HAVANT director of rugby Will Knight is upbeat despite admitting his shock at the 64-10 National League three London & south east thumping at home to Tring.
Club-stalwart Knight took over in the summer after Adam King stepped down and faces a big challenge to maintain the club’s National League status.
Knight accepted his largely-inexperienced team were well beaten at Hooks Lane but reckoned the final scoreline was unjust.
‘I didn’t see this coming but the final scoreline wasn’t a true reflection of the game,’ he said.
‘We shipped 20 points trying to chase the game and we also played half the second period a man short.
‘Our full-back Jaryd Robinson went off injured and we had already used up all our substitutes.
‘We had six or seven 18 or 19-year-olds in our team and they had a bit of a baptism of fire.
‘It was tough but I learned a lot about some of the players.
‘This league still presents a big learning curve for some of our youngsters and that was the main difference between the two sides.
‘Tring have been together for a few years while we have a completely new side.
‘It was our first outing and it will take time to develop as a team.’
The home side started well with Joel Knight putting them in front from an early penalty but the visitors soon imposed their authority.
Visiting prop forward Chris Rose went over for a hat-trick of first-half tries.
And Tring held a 29-3 lead before Havant hit back with half-time approaching.
Knight took the ball on into the Tring 22 and – when the home side reached the line – Grant Morris picked up and drove over for the try.
Though Havant improved in the second half with some good driving play, Tring eventually exploited the gaps to add five more converted tries to their total.
‘I was a bit down afterwards but after spending some time with the players and seeing their spirit and willingness to learn I came away more positive,’ said Knight.
‘We all recognise it will be a tough season but we are up for it.
‘The challenge is to get up to speed and be able to cope at this level.
‘A number of our experienced players from the last few years have left and you cannot replace that overnight.
‘You cannot lose that much experience without missing it.
‘I am confident that we will improve and become a lot more competitive.
‘Eleven of the 15 players that started are Havant through and through, coming up from our junior and academy set-ups.
‘We are committed to developing young players as the foundation for the future but sometimes you need to replace experience.
‘If we can continue to work on the basics and bolster our side with a couple of players then we can keep moving forward.’