BASINGSTOKE RFC extended the gap between themselves and the National League Three London bottom three to nine points with a comfortable victory over basement side Barking.
The hosts overcame a slightly shaky start to run in 10 tries and secure maximum points at Down Grange on Saturday, a result that gave their chances of avoiding relegation a big shot in the arm.
Despite their lowly standing, Barking made a positive start, enjoying some good early possession and taking the lead after just two minutes with an Oliver Forrest drop-goal.
Gavin Dampies’ break was Basingstoke’s first real moment of quality, but he was forced into touch, while a dangerous line out opportunity was wasted when fly-half Adam Davies misplaced a pass.
The game changed completely in the 12th minute. Barking were enjoying a spell of possession in the ’Stoke half and were looking dangerous when Forrest attempted a long pass out to winger Lemack Jumar.
Tim Richards read it and intercepted, outpacing the defence to touch down under the posts, with Davies converting to put the hosts 7-3 ahead.
From that point on, Barking were never in the game. A good break from captain Freddie Gleadowe had the visitors on the back foot and while Basingstoke lost the ball, a second try was not far away.
It was scored by No 8 Ryan Davis, whose break from halfway set up the move. A couple of phases later, he took a hand-off from scrum-half Guy Wilkinson on the 22 and charged through a gaping hole to score a converted try.
Prop Tim Coghlan was next to score, forcing his way over from close range to end a long spell of pressure, but Davies was unable to kick the tricky conversion.
It was Gleadowe who secured the four-try bonus point on 32 minutes. A scrum was won against the head and Davies found the skipper, whose straight run found a massive gap in the Barking defence.
Davies converted to make it 26-3 and while Forrest kicked two penalties to make it 26-9 at half-time, Basingstoke were in full control.
Two tries in the early stages of the second half put the game beyond doubt. Davies’ inside hand-off put full-back Jobi Kochanowski from close range on 43 minutes, with Matt Guilfoyle getting free down the left to add another five points two minutes later.
At 38-9, Barking were out of the game, but they showed a real lack of ambition by kicking a penalty from inside the 22 to reduce the deficit by three points.
A slightly slow spell followed, but a break from Billy Driver resulted in Barking being stopped just short of the line just before the hour.
However, the hosts saw the danger off and broke to great effect. David Byett, now playing at fly-half, put in a clever chip to release Gleadowe, whose pass put Richards clear to score his second try of the game.
Another two tries followed in quick succession, putting Basingstoke 57-12 ahead. Prop Glenn Magee got the first, collecting a short pass to break the defence and power through the full-back, while Byett then forced his way over down the left wing.
The final try of the game was a second for Kochanowski. The hosts looked set to drive over from a scrum, only for Barking to stop them illegally on two occasions.
They went again but the ball popped out to Wilkinson, who passed for Kochanowski to run in untouched. A scuffle followed and while Davis seemed to be the guilty party from a Basingstoke point of view, it was Chris Kiernan who was shown the yellow card, meaning the hosts would end the game with 14 men.
Despite this, there was almost a hat-trick try for Richards, but he was taken in to touch just short after great play from Byett and Gleadowe on the final whistle.
Click here to see a post-match video interview with Basingstoke director of rugby James Croker.
Basingstoke: J Kochanowski; Dampies, Gleadowe, Guilfoyle, Richards; Davies, Wilkinson; Magee, Bird, Coghlan, Hore, Scott, R Kochanowski, Kiernan, Davis. Reps: Turner, Clark, Byett.
Barking: Barham; Namala, Driver, Stannard, Jumar; Forrest, Cook; Clarke, Anderson, Hughes, Fox, Hayes, Peasenall, Touma, Badcock. Reps: R Gardner, Bowles, C Gardner.