THERE was no dream start for new Basingstoke RFC head coach Mark Fricker in the opening clash of their London Three South West season.

Stoke were overpowered by visitors New Milton and District RFC as they went away with a 55-17 victory over their hosts.

The newly-promoted side were too much for Fricker’s men, outscoring Stoke nine tries to two.

As the new head coach of the Down Grange side openly admitted talking to The Gazette previously, the side is going through a ‘slight transitional period’, and this showed as the well-oiled visitors took an early lead.

After the early try, the hosts fought back with a penalty and converted try to take the lead during the first-half.

The lead was short -lived when Ben Russell broke through from a lineout to score levelling things up at 10-10.

With minutes remaining before the break, New Milton ensured they went into the interval with the lead, after a series of penalties pushed the hosts up the pitch before scoring a converted try.

After the break Stoke levelled things up, but that sparked the visitors into life with New Milton scoring six tries in the second-half.

Stoke will be hoping to bounce back immediately when they travel to Portsmouth on Saturday, 16 September.