Gosport & Fareham made a winning return to London two south west with a 23-7 success at Weybridge Vandals.
Despite missing seven first team regulars, the Gosport Park outfit showed their strength in depth to beat their newly-promoted hosts.
The visitors scored three tries and just missed out on a bonus point when Fijian Vetiai Veiteve pulled a hamstring with the line at his mercy.
‘Unlike last season when we were relegated, we have had a good pre-season,’ said Gosport & Fareham coach Scott Ashley.
‘This result shows we have got good strength in depth.
‘That is something we lacked last year.
‘A number of young lads have come in and done very well.
‘And I also believe we possess the best half-back and midfield combination in the league.
‘We showed we have improved in our defence from last season and at the same time have the quality to play a free-flowing, try-scoring game.’
In a nervous start from both teams, the Vandals wasted a good early penalty opportunity.
Alex Duncombe, however, made no mistake when presented with a chance of his own.
He knocked over two kicks to give the visitors a six-point lead.
And Gosport & Fareham tightened their grip with the first try of the game on the stroke of half-time – Duncombe again adding the conversion.
The home side came out fired up at the start of the second half and Ashley’s troops displayed excellent defence to restrict them to a single penalty.
After that Gosport took charge once more.
They scored two further tries – from back-row forward Gareth Jones and centre Wayne Dugan – with the immaculate Duncombe again adding the points.
‘We dominated the line-out and outscrummaged Weybridge for most of the game,’ said Ashley.
‘After last season, it is pleasing to make a winning start
‘Even before we scored our first try we were having the lion’s share of possession and felt it was only a matter of time before the dam burst.
‘It is only one game, though, and we have some tougher tests ahead, starting with a big derby at Portsmouth next weekend.’