Stowmarket 22 Holt 16
Holt lost out in a battle between two sides who were desperate for points – sitting in fourth and second from bottom respectively in London 2NE.
The north Norfolk side had to settle for a losing bonus point after being best on a heavy pitch and playing with a strong cross wind which appeared to favour their forwards-based game.
From the kick-off it was Holt who went on the attack, spending the first five minutes inside their hosts' half before a mistake at the breakdown saw Stowmarket turn the ball over and counter-attack to score an unconverted try in the corner.
Despite this early setback, Holt responded with strong attacking play, forcing Stowmarket into giving away a penalty just outside their 22 and about five metres in from the touchline, making it a difficult kick. But scrum-half Ben Harvey coolly slotted over, bringing the score back to 5-3.
Spurred on, Holt again attacked deep into the Stowmarket half, with a try looking like it was coming on several occasions, only to be thwarted by a solid Stowmarket defence or a mistake by Holt's overeager attack.
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After 25 minutes a further attack into Stowmarket's 22 saw Holt awarded a scrum, five metres from the line. A pick and go from the base was mauled through three phases before winger Matt Jarry-Ryan forced his way over the line. Leading 8-5, Holt were gradually turning the screw but a series of unforced errors from an anxious looking attack saw several promising chances go unpunished.
It was from one such attack that a dropped ball from an overly ambitious long pass saw Stowmarket's midfield pounce on the mistake, passing the ball wide to score a try in the corner, which was converted to make the score 12-8.
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Holt again took the game to Stowmarket, and just as the half appeared to be over, the pack set up a rolling maul that saw flanker Tim Allen drive over the line to give them a 13-12 lead, which was just about deserved.
Stowmarket came out of the blocks quickest in the second half, forcing Holt on the defensive. With their backs coming more into the game, Stowmarket twice attacked down the blind side and with Holt too slow to react, their winger raced clear to score in the corner.
A further penalty from Harvey brought the score back to 17-16 and Holt's forwards continued to take the game to their opponents, but further mistakes meant they couldn't force this advantage home and after Stowmarket again broke out from their own half it was they who scored in the corner.
Holt's next league game is at home to Lowestoft & Yarmouth on January 4.