drop goal sailed wide and that was that.