Old Elthamians extended their lead at the top of the National One table after a hard fought 17-3 victory over bogey side Bishop’s Stortford in atrocious conditions at College Meadow on Saturday.

OEs had won only twice in eight previous meetings between the two sides, but a strong performance from their industrious pack laid the platform for the win.

“We played the conditions very well today,” said Elthamians Director of Rugby Gavin Lach. “I thought we were dominant up front and we kept it tight - it certainly wasn’t a day for expansive rugby! Defensively as well we were outstanding, especially in the second half when we went down to 14 men.

“We knew Stortford were going to be tough - they have one of the best defensive records in the division - but the way we set about our task was extremely pleasing.”

The swirling wind and freezing rain that fell throughout the afternoon made life extremely difficult for both sides with the ball in hand and with two outstanding defences on show, try-scoring chances were few and far between.

It was Stortford who took an early lead on 10 minutes with a Tom Banks penalty. However, Elthamians replied inside six minutes when Tom White spotted a rare gap in the visitors’ defence and darted over, the fly-half converting his own score to give the home side a narrow 7-3 at the interval.

White added a penalty two minutes after the restart to extend OEs’ lead before Stortford proceeded to enjoy their best spell of the game for the rest of the third quarter, securing the majority of possession and pinning the home side in their own 22.

Elthamians were forced into conceding a string of penalties in quick succession which resulted in prop Cameron Holenstein being shown a yellow card. However, other than a searing Banks break down the blindside, Stortford did not like converting their extra man advantage into points.

To add insult to injury, they gifted Elthamians their second and match-sealing try on 62 minutes when a loose pass on the edge of the Stortford 22 enabled the home side to win possession and release centre James Golledge who charged over by the posts.