Tottonians took the few chances they were given in a mud-and-guts game of rugby at their aptly-named Water Lane headquarters at the weekend.

Drenched spectators could barely tell the sides apart after 80 minutes of battle on a quagmire pitch, but Totts eventually ground out a 17-5 London 1 South victory over Sevenoaks.

Keeping possession for more than a handful of phases proved tough for both sides but it was what Tottonians did without the ball – a huge improvement in defensive play – that was the key to their win.

The game kicked off in heavy rain on an already soaked pitch but Richard Buck broke the deadlock after seven minutes.

He came into the line from full back on halfway.

A strong run carried him to within five metres but he was helped over the line by supporting teammates and Robbie Searle made the conversion in front of the posts. He also kicked a penalty on 25 minutes for a 10-0 lead.

Oaks came back strongly and Totts were forced to give away a string of penalties on their own 22 line, resulting in a yellow card for Buck. The defence was finally breached after a series of catch-and-drives and the visitors got back to 10-5 down at half time.

Totts defended their line for much of the first 20 minutes of the second half.

They weathered that storm and then broke out through centre Mike Searle following long periods of stop/start play in the centre of the park, where Ali Ramus was yellow carded for a high tackle.

Searle’s break took Totts into the Sevenoaks’ half and a series of pick-and-goes, with Tom Gregory and Nick Jones heavily involved, carried them to within five metres.

Dylan Baptiste surged towards the line before offloading and the ball was fed through several hands for Joe Jarvis to go over next to the sticks. Robbie Searle converted for a 17-5 advantage that was protected up to the final whistle.

Coach Gavin Hart said: “Looking at the pitch before the game everyone knew what it was going to be like – a mud fight.

“The guys I thought matched up today and defence-wise there was a big improvement – it’s something we have been working on but a lot of it comes down to heart and working without the ball.

“Our boys can attack but and when they have the ball they absolutely love it, but it’s what we do without it that has been key this season.

“Hats off to the guys – they have done a cracking job in not nice conditions and not conditions that we would be suited to either.

“We prefer a nice hard track and that was anything but.”

With London Cornish losing at Thurrock, Tottonians moved back into fifth place – however they face the league’s leading trio over the next three games.

Leaders Medway travel to Water Lane on Saturday, Totts head to Hampshire rivals Havant on February 3 and have a rest week before entertaining second-placed CS Rugby 1863 on February 17.

Havant won their South 1 home game against Old Colfeians 17-13.