Gosport & Fareham picked up a precious losing bonus point as they opened their London one south campaign with a 55-24 defeat at Chobham
A last-minute try from second row forward Mark Pollard ensured the visitors got an unlikely point on the board as they were well behind after a slow start to the contest.
The hosts, who finished runners-up last season, stormed into a 41-5 lead by half-time to end the game as a contest.
All Gosport could manage in the one-sided first half was a try by scrum-half Wes Dugan.
Neil McRoberts’ side produced a vastly improved second period to add three further tries to make sure they didn’t return to the south coast completely empty handed.
‘I wasn’t at the game due to work commitments but Tim Snowden has given me a report,’ said McRoberts.
‘Being the first game of the season it appears we were a bit off the pace at the start.
‘You cannot afford that against a very good team like Chobham.
‘They are one of the favourites for promotion this season.
‘At this level if you give teams the time and room to attack, they are going to punish you.
‘We had a number of players making their debuts with some having their first experience at this level of the game.
‘Maybe the pace of the game came as a bit of a shock to them at first.
‘Tim reckons if we had played in the first half like we did in the second, we could have challenged them for the win.
‘As it is, we got a bonus point, which could prove crucial later on, from what is likely to be our hardest game of the season.
‘At least we have got that out of the way early on.’
In the second half, centre Wayne Dugan converted his own try before full-back Jack Brawn also crossed for a try eight minutes from the end of the clash.
Pollard then made sure they got some reward for an improved second-half performance.
McRoberts knows his men face a stern task again this season.
But he took plenty of positives from the response in the second half from his troops.
‘If we didn’t know already then this game again highlights the challenge ahead of us,’ said McRoberts.
‘But the fact that we were able to score four tries against a powerful unit like Chobham is hugely encouraging.’