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REPORT - Thurrock 23 Basingstoke 33
BASINGSTOKE RFC started 2014 with a 33-23 victory at Thurrock in the National League Three London on Saturday afternoon.
The home side knew that anything less than a win would almost certainly seal their relegation fate and the Essex side threw everything at their Hampshire visitors in the first 40 minutes.
However, it was ’Stoke who took the lead as Ryan Davis went over for a try and Adam Davies kicked the first of his 21 points in the game, to make it 7-0 after six minutes.
Thurrock replied with their own try from winger Jake Barrand, but Frankie Neale failed with the conversion, so the visitors remained ahead.
The home side scored again as centre Earl Gorman managed to find a way through the ‘’Stoke defence and once again Neale failed with extras, but his side took a 10-7 lead.
The scores were then levelled thanks to the boot of Davies as he kicked over a penalty.
Thurrock kept up the pressure and collected their third try of the opening 40 minutes, when flanker James Flavin went over and it was third time lucky for Neale as he converted for a 17-10 lead.
However, Basingstoke were not to be denied the lead at the break, as firstly Davies kicked another penalty.
Then winger Jobi Kochanowski scored a try and Davies added the extras for a 20-17 advantage at the interval.
After the break, the teams swapped penalties from the boot of Davies and Neale.
‘Stoke then took control of the game as fly-half Davies went over for a try which he converted himself on 55 minutes.
The same player then added another penalty soon after to make the score 33-20.
Thurrock reduced the lead thanks to another Neale penalty, but this was as close as they were to get.
’Stoke were now going all out to get the bonus point try and came so close to it in the final minutes.
A grubber kick from Jon Bird saw Tim Richards just unable to ground the ball, for what would have been a deserved fourth try.
With Westcombe Park losing at leaders Dorking on Saturday, the victory moved Basingstoke up a place in the table to 10th.
'Stoke are at home this Saturday, when Bury St Edmunds are the visitors to Down Grange.