Rugby: Upminster 23 Holt 10

Upminster 23 Holt 10

Holt'S perfect start to the Division 3NE season ended at the weekend when they lost their 13th game at Upminister.

They always knew they would be in for a hard game, having won the match at High Kelling 31-25 after being 5-15 down at half-time. Upminster had also won five out of six games at home so far.

The day was dry and cloudy, with quite a strong breeze blowing straight down the pitch, which had quite a pronounced slope in the same direction as the wind.

The pitch itself was firm, but it was up to the side playing with the elements to make the most of the conditions. Holt elected to play uphill from the start and did not help themselves by knocking-on from the kick-off, giving Upminster the incentive to benefit from the slope straight away – and this they did.

Holt were penalised after three minutes for the home side to take a 3-0 lead. Holt made every effort to make progress up the slope, but were further frustrated in conceding another penalty five minutes later.

The pressure on them told again when, after 10 minutes, Upminster kicked their third penalty, giving them a 9-0 lead. Holt eventually made progress into their opponents' half and were rewarded with a penalty, which Allen kicked to reduce the deficit to 9-3. With half-time approaching Holt looked to be safe with a six point deficit. but this was not to be as Upminster finally made a break through after 35 minutes by scoring a converted try, giving them a 16-3 lead at the break.

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Holt knew they would have to use the slope and wind to good effect to wipe out the deficit after the break.

The second half started with Holt on the offensive, but they found themselves up against a determined side, who were not going to surrender their lead that easily. Holt kept up the pressure and had a penalty chance, which was off target.

The pressure was maintained and following a penalty to Holt close to the goal line, Ben Girling took it quickly and dived over a mass of players to score.

Allen converted the try to reduce the margin to 16-10 after a quarter of an hour of the second half, bringing Holt within range of a bonus point. Gradually, Upminster having soaked up the pressure and gaining possession, made forays up the slope to put Holt's defence under pressure.

This paid off after 30 minutes, when, after a driving maul, another converted try was conceded by Holt, putting them 23-10 behind and needing to score a converted try to put themselves back into contention for a bonus point.

The last minutes of the game saw Holt make no progress down the pitch and in fact it was the home who nearly scored another try in the corner. Fortunately for Holt the player had put a foot in touch before scoring.

The final whistle went and with that, so did Holt's 100 percent record come to an end at the 13th attempt. They had lost to a determined side who had shown on their visit to High Kelling earlier in the season, they would be more than a handful on their own ground and so it proved.

Holt's lead at the top of the league was reduced by one point to nine, as second placed Harlow also lost, but gained a point. Despite this set- back, congratulations are due to coaches Ed Steed and Penny Chapman for putting together such a useful squad, probably giving Holt their best start to a season in their history.

On Saturday Holt make a shorter journey, this time to Wymondham, who they beat at home 38-7. But as was proved at the weekend every opponent will be looking to gain revenge for an earlier defeat and therefore Holt will have to be at their best.

Holt's third team must be congratulated on beating Lakenham Hewett's first team 31-26 in a Woodforde's Norfolk Merit Table Division 2 match away from home.