Havant continued their winless start in National League three London & south east with a 33-12 defeat against Gravesend at Hooks Lane.
Captain Grant Morris admitted times were tough at the club as they attempt to rebuild a side capable of competing at National League level.
At the same time, the skipper was encouraged by his side’s performance, which gave evidence that they are improving all the time.
And although Havant have lost their opening five games of the campaign, Morris doesn’t regard relegation as a foregone conclusion.
‘Losing is always hard to take but, if you look at our team, only five were left from those playing Gravesend last season,’ said Morris.
‘It is a big ask going into games playing 10 newbies, especially at our level.
‘The lads are stepping up, playing out of their skins and above what we should be expecting of them at this stage.
‘The big thing we have got is spirit because a lot of the team have come through the junior ranks at the club.
‘I coached some of them when they were 10 years old.
‘There are not many clubs, if any, at our level, who can boast such a local element to their team.
‘And, regardless of what happens this season, we know we have a group of players who will be special in the future.
‘If you look at where we’ve come from since the start of the season, we have made tremendous strides.
‘There are more and more patterns to our play and there is a great belief throughout the team.’
That belief and spirit was evident from the start on Saturday as Havant began the clash in blistering fashion and scored a try inside the opening few minutes.
After recycling good ball a number of times, ex-rugby league player Darren Bamford squeezed over in the corner following a good Morris carry.
The visitors, however, hit back to lead 14-5 at half-time before Havant began the second half as they did the first with a try.
Good interplay between backs and forwards ended with Richard Burgess-Kelly scoring in the corner.
And Joel Knight added the conversion.
At 12-14, it looked game on for the home side.
But, although the second half proved to be a closely-fought contest, the visitors broke out on a number of occasions to stretch away.
‘Saturday was a massive stepping stone for us,’ said Morris.
‘The players have given their all and showed that we can compete at this level.
‘When we played our patterns we looked really good and it was a game we could have won.
‘At times our lack of experience showed through and prevented us exploiting flaws in their game.
‘It is about learning what to do and when to do it.
‘To step up to National rugby from academy level is a massive jump but it is coming.
‘Some of the inter-play between backs and forwards was great and it gives us great heart to go forward.
‘It has been a difficult start but we are not down yet.’