Holt 25, Saffron Walden 21

Holt moved up to fourth in the London 2NE table after edging to a hard-fought victory in their first match against Saffron Walden for 11 years.

Holt quickly went on to the attack and following a break by Girling from a scrum the ball reached Bruce Van Poortvliet who reached the line, despite what looked like devious means to stop him.

The hosts increased the lead two minutes later when Justice powered in from the halfway line. With the conversion being off target, the lead increased to 10-0.

This inspired the visitors to show their capabilities and they were rewarded with a penalty for offside. Holt now realised their opponents were not going to be a push-over and this was proved when they scored an unconverted try five minutes later, reducing the lead to 10-8. Holt were not getting a look in and the visitors were rewarded with another penalty to take the lead after 25 minutes.

The second half started with the hosts making early inroads into their opponents' half, but the impetus was lost by conceding a penalty when well placed. Holt however kept up the pressure and after four minutes re-took the lead at 13-11 when Allen kicked a long penalty.

The game was entering an interesting stage and it was the hosts who drew the next blood, when Bruce Van Poortvliet scored his second try of the match following a scrum. Allen was equal to the occasion with the conversion, increasing Holt's lead to 18-11 after 10 minutes of the half.

Saffron Walden were off target with a penalty but then made amends by scoring another unconverted try through some rather slack defence to reduce the lead to 18-16 with 12 minutes remaining. The stage was set for a nailbiting finale which is becoming quite the norm this season and the play ebbed and flowed with both sides striving for the win. It was the visitors who then set up a nail-biting finale by scoring another unconverted try with five minutes remaining to take the lead at 18-21.

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Holt knew they would have to pull out all the stops with time ticking away and from the restart it was Bruce van Poortvliet who scythed through the visitors defence to score his hat-trick try under the posts and with Allen adding the points, the lead had been retaken at 25-21 with four minutes left. This try, was also Holt's fourth, earning them a bonus point.

The remainder of the game was played out in high drama, with Saffron Walden doing everything to claim victory, but they were denied by stout defence and in fading light the home side held out to claim an exciting victory.

Next Saturday is a free week, much deserved, followed by a trip to Hertfordshire to play Stevenage Town, who are currently bottom, for the first time.

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