On a miserable October afternoon Winchester and local rivals Tottonians defied the conditions and served up an enthralling game of rugby.

Winchester started brightly and dominated the first 10 minutes. With veteran Greg Sullivan steering the ship from fly half they looked threatening and were able to move the large Tott's pack around the park. 10 minutes in, Banks found a good touch from a penalty. 

While Winchester's catch and drive came to nothing a couple of pick and drives and a switch to the blind side saw prop Jim Beavan, seagulling on the wing, crash over in the corner. Banks missed the conversion but Winchester's bright start gave the large home crowd hope. Banks extended the lead to 8 with a penalty on 15 minutes and was pivotal in Winchester's next try. Proving that Winchester fullbacks can actually kick the ball he forced the Totts left wing into an error which gifted Winchester an attacking lineout in the 22. A superbly executed lineout saw the maul driven 20 metres before Nicholson went over for a try that Banks converted for a 15 - 0 lead.

They say that kickoffs are rugby's 3rd set piece. Coach Gareth Martin would have been tearing his hair out, as Winchester immediately infringed from the restart and gifted Totts 3 points. This gave the away team hope and they suddenly clicked into gear. Sustained pressure saw second row Craig Durnin crash over for a try converted by Jamie Lang. Soon after, an excellent long pass by fly half Ben Griffin put powerful winger Dylan Baptista in for a try. The conversion by Laing put Totts ahead by 2 with half time looming. 

Hampshire Chronicle: The referee signals Winchester hooker Jimmy Wallis's try

With the weather worsening both teams retired to the changing rooms to dry out for 10 minutes. On the players' return, Jake Hiscock, clearly refreshed, couldn't help himself and tackled Tott's Josh Andrews in the air when chasing a kick. Laing gratefully accepted the 3 points on offer and extended the lead to 5 points. 

Winchester then produced an excellent score from nowhere when a cross kick from Sullivan was fumbled by Andrews. The ball was quickly shifted back the other way and great hands by hooker Jimmy Wallis created space on the outside for stringy winger Alex Horger to touch down. Banks' conversion put Winchester back in the lead at 22-20.

With conditions worsening Winchester failed to push on as Totts gradually took control of possession and territory. Griffin and Laing were excellent, continually kicking long and pegging Winchester back in their own 22. Banks and Fieldsend, who had replaced Horger, chose to keep the ball in field rather than test Totts' shaky line out. Another Laing penalty saw Totts regain the lead before a mix up at the back of a scrum between Golding and scrum half Jupe, led to a further converted try.

Someone had foolishly given Director of Rugby Matt Stagg a microphone and he tried his best to rev up the crowd. But Winchester now needed to score twice and a missed penalty with 5 minutes to go, left a mountain to climb. However, there is no doubting this Winchester team's fight and a multi-phase attack led to Wallis burrowing over on 79 minutes. Fieldsend converted, but there was no time for the restart leaving Winchester one agonising point short at 29-30. 

This was a tough loss for Winchester to take, but a deserved victory for local rivals Tottonians who played the conditions efficiently. Next up is Newbury Blues at home on Saturday November 4 in what should be another well-matched contest in what is turning out to be an extremely competitive league.