Basingstoke RFC secured an emphatic victory over neighbours Tadley with a 91-5 victory at home in the opening round of the Papa John’s Cup to book themselves a trip to Reading Abbey in round 2 of the Counties 2 Championship Trophy. 

‘Stoke had all but secured their passage through in the opening 40 minutes, scoring seven tries in the half.

They eventually ended with 15 tries and hat-tricks for Tom Jeffery and Brad Titcombe to continue their strong run of form after a successful league campaign which saw them gain promotion last weekend.

‘Stoke started fast with three tries in the first quarter, Luke Wareham opening the scoring before Oscar Rowley continued his good run of form giving ‘Stoke an early 14-0 lead after the visitors were adjudged to have taken the ball beyond their own try line.

The hosts converted the resulting scrum into seven points after Rowley received the ball to burst his way through the visitor’s defence. Alfie Rowley was able to add the extras to give ‘Stoke a well-deserved advantage.

Tadley hit back almost immediately from the restart as the hosts failed to gather the kick and after a few missed tackles followed, the visitors were soon on the scoreboard, for what would ultimately be the only time of the game.

The host’s advantage was soon restored, and then some, as three tries in an eight-minute period which included the first of two yellow cards for Tadley, gave ‘Stoke a healthy 29-5 lead.

Adam Warner responded to the visitors try after charging down a kick inside the opposition dead ball zone to tap down over the line, before Stephen Ansell and Cam Prayag took advantage of the visitors being down a man to get in on the act and all but secure the hosts passage into round two with the home side back line finding space at will.

The visitor’s afternoon got worse as they were reduced to 14 men for the second time shortly before the break and Tom Jeffery was able to add his name to the list of try scorers, for the first of his 3, before Alfie Rowley added the extras to give ‘Stoke a 36-5 lead at the interval.

The second half followed much the same vein as the first with ‘Stoke continuing to pile on the pressure and their feet firmly on the gas.

Marcus Moroncini scored his maiden try for the 1st XV shortly after the restart, dancing his way through the visitors defence before Brad Titcombe scored the first of his second half hat trick, though much of the credit will go to Luke Wareham, whose audacious chip over the Tadley defence fell right back into his hands enabling him to offload to Titcombe who got his first try of the day, shortly to be followed by his second as Alfie Rowley turned over ball at the breakdown and sent Brad on his way to his second and ‘Stoke’s 10th try of the afternoon.

Not to be outdone, Toby Titcombe soon came up with a try of his own before his brother was able to complete his hat-trick. Toby claiming the ball after some great play from the back line saw him diving into the corner before Brad completed his hat trick along with Tom Jeffery who also ended the day with a Hat-Trick of his own, again a solid platform from the forwards allowing the ‘Stoke backs to exploit the spaces left by a tired Tadley side.

The whistle going shortly after Brad Titcombe completed the try scoring to give the hosts a more than comfortable passage into round 2 of the Cup competition, where they will take on Reading Abbey next Saturday afternoon as they look to continue their Road to Twickenham in May.

FT, Basingstoke 91-5 Tadley