Basingstoke RFC 24-5 Locksheath Pumas

BASINGSTOKE RFC made it three wins in a row and, in the process, completed the double over Locksheath Pumas on Saturday with a last-minute bonus point victory at Down Grange.

The win cemented their second-place position in Hampshire 2.

A brace from Luke Wareham, including a try in the final minute, saw the hosts claim victory.

It was the Pumas who started the brightest as they spent the opening period of the match camped in the ‘Stoke half, the home side giving away numerous penalties, but the visitors were unable to unlock the door.

‘Stoke found themselves on the wrong end of an early yellow card as Matt Mairs was sent for a rest after repeated team infringements.

However, this appeared to be the spark the home side needed as they soon found themselves with plenty of ball and things beginning to click. 

Alfie Rowley made a break after a loose pass from the visitors was claimed by Brad Titcombe who combined with Rowley in open space.

It did however take until the 37th minute of the half for the opening score of the game and then like London busses the hosts scored two tries in quick succession.

A quickly taken penalty saw Adam Warner become stretch armstrong to find the try line and give ‘Stoke the lead.

Stephen Ansell was next on the scoresheet as the hosts lineout began to function after a few wayward throw. The forwards soon began trundling towards the Locksheath line, despite the best efforts of the Pumas defence.

Ansell was able to eventually claim the ball to push his way over and give ‘Stoke a 10-point lead at the break.

The second half began as the first ended, as Luke Wareham scored his first of two second-half tries.

Again, the visitors falling foul of the ref’s whistle, were soon made to pay as another quickly taken penalty saw Matt Mairs break through with Wareham alongside in support able to fend off his pursuers and score under the posts.

Sam Clark added the extras to give the home side a much more comfortable 17-0 lead.

From then on, the game became a rather scrappy affair, with several off-the-ball ‘flair ups’ which saw the game turn ugly.

The visitors did however manage a score of their own, winning a free kick at the scrum and were soon finding gaps in the retreating ‘Stoke defence to narrow the gap with 5 minutes to play.

‘Stoke secured the bonus point with the last play of the game, though had the visitors not decided to partake in further off-the-ball incidents the hosts wouldn’t have had the opportunity to score.

Luke Wareham got his second of the game as a quick ball retention from the scrum saw Wareham fight through and go most of the length of the field.

Charging at the line he was able to dot down underneath the posts to secure the bonus point try, a third successive victory and the man of the match award to go with it.

‘Stoke stay second with a huge game to come in a fortnight as they welcome St Jacques Vikings to Down Grange in a match that will pretty much decide their promotion fate.