ROYAL Wootton Bassett head coach Alan Low was relieved to see his side secure their South West One East status with a game to spare.

Bassett ran out 24-5 winners at Ballards Ash, despite having a much-changed side due to player unavailability.

Low’s side were dealt an early blow as second row Sam Robinson was sin binned in just the second minute for a poorly-timed tackle, but the hosts held on and restored to full strength, Joshua Daley-Bowden went over the line to touchdown, unconverted.

Grove were then reduced to 14 and Bassett turned the screw with Ashley Stephens and a second from Daley-Bowden giving the home side a 17-0 lead at the break.

Bassett secured the bonus point through Oliver Smith, with Grove reduced to 14 for a second time, before the visitors scored a late consolation.

“Having looked at the league table, with worst case scenarios across the board, we’d still be safe in two weeks’ time,” said Low, whose side are now 10 points clear of second-from-bottom Reading Abbey.

“Just to get over the line, it was one of those where we really dragged ourselves into the relegation battle so it was nice to come out of that with a week to spare.

“There was an awful lot of disruption this weekend, we had a lot of players out and ended up with quite a mixed squad out and unfortunately had to cancel our second XV game at the weekend.

“We had to play a couple of people out of position and the boys did well.”

Low was quick to heap praise on double try scorer Daley-Bowden on his senior debut and has high hopes for the 17-year-old’s future.

“Josh was earmarked before Christmas to play some first team rugby so we were waiting for his 17th birthday,” he added.

“Unfortunately, he broke his nose just as he turned 17 and that then corresponded with us slipping into that relegation dogfight, so it wasn’t the right time to blood him.

“At the weekend, Josh trained with us and we felt it was right for his first senior game, he hasn’t even had a game in the seconds, and he had some really good touches in the first five minutes of the game.

“He scored two brilliant tries and defended really well for the whole game and is going to be an asset for the whole club.”