Basingstoke RFC started the new year with a bang on Saturday to claim a crucial win over one of their promotion rivals.
The hard-fought 28-25 victory over third-placed Old Cranleighans was ‘Stoke’s eighth from their last nine matches to keep them in fourth.
That run has seen Basingstoke have to show a number of qualities to come out on top, and the weekend’s encounter was no different, as they were really made to battle for their victory.
It took just two minutes for Gareth Hatherley-Hurford’s side to claim their first try, as Michael West dotted the ball over, following a big scrum for the hosts.
But within 13 minutes, Old Cranleighans had taken the lead, as they followed up an unconverted try with a penalty to make it 7-8.
Only a lucky bounce then prevented a second try for the visitors, before a punt up field then favourably into the hands of Michael Rodgers to go over for ‘Stoke.
Simon Appleby then responded to an Old Cranleighans try to move Basingstoke 21-13 clear, following another try for the visitors, before Tom Humberstone was then shown a yellow card.
The start of the second half saw Appleby claim his second to hand ‘Stoke a bonus try point that saw them leapfrog their rivals in the table.
But two late tries from Old Cranleighans then ensured they emerged with a bonus point to just get their noses in front in London 3 South West once again.