BASINGSTOKE RFC began the new year by getting back to winning ways with a narrow 22-17 bonus point victory over bottom side Effingham and Leatherhead, writes CHRIS PRITCHARD.

This was despite scoring four tries as a nervy ending which could have seen them defeated by a stubborn visiting side.

The hosts opened the scoring. A break from the back of the scrum by Simon Appleby almost put in scrum half George Hemmings in under the posts, but a good tackle foiled that. However, a turnover at the lineout saw Appleby break through and offloaded to centre Adam Clayson to dive over the line for an unconverted try.

The visitors replied with a penalty, but veteran Chris Williams, who was as surprised as everyone else, with the size of a gaping hole left by the visitors was able to swerve the last man and score. Kurtis Eagle converted for a nine point lead.

after the break, Stoke added a third score as Guy Pope won front ball at the lineout, popping to second row John Williams who was able to slip through the hole and do enough to get the ball down over the line to make it 17-3.

Effingham hit back with a converted try, before another driving maul from the lineout saw Stephen Ansell score.

In the last 10 minutes the visitors scored again and could well have scored right at the death and won the game as the clocked turned red Effingham had Effingham had the put in at the scrum and would have to go the length of the field to score and It looked at one stage as if they might do it , but in the end George Hemmings eventually was able to hack the ball into touch.

The victory leaves Stoke still in fourth and on Saturday they are away at Trojans.

Stoke captain Rhyan Harmon said: Th boys started well, and we used the conditions the best we could, the set plays were working well shown by the scores in the first half and the boys defence was strong.

"The second half we sort of took our foot off the gas and allowed them too much possession and some soft scores which let them back in a game.

"I am Happy with the way the boys stuck at it until the end, and we did enough to take the five points which keeps us close at the top."