BRAINTREE Rugby Club's new head coach Jamie Clarke was delighted to see his team transform pre-season promise into a strong start in the London League division three Essex.

The Black and Ambers had impressed during their campaign preparations and made sure they carried that into the start of the season as an opening day trip to Millwall brought a 37-7 victory against a side who had beaten them twice last year.

The win put Braintree top of the early table and they will be looking to continue their form when they head to Chelmsford for a local derby clash in the league on Saturday, but Clarke was keen to keep feet firmly on the ground.

The new coach said said: “It was a really good structured performance from the lads (at Millwall).

“We have worked very hard all pre-season to gel as a senior squad with a playing structure across both our senior league sides.

“To go away and beat Millwall convincingly was a testament to the hard work that all the squad have put in so far this pre-season.

“We certainly won't be getting carried away though, as we know how tough this division will be, and we still have a lot to work on as we prepare for a big local derby next weekend”

Lloyd Hardin won the man-of-the-match award for Braintree at Millwall, with Joe Young scoring a brace of first-half tries and Keelan Joslin, Dominic Dann, Glen Whyatt and Jeremy Stanhope going over for one apiece after the break, while Joslin added a penalty and two conversions.

Braintree chairman of selectors, David Gilder, added: “We were desperate for a good start on the back of what has probably been our best pre-season for years.

“We have seen great numbers at training, often in excess of two whole teams, and now have healthy competition for places.

“The hard work in training really paid off in this result against a side we lost to twice last year and whom we haven't previously beaten away from home.

“Our front five pressurised Millwall for the whole game, the lineouts functioned well, the backs looked sharp and the whole team put in a massive defensive performance.”