Woodford 22, Holt 18
Newly-promoted Holt made the long journey to Woodford to start their league campaign in London 2NE – and returned with a narrow defeat.
Holt will rue the slow start that effectively cost them the game, but can take heart from a spirited performance which gained them a losing bonus point away from home.
After only one minute a shell-shocked Holt were behind. Straight from the kick-off Woodford's backs moved the ball from one side of the pitch to the other and their left winger rounded Holt's defensive line to score out wide. The conversion was missed.
For the next 25 minutes it looked as though there was only one team on the pitch. Woodford's backs were ruthlessly efficient, running the ball intelligently and executing their attacks with speed and precision. Holt's missed tackle count was rising and two further tries, both converted, and a penalty pushed the score to 22-0.
After some carefully chosen words from skipper Karl Rumsby, Holt started to work their way back into the game. An increased workrate paid dividends in the form of a shift in the game's momentum.
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Holt's forward pack mauled the ball to within five metres of the try line before being awarded a scrum. A powerful nudge from the pack gave scrum-half Ben Girling the opportunity to break from the base and after slipping a tackle he fed the ball to the unstoppable Ashley Woods for the try.
At half-time the score stood at 22-5 and it was obvious to all that Holt faced a huge challenge if they were to get back into the game against a side that finished fourth in London 2NE last season.
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Holt pushed hard to work themselves back into the game and started to dominate both the lineouts and scrums. Woodford started to make errors and after one of their players was sent to the bin to calm down for 10 minutes Holt were rewarded with a penalty which Tim Allen duly dispatched.
A reshuffle after 20 minutes of the second half saw Richard Justice move from left wing to No 8 and Stu Robson fill the wingers' berth.
Woodford were now being dominated in almost every area of the game but their defensive line continued to hold and Holt struggled to convert possession into points.
In the final 10 minutes Allen seized on the opportunity to bring Holt to within 11 points of their opposition with a well-taken drop goal after some powerful scrummaging from the front row of Andy Daniels, Jake van Poortvliet and Chris Hill.
With the clock running down Holt threw everything they had at Woodford and were rewarded as Allen gathered in a kick forward by Girling and found Stu Robson in support. The speedy left winger, with plenty still to do, finished well, breaking through two tackles to touch down close to the posts. Allen again converted as the whistle sounded to end the game. Next week Holt entertain Stowmarket.