Luton made it five wins in a row on Saturday as they beat Market Harborough 14-7 in Midlands Two East South at Newlands Road to leapfrog the visitors into second place.
Callum Strachan and Chris Davies scored for the home side to secure the victory, meaning that Luton have beaten their promotion challengers home and away this season.
However, they remain four points behind leaders Oadby Wyggestonians with four games to go after they saw off Long Buckby 32-12 away.
Luton dominated possession in the early stages until Market Harborough’s full back, Laurence Joel, intercepted Rik Hobbs’ pass on their own 22-metre line and was left with a clear run to the whitewash to put the visitors in the lead.
Josh Purnell added the extra points from the conversion.
The visitors could have extended their lead to 10 points as they were awarded a penalty, but this time Purnell couldn’t slot the ball between the posts.
Luton made Harborough pay for their missed chances and errors as the visitors threw the ball into touch expecting the end of the half.
However, the referee awarded the home side a penalty and Hobbs found touch five metres from the try-line, with the lineout resulting in Strachan being forced over to reduce the deficit.
Rik Hobbs rounded off the half with a brilliant conversion from the 22 and tight to the touchline to draw the scores level.
After the break, Luton’s second try was surrounded by controversy as Rik Hobbs’ kick downfield resulted in centre Jake Hobbs clashing off the ball with his opposite number, leaving winger Davies to receive the ball.
The incident continued as Harborough’s scrum half attempted to bring Davies down just before the try line but the winger scrambled over, which could have been deemed as double movement.
However, the referee awarded the try and Rik Hobbs added the extras to give Luton a seven point lead.
Market tried to get back into the game for the remainder of the half, and gave it one last push in the closing phases, getting close to the home side’s try line.
However, Luton turned the ball over and scrum half Jordan Davies kicked the ball behind the dead ball line to wrap up the game.
Afterwards, first team manager Steve Evans lauded his side’s Luton’s character as he said: “What I think was most impressive was going 7-0 down, it didn’t shake the boys whatsoever.
“The attitude was there, the spirit was there, full credit to them.”
The Welshman acknowledged the effort put in by the players in training throughout the week too, as he continued: “There was a good attitude from pretty much everybody, they all knew they had to focus their attention this week, which is exactly what they did.
“They didn’t get distracted by the mini ‘Beast from the East’, which we knew was coming.”
The manager also picked out Rik Hobbs and paid credit to out-of-position Davies, as he said: “Rik Hobbs’ kicking was exceptional.
“Jordan (Davies) in scrum half, it was his first time playing out of position for us.
“We knew losing out on Dave Evans this week was going to be tough ask for Jordan to step in but you know what, he did a great job as well.”
With four games of the season remaining Evans played down the talk of promotion though, adding: “It’s a cliché but it is every game at a time, that’s all we can do. There’s no point thinking about promotion at this point.
“We have just got to keep winning match-after-match, which is what we have been doing. As long as we keep doing that promotion will be the by-product.”
Luton are at home to Oakham this weekend, then travel to Old Laurentians (Apr 7), entertain Olney (Apr 14) and visit Pinley (Apr 21).
Leaders Oadby are at Market Bosworth on Saturday, as they then host Market Harborough, travel to Stamford and end their season at Oakham.