ROCHFORD Hundred closed the gap on second placed Saffron Walden with a 10-3 win against their Essex rivals at Magnolia Road in London Two North East on Saturday.

Rochford, who are third in the standings, fought hard in difficult conditions to come out on top.

And that thrilled their first team manager Graham Pratt.

“The final whistle sounded very sweet when it came and we were relieved to celebrate a well deserved and very pleasing result,” said Pratt.

“Saffron had to be satisfied with a losing bonus point. But that could still be crucial at the end of the season.”

Pratt had labelled the match as must win for his side before the game if they were to keep alive their hopes of a top two finish.

The tone was set early in the first half when Rochford’s forwards drove Saffron back into their 20m area and a scrum formed.

From there a powerful drive by the pack drove the visitors over the line in the corner and captain Sam Tape took the honours with the touch-down.

But Walden are not a side to be taken lightly and they came back to apply their own pressure which led to them kicking a penalty.

By now, the pitch was started to deteriorate and both sides fought it out for supremacy.

Rochford always had the edge through their pack and the boot of stand-off Tom Ashton continually took the sting out of the opposition with long racking kicks.

In addition to that, Rochford were forced to play a quarter of the match with 14 men due to yellow card offences which did not make their task any easier.

But they remained 5-3 up at the break and the second half was much of the same as both teams slugged it out with some fearful tackling and aggressive forward drives.

Their scrum half Dan Bracknell was forever at the thick of things and late in this enthralling match, he made the breakthrough from a loose maul as he collected the ball and sped along the touchline before cutting in to score under the posts.

For once, Ashton failed with the conversion but his side still led 10-3.

Hundred then had to dig deep to stay in front as Saffron three everything at them and applied some intense pressure on the home-team’s line.

The visitors drove over on a couple of occasions, only for it to be ruled that the ball was held up and Rochford hung on to secure a vital victory.