Debut-making hooker Jerome Trail made sure Havant got off to a flying start with two tries in their 32-7 London one south win over Dover at Hooks Lane
Trail powered over twice from close-range with full-back Ed Wilkes also grabbing two tries as the home side celebrated a bonus-point win.
Coach Will Knight was delighted with the team performance and reckons Trail can prove to be a big asset.
‘Jerome made an excellent debut and is a powerful performer,’ said Knight.
‘He showed that if we can get the ball to him close to the line, he takes some stopping.
‘Dover had no answer to him when we did that. He blasted over twice from 10 yards taking defenders with him.
‘I was very pleased with lots of performances out there and after a jittery start we gained confidence.
‘In the past we have been perennial slow starters so it is nice to set off with a win for a change.’
Both teams spent the opening half hour coming to terms with the new season and testing each other out.
It was the home side who grabbed the initiative before half-time with a penalty and two tries, one of which was converted.
Returning captain Joel Knight knocked over a 26th-minute penalty before Trail forced his way over for the first of his tries.
On the stroke of half-time, Wilkes extended the lead with a terrific individual try and Knight’s conversion gave Havant a 15-0 lead at the break.
Will Knight’s team continued to impress at the start of the second half when number eight Gav Hart set up Trail for his second try with the sweetest of offloads.
Joel Knight converted and soon afterwards Wilkes thumped a penalty over from the halfway line.
Dover got on the scoreboard with a converted try after 68 minutes but it was Havant who finished the stronger.
Good team play enabled Wilkes to cross for his second try of the game and Joel Knight added the conversion with the final kick of the game.
‘It was a hugely encouraging start in front of a large crowd at Hooks Lane,’ said Will Knight.
‘It was an excellent win against a Dover team who are never easy to beat.
‘They put up the robust resilience we expected of them but in the end we won well.’
It was also encouraging for the home side that a number of returning players, notably skipper Joel Knight and centre Loz Blackburn showed no reaction from last season’s injury.
Hart used his experience and displayed excellent leadership and passion throughout the 80 minutes.
Steve Cruddas as ever gave everything to the cause while winger Ben Brierley caused Dover problems all game with his aggressive running.