STOW-on-the-Wold continued their mid-season slump with a 30-11 loss at Royal Wootton Bassett in Southern Counties North.

The Cotswold rugby side slipped to fifth, one point below Thatcham, after leading the table in 2014 following a strong start to the season.

Although the scoreline from Stow’s sixth league loss of the campaign did not reflect the game, the hosts were worthy winners.

Stow played their best rugby for some weeks and began to replicate some of their early-season form. However, they will need to be more clinical and consistent.

The early signs were good, with plenty of possession and strong running but the home side defended well.

When Wootton Bassett entered the Stow 22 for the first time, a penalty conceded at the breakdown resulted in three points. Stow hit back and ran the ball out of their own half with James Holmes eluding several tacklers to score in the corner.

Nick Cafearo was just wide with the conversion and Wootton Bassett regained the lead with their second penalty when Stow were pinged at a scrum.

The hosts extended their advantage from the restart when weak tackling leaked a converted try under the posts to make it 13-5 at half-time.

Stow were soon back in the game as two quick penalties from Cafearo took them only a score away.

But a Wootton Bassett penalty and two late converted tries sealed their win.

Stow, who travel to fourth-placed Thatcham on Saturday, will be disappointed but have also regained some confidence.

Meanwhile, Chipping Norton romped to a 45-22 win at higher-placed Hungerford in the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Premier.

Third-from-botton Shipston-on-Stour picked up crucial Midlands Three West (South) points by edging out fellow strugglers Southam 15-14.