WILL Croker admitted Taunton Titans had been “incredibly efficient” as Bournemouth marked their return to National Two South with a 49-12 defeat.

Lions came out of the blocks flying in their opening-day trip to Towergate Stadium.

Following on from such success last season, centre Freddie Gleadowe crossed for the visitors inside two minutes, with full-back Grant Hancox’s conversion giving them a 7-0 lead.

But a dream start to the league campaign was not to be as Taunton asserted their authority and emerged comfortable winners.

Director of rugby Croker said: “They were incredibly efficient in most things they did.

“Certainly, their carrying meant we couldn’t get our defensive shape and they were able to slow our ball meaning we were running against a set defence.

“Whenever we kicked loosely or turned the ball over, they capitalised.”

The step up in quality was something the away team expected and the organisation and efficiency of the Taunton outfit began to tell in a first half that closed with Bournemouth 30-7 down.

Four first-half tries for the Titans showed just how clinical teams at this level could be with their opportunities.

Bournemouth, though, could draw great strength from a second-half performance of grit and power which saw them dominate phases of possession and territory.

Ben Roberts crossed for a second try for the visitors but a late a breakaway try for Taunton left a final score which slightly flattered the victors.

But Croker and his team could be proud of their players after a second half which showed beyond doubt that they belong in National Two.

“We fielded an incredibly young side,” said the Lions head coach.

“With George Cotterell at 20, James Griffiths at 19, Conrad Carkeet at 19, Carlos Snell at 21 - we had youngsters throughout the side. It will have done them a world of good to have come up against that and see what is required at this level.”

Bournemouth will be hoping that captain Joe Rees and forward Joe Brown return to fitness on Saturday to add strength and experience to the matchday squad.

Lions welcome Worthing to Chapel Gate and will be looking to put in a strong showing in their first home game of the season.