Havant paid the price for a slow start as their London one south campaign began with a 25-22 defeat to Chobham at Hooks Lane.
Will Knight’s team trailed 22-8 at the break but improved in the second period to come away with a losing bonus point.
Both teams ended the game with 14-men following a second half flare-up – the home side having hooker Justin Powell dismissed.
‘Yet again we end up losing by one score after being slow out of the blocks,’ said head coach Knight.
‘It is difficult to explain because we prepared and warmed up well beforehand.
‘I can only put it down to having a number of new faces in the team and the time it takes for them to gel.
‘We just couldn’t hit our patterns early on and allowed them to score through poor defence.
‘In the first half, Chobham looked more threatening and were far more precise than us in their finishing.’
Havant conceded a try in the opening three minutes.
Joel Knight reduced the arrears with a penalty but further defensive errors allowed Chobham to open up a 22-3 lead. The home side came out looking much improved at the start of the second half.
The forwards led the charge with a 15-yard driving maul which ended with Nick Goodger claiming the score.
The visitors began to slow the ball down – prompting frustration in the Havant ranks.
And eight minutes from time, Powell and a Chobham wing forward were sent off for fighting.
Sensing they could still get something from the game, Havant continued to press.
And following some fine work close to the touchline, replacement winger Nick Benjamin crossed to score.
With time running out, veteran Grant Morris outjumped a defender and fell over the line for a third Havant try but Chobham held on.
‘I have to be pleased with the way we responded in the second half,’ said Will Knight.
‘We still need to put more pace into our game because we didn’t get enough front-foot ball to work with.
‘There were a lot of positives to be taken particularly the performances from the new boys.’