A convincing 32-14 win enabled Winchester to leapfrog Twickenham, moving up to seventh in the RFU’s London 2 South West league.

This was an excellent bonus-point win for a Winchester side depleted of several regular players, including captain Jim Beavan, who suffered a wrist injury in the warm-up.

There was lots to be excited about in attack, lots of exceptionally good individual performances from a team who perhaps left a few tries out there.

At times Winchester were a little bit nervy, when with better game management they should have been out of sight. Based on their all-round team performance this game remained needlessly tense until the final minutes; but that is the Winchester way.

Winchester’s forward pack were so much better this week, both in the tight and in the loose. Chris Searle, playing out of position, and Matt Lown, owning the second-row shirt, both had monumental games. However, the home side’s dominance of set pieces was not sufficiently rewarded and a resilient Twickenham were always in the game until the final quarter.

In the first half Winchester put all the pressure on, had all the drive, and a nice shape to their game. Winchester were playing the better rugby and just a few bits of execution let them down.

They opened the scoring after a blistering run by inside centre Rory McTaggart was touched down, Josh Tolan missed the first of three conversions. Then slack defence in the lineout saw Twickenham respond with a classic winger’s try, converted by Thomas Foster and pushing them two points ahead to 5-7.

Winchester’s full back Ben Sauve had an excellent first half, claiming possession and making metres of territory as Twickenham kicked for position. Winchester’s forward pressure led to Twickenham errors and a successful penalty by Tolan saw Winchester nudge ahead.

The forward dominance was telling, and a yellow card infringement proved costly for the visitors. The resulting line out, won by Gareth Martin, was carried forward by Searle who, as he so often does, dived over for an emphatic forward try under the posts, converted by Tolan.

Winchester went into the sheds at half-time leading 13-7; they had played most of the rugby but hadn’t quite got what their supremacy deserved.

It seemed that things might change as Winch scored from the restart. A series of rapier-like thrusts took the ball up to the five-metre line where captain Matt Golding proved again that he is unstoppable from that distance. Tolan converted making it 20-7 and Twickenham had lost their influential captain to injury.

Scores either side of the half time interval are often game-changers and Golding’s try after the restart should have put the match away.

Winch were playing with justifiable confidence but not enough astuteness. Players were aggressively taking the ball into contact but did this far too often. Twickenham consistently read the play and in a ragged third quarter Twickenham easily regained possession and Winchester found themselves needlessly going backwards. They eventually woke up to this and fed the ball to Tolan, who kicked long, regaining territory and maintaining momentum.

The game-winning bonus point try came after one of Tolan’s kicks deep into the opposition half was fumbled into touch. Hayden Mort quickly took the throw in. On receiving the return pass and with 110% commitment, he put his head down and streaked along the right-hand touchline to make a magnificent touch-down in the corner.

Curiously now Winch took their foot off the pedal and allowed Twickenham to regain possession, to carry the ball deep into their half where an excellent try and conversion by Thomas Foster brought them back within two scores.

Bizarrely Winch seemed shaken and Tolan missed a penalty from long range where a kick to the touchline would have given a platform and almost certainly resulted in points.

Nevertheless, Winch kept possession and at last learned from this. Tolan’s next penalty, resulting from forward pressure, took them to the five-metre line. A lineout that had been functioning superbly all day secured the ball and Twickenham had no option but to infringe. The excellent Hampshire referee Jeff Highcock, on the spot, had no hesitation and awarded the penalty try that effectively sealed the day’s proceedings.

Next week Winchester are away to an Eastleigh side who are level with them in the league after four games. It promises to be an exciting local derby.