Totts indebted to neighbours

Hampshire Chronicle: Robbie Searle evades a tackle. Robbie Searle evades a tackle.

Tottonians overcame a fixture dilemma to defeat regular rivals Effingham & Leatherhead at the weekend.

But it took a friendly helping hand from Totts’ neighbours Southampton to stage the London 2 South-West match.

With Tottonians’ Water Lane pitch still unplayable because of weeks of rain, they were facing a trip to Eagles’ Surrey headquarters to honour the fixture.

Having lost there once this season, and knowing Effingham recently gave leaders Gosport & Fareham a sound beating there, Totts were keen not to give up ‘home’ advantage.

With Southampton’s raised pitch coping better with recent conditions than most others in the area, the Test Lane club gave the go-ahead for the game to be staged there.

Totts’ chairman Paul Searle was full of praise for his side after the enthralling 30-17 victory in difficult conditions and also had words of thanks for Southampton.

“We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Southampton,” he said. “They did not have to do it but it helped us out and it was worth all the effort.”

Totts played into a strong wind in the first half and went 3-0 behind to a penalty despite bossing the first 15 minutes.

But the Eagles’ advantage lasted just two minutes as fly half Robbie Searle intercepted a pass and raced from inside the Effingham half to touch down.

His conversion attempt drifted wide in blustery conditions but he nailed another on the half hour when he drilled it low and hard. That effort came after a quality move and quick hands on a muddy ball. Richard Buck was part of a three-man overlap and took possession out wide, evaded several tackles and crashed over the line.

A Robbie Searle penalty put Totts in the driving seat by half-time and they looked more comfortable after the break when Gareth Allen fended off three players to touch down, following pressure on the Eagles’ fullback from Nick Jones and Buck.

But battling Eagles, who have played in the same division as Totts for the last 12 seasons, refused to give in and were rewarded with two well-taken tries after long periods of pressure, both converted, either side of another Totts penalty.

That put Effingham within six points but a nervous few minutes for Totts’ ‘travelling home fans’ were extinguished when Number 8 Dan Stocks came off the back of a scrum and forced his was over for a match-winning bonus point try that was converted by Robbie Searle.

Coach Gavin Williams said: “I’m really, really pleased with that performance, particularly with the character we showed against a very good Eagles team.

“It could have been a difficult day for us in different surroundings but our execution in awful conditions was brilliant.

“I couldn’t pick anyone out for special praise and the lads on the bench made a huge contribution.”

The only other game in SW2 to beat the weather was the 53-8 success for new leaders Guildford at Old Alleynians.

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