A FAVOURABLE run-in to conclude the South West One East season puts Trowbridge in the driving seat with regards to avoiding the drop, according to coach Dan Jeffries.

Jeffries’ men defeated basement team Stratford-upon-Avon 41-26 at the weekend, a result which helped establish a 13-point gap between themselves and the relegation zone.

With fixtures against relegation-threatened Swindon and Witney to follow, Jeffries senses an opportunity to build some breathing space between his side and the bottom three teams.

He said: “It was good to play for 80 minutes. They (Stratford-upon-Avon) are a decent side who have pushed everyone all year, and they’re in a bit of trouble themselves.

“The most pleasing thing was that we maintained our concentration for 80 minutes.

“We’ve fallen asleep at certain points in the past – they were good enough to score points, but they had to work hard for them.

“This year, we’ve probably lost concentration at times and let teams back in, but we didn’t do that on Saturday.

“If you look at the league table, we’ve got a really nice run in for the rest of the season – we’ve only got Banbury left to play in the top half and a top-eight finish would be the club’s best-ever position.”

Elsewhere, Marlborough ended runaway leaders Newbury Blues’ unbeaten start to the season with a battling 26-24 success, courtesy of Jake Williams’ last-gasp penalty.

Newbury travelled to the Common as firm favourites, having won all 19 of their league fixtures so far, but it was Marlborough who were able to galvanise themselves and renew their own promotion push to climb to fourth in the table.

The home side set off with intensity and an accurate penalty was sent to touch, followed by a strong lineout drive that led to Marlborough taking the lead inside two minutes. Anthony Maka was the man to touch down as Williams converted.

Marlborough then began to dominate and a couple of penalties from Williams extend their lead to 13-0.

After their slow start, Newbury began to show their form and a good spell of pressure paid off when a pass sent a winger over in the corner for a converted try just before the half-hour mark.

Two minutes before half-time, Mitieli Vulikijapani caught Newbury off guard as he stretched his legs to cruise past the desperate defence, with William’s conversion pushing the home side’s lead back out to 20-7.

That cushion did not last long and Newbury trimmed the gap to 20-10 at half-time with a penalty.

The second half continued at the same rapid pace as Williams and the Blues kicker traded penalties in the opening skirmishes.

After a number of injuries broke up the flow of the game, Newbury began to pile on the pressure again and got their reward on the hour when a penalty reduced the gap to seven points.

Three minutes later, they visitors clawed within got within as a chip ahead led to a try, although the conversion that would have brought the scores level was missed.

Marlborough found themselves hanging on with 10 minutes to play and had it not been for Anthony Maka’s huge tackle, the Blues would have had a try.

With two minutes to play, Newbury did get in front for the first time via a penalty.

However, Marlborough’s resolve did not falter and they won the ball back from the kick-off and pushed forward, with the forwards eventually winning a penalty 35m out.

Williams stepped up and maintained his perfect record from the tee to snatch a deserved win for the hosts.

Chippenham also went close to shocking one of the league’s high-flyers but suffered a narrow 32-21 defeat at home to second-placed Old Centralians.

A slow start was costly for the home side at Allington Fields as they trailed 17-0 early on. However, two tries from Charlie Palmer and one each from Harry Dyer, Oli Alcorn and Matt Dickens at least allowed Chippenham the consolation of two bonus points in defeat.

Finally, Royal Wootton Bassett’s hopes for promotion suffered as setback as they dropped to fifth following a 45-14 loss at Banbury.