Size of the task facing Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill this season were highlighted on Saturday.
No doubt Heath were a little harshly done by in a losing scoreline of 24-43 at Hove but it makes it five defeats in five starts this season - and the latest against a side who had also lost their first four games.
With 10 minutes left the visitors looked as if they had the momentum to go on and win as they reduced the deficit to seven points. But it was not to be as errors cost them two more tries.
Hove were always quick to break from broken play and went ahead through a Gareth Davies penalty before Heath took a 13th minute lead when newcomer Jez Pattie scored on the overlap.
A difficult conversion and then three easier penalties were then missed, allowing Hove to build a flattering 19-5 lead at the midway point, courtesy of two more Davies penalties and a brace of tries by prolific right wing Ryan Ball.
Hove added to their lead four minutes into the second half with an opportunist try by former Heath player Dave Wattam but Heath were quick to respond. Full back Dom Fry got his kick away but was laid low by a late tackle that left Hove with a man in the bin and from the resulting five-metre scrum busy No 8 Nick Main was under a pile of bodies for a well deserved try.
Home scrum half Bradley Parker then kicked ahead for a touchdown and with Davies adding the extras, it was 31-10 and looking bleak for Heath.
But they then rallied and Fry’s replacement Max Drage scored a good try converted by Owain Jenkins before from a break inside their own half, their MoM Huw Jenkins produced a nicely timed pass to release Roscoe Atkins and when he was hauled down a few metres short, he found big second row Tom Burns up in support to go steaming over.
Young Sam Fieldwick converted and at that stage it was there for the taking. But it was Hove who grasped the nettle, with Ball completing his hat-trick and then Patten scoring wide out.
Heath will take limited consolation from a try bonus point and bid to open their account at home to Dover on Saturday (3pm).
Burgess Hill Director of Rugby Ross Hallifax believes the quality and pace of rugby in London SE3 is two or three times better than Sussex 1 and knows his team need to climb a steep learning curve in their first season at that level.
They crashed 50-9 at Bromley last weekend after promoting five players from the 2nds, who play three levels below the 1st team.
They started well enough but fell behind to a well rehearsed line out routine before outside centre Will Pearson kicked a penalty.
Another try left them 12-3 down but Pearson again added three points before the wheels dramatically came off the All Blacks’ bus.
They conceded four tries, three of which were converted, to trail 38-6 before another penalty came just on the half time whistle.
Hill regrouped in the second half and had a few chances to cross the line but only Bromley managed that and twice more to complete a comfortable victory.
This Saturday Hill entertain Old Beccehamians.
It took Hill’s 2nds until seven minutes before half time to lead for the first time but they finally ran out 36-7 victors over Eastbourne 2nds at Poveys Close after both teams entered the match unbeaten.
Two Chris Bowles penalties narrowed the gap after the visitors broke the deadlock midway through the first half and then shortly before the break George Horhay galloped over to provide Bowles with a routine conversion.
It was then 18-7 at the break as winger Adam Mayes dived over in the corner.
Another Bowles penalty got things moving a minute after the restart and then tries by centre Dave Tyrall and Mayes helped complete victory.
Ditchling remain unbeaten at home and the latest 46-29 win against Horley made it three back-to-back successes.
The flair try of the eight they scored came when Josh Pearson broke the length of the pitch after a try-saving steal and when he was tackled just short, the loose forwards were up in support and setting up scrum half Neil Chandegra to spin wide and play in impressive centre Scott Derrington.
The 2nds made a belated start to their season, losing 17-3 to strong hosts Newick but with their newcomers showing great promise.
Plumpton made the long journey to Midhurst and were soundly beaten 40-3.
Midhurst took advantage of the wind and slope to build a big lead in the first half but Plums rallied gamely after the break.
Craig Wells was unlucky to have two tries ruled out and the only points came from the boot of Lewis Beale.
The MoM performance came from centre Oliver Shaw, who easily led the tackling stats, while also providing some big hits was Rory Loftus, playing for the first time at outside centre.
This Saturday Plumpton are at home to local rivals Newick (3pm).