BASINGSTOKE RFC were crowned Hampshire Premier champions after win number 20 of the season last Saturday, writes Guy Pope.

Stoke maintained their perfect league record with a massive 84-3 at Tottonians seconds.

This Saturday they completed their home league programme with a visit from Millbrook, which is a dress rehearsal of the Hampshire Vase final at the end of next month.

Stoke went into the game on last Saturday knowing a bonus point win would secure the Hampshire Premiership title and promotion to London South West 3. Saturday’s game gave Matt Buckingham his debut for ‘Stoke after strong performances in the Dragons, and saw Leon Williams and Dave Rees return to the 1st team after short absences.

In what would be a very one-sided match it was the home side that got on the score board first. A penalty just outside the ‘Stoke 22 due to handling in the ruck was kicked over for 3 points. Shortly after the restart, ‘Stoke lost playmaker Kurtis Eagle to a shoulder injury and the returning flanker Dave Rees to a knee injury, a slight reshuffle and early use of 2 substitutions saw Sam Goddard replace Rees, Danny Bourne step up from full back to fly half and Leon Williams replace Eagle, stepping in to full back.

The reshuffle did not phase ‘Stoke who were quick to get themselves on the score board with debutant Matt Buckingham crashing his way over the Tottonians line with a try in the corner, the conversion out wide was unfortunately missed by George Hemmings, taking on the kicking responsibilities from the injured Eagle.

The first half continued with ‘Stoke building pressure, a solid set piece at the scrum and lineout set a good platform for Hemmings at 9 to lead the attack and powerful runs from the forwards saw tries for Leon Williams, Michael West, Jon Bird and James Savine, with Hemmings converting one of the tries. The half-time whistle blew and ‘Stoke went in leading 29-3.

‘Stoke came out firing in the second half for what would be a very one-sided end to the game. Strong running lines and support led to Savine getting his second try of the game, and this continued with Jordan Plenderleith getting his first try of the day, converted by Hemmings. The try of the game came shortly after with Brad Turner breaking the line and making a 40-metre dash, dancing his way round the opposition back line and scoring under the posts, converted by Hemmings. Brad quickly got his second try of the game, again converted by Hemmings, followed by Plenderleith getting his second and Danny Bourne making his mark on the score board, converted by Hemmings.

The game was finished in surprising fashion with the two starting props and replacement prop getting their names on the score sheet. Guy Pope took a good pass from Hemmings and crashed over from close to the opposition try line, converted by Hemmings. The reliable Kieran Parker scored his first try in Stoke colours, taking a nice inside ball from Hemmings and bullying his way over the line and the final try of the game being scored by Sam Turner under the posts.

The game finished with a score line of 84-3 to Stoke with 11 different players getting on the score board, evidencing the strength and depth that the Stoke squad is building.