Royal Wootton Bassett suffered a narrow 18-14 defeat against Winchester in the first game of their cup campaign.

Bassett travelled down to Winchester for their opening Papa John’s Community Cup match with the sides meeting for only the second time ever.

The visitors had a couple of early chances thwarted by the concession of penalties and the penalty count was to grow throughout the match to the detriment of Bassett.

Winchester then took the ball into the Bassett half. A succession of phases was well defended by Bassett. However, in the eighth minute, an attacking scrum from Winchester saw their No. 8 pick up and drive over near the posts. The conversion was added and Winchester had an early 7-0 lead.

Bassett responded with a sequence of attacking plays and in the thirteenth minute, a chance looked to have gone when the ball went out for a Winchester lineout. But veteran Sam Robinson had other ideas and took a superb steal at the lineout and the subsequent attack saw Phil Bardwell force his way over under the posts.

The rest of the first half was scoreless with Winchester having a lot of possession without creating real chances. The halftime whistle saw the teams level at 7-7. Bassett would have been disappointed with the first 40 minutes with too many unforced errors, poor options taken, and a rising penalty count. 

Within 3 minutes of the restart, a Winchester attack saw yet another penalty which they snapped up to lead again at 10-7.

In the 52nd minute, Bassett lost Robinson to a yellow card technical offence as a lineout broke up. A couple of minutes later Winchester snapped up another penalty in front of the posts to extend their lead.

Bassett who had now begun to run the ball around were rewarded when young winger Mike Clifton powered over in the corner. Floyd converted and Bassett led narrowly 14-13.

However, the lead only lasted a short time before an unconverted Winchester try restored their lead.

The final 20 minutes saw Bassett push time and again to get a winning score, but in the end, Winchester held out and Bassett had to settle for a losing bonus point.

With the initial stage of the cup played on a league basis, defeat means that Bassett will be up against it and now need to beat both Chippenham and Newent in the pool if they are to progress to a regional semi-final.