EASTLEIGH Pirates got their first taste of rugby since December on Saturday, with a friendly match played at The Hub against Andover.

New head coach Will Croker was delighted by the result, which saw his charges run out 38-19 victors.

Tries from Chris Bucket, James Mitchell, George Cotterell, Toby Warburton and a brace for scrum-half Will Rigelsford saw Eastleigh home after Andover started strongly, scoring first.

Looking back on the result, Croker said: “We are delighted with that. It was always going to be a bit disjointed after such a long break, playing with the adapted laws and integrating a lot of new players.

“We were able to blood eight new players and put into practice some game plan and strategy which we have been working on for months.

“Of course, it is nowhere near the finished product and we need to work on our discipline as we gave away too many penalties but, as a start, it was just what we needed.”

The Pirates’ second string also produced a strong performance to take the spoils 33-21 against the same opposition.

With the season being affected due to COVID-19, it has been very difficult for Eastleigh's new coaches Croker and Kevin Cotterell to see the fruit of all the toil that the squad has put in, in the 10 months since they took over.

Next up for Croker's men this weekend is a trip to Havant, who were recently promoted to London Premier and are gearing up for the new season with their own mini pre-season.

Croker said “Havant are a wonderful rugby club, a club with history and they have done extremely well of late.

“It will be a big test for our boys as they will be facing opposition two levels higher but this is why we do what we do, because we want to challenge ourselves against the best the area has to offer.”