The lack of contact training left them battered and bruised but Welwyn coach Gareth Hughes was delighted with the "grit and determination" shown in the win over Grasshoppers.

Welwyn battled to a 27-22 success at their Hobbs Way home in what was their first competitive game of the new Counties One Herts Middlesex season.

There were nine tries in total, only two of them converted, with Welwyn getting five of them through Rob Picken (two), Alex Amole, Thomas Hamer and Vetaia Kawea, Liam Scofield kicking their only extras.

But it was the hard ground from the baking-hot summer that could have derailed their campaign before it even started.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Thomas Hamer scores Welwyn's third try against Grasshoppers.Thomas Hamer scores Welwyn's third try against Grasshoppers. (Image: Neil Metcalfe)

"We’ve had a lack of preparation for contact skills and that absolutely showed with the amount of injuries," said Hughes. "The RFU have got something to think about there.

"We haven’t done much contact training at all. We had a [friendly] last week on the 4G at Cheshunt against Epping but a lot of this team weren’t available.

"So this is the first bit of contact this squad has had and to come away with a bonus-point win is huge.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Welwyn enjoyed an opening day win over Grasshoppers at Hobbs Way.Welwyn enjoyed an opening day win over Grasshoppers at Hobbs Way. (Image: Neil Metcalfe)

"There’s a massive pat on the back needed for the lads, they showed real character.

"We looked dead and buried after being pulled back to 17-17. There were bodies on the floor, injuries, but then we got another 10 minutes of grit and determination to go ahead.

"Then we just about hung on at the end.

"I’m massively proud of the lads and it is a great way to start the new division."

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Dan Comben receives her 100th cap from Welwyn president Mark Elliott.Dan Comben receives her 100th cap from Welwyn president Mark Elliott. (Image: Neil Metcalfe)

The game saw some familiar names selected, prop Dan Comben making his 100th first-team appearance for the club, but there were others breaking into the squad and that is a big part of the plan for the season ahead.

Hughes said: "You’ve got Fin Sutherland who produced a huge turnover ball at the end. He’s in in his second full season as a senior and he is in the centre spot.

"He’s developing really nicely and we’ve got some colts coming through the system now.

"It’s looking really good, they all get on and enjoy it and wins like this help that.

"Last year we had a clear plan but this year, first and foremost, we just need to be competitive and then we’ll revaluate where we are mid-season.

"I like to think we are good enough to get a top-half finish in this league.

"As a club as a whole, the aim is to constantly two, maybe three teams out week in week out."