Holt pass half century in best performance of season


holt - Credit: Archant

Holt 52 Basildon 10

Holt produced their best performance of the season on Saturday, entertaining their home supporters with seven cracking tries, all of which were converted by Graham Ilsley.

This win – their first at Bridge Road this season – earned the hosts a total of five points which enabled them to move ahead of their visitors in the league table. They are now ninth on 15 points after three wins and six defeats.

Holt's confidence was boosted by the return of long-term absentees fly-half Iain Young and centre Ilsley. Their combined talents and experience proved to be the catalyst for an excellent team performance by the young side.

Within five minutes Ilsley put away Tim Allen to score and he then converted the try and added a penalty soon after to make the score 10-0. Following a penalty by Basildon, Holt dominated the rest of the first half with further tries from Rob Gray, Young and Ilsley making the score 31-3 at half- time.

Basildon enjoyed more possession in the second half and were rewarded with a converted try.

Holt responded positively with some excellent combinations of forward and three-quarter play which allowed Simmons to feed Mears who scored under the posts.

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Victory for Holt was sealed when full-back Jackson followed up his kick through to score a further try which the ever reliable Ilsley converted.

Second row forwards Gray and Paul Amiss shared the Woodfordes man of the match nomination for their tireless performances in attack and defence.

Dereham 21 Holt Owls 13

The Owls travelled to league leaders Dereham off the back of an outstanding victory against Diss Saracens. The much changed match day squad had been heavily depleted through injuries and unavailabilities.

Holt started the brighter, with the conditions poor and conducive to a forwards' based game. Ben Harvey applied early pressure on the Dereham pack by kicking the ball consistently into the Dereham 22, inviting Holt's young and mobile pack to compete at line-outs.

The opening chance of the game saw Harvey chip the on-rushing Dereham defence into open space. Holt felt aggrieved that a knock-on was awarded to Dereham five metres from the try line as Harvey collected his kick.

But Holt exerted the pressure in the scrum. Considerably smaller and with an average age of 20 the Dereham pack were unable to cope with new recruit Luke Patey. Ultimately in the conditions, unforced errors were going to be high, and to Dereham's credit they capitalised from an error at the base of Holt's scrum. Although Holt's defence stood strong, eventually the pressure told and Dereham opened the scoring with an unconverted try.

Holts response was immediate. From the kick-off, Harrison Chapman and Jake Powell wrapped up the Dereham forward receiving the kick.

The counter ruck from captain Phil Davies and Patey put the Dereham scrum-half under pressure. Both Harvey and centre Joe Buxton rushed the Dereham fly-half who threw a long pass in order to relieve pressure on himself. That was picked off comfortably by the Owls outside centre James Buckland who cruised under the posts for a converted try.

The young Holt Owls defence stood up against the tight game deployed by Dereham.

However a small lapse in concentration saw Dereham winger Gee using exceptional footwork to dance through the defence to score Dereham's second try of the game.

Dereham looked to push on before half-time but had to settle for two penalties as the Owls' defence, led by back rower Grant Stephen and man-of-the-match Patey, continued to frustrate Dereham's tight game.

As the floodlights took over and the weather worsened, the Owls tightened their response on Dereham.

The game became very attritional, Tom Harrison demonstrated control at 9 beyond his years and Harvey continued to use his boot to peg Dereham back.

Harvey rewarded Holt's dominance at scrum time with a penalty from the far right touchline. Almost immediately a surging run from Patey resulted in Harvey pushing over a straight forward penalty to take the score to 16-13 with 10 minutes remaining.

The final ten minutes of the second half appeared to fly past. Both teams' defences remained defiant, but ultimately Holt were unable to hold onto enough possession and their scrum began to creak without being able to bring on fresh legs, unlike their home opponents.

Ultimately Dereham's fresher legs told. In a cruel blow, with 20 seconds remaining, Dereham's scrum-half nipped in at the corner.

Holt's thirds went down 35-3 at Lowestoft & Yarmouth II.