BASINGSTOKE RFC face an early season top of the table home clash as they take on Fordingbridge in the Hampshire Premier this Saturday.

Both sides have won their opening three games of the campaign and for Stoke their latest success came away at New Milton.

Fordingbridge have ex Basingstoke coach James Greenwood playing hooker for them

Basingstoke had a point to prove on Saturday having been beaten by New Milton twice last season and knew that to win a strong performance upfront was needed.

The weather conditions enhanced this need further as the atrocious rain made it a hard day for the backs to shine.

Stoke started the match playing into the wind and the rain and their forwards set the tone early on with several strong scrums and smart drives from the line out, but it was New Milton who took the lead after 31minutes with a penalty kick.

It didn’t take long for Simon Appleby to strike back after making a break from the base of the scrum 22 meters out to power through several tacklers to score out wide making the score 5-3.

A further score soon followed by Appleby again, this time controlling at the base of the scrum as Stoke’s 8 walked the New Milton’s pack backwards over their line.

New Milton managed to pull three points back ahead of half time with a penalty kick the last play of the first half, making the half time score 10-6.

Stoke’s forwards coach Chris Williams challenged the pack to up the intensity in the second half, second row Brad Turner answered his call with two significant early carriers straight after the restart.

After numerous amounts of pressure from the powerful forwards Stoke had another scrum, five meters out, walked over with Appleby completing his hattrick, and this time converted by Kurtis Eagle.

Basingstoke then got the try bonus point score with Dan Rees bursting over supported by his brother Dave, which was converted by Eagle to make the score 24-6.

Appleby completed the scoring after another powerful run to round up an impressive 29-6 win in terrible conditions.