Holt 18, Stowmarket 17

Holt beat old rivals Stowmarket by the narrowest of margins to get their season at a higher level up and running.

Normally the results between the two sides are close and both were promoted at the end of last season, with Stowmarket runners up to Holt.

From the start it was Stowmarket who made the early running, looking dangerous in the backs, and they opened the scoring after 21 minutes with a penalty for offside.

The hosts took the game to their opponents with some positive play and were rewarded with a try following a driving maul, with Hill getting the touchdown and Girling converting after 30 minutes.

Holt maintained their positive approach and Girling converted a penalty five minutes later, increasing the lead to 10-3. On the stroke of half-time Stowmarket were penalised and had a player yellow carded, but Holt were unable to convert the penalty.

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Stowmarket started the second half in the same manner as they had the first, desite having only 14 men on the pitch, and after 10 minutes their centre broke through the defence to score a try, which was converted, making the scores level.

This inspired Stowmarket to put more pressure on Holt and five minutes later they scored another converted try following some good passing to re-take the lead at 17-10, leaving Holt looking slightly rattled.

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Nevertheless, they pulled themselves together and took the play back into Stowmarket's half and with their forwards again showing domination with their execution of the driving maul, Jake Van Poortvliet scored an unconverted try, reducing the deficit to just two points.

The game now entered an interesting phase with both sides striving to make another breakthrough.

However after 30 minutes, Holt were awarded a penalty 30 yards out for not releasing and Jackson, who had come on earlier to replace Rumsby, was equal to the occasion by giving the ball enough impetus for it to creep over the bar.

This gave Holt the lead again by one point with 10 minutes remaining, setting the stage for a nail-biting finale. Holt showed good sense, defending their lead as the minutes ticked away until Stowmarket made a positive attack in the dying moments and appeared to be there for the crucial score, only to fritter away an excellent chance to win the match.

Holt cleared their lines and hung on to achieve a hard fought victory much to everybody's delight including the many home supporters.

Next Saturday, Holt travel to play Ipswich, probably for the first time at league level, knowing they will be in for a very stern test as their opponents currently head the table, having only conceded three points to date.

The incentive is there, after having recorded their first league victory at this level against worthy opponents.

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