Basildon 7 Holt 39 – Big win leaves Holt just five points off top spot
- Credit: Stuart Young
Holt ran out deserved winners in Essex, with the bonus point moving their league tally to 26 points, just five short of top spot.
With the wind at their backs in the first half the visitors were quickly in the ascendancy and took the lead after seven minutes through a Graham Ilsley penalty.
After 17 minutes Holt were on the scoresheet again. Gareth Mears put in a huge clearance kick which was claimed with a good chase by the backs. Ed Riley, looking lively all day at scrum-half, found a gap in the defence and carried the ball close to the try-line from 40 metres out before Rob Gray dotted the ball down from close range for the first try of the match.
Just three minutes before half- time Basildon worked the ball close to the Holt line and following an infringement by Sam Wright, who was yellow-carded, scored under the posts and converted to close the gap to 7-10. Any fears that advantage was turning towards the home side were quickly lifted when, following a five-metre lineout, Ilsley charged down a kick and the ball bounced favourably and gave full-back Geoff Flather the opportunity to score close to the posts which Ilsley converted for 7-17.
Running into the wind in the second half required Holt to change tactics and commit to keeping the ball in hand and maintain possession at all costs.
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The introduction of Phil Davies, Sandy Shanklin and Michael Humberstone freshened up the side and early in the second half, two consecutive penalties and a composed period of possession saw the Holt forwards catch and drive a five-metre lineout, controlled superbly by Soul Phoenix at the back and Ed Riley finally broke from the base to score out wide. Ilsley failed to convert from the touchline but Holt were pulling away.
Holt's fourth try for the bonus point and the score that secured the win came again from a superb break from Riley after running from the halfway line. He was pulled down just a metre short and offloaded to right wing Matt Jary-Ryan to score.
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Basildon battled for their second try but time and time again they were met by a determined defence and big tackles by Jake Powell, Hal Riley and Dane Canning highlighted the fact that Holt were in no mood to be generous.
The visitors finished the match with two further tries. First speedster Jim Riley scythed through the defensive line after a sublime offload from brother Hal in the centre of the park for a try converted by Ilsley.
Then wing partner Jary-Ryan crossed for his second of the game after great inter-play and vision between captain Ilsley and pack leader Woods. Woodfordes man-of-the-match was hooker Jake Powell.