UNBEATEN Hampshire Premier league leaders Basingstoke RFC made the trip to mid-table Fareham Heathens looking to take another positive step towards promotion, writes BRAD TURNER.

The reverse fixture in 2018 saw Basingstoke run the opposition off the park, scoring 54 points in the process.

Stoke started with a strong wind behind them, and utilised this well from the boot of fly-half Kurtis Eagle, pinning the hosts in their own 22 for the first 10 minutes.

A strong start from Basingstoke has been the story this season, however they couldn’t take advantage of their position and Fareham managed to work out of their half.

The visitors seemed to slump for the next 15 minutes, during which time Fareham managed to break tackles and make yards with every carry. This showed when they took the first points of the game following an abnormal weak Stoke defence to make the score 5-0.

This was a wake-up call for the visitors, who continued after the kick-off with a similar intensity to the first 10 minutes.

Strong set pieces set them up for several big carries, before going wide and centre Adam Richards crossing the line.

Basingstoke kept the pressure high but did not get another score before the break, going into half-time at 5-5.

A change of tactics at half-time brought immediate success as second row Russell Northcote went under the posts.

This was smartly converted by Kurtis Eagle making the score 12-5. Stoke continued to put pressure on in search of two more tries for the bonus point in a game that was becoming more and more scrappy. Basingstoke then suffered a big loss with veteran Russell Northcote going off with a serious ankle injury.

Numerous changes saw Jordan Plenderlieth and Sean McDermott take the field, both with strong impacts.

Another substitution saw Mick West come on, and he immediately went the length of the pitch, before assisting Danny Bourne for his first try for Basingstoke.

Once again this was converted by Eagle making the score 19-5.

Basingstoke continued the pressure, especially prop Guy Pope who continued strong running all the way to 80 minutes, but to no avail.

The visitors took the win and four points, making their lead at the top of the table now 10 points with four games remaining in the league campaign.

This Saturday, Stoke are back at home as they take on Eastleigh’s second string, who are ninth in the table.