Holt through to play-offs

Holt 39, Stowmarket 12

Holt clinched their place in the promotion play-offs in stunning fashion – with a last-day thrashing of new Eastern Counties rugby champions Stowmarket.

They now face Millwall, from Essex One, for a place in London Three North East next season.

And before that game they will try to keep their Twickenham dream alive with a home game against Cantabrigians in the Junior Vase this weekend.

Stowmarket, with the title already assured and an earlier win over Holt under their belts, were hardly the ideal opponents for a home team with so much at stake.

But Holt took the iniative right from the start with Graham Ilsley making good ground up the left wing to put his brother Daniel, in for a well-taken unconverted try after only 80 seconds. It was one of the quickest tries of the season – and just the fillip Holt needed.

A second try was scored by Jarry-Ryan, running in strongly from the right wing, and with Tim Allen adding the points with the conversion, the score stood at 12-0 after only four minutes. Stowmarket worked hard to break the host's defence without any luck. And Holt extended their lead after 15 minutes, when Allen kicked a penalty.

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The visitor's efforts to get into the game were being repulsed by a resolute defence before the home side further increased their lead when skipper Jake Van Poortvliet scored following a well executed driving maul on the half hour. Allen was again on target with the conversion.

Another penalty from Allen increasing the lead to 25-0 before the visitors were able to respond with an unconverted try on the stroke of half-time.

For the first quarter of an hour in the second half Stowmarket showed why they finished top of the table. But they were driven back repeatedly by some stalwart defence.

Holt eventually broke out of defence and, following a line-out in the opposition half, they showed excellent control with another driving maul for Cherry to score.

Allen added the points with another fine conversion increasing the lead to 32-5 after 17 minutes, earning a bonus point they had not expected to do against this side.

With time running down, Holt then contested a line-out on the half-way line and from it, Graham Ilsley broke away and sprinted down the touch line, shrugging off efforts to tackle him to score a fine individual try.

Allen obliged with the conversion, increasing the score to 39-5 before, with only four minutes remaining, Stowmarket again showed their determination to cross the Holt goal line for a converted try.