In a pulsating local derby where bragging rights are cherished, Winchester edged a tough-tackling Tottonians side to cement second place in the league table, writes Dai Henley. 

It was sweet revenge for the Tott's victory by a single point at Nuns Road earlier in the season.

It didn’t start well for the away side. Winchester’s usually reliable defence was first dragged left, then right, creating an overlap for right-winger Dylan Kirk to dive over in the corner. The conversion attempt drifted wide of the posts in the light breeze.

Winchester responded well with excellent, balanced running from full-back Tommy Hare. 

His deceptive speed troubled Totts throughout the match. The pressure continued with wave after wave of Winchester attacks led by skipper Matt Golding and a rejuvenated prop, Alex Lee. The second-rowers, Jacob Culley-Wilson and Will Wilson made their presence felt, too, particularly in the lineouts. Such pressure resulted in Ben Turner picking a great line worthy of a centre three-quarter as he smashed over. Hare converted, putting Winchester 7-5 ahead on thirty minutes. 

Just before half-time, Winchester’s eagerness to repel Totts attack resulted in three kickable penalties being awarded against them in a six-minute spell, two for encroaching offside. 

Full-back Jamie Laing converted two of them, bringing the score 11-7 to Totts.

Within seven minutes of the restart, Totts went further ahead after intensive pressure resulted in Totts flanker Oliver Northover scoring under the posts. Laing added the conversion to put Totts ahead at 18-7.

Winchester’s indefatigable will to win, shown on so many occasions this season, was to be severely tested. They responded immediately. Centre, Alex Mawdsley squeezed through the narrowest of gaps to dive over the try line. Hare converted. A minute later, Totts gave away a penalty for not rolling away at a ruck under their posts. Hare again converted, bringing the score 18-17 to Totts. 

With ten minutes left, Winchester pack’s vice-like grip on proceedings forced yet another penalty and a yellow card for a Totts player. Hare converted to put Winchester in the lead, 20-18. 

With three minutes left to no-side, speedy left-winger Tommy Banks crowned an excellent team performance when following a fine piece of inter-passing between forwards and backs, he sped over the line wide out, running infield to make the conversion easier. Hare crowned a superb performance with a successful conversion, bringing the final score 25-18 to Winchester.

After the match, Coach Gaz Martin said: “We love playing Totts. It’s a proper rugby club, and it’s always hard to come away with a victory. Our young players did so well today against excellent opposition.”

Winchester's next match is away to Newbury Blues on February 17.