A DIFFICULT day at the office for Basingstoke RFC saw them lose 52-12 to visiting Old Tiffinians in a game of two halves, writes CHRIS PRITCHARD.

Four tries in the opening 20 minutes saw the visitors take a commanding lead, but some good play in the second half meant Stoke had plenty of positives to take away despite the score line.

The first try coming after some good build up work from Old Tiffs, which despite a great tackle from full back Matt Mairs could not prevent the hosts from conceding in the corner.

Their second try followed pretty much straight from the restart as Stoke conceded a penalty in which Old Tiffinians put the ball into touch and used there strong pack to drive Stoke backwards towards there own line and had themselves a 14-0 lead inside five minutes.

Stoke, having conceded two early tries, then started to gain some possession and put it to good use making there way steadily into the visitors half.

Quick ball recycled by George Hemmings meant that Harry Leonard and Matt Mairs were metres from giving Stoke their first score of the day, however despite the ball being grounded by Mairs, the referee had adjudged that the last pass was forward denying Stoke a quick response. The visitors then made Stoke pay, as from a resulting line-out Old Tiffs centre was given the room to run halfway up the pitch, beating a number of Stoke defenders on route to score under the posts.

It was not long before Stoke conceded their fourth try of the game, as despite some great defence on their own line, an attempted chip from fly half Kurtis Eagle in midfield went array and Old Tiffs were able to gather the ball and went down the wing to get the bonus point try and had a 26-0 lead after just 20 minutes.

Again Stoke started to gather some momentum from the restart and turned over Old Tiffs ball just outside their 22 but try as they might, the well organised defence foiled the Stoke attack and forced more handling errors which again Old Tiffs pounced upon.

Soon they were off towards the Stoke try line again and despite a number of attempts to clear the Stoke line, touch was missed and the visitors soon went over for their fifth try of the half.

The familiar pattern continued, with the Stoke try line under further siege.

However this time some great defence was rewarded as despite a number of maul attempts from consecutive line outs Stoke managed to hold them out and win the turnover.

Again though another missed kick for touch meant Old Tiffs were soon heading towards the try line, and only a great tackle by Kurtis Eagle denied the visitors.

They did though score from the resulting line out after another driving maul walked towards the line, and despite shouts that the ball was dropped over the line, the referee awarded the try to give the visitors a 38-0 lead with just minutes remaining in the half.

There was still enough time for the home side to finally get themselves a score on the board.

Stoke won themselves a line out just on the visitors 22’ and captain Rhyan Harmon went on a jaunting run offloading to Sean McDermott who looked to be in for the opening try but a huge hit by the Old Tiffs defence meant he was stopped in his tracks just short of the try line.

Old Tiffs were able to clear their lines but from the resulting line out Chris Dorling appeared from the bottom of the maul and finally Stoke had themselves the try which their good work deserved.

Converted by Kurtis Eagle and Stoke went into half time with something to work with trailing 38-7.

The visitors started the second half as they had began the first, some quick hands and some good running lines meant they were in for a seventh try.

Stoke began to gain some possession and were in the visitors territory for long spells of the second half, but the strong defence by the visitors, and a few loose passes meant they could not add to their score they gained at the end of the first half.

Again Matt Mairs denied by some last ditch tackling keeping the visitors more than healthy lead intact.

The game hit a bit of a stalemate with a lot of it being played in the midfield, and rather understandably the visitors looked to have taken their foot of the gas.

Stoke did however take advantage of the decrease in tempo from the visitors and after a number of line outs for the hosts, some great vision from scrum half George Hemmings meant he was able to snipe from the back of the ruck and give Stoke what there second half performance deserved. With the conversion missed, Stoke at least had themselves some consolation for the days efforts.

It was the visitors who would had the last word as they were able to regather the restart and again despite the good defensive effort from the hosts, Old Tiffs were in under the posts again to round off a very good performance expected from a team towards the head of the league.

With the try converted the visitors ended the game with victory 52-12.

Stoke now head to Weybridge Vandals this Saturday looking to get back to winning ways and move back up the table.

Elsewhere it was disappointment for the Dragons as they were defeated 64-0 away at Southsea, and the Ladies put in a great performance but were narrowly beaten 21-7 at home to Amesbury, on a day when for only the second time, both the men and ladies played on the same day on a big day for the club.