Tottonians RFC’s eventful opening day of the season ended with maximum points as they just edged a nailbiting London 1 South encounter with Brighton.

Totts’ preparations started with an injury that came well before the match started, during a bit of fun with a ball in their own car park as the squad waited for a delayed coach.

Jack Owsley broke a bone in his foot as he stepped off the curb and Reece Cooper answered the late call to the first XV’s back row and drove to Brighton.

But it was another rethink that really had a telling effect.

Pierre Alex Clarke retired at the end of last season to take over coaching Totts’ backs. But, instead of hanging up his boots, he used one of them to kick a tricky conversion to claim a 31-29 victory. Clark took a place on the bench to cover for another injured player.

The game was evenly balanced throughout the 80 minutes – all square at 14-14 by half-time, level at 21 apiece in the second half and there was just one score between the sides as it entered the final stages.

Brighton had taken the lead with a converted try after five minutes and went over the line once more before the turnaround.

Totts’ first half points came from a penalty try – awarded when the ball was punched out of Richard Buck’s hands as he went to touch down – and a Robbie Searle try and conversion.

Tottonians went in front for the first time shortly after the restart as captain Nathan Burns forced his way over the line close to the posts. Brighton levelled before slotting home a penalty and looked to be well on top when the led 29-21.

Back came Totts when Clark, who came on for the last 20 minutes, kicked a penalty.

Dylan Baptiste was within inches of the line in the first half and again went close when he chipped through but was beaten to the ball by an opponent.

However, Luke Wilson charged down to get his side back in possession and Baptiste finally got his reward when he went over the line out wide for a bonus point try. That levelled the scores at 29-29.

A draw might have been a fair reflection of the match but Clark was having none of it and nailed the difficult kick for victory.

New Totts’ head coach Gavin Hart praised George Lee, Cooper and Wilson, who were all making their debuts at London 1 level and applauded captain Nathan Burns.

Hart said: “I’m very, very happy. We always knew Brighton were going to be a hard team to beat but to go down there on the opening game and come back with winning points is great.”

He added: “There were times when we got a bit lost but we made the right decisions and the right time.

“The guys showed a lot of character to get themselves back into a winning position and go on to finish the game off.”