ELLINGHAM & Ringwood put in a tremendous performance to remain top of National Challenge Division One South West, beating second-placed St Mary's Old Boys 8-7 in a thrilling encounter.

Ellingham dominated the early exchanges and were rewarded with a penalty that Megan Bradley kicked to take a 3-0 lead.

Bristol-based St Mary's came back strongly and flank forward Kyara Martin crashed over for a good try that was converted by centre Joanna Smith.

Ellingham then applied pressure to the St Mary's line for the rest of the first half, but were unable to breach their defence and went in 7-3 down at the break.

The New Forest side controlled the second half, but the St Mary's defence was superb.

Despite Ellingham’s dominance, it looked as if they could lose their first game of the season.

But, with five minutes to go, wing three quarter Nina Hoadly finished a good move to give them an 8-7 lead.

From the restart, St Mary's came back strongly and, in the dying minutes, they were awarded a penalty. However, their long-range kick hit the post and Ellingham were able to kick the ball dead to secure a crucial league victory.