Whitchurch made the perfect start to the season with an excellent 29-26 victory away to in-form Droitwich in the first round of the North Mids Shield.

Droitwich had a 100 per cent record in winning the Midlands Three West (South) last term, while the Worcestershire side also reached the final of the RFU Senior Vase at Twickenham.

But the Reds were up for the challenge, and skipper and No8 Jake Rees admitted victory was just the tonic ahead of Saturday's home clash with newcomers Cleobury Mortimer in Midlands Two West (North).

"Droitwich had not lost in their league for 12 months, had brought in some new players, so were quietly confident," he said.

"So it was a good one to win from our point of view, and we can take a lot of confidence from the performance.

"We were very good in attack, but defensively we need to improve, and we conceded a couple of poor tries which put pressure on us.

"But all in all it was a very good first performance against a good side. It was important to win to get some early momentum, which we can now take into the Cleobury game.

"They will be an unknown quantity, like a lot of teams in this division, but we now need to build on last Saturday."

Droitwich started well, making the most of some defensive lapses to open up a 12-0 lead with a couple of tries.

But Whitchurch roared back with back Mike Gardener getting the first try, before tighthead prop Steve Bloore drove over from a line-out.

Skipper Rees then got in on the act with a brace of touchdowns, before flanker and man-of-the-match James Hockenhull completed the nap hand. Fly-half Ryan Horton kicked a couple of conversions

Droitwich hit back late on to make for a tight finish, but the visitors held firm to ensure they kept their flag flying in the Shield.

After taking on Cleobury on Saturday in their first action in Midlands Two West (North) since stepping down a level this season, Whitchurch then head to Derbyshire side Ashbourne in the first round of RFU Senior Vase the following week.

n While it was a good day for the club's first team, Whitchurch's second string suffered a tough start in the North West League Division Two South when crashing 71-7 away to Bowdon Seconds.

With several of the team missing, the Reds were forced to send a scratch side, and had just 13 players throughout.

After conceding four early tries, they battled hard, with No8 Paul Jones going over for a try, converted by Lee Blackhurst.

But a hot day and lack of numbers took its toll as Bowdon turned the screw late on with a succession of touchdowns to make for a harsh looking scoreline.

The seconds will hope for better fortunes on Saturday at home to Winnington Park Seconds who themselves lost 38-24 to Altrincham Kersal last weekend.

n The third team, playing in division four south, were handed the points as Macclesfield Fourths conceded their opening game.

On Saturday, they visit Lymm Fourths who opened with a 44-18 success against Northwich Thirds.