SOUTHEND Saxons secured a dramatic 13-12 win at Eton Manor in an exciting top of the table clash.

League leaders Southend seemed to be heading for defeat against their title rivals until winger Tom Ramsey scored a last gasp match-winning try.

And Saxons influential centre Callum Smith was delighted with the victory in what he expects to be the their toughest test of the season.

“I think naturally it’s the hardest game of the season,” said Smith.

“Eton Manor away is probably the main fixture you look out for when the fixture list comes out at the start of the year.

“But I think even from a neutral we were deserved of the win.

“We defended well and it was only silly penalties that kept them in the game.

“That being said, I thought for the amount of ball we had they defended well too.”

Southend took an early lead with a try from Tom Sly before the hosts hit back with two penalties to lead 6-5.

A penalty from Ben Lloyd put Saxons back in front before another fine kick from Eton Manor put them 9-8 ahead at half-time.

That became 12-8 after the break and Smith did not start to fear the game had got away from Southend.

“Towards the end it’s normal to start to think ‘where are the points going to come from?, especially with how they’d kept us out for all of the second half,” said Smith.

“But if you keep knocking then you always hope at some point you get through.”

And Smith ultimately played a huge part in Southend scoring their match clinching try as his break and perfectly timed pass enabled Ramsey to race down the right wing before touching down.

“It was all a bit of a blur really,” said Smith.

“When I got the ball I originally looked up and thought there were more than enough defenders in front of me and there wasn’t an opportunity.

“But, after having a quick scan inside and out, the picture seemed to change which allowed me to pass the ball to Tom on the outside of his winger who showed a good bit of toe to finish the try.”

The victory means Southend now sit four points clear at the top of the Regional Two Anglia table.

And Smith relished his role in the win having only just returned to action having undergone surgery on his shoulder.

“I’m enjoying being back,” said Smith.

“It feels like it’s been a long time but I’ve tried my best to help out with coaching and some advice where possible.”

But Smith led by example of Saturday and was keen to thank those who have helped him to regain full fitness.

“For the past 11 months I’ve been working really closely with Charlotte at Active Body Clinic in Hertford who has overseen my rehab,” said Smith.

“I had to have shoulder surgery for the second time on that shoulder for a torn labrum.

“It wasn’t ideal especially with work and having to miss the start of the season but with the help of Charlotte, it has been pretty seamless.

“I can’t thank her enough really.”

But Smith now wants to do all he can to keep Southend ahead of the rest of the division.

“It’s really important to build on this win now,” said Smith.

“No matter the result on Saturday, it wasn’t going to define our season.

“But it was going to give us good momentum and confidence going into the rest of the games before Christmas and then we can reevaluate over the break.

“Any team that goes to Manor and gets some kind of result is always going to be there or there abouts towards the end and hopefully we can keep pushing and picking up wins.”

Southend have now bagged seven wins in succession and host third placed Harlow at Warners Bridge this weekend.