North Midlands salvaged a try bonus point from their 56-35 defeat by Hampshire in their opening County Championship Division Two match at Gosport & Fareham.
With just two players with previous county experience in the squad North Midlands were always going to face an uphill struggle but they stuck to their task bravely.
Hampshire led throughout with Bournemouth’s Grant Hancox landing a second minute penalty followed by tries from Joel Knight and Curtis Barnes.
But North Midlands hit back with a try from Bournville fly-half Mitch McGahan which he also converted to trim the gap to eight points.
Hampshire stretched away again, extending their lead to 32-7 with a burst of 17 unanswered points before Old Halesonians wing Ethan Walker scored two converted tries to make it 32-21 at the break.
Walker took full advantage of a turnover in his own 22 to sprint the 75 yards to the line and then, five minutes later, was in the right place for an interception to go a full 80 yards under the posts.
Walker’s tries stirred Hampshire into life again with Jo Davis crossing for their fifth try two minutes into the second half.
A fine move saw Tottonians’ Robbie Searle extend the lead and then the impressive Harrison Young sauntered over to ensure any half-time nerves were firmly eased.
But North Midlands kept plugging away and they secured the bonus point when Bridgnorth scrum-half Gareth Bladen crossed from close range for the fourth try.
Jake Caddy crossed for Hampshire’s eighth and final try but North Midlands completed the scoring when Bridgnorth number eight Charley Wright crossed late on.
North Midlands continue their campaign against Warwickshire at Bromsgrove on May 12 (3pm).