BASINGSTOKE RFC made it back to back wins, claiming a narrow 22-18 victory at home to mid-table Warlingham thanks to a Simon Appleby double, writes CHRIS PRITCHARD.

Three tries proved enough for Stoke who clung on to record a narrow victory between two evenly matched teams.

The home side opened the scoring after Carl Hayward latched onto a loose pass. Plucking the ball out of the air and went 80 metres up field, fending off two Warlingham defenders scoring the first points of the game.

This despite doing himself mischief in the process of scoring with injury forcing him off immediately after scoring. Ross Catlin on kicking duties for the day added the conversion.

The visitors responded almost immediately from the restart scoring a unconverted try and a two penalties to lead 11-7.

Stoke began to work there way back into the visitors red zone and were eventually rewarded with a penalty 5 metres out after a deliberate trip from a member of the Warlingham front row right in front of the referee.

His reward for the stupidity was a 10 minute rest after being shown a yellow card just before the half time interval.

Stoke took advantage immediately as from the line out, Rhyan Harmon’s throw was on point eventually being shipped to Simon Appleby who went through the Warlingham defence as it parted like the Red Sea, sliding over the line to give the hosts their lead back. This was converted by Ross Catlin, Stoke led 14-11 at half time.

With 20 minutes left, Appleby grabbed his second try of the game, with a quick break 10 metres from the visitors line and crashed over to increase the Stoke lead further.

This came with further repercussions for Warlingham as they were reduced to 14 men again after another yellow card was shown for deliberate foul play after the scoring of the try.

The kick converted, Stoke had a 10 point lead.

The visitors were then reduced to 13 men, but still managed to score to complete the 21-18 scoreline.

Captain Rhyan Harmon-Scott said after the game: "Although we weren’t always at our best during the game, we played some smart rugby and our defence stood up when it was needed. Attacking wise we put some good phases together and but for some more precision we could have had more points on the board and made things more comfortable towards the end.

The victory means Stoke sit fourth in the league and give themselves some breathing space from the bottom half of the table, sitting just behind Old Georgians who narrowly beat Stoke a fortnight ago.

They now have three weeks before their next game when they host neighbours and relegation battlers Andover on December 14, which is their last outing of 2019 looking to end the year on a high.