BASINGSTOKE RFC took the trip to sixth placed Millbrook in the final game of the first half of the season.

A changed side which saw a debut given to centre Elliot Hennessy, and Ali Mackay given his first start in the back row, kicked off with the wind behind them in conditions which would not make it a day for running rugby.

An unusual slow start for Hampshire Premier leaders let Millbrook control the early stages of the game.

Some sloppy handling and poor discipline let the hosts move down the field, and although Basingstoke's defence was strong, they could unfortunately not stop Millbrook from scoring the first points of the game. The unconverted try meant that this was the first time in any league game this season that Stoke had gone behind, which seemed to inject some life into the team.

The visitors grew into the game and started to play at their own tempo, where smart play allowed them to control the game.

Good tight work created space out wide for George Hemmings to trundle over in the corner.

This gave the visitors the momentum that they needed, as their second try soon followed.

Captain Rhyan Harmon burrowed over to double the Stoke lead. This was well converted out wide by winger Hemmings.

Stoke's dominance of the half seemed to go to the their head, as they ended the half as it started.

Millbrook managed to work themselves to the line after errors from Stoke, where they took their chance reduce the lead to 12-10 at half time.

The second half started well for Stoke, after good set piece work and mauling allowed Simon Appleby to work his way over the line.

Basingstoke then let Millbrook disrupt the game with slower play, and for much of the half were allowing too many errors into their game.

Two good impacts substitutions saw Guy Pope and Jack Lucas-Smith up the Stoke tempo, but it was left until the last play of the game to secure the bonus point.

Going from their own try line to the oppositions after strong defence and a good turnover from Appleby Stoke used their strong line-out to set the platform for multiple phases of good tight work.

This ended in Appleby getting his second of the game in a 22-10 victory.

Basingstoke finished the first half of games in the league unbeaten, with only two bonus points not collected.

They will look to finish the calendar year in similar fashion on Saturday, when face a strong test away to third placed Bognor.