BRACKNELL RFC’s slow start to the South West Premier season continued as they went down to a narrow 24-19 defeat at fellow strugglers Weston-super-Mare, writes Richard Ashton.

It was a third straight loss and fourth defeat in five games for the Lily Hill men, who slip to third bottom in the table after gifting Weston their maiden win.

The visitors started brightly and, following an intense period of pressure on the hosts’ line, a series of infringements led Weston-super-Mare back row Sam Fisher to be sent to the sin-bin.

Bracknell took advantage of their numerical advantage, Giuseppi Salustri breaking from the back of a scrum before popping the ball of to Rob Verdy to score, Vic Hardwicke’s conversion putting the away side 7-0 to the good.

However, the hosts hit back and, in a dramatic final 10 minutes of the opening half, they cut the gap with their first foray into Bracknell territory, No. 8 Brad Talbot dotting down to make it 7-5.

The Lily Hill men responded excellently, though, with first Ken Dowling bundling his way over and then Conor Serge gathering a Hardwicke cross-field kick for his side’s third try.

Hardwicke converted, but before the break Jason Henry was yellow-carded and Weston made their extra man count when Cameron Maslen went over for a converted try which left the half-time score 19-12 in favour of the visitors.

Still a man down, Bracknell made a disastrous start to the second period as wing Matt Watkins crossed the line to reduce the deficit to just two points, and Weston moved in front midway through the half when Talbot barrelled over from a five-metre scrum for his second score, this time converted, to give his side a 24-19 advantage.

The visitors hit back and dominated the final quarter, receiving a further boost when Weston scrum-half Kadin Brooks was sin-binned for a late tackle.

Indeed, Bracknell thought they had claimed at least a share of the spoils when Serge went over again, only for his try to be ruled out for a forward pass and leave the Lily Hill men with another disappointing defeat after the following scrum was booted into touch.

Bracknell travel to Brixham this Saturday (2.30pm ko).