DEVIZES men first XV celebrated winning the Southern Counties South title last weekend following a 44-22 victory over Swindon College Old Boys.

Knowing a bonus-point success would be enough to overhaul Salisbury at the top, the Saddlebacks managed just six points in a nervy first-half performance.

However, a destructive second 40 minutes resulted in six tries – four of which were converted – to seal the win and move Devizes onto 98 points, one ahead of their Wiltshire rivals.

Devizes also ended the season with the division’s top try-scorer in Lewis Dodds (21) while also boasting the league’s highest point-scorer in Matt Tinker (150).

Reflecting on an achievement which both club president Chris Jones and director of rugby Joe Alford agreed was a long time in the making, the latter was overwhelmingly proud of his team for making it to step six next season.

Alford said: “Winning the title, alongside the second XV finishing second with promotion, has been the result of four years of hard work by a lot of people.

“The players deserve huge credit for evolving the squad culture into one of commitment and hard work mixed with a love of playing rugby with their mates.

“The current coaches and managers, and those of past seasons, have been instrumental in helping this group of players fulfil their potential.

“The committee has done so much unseen work, facing real challenges, to allow the coaches and players to focus on getting better on the field.

“And finally, it wouldn’t have been possible without the support from both the touchline, and the player’s and coaches’ families. Thank you to all who have been involved.

“We’ve achieved our vision of four years ago. I’m looking forward to setting new goals with the club, and excited about chasing them down.”

Next season, due to widespread changes in rugby’s grassroots set-up, Devizes will be joined in an unnamed league by Wiltshire peers Swindon, Swindon College Old Boys, and Marlborough.

In other Southern Counties South results, Corsham lost 22-3 away at Walcot while Swindon beat Dorchester 42-3.

Elsewhere, in South West Premier, Royal Wootton Bassett moved off the bottom thanks to a try-scoring bonus point in a 43-29 defeat away at Bournemouth.

In South West One East, Chippenham produced a magical display to beat Marlborough 45-41 in their Wiltshire derby at Allington Fields.

The home side were determined to turn around the previous defeat earlier in the season and set out with a clear game plan.

The early stages saw Marlborough cross over the line twice and build a lead but tries from Foti Faosiliva and Tim Moon – as well as excellent kicking from Kalif Barnes - pinned the score back to 20-22 at half-time.

The packed crowd were in for a cracking second half with both teams trading try for try, with a total of 12 being scored in the game.

Chippenham saw Faosiliva pick up two more tries and Tusa Salarosi nab one before the excellent Barnes took a great pass to score in the final minutes and win the match for Chippenham.

Meanwhile, Trowbridge went down 33-29 away at Beaconsfield in their penultimate game of the season but can still finish fifth with a win in the club’s final game.