DEVIZES’ hopes of a top-half finish in Southern Counties South look slim following a 22-17 defeat away at Swindon College Old Boys at the weekend.

The Saddlebacks are currently eighth in the table and would need to take maximum points from Saturday’s final game at home to Thatcham to have any chance of climbing into the top six.

Those aspirations would also require both SCOB and Walcot to take nothing from their respective last round of fixtures.

Devizes started positively in Swindon and College’s attacks were comfortably dealt with by an aggressive defensive effort.

However, a loose kick was swallowed up by the hosts 10 minutes in and they burst through to go under the posts for a converted try.

Devizes responded well and reduced the deficit after a notable carry from skipper Lewis Paget. The ball was fed to Lewis Dodds, who ghosted through a gap to dot down, although the conversion was missed.

The game was largely even, with both sides having good periods of pressure, but College scored next to edge into a 12-5 lead, taking advantage after Scott Martin was sent to the sin-bin.

Again, Devizes responded with some big carries by the pack, which allowed Luke Rapson to glide over the whitewash for another unconverted try.

Just before the break, College extended their lead to 15-10 with a penalty.

The second half was a fiery affair and the home side were briefly reduced to 13 men following a series of yellow cards as ill-discipline began to creep into the play.

Devizes took advantage of the numerical advantage and John Bramwell darted over the tryline from close range before Rapson’s conversion pushed the visitors 17-15 ahead.

Rapson then missed a tricky penalty from out wide in the wind, and that was to prove costly as College hit back with the next try – which ultimately proved to be the winning score.

With five minutes to go, the home side capitalised on an error in midfield from a lineout, and after a number of offloads, the ball was worked wide for a converted try to snatch a 22-17 victory.

Elsewhere, Corsham’s losing run stretched to a sixth game when they went down 25-14 away at Thatcham.

Finally, bottom side Bradford on Avon remain on one win for the season following a 46-10 defeat at Walcot.

Bradford finish their season at home to Yeovil this weekend, while Cosham host Walcot.