ROYAL Wootton Bassett marginally helped their relegation fight in Regional One South Central with a losing bonus point from a 24-17 defeat at home to Havant on Saturday.

Bassett remain bottom of the table by eight points but moved one step closer to rivals Sutton and Epsom, who the Wiltshire side faces this weekend.

The Hampshire side had crushed Bassett 39-5 earlier in the season and would have hoped for a similar result again this time, but early on it became clear that this was going to be a far tighter affair.

Bassett went on the offensive from the start and forced Havant into some stout defensive work. It took Alan Low’s men until the 20th minute to break the deadlock, though, when forward pressure saw the ball worked out to centre, Connor Tomley and he was on hand to force his way over.

The hosts were not able to hold onto their lead until the break, however, as a 37th-minute try from Havant was converted following a period of visiting pressure.

Despite the encouraging first half, Bassett survived just five minutes of the second period before going further behind to another converted try. Within 10 further hectic minutes, Havant had secured the four-try bonus and led 24-5.

Earlier in the season, a scoreline like that might have signalled a Bassett collapse, but Low’s men have shown themselves to be made of sterner stuff these days.

Home pressure forced the Havant defence into conceding a yellow card, and from there Bassett pounced. Young winger Jamie Murray scored a try, from which fly-half Rhys Floyd converted.

And with five minutes to play, Bassett reduced the deficit to 24-17 when opposite winger Jone Waqindrola added another score.

Despite the Wiltshire club throwing everything at their visitors in the dying embers, Havant held on and denied Bassett a potentially-deserved draw.

Meanwhile, Swindon did not have a game in Regional Two South Central. Elsewhere in the division, Marlborough overcame a 10-0 deficit to maintain the club’s 100 per cent winning record with a 39-17 success at home to Shipston on Stour.