Gloucester United coach Neil McCarthy praised his side’s grit as they returned to the southern conference of the Aviva A League with a 22-19 victory over Saracens Storm.
Two tries from Greg Jackson and one from David Halaifonua put the home side 22-14 to the good at half-time.
England Under-20 international George Perkins got the only points of the second half for Saracens but the Gloucester defence held on at Kingsholm to open their season with a win.
“We want to try and change the mentality in this group of young lads to players who won’t accept a defeat,” said McCarthy, whose side had moved over from the northern conference ahead of the new season.
“For us to get across the line, having to dog it out and graft was unbelievably good as there were a lot of young lads out there.”
Aviva Premiership Rugby new boys Bristol got their A League campaign off to the perfect start with a 37-26 bonus point win over Harlequins A that had academy forwards coach Mark Irish waxing lyrical over his side’s mental resilience.
Max Crumpton, Charlie Amesbury, Giorgi Nemsadze and Jordan Williams all crossed the whitewash for Bristol with Billy Searle racked up 17 points with a 100 per cent kicking display.
“There were two big momentum swings in the game and the boys showed good character to come back from those, to build a score and get back into the game,” said Irish.
“It was a really positive display, it was really good for the boys to get out and show that they can do. It was a great squad effort in the end to push through and get the bonus point.”
In the opposing changing room, Harlequins captain Matt Hopper demanded an improvement in his side’s defence ahead of next week’s match against Gloucester.
“Defensively we weren’t there we missed far too many first up tackles and personal responsibility is something we need to push forward next week,” he said.
In the Northern Conference, Leicester Tigers earned revenge over Wasps with a 33-20 win as Logovi’i Mulipola’s influence off the bench helped Tigers deny their hosts a late losing bonus point.
Wasps’ assistant forwards coach, Andy Titterrell, said: “It’s a steep learning curve and those guys that played tonight know what they have to do to be able to compete at this level.
“Once we took some of our senior players off and brought some of the younger players on, I think their experience started to tell.”
Newcastle Falcons had a try bonus point before half-time against Northampton Warriors and they scored six in total through Sam Egerton, Ben Sowrey (2), Max Davies, Nick Civetta and Reiss Cullen.
The Wanderers replied through Rory Hutchinson, Howard Packman and Juan Pablo Estelles but were unable to prevent a 38-21 defeat.
Sale Jets also got their new season off to a winning start by beating Worcester Cavaliers 13-11 as Nick Scott’s try proved decisive.