Gosport & Fareham returned to the top of London two south west with a welcome 26-17 win over Old Reigatians at Gosport Park.
The home side, needing to put the defeat to Effingham & Leatherhead last time out behind them in order to get their title bid back on track, made no mistake in difficult conditions.
Old Reigatians were awkward opponents but the home side made sure there was no repeat of the ‘arrogance’ that led to a first defeat of the season.
‘It was important to get the defeat at Effingham & Leatherhead out of our system,’ said coach Scott Ashley.
‘We knew it wouldn’t be easy because Old Reigatians are a well-coached side with good players.
‘Unlike two weeks ago, though, we played with a lot of heart and passion – showing our opponents the respect they deserved.
‘A number of players were given a chance and this time they stepped up to the mark.’
After an even opening 20 minutes, Gosport & Fareham made the breakthrough with the game’s opening try.
In the swirling wind the home forwards kept it tight to produce a series of drives up the pitch.
After five or six phases, scrum-half Wes Dugan made a typical sniping run to find a gap and score.
Alex Duncombe made light of the blustery conditions to kick the conversion before the home side added a second converted try through Matt Flower on the stroke of half-time.
Old Reigatians then caught Gosport napping straight after the restart to reduce the arrears to 14-5 with their first try of the game.
After this, Gosport & Fareham slowly started to re-establish their superiority and winger Jordan Humphries added a further try.
When the visitors had a player yellow carded, the hosts took advantage again.
Chris Thompson powered over with Duncombe, again, adding the extra points.
Reigatians hit back with two late tries.
But the hosts were never in any real danger of losing and closed out the remaining time for a comfortable victory.
Ashley added: ‘The atmosphere in the changing room afterwards was different – with the players feeling they had put the first defeat behind them.
‘They know they cannot afford to go out half-hearted against any of the teams in our league.
‘We have to make sure we remain clinical and keep playing to the level we know we can achieve.’
Elsewhere, Portsmouth’s attempts to stage their game against Effingham & Leatherhead were dashed by the heavy morning showers which left their Rugby Camp pitch waterlogged.