Letchworth took a major leap forward in their quest for promotion and possibly the title after a narrow win over their main rivals.

Games against Southend Saxons are often close, with all four being decided by either one or two points maximum.

This success at Legends Lane was by one point, the home side earning a 17-16 win to go top of Regional Two Anglia on points difference from their rivals but with a game in hand.

The victory needed a huge amount of character and resilience from the Hertfordshire rugby club, something that had skipper Liam Fitts in rapture after the game.

He said: "It just feels that I am playing in a side that will not admit to defeat. Even when we were 13-0 down, we had that belief that we could do it and the game management in the last five minutes as well as our final devastating scrum only emphasised that."

Director of rugby, Baz Basra, was a little more introspective.

He added: "After a terrible first quarter we got our act together and ground out the win but even so we left points go begging before the end.

"Still it has been a great two weeks for the team with these vital wins against Eton Manor and now Southend."

The first 20 minutes gave no indication of what the final outcome would be.

Southend scored from a line-out drive after just three minutes and by the midway point of the half, they were 13-0 ahead, adding a second try and a penalty, although both tries were unconverted.

There could have been more too with two try-saving tackles from Michael Waters preventing Saxons from crossing the whitewash again.

Whether it was divine intervention or not is for personal reflection but at this point the heavens opened and the wind blew even more but the change in the weather coincided with Letchworth getting a grip on the game.

And with five minutes to go, they had a converted try to show for their efforts.

A break from Tom Lewis saw him barrel his way into the Southend 22 and when the ball was spread wide, good hands in the wet conditions put Chris Gibbs over in the corner.

A magnificent conversion by Josh Sharp from the touchline left it 13-7 at the break in Southend's favour.

The momentum changed twice shortly after the restart.

Letchworth started the second period on the attack and an early foray was ended by a high tackle on Harvey Howman, the scrum-half forced to leave the field with the injury.

Crucially though, the incident also brought a second yellow card, and therefore a red, to the Saxons' number eight.

However, within minutes the numbers were equal after a scuffle broke out and a swinging arm by Letchworth prop Richard Stokes earned him a red card.

Another penalty soon after extended Southend’s lead to 16-7 but the visitors were hit by the loss of second row Jake O'Kill, a nasty injury that forced his removal from the contest eventually reported as a broken leg.

The game restarted with a scrum some eight minutes later and from the set-piece, sharp side-stepped his way through to the line, giving himself an easy conversion in the process. 

A yellow card for Southend put them down to 13 men for 10 minutes and in this period, Letchworth got the winning points with a penalty, Sharp maintaining his accuracy.

The added time was dominated by Southend possession but Letchworth’s defence held firm and a scrum on the last play was pressured so much that Saxons were penalised.

A great weekend for the club was completed on Sunday with a 31-12 success for the Lionesses over Ampthill.

The player of the match went to centre Dannielle Levett while the players' player award was won by Zoe Robinson.

Hitchin meanwhile were beaten 17-7 at home to Counties One Herts Middlesex leaders Grasshoppers.