A DEPLETED Romsey Rugby Club first team went down to a heavy 56-8 defeat at Fordingbridge in their opening league game of the season.

Having been relegated from London & South West 3 at the end of last season on something of a technicality, Fordingbridge have a strong side and will almost certainly be challenging for promotion back to the London Leagues at the end of the campaign .

A strong opening saw the hosts, who were playing their first match at their new pitch, take a 21-0 lead early on, before excellent work from Darran Hall and Phil Cunningham led to a penalty for Gavin Harbour 20 metres out, which he duly slotted for Romsey’s first points of the season on his first appearance for 18 months after injury.

Michael Peace was getting around the park and being a general nuisance to everyone and he created a neat opportunity for Romsey’s new centre pairing of Alex Lee and Euan Stoddart, which was quickly snaffled by excellent cover defence. Romsey had a large percentage of the possession and Ben Hewitt and Gareth Roberts were making hard yards upfront.

But Fordingbridge extended their lead with three more tries before the break and it wasn’t until the second half that Romsey got to grips with their opponent’s style of play.

Liam Sharpe at 10 bossed the game more, with Ben Savage getting on the ball and punching some big holes.

A jinking run by the fleet-footed Dougal Trentham at full back, linking with his three-quarter partner (and last week’s try scorer) Dan Penn-Newman led to good field position, from which Ewald Van Zyl dived over to celebrate his first try for the club and give Romsey some reward for its far improved performance.

As the game wore on, and with the result beyond doubt, the ageless Will Riches came on in the back row to give Darran Hall a rest, and both sides used the opportunity to try out some training-ground set piece plays ahead of a long season.

Overall, the best team won, and one suspects they won’t be long in Hampshire one.