EAST Essex Sabres got the new campaign off to the best possible start by thumping Maidstone Pumas.

The Sabres won just two British American Football Association South Football Conference Division Two East clashes last term, but the Thundersley-based side notched a 60-6 victory in Kent on the opening day of the campaign.

And Kirk Beacham, who replaced Lee Joseph as head coach in the close season, was full of praise for his side.

Beacham said: “The team’s attitude, intensity and unity was a pleasure to be around.

“Regardless of the score, it was an absolute team performance.

“Everyone gave everything they could and every unit produced results on the field.

“We need to appreciate what we were able to accomplish as a team against Maidstone Pumas, but we also need to understand that this is just the first game.

“We’ll need to continue the hard work to achieve our ultimate goal.”

Maidstone Pumas are newcomers to the division, but the two sides went head-to-head in their affiliate year in order to gain entry to the league.

The Kent club claimed a 22-0 win in the first encounter, which was held at Rochford Hundred Rugby Club, in 2016.

However, the Sabres gained revenge in the reverse fixture as they claimed an 18-0 triumph at the New Line Learning Academy.

Both teams have made vast improvements to their organisations since gaining entry into the British American Football League, so this match was expected to be a tough game for both teams.

But the Sabres showed that a gruelling pre-season had paid off as they swept their opponents aside.

A number of new recruits were in impressive form and the Sabres - who are targeting the title under Beacham this term - will be looking to build on their promising start to the new campaign.

Mike Muldoon, who featured in the key quarterback role, said: “It was an incredible team effort on all three fronts.

“Offence, defence and special teams were in great form.

“There’s a lot of pride on this team, in all the position groups, but at the end of the day playing for the Sabres means playing for the team.

“These guys love to play and we saw it come together against Maidstone Pumas.”

The Sabres will now be put through their paces during the extensive break before their second league encounter of the season, which will see Beacham’s charges go head-to-head with Essex Spartans.

The local derby will take place at the Deanes School, Thundersley, on Sunday, May 13, with kick-off at 1.30pm.

It was an intriguing opening week to the campaign, as Ipswich Cardinals - who also struggled last term - were victorious on the opening day.

The Suffolk side recorded a 15-14 win over Essex Spartans, who are based in Tilbury.