BASINGSTOKE RFC avenged an early season defeat by Old Cranleighans, as they won a thriller 28-25 at Down Grange.

The victory saw Stoke close the gap to just one point on their Surrey rivals, who are third in the London Three South West table.

The home side took just two minutes to get on the scoreboard, after Michael West picked up the ball from the base of scrum and went over. Tom Humberstone converted to make it 7-0.

The visitors’ reply was swift as they went over for their own try, but missed the extras.

After three penalties on the trot, Old Cranleighans took the lead 8-7 thanks to a kick over the posts.

The home side hit back as Michael Rodgers scored after he fly hacked the ball forward and collected it to score.

Humberstone with another successful conversion gave Stoke a six point lead, but this was cut to one as the visitors scored in the corner again.

Stoke responded and Simon Appleby was able to burst through and score and another Humberstone conversion made it 21-13 at the interval.

The home side got off to a great start after the break as following a line-out and then a scrum they drove over the line with Appleby getting what was the bonus point try. James Ephraim this time kicked the conversion.

The visitors from here hit back scoring a try which was unconverted and then one which was to make the score 28-25 with five minutes left.

The Surrey side were now on top and went searching for the victory and came within inches of getting it, but Gareth Cripps-Jones’ superb tackle made sure it was Stoke who were celebrating at the final whistle.

Basingstoke, who now have third spot in their sights, travel to Battersea Ironsides next weekend.