The winter break proved to have no effect on Epping Upper Clapton’s form as their first game of 2020 went in similar vein to those in the first half of the season.

A thumping 76-20 defeat away at Diss on Saturday kept them rooted to the bottom of London 2 North East, with 12 defeats out of 12.

Des Griggs and George Douglass provided the tries for Clapton, with the latter adding a conversion and two penalties to take the tally up to 20.

Diss, meanwhile, ran in 12 tries in total, with five coming in the first half and a further seven rubbing salt into Clapton’s wounds after the break.

With Clapton’s fate effectively sealed already, they named a youthful side for the visit to the promotion chasers, with 15 members of the squad having graduated from the club’s youth academy.

Owen Storrar was one of the youngsters to impress for Clapton, as did Jack Scully when he was introduced to the game as a substitute.

Having managed to score just 36 points in their four games prior to this defeat, there were some signs of improvement from the Clapton front line as they were able to retain the ball and put more pressure of their opponents.

However, Diss were far more alert to breakdowns and took advantage of quick penalties on numerous occasions too.

Clapton did not let their heads drop but another damaging defeat does leave them 13 points adrift of second-bottom side Holt, and even they were comfortable winners over Clapton earlier in the season.

Things do not get any easier, either, for the side, as their next game sees them come up against second-placed Southwold, who have lost only twice this season – against league leaders Norwich and against Diss.

That game takes place this Saturday before a trip to Ipswich the week after ends a run of playing three of the top four in a row.