WESTCLIFF skipper Harry Branch was full of smiles after helping his side thrash Southend 69-5 in a one-sided local derby at the Gables.

The victory was Westcliff’s second in succession at the start of the London & SE Premier Division season and Branch felt the game could not have gone any better for his side.

“It was pretty much a perfect game to play in,” said the scrum-half.

“I don’t think it gets much better than winning at home with more than 1,000 people watching against your local rivals.

“It was an amazing turnout yet again, just like last year’s game, and it’s also a great advert for rugby in Essex. I saw a picture this morning showing a mass of people watching which was great to see and we’ve won our first two games now as well.

“It’s the perfect start but it is only the start and we have to keep backing up these performances every weekend. But the morale in the camp is very high, everyone is buzzing and I think the squad is the best we’ve had. We have 40 players plus who can all play first team rugby and it’s great to see.”

Westcliff raced into a 12-0 lead with tries from winger Jordan Fenton and full-back Sam Brown. A conversion from Jack Jones made followed before Westcliff’s Joe Vandermolen was yellow carded against his former side.

Despite the numerical disadvantage, Brown bagged another try for the hosts before Southend hit back with winger Norbetas Radzevicius touching down.

However, Westcliff were soon back on top and went further ahead with a penalty try before Brown completed a hat-trick on his home debut to put the hosts 29-5 in front at half-time. Westcliff were now in complete control and piled on the pressure in the second half. As a result, Chris Marsh touched down twice, along with Fenton, to complete a hat-trick before debutant Josh Stol came off the bench to complete the scoring with a try.

And Westcliff’s director of rugby Rick Compton was delighted with the display.

“The lads were excellent, they really hit their straps and it was a really exciting team performance,” said Compton.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with every single one of them and it’s been a great start to the season for the extended squad with impressive wins for both the first and second teams.

“On Saturday we go to Sidcup in good form and heart and will be keen to make it three from three but we will regroup midweek, assess a few injuries and refocus after a very satisfying weekend which was celebrated in fine style by players and members until the very early hours.”

Westcliff: Brown, O Jones, Smith, J Jones, Fenton, R Whiting, Branch, Brown, Morrant, Binneman, Scogings, Edwards, Maloney, Marsh, Vandermolen Replacements: A Whiting, Jobling & Stol