Pulborough secured their second win of the season in London 2 South East by overcoming Haywards Heath in a local derby at Freelands.
The hosts emerged with a bonus point and were 29-17 winners in a battle against the elements as well as their near rivals, who went into the game in fifth position.
The result was a crucial one as it narrowed the gap for second-from-bottom ‘Boro on the teams above them in the standings and opened up a ten-point lead over basement boys Barking.
Pulborough captain Simon Burfiend said: “It was a fantastic win for us. I think the tough start to the season served us well and we have been building week on week.
“Our defence and scrums were something we realised we needed to work on and they were both excellent at the weekend.”
Heath, playing into the wind, started well and their reward came after eight minutes with a try and conversion by Peter Kerins from his charge down in the Pulborough 22.
Despite Frazer Oliphant-Hope missing a couple of penalties, the home side eventually found a rhythm and, with the wind behind them, Pulborough’s Ben Miller engineered a downhill try near the corner and an excellent conversion in tricky conditions levelled the scores at 7-7 after half an hour of play.
This gave Pulborough the confidence and momentum to exert pressure on Heath. They camped in the Heath 22 for phase after phase until they were rewarded with another converted try through Brad Game and an advantage, their opponents being down to 14 following a team yellow card for repeated ruck infringements close to the line.
A solid Heath defence denied Pulborough any further score for the five minutes to half-time despite a repeated series of penalties to Pulborough, who also had Matt Goring sent to the sin bin for misplaced feet.
However the pressure told and Pulborough eventually broke through an exhausted Heath defence as Dan Bullock scored just on half-time for a 19-7 lead.
Heath fought back strongly at the start of the second half with some close-range passing which allowed Jamie Diggle to touch down in the corner.
But it was Pulborough’s backs that proved more sharply incisive and a quick break from a penalty combined with a series of missed tackles contributed to a try for Ollie Coombe-Tennant for the bonus point.
Heath again struck back as Sam Galbraith dived over to score on the right touchline and with the conversion added it took the score to 24-19.
With four minutes to go as Heath strained to at least equal the score, an offside decision meant Pulborough were awarded a penalty in front of the posts and a successful kick from Oliphant-Hope denied the visitors a losing bonus point.
Pulborough now make the short trip to face local rivals Horsham on Saturday and Burfiend believes they are in good enough form to take something from the game.
He added: “It’s a big game this weekend and one that given our current run, we can expect to come away from with some points.”