Farnham Rugby Club opened their season with a 48-42 loss at London Irish Amateur (LIA).

The RFU have rejigged the leagues so Farnham – still playing at Level 6 – now play a raft of clubs they have never faced in league competition before.

The Farnham team included a few new faces with debuts handed to Harry Arkley, Joe Brockman, Matthew Rich and Toby Simmonds.

Farnham kicked off and applied early pressure, gaining possession and stringing together some strong phases.

Toby Salmon found a gap, broke the defensive line and offloaded to Max Williams who strode in for an early Farnham try. However, LIA soon scored under the posts to make it 7-7.

Salmon then intercepted a long pass and sprinted 60 metres to go in under the posts.

Farnham continued to play in the right areas and Jemi Akin-Olugbade scored in the corner. Salmon was accurate with the conversion to make it 21-7.

LIA responded with some hard carries and sharp interplay between their backs that delivered back-to-back tries to make it 21-21 after 30 minutes.

LIA won a long-range penalty which was well converted to put the hosts 24-21 ahead.

Just before half-time Tom Dullage took a quick tap but was taken down by an LIA player who had made no attempt to get on side. He received a yellow card and the penalty try was awarded. The whistle blew for half-time and the visitors led 28-24.

LIA restarted the match and their physical forwards dominated to put them deep in Farnham’s 22. A pushover try from a five-metre scrum put the hosts 31-28 ahead. After a serious of strong carries Farnham were a few yards short, from where Olugbade muscled his way over in the corner for his second try. Another long-range conversion by Salmon nudged Farnham 35-31 ahead.

LIA’s dominance at the scrummage meant the lead was short lived as the hosts powered over from close range. The conversation was missed and the score was 36-35.

Farnham needed their senior players to step up and Jonny Vincent was the man to do it. After breaking the line, Vincent stepped the full back and took two LIA players with him over the line close to the posts. The conversion was good and the visitors led 42-36 with ten minutes to play.

Farnham were unable to clear their lines from the restart – and after a series of dominant scrums LIA went over again to lead 43-42. LIA scored with the final play of the game to make it 48-42.