ROYAL Wootton Bassett coach Stuart Roberts admitted his side had been left perplexed by their rapid downturn in fortunes in the second half as they slipped to a 36-17 defeat at Old Centralians in their Wadworth 6X South West One East opener on Saturday.

The visitors stunned their Gloucestershire hosts, who had finished fourth in the table last season, by roaring into a 17-3 half-time lead at Saintbridge Sports Centre, only to see the tables comprehensively turned after the break.

Old Cents racked up 33 unanswered points in the second period to wrap up a five-point triumph, leaving Bassett to return home with nothing to show for their efforts.

New winger Sam Nawami crossed for two tries for the away side, either side of Fin Dewar, who joined the club this summer from Dorset & Wilts One North outfit Bradford on Avon, while Tom Fieldsend landed a conversion in what was an excellent opening 40 minutes for Roberts’ men.

“It was a fantastic start,’’ said Roberts. “We came out of the blocks really well and we put together some really good phases.

“We were very clinical and we built a nice lead going into half-time, but going into the second half we conceded quite early.

“They (Old Cents) were able to get their tails up a little bit and they had some big, physical ball carriers.

“We weren’t able to win enough ball to slow their momentum.’’ He added: “It was a bit of a mixed bag really, there were definitely a lot of positives in the first half.

“We defended really well in that first half and took our chances really well and I couldn’t really pinpoint why it didn’t go as well in the second half, although we were playing up the slope.’’ Swindon’s South West One East campaign also got off to an unsuccessful start as they were defeated 31-14 ay Oxfordshire side Grove.