Fitness and teamwork eventually defeated strength and endeavour when Tottonians picked up the club's first piece of silverware by beating gutsy Guernsey 25-17 in the final of the Worthington's Hampshire Bowl.

Conditions also played a vital part in the exciting clash at Water Lane, Totton, yesterday, with both sides taking it in turns to try to prise as much advantage as possible from a ferocious wind.

Totts have been making steady progress up the league ladder since moving to their new clubhouse in 1996 but, other than last season's London South West Four title, had little to show for all their efforts.

Guernsey, who play two leagues below their opponents and head Hampshire One, were the underdogs but determined to recapture the trophy they won in 2002.

Guernsey kicked off with the benefit of the strong wind and put it to good use straight away by dominating the opening minutes.

The visitors, who chartered a flight for their players, officials and fans especially for the match, showed from the off that they had no intention of just making up the numbers and kept Totts pinned in their own half for the first ten minutes.

When Tottonians did eventually manage to cross the halfway line, they were soon chasing back after losing possession as Guernsey made the most of wind advantage.

The Islanders' pressure looked to have paid off on 15 minutes when they forced a penalty, but, even though the wind dropped for the kick, Dewalt van Wke missed a good chance to go ahead.

Guernsey's larger pack had Totts on the rack and threatened the try line several times before they were rewarded for their efforts as Velde Van De Meerve found a gap.

Totts' response was rapid and full of class. Guernsey attempted to kick to touch but found Paul Goodall who dummied and jinked down the wing before setting off a smooth handling attack that ended when Mike Searle put his foot down and left Guernsey chasing thin air.

Goodall kicked the conversion but the 7-5 lead did not last long. Guernsey found another hole in Totts' defence and wing Jim Elliott put his side 12-7 up on the half hour with the help of a conversion.

The visitors missed another penalty and, moments later, Tottonians' Andy Friend was replaced by Jason Jones after fracturing a knuckle.

Injuries forced plenty of stoppage time and seven minutes had passed when Guernsey struck again with a wind-assisted chip that was neatly touched down.

Totts then had to prove that they could make as much use of the wind as their opponents had done in the first half - and it was not long before they proved they could do so as Paul Brading went over in the corner just three minutes after the restart.

Guernsey cleverly switched from wind power to pack power and were inches short of scoring a pushover try following a line-out.

But Totts got back to within two points as Guernsey started to make too many mistakes and Goodall punished them with a penalty.

Fitness was beginning to be just as important as the conditions and Totts surged forward to apply the fatal blow.

Captain Miles Northover was close to placing the ball over the line following relentless pressure from his fellow forwards. When that failed the ball was passed to the backs and Paul Brading steamrollered through three desperate tackles to score his second try.

Goodall added another two points and then put Totts eight points clear with a penalty.

Guernsey knew they had a mountain to climb as the clock ticked away but gallantly battled on and were unlucky not to close the scoreline before the final whistle.