EIGHTY minutes of bitter rivalry matched the bitter winter weather as Hampshire's top two teams came face-to-face at the weekend.

And it was home side Tottonians who won the day against one of the south's biggest rugby union clubs in an enthralling, end-to-end encounter.

Havant, for many years the premier club in the county, were beaten 34-29 by a determined Totts squad who have lived in their opponents' shadow for so long.

The Portsmouth side have been looking like their old selves this season and still sit in second place in London 1 South, despite their disappointing defeat.

But Totts, who finished last season as the county’s highest placed club, had a point to prove and did it in style to warm the hearts of home supporters who braved the cold weather.

The win keeps Totts in fourth spot and on track to improve on last season's efforts.

President Ken Johnston put the victory down to ‘guts, courage, skill and a never-say-die attitude’.

Havant went ahead after five minutes, shipping a line-out ball across the field to touch down close to the corner and convert.

Totts then pounded their visitors’ line for almost ten minutes with Mike Searle being held up.

Havant added another three points from a penalty but Tottonians’ persistence eventually paid off when Mike Searle touched down to capitalise on his forwards’ hard work.

However Havant pulled away again when they breached the home side’s defence, going into the break 17-7 up.

There was no sign of the enthralling clash – said by many spectators to be one of the best at Water Lane in recent years – letting up and Totts came out of the blocks in the second half.

Breaks from Tommy Foster and Richard Buck ate up precious yards, forwards secured possession and Searle went over for his second try.

Totts then went into the lead for the first time when Ali Ramus crashed over and they moved to 24-17 up with a Pierre Clark penalty.

Excitement continued as Havant levelled with a converted pushover try but the scoreboard changed again within a minute – Robbie Searle’s interception and break taking his side up to the whitewash before prop James Gay stretched over and Totts went 31-24 in front.

With Robbie Searle yellow carded for a dangerous tackle and just a few minutes left on the clock, Havant made another onslaught and went over in the corner.

The difficult conversion would have evened the scores once more but it was scuffed and fell short and wide.

Clark gave his side a little more breathing space with a long range penalty but it was all hands to the deck over the last five minutes as Havant’s brave efforts to force a draw, or a win, were repelled.

Totts’ assistant coach Adrian Spafford said: "It was a quality game, both in the first and second half.

“Our defence won it for us in that last five or ten minutes of the game. It was incredible – body on the line defending.”

“The last time I saw a game like that was up here against London Cornish a couple of years ago.

“We made a few mistake in the first half which they scored from and in the second half we dug deep and the defence won us the game. Just incredible,” added Spafford who picked out Number 8 Ieuan Williams as Totts’ man of the match for his efforts in defence and attack.

Gosport & Fareham lost out 39-18 at home to Cobham with the Gos’s points coming from tries by back row Will Larkin and centre Wayne Dugan, with Tom Lewis kicking a conversion and a couple of penalties.

Read the full round-upof the weekend's rugby in Tuesday's Daily Echo