Basingstoke RFC tasted defeat for the first time this season on Saturday as they succumbed to a close defeat away on the island of Guernsey. Despite a second-half fightback it was St Jacques Vikings who took the bonus point win & ended ‘Stoke’s unbeaten run in a game played in less-than-ideal conditions, & that’s being kind.

The hosts started fast pinning ‘Stoke in their own 22’ for much of the opening period missing an early penalty in front of the post. It took until the 11th minute for the first points of the game, as despite ‘Stoke standing strong in defence the hosts managed to free the ball from a ruck and the Vikings winger found the space in the corner for the first try of the game. Two more tries followed for the hosts shortly before the 20-minute mark as a lost lineout from ‘Stoke saw the home side profit instantly, mauling their way up the pitch and eventually over the try line to increase the lead to 12-0. It was 17-0 shortly after as a knock-on from ‘Stoke saw the hosts profit from the resulting scrum, driving forward & another try out on the wing.

Some tenacious defence from ‘Stoke including several turnovers on their own try line, the home side's attempt to secure a try bonus point before the break was thwarted.

With the score 17-0 at halftime and ‘Stoke barely able to fire a shot at the hosts, the second-half plan was simple. Do to them as they had done to us, with conditions now in ‘Stoke favour playing downhill with the wind.

‘Stoke started the second half strong and were soon rewarded as Alfie Rowley found a gap to dance his way through the host's defence and grab ‘Stoke first try of the afternoon.

St Jacques responded soon after though to restore their lead and secure their try Bonus Point as despite ‘Stoke initially clearing their lines the home side won clean ball from the lineout and burst through a hole in the ‘Stoke defensive line. A successful conversion saw the Vikings leading 24-5 with 20 minutes remaining.

‘Stoke continued to pile on the pressure with the home side camped in their own half for much of the remainder of the game and were rewarded with their second try as Jake Jagged, with some assistance from Paddy Gilbert drove themselves towards the Vikings line and was adjudged to have grounded the ball over the line by the referee. Despite the missed conversion the gap was closed and ‘Stoke’s tails were well and truly up.

With the score 24-10 to the Vikings, ‘Stoke continued to attack and had several opportunities to add to their tally, but strong defence from the home side consistently stopped ‘Stoke in their tracks.

With ‘Stoke continuing to have much of the possession in the second half they were rewarded in the final play of the game which saw Stephen Ansell gathering loose ball after Alfie Rowley spotted the space downfield and forced an error from the home side, which was gathered by Ansell who galloped his way to the try line to score ‘Stoke’s 3rd try of the game. ‘Stoke had the opportunity to secure a losing bonus point but unfortunately, the resulting conversion slid just wide of the posts meaning they headed back home without any league points to show for their second-half fightback.

A great game played in very tough conditions with the pitch eventually resembling a swamp, but it was the hosts who secured the bonus point victory 24-15 with both sides already looking forward to the rematch at Down Grange in the new year. The defeat leaves ‘Stoke sitting in 4th place after other results but they will look to get back to winning ways next weekend as they face lowly Tottonians 2s in a rearranged fixture next Saturday.

Guernsey St Jacques Vikings 24-15 Basingstoke RFC