Basingstoke RFC secured their eighth win of the season to end 2023 at the top of Hampshire 2 with a six-try victory, including a brace from front-row Adam Warner, away at bottom-of-the-table Tottonians 2s.

‘Stoke came out of the blocks fast and had the scoreboard ticking within the opening five minutes as Tom Jeffery went through a gaping hole after Jake Jagged had wriggled free from a maul after stealing the hosts lineout.

The visitors almost had a second try immediately after the restart, Jake Jagged again, this time combining with Brad Titcombe to find themselves just short of the home sides try line, however, some great defence from Tottonians saw them able to keep ‘Stoke at bay.

Drew Paterson soon got his name on the scoresheet, alertness saw him dive on a loose ball after the home side failed to control the ball at the back of their scrum 5m out from their own line.

Pouncing quickly Paterson was able to increase the visitors advantage with Sam Clark adding the extras from the boot to give ‘Stoke a 12-0 advantage with 20 minutes on the clock.

The home side hit back shortly after the half-hour mark as some good work at the breakdown saw them turn over the ball and exploit the gaps left by a scrambling ‘Stoke defence.

‘Stoke responded soon after to restore their two-try advantage, the home side penalised at the breakdown, Stephen Ansell catching the Totts defence knapping, taking a quick tap and adding a third try of the half.  

Tottonians ended the half with the second of their four-tries, again catching the defence on the hop as quick thinking from a penalty saw them able to narrow the advantage to 12-19 as the half time break arrived.

Three more tries followed for ‘Stoke in the second half, the bonus point secured shortly after the restart with Adam Warner receiving the ball after being awarded a free kick at the lineout to eventually step his way through the host’s defence.

It took until the 60-minute mark for the scoreboard to be troubled again, this despite ‘Stoke keeping the hosts in their own 22’ for a sustained period but some inexplicable handling errors saw them unable to capitalise and turn the possession into points.

That pressure eventually paid off as Matt Mairs was able to spot a gap in the Tottonians defence, swatting away any potential tacklers and stretching the visitors lead.

Sam Clark again on hand to add the extras saw ‘Stoke holding a 33-12 advantage with 20 minutes to play.

The visitors' completed their scoring as the game entered the final 10 minutes, Adam Warner gaining his second of the afternoon after he was able to force his way through the Tottonians back line and put the result beyond any doubt.

The home side hit back with two tries of their own in the final five minutes to keep ‘Stoke on their toes, the score line perhaps looking closer than it should have been with the number of opportunities ‘Stoke coughed up throughout the afternoon, which on another day, stronger opposition would likely have made them pay.

Overall, five points, six tries and job done for ‘Stoke but plenty to work on as they head into the second half of the season in the new year with their sights set on maintaining their position atop of Hampshire 2.

Tottonians 2s 26-38 Basingstoke RFC

Tries- Tom Jeffery, Drew Paterson, Stephen Ansell, Adam Warner x2, Matt Mairs.

Conversions- Sam Clark x4.

Elsewhere, the Dragons (2nd XV) continued their good form ending the year with a 50-0 home victory over Tottonians 3s leaving them fourth in Hampshire 4B.  

Both sides resume with games against Sandown & Shanklin on January 13.