CHIPPENHAM slipped further behind the top two of Old Patesians and Banbury as they were beaten 12-7 in a mudbath at Witney - their second defeat in three games.

The visitors made a decent enough start to the match, attacking relentlessly in the early stages, but after passing over a couple of penalty shots, they were turned over as Witney cleared.

Both sides continued to find it a slog in the conditions, with Chippenham unable to take advantage of Witney centre Matt Clarke being sin-binned .

The home side grabbed the lead after the half-hour mark as full-back Phil Thomas slotted a penalty after Chippenham had strayed offside before the visitors were held up over their opponents' line as time ran out in the first period.

Another Chippenham offside in the early stages of the second half allowed Thomas to double Witney's advantage before a further indiscretion yielded another three points.

Clarke's fourth kick, approaching the midway point of the half, took Witney 12 points clear but Chippenham got themselves back into it as wing Brad Doggett went over from close range and scrum-half Tom Fogerty converted.

Chippenham continued to force to play but saw their efforts come up short as the home side held on.

Royal Wootton Bassett shrugged off heavy conditions and the loss of two key players as they left it late to secure a deserved 18-15 victory at Salisbury.

The visitors had to do without influential skipper Gavin Ougan and veteran Tim Gallimore, whose return from a ski trip in Europe was held up by delays in the Channel Tunnel, forcing a reshuffle of their pack.

Salisbury dominated possession in the first 15 minutes but solid Bassett tackling and defence prevented the hosts from getting near the line.

Gradually the away side began to put decent attacks together and a series of forward drives was rewarded when stand-in skipper, hooker Phil Bardwell, broke the defensive line in the 20th minute.

Recent recruit, second row Richnyx McKenzie, was on hand to race in under the posts for his debut try for the club, scrum-half Tom Fieldsend slotting the conversion.

The game then developed into a midfield stalemate with the pitch cutting up badly and the ball becoming difficult to handle.

Bassett opted to take two penalties late in the half, both slotted over by Fieldsend, and looked as though they might go in with a healthy first-half lead only a powerful Salisbury scrum on the Bassett line to lead to a drive and touchdown by Serge Griffiths in the corner.

Bassett had been edged out in the second half of their home match against Salisbury earlier in the season, but looked the better side in the early stages after half-time on this occasion.

However, midway through the half a period of Salisbury pressure saw a scrum awarded in the corner from which Dan Hammond was able to touch down.

With the game going into the final 10 minutes a misfield at the back saw the ball bobble up and Salisbury touched down through Ollie Bowden to seize the lead.

Bassett's veteran utility back Jon Clarke came on for his first minutes as an emergency flanker as the away side ran out of fit forwards.

Salisbury resorted to desperate defence but seemed to have held Bassett out until a late scrum 10 metres out.

A surge saw the ball go loose and stalwart Clarke was on hand to pounce on the loose ball for the winning try.