WESTCLIFF put up a strong fight in the first half but were eventually overpowered by National Two South leaders Tonbridge Juddians.

Westcliff led 5-0 at the break before being beaten 42-5.

And that left first team manager Rick Compton with mixed emotions at the final whistle.

“There were positives to take from the game and encouraging areas where the performance from a much-changed team showed both promise and potential,” said Compton.

“Ultimately, we were second best and we will be taking a long look at both the good and the bad as part of our preparation for the next two games, both of which will be at home against Old Albanian and Redruth.”

Westcliff’s opposition were a known quantity, with the sides having met regularly in previous campaigns in the London Division.

However, it was the first meeting since the hosts’ promotion to National Two a few years ago, during which time they have established themselves among the division’s top performing clubs.

Tonbridge strived to assert themselves from the outset, but the visitors resisted manfully and began to build momentum of their own.

An early penalty attempt was missed but they were beginning to control territory and possession.

Having camped in the opposition 22 for a sustained period, increasingly desperate defence produced a string of penalties and eventually a yellow card.

Midway through the half Westcliff were rewarded for their efforts and Billy Morrant scored from short range, giving them a 5-0 lead.

They returned quickly and again attempted to turn the screw, eventually forcing a yellow card for the home team but full advantage was not taken on this occasion and the hosts kept their line intact until the half-time break.

Westcliff were content to have a lead over their illustrious hosts but were conscious they had perhaps allowed further scoring opportunities slip through their grasp.

The opening five minutes of the second period saw each side have a player sent to the bin and the hosts take a lead they never looked like relinquishing.

They took the lead through their forwards who drove over from short range and when they were gifted a second try shortly after from an overthrown five metre line-out.

Both tries were converted and the apparent momentum shift continued.

Four further converted tries followed in a second half which was pretty much one-way traffic, with the visitors wilting as the hosts introduced quality from their bench and Tonbridge were able to seal a 42-5 win.

Westcliff: Croft, Radzevicius, Hogarth, B Reynolds, Hughes, Banister, Bolton, Meakin, B Morrant, Dellas, Scogings, Dartnell, Lynch, Webber, S Reynolds

Replacements: H Morrant, Triana, Webster, Binstead & Aldridge