London 3NE: South Woodham Ferrers 15, Holt 28

Holt clinched their second successive promotion on Saturday when they won a hard-fought encounter in Essex to make it 17 wins in 18 league games this season.

The victory guaranteed the Owls a top two finish, with third placed Stowmarket now unable to finish above them even if they won their final four games, and Holt lost all theirs. The target now is the London 3NE title, and with closest rivals Harlow still 16 points adrift that can be secured by beating East London at High Kelling on Saturday.

Holt played against the wind from the start and after nine minutes SWF found a gap in the defensive wall to open the scoring with an unconverted try. The home side continued to besiege the visitors' line and increased their lead with another unconverted try after 20 minutes as the visitors lost a player to the sin bin. From the re-start Holt did finally get well into SWF's half and from the resulting attack were awarded a penalty, which Allen made no mistake with to narrow the deficit to 10-3. The home side spent most of the remainder of the half putting Holt's defence to the test but, despite one or two close calls, the line was not breached again before the break.

From the restart Holt went on the attack and were rewarded after two minutes when Justice scored an unconverted try in the corner to reduce the gap to 10-8. The game then became a little fractious and the referee calmed things down before awarding penalty which Allen converted to put Holt into the lead.

The visitors then strove to increase their slender lead and were rewarded when Justice made a break from his own half to race down the touch line and score a well taken try. With Allen adding a superb conversion, the lead had increased to 18-10.


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The home side, despite two scores against them in quick succession, stormed back into Holt's half and, from a five metre scrum, scored another unconverted try to reduce the deficit to 18-15 midway through the second half.

Now the game entered an interesting phase as neither side could afford to make any errors and Holt's lead was by no means secure. However, to relieve the intensity, Allen kicked an excellent penalty from just inside SWF's half to increase the lead to 21-15 with 13 minutes remaining.

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For the remaining minutes Holt looked more comfortable in defending their slender lead and any attacks thrown at them were dealt with.

Towards the end Holt went on the attack and were rewarded in the final minute when, from a driving maul, Young grabbed the ball and went over for a well taken try to make the game safe. Allen was again on target to complete the scoring.

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