Pertemps Bees 6 Rotherham Earth Titans 31
Pertemps Bees' second defeat of their fledgling National One campaign had a certain onomatopoeic quality to it.
The bump of their supporters' expectations crashing back to earth and the pop of the bubble that has encircled the first month of the season were all too audible.
After this soundest of beatings, the euphoria of drawing at Bedford, massacring Exeter and disposing of local rivals Moseley in a devastating 20-minute spell seems such a distant memory.
Suddenly the pack that has been a revelation in the first four weeks and the backs who have cut, or at least threatened to cut, allcomers to shreds don't quite look so potent.
With Plymouth Albion and Doncaster to come in the next month, it's all beginning to look a bit tricky. Particularly given an injury situation that has engulfed the Silhillians' squad.
As pristine as that group looked on September 2, with twentysomething new players and a reorganised coaching set-up, the resources are considerably thinner now.
Eight of the starters who stormed Goldington Road on opening day were not present for Saturday's first whistle and the men who stood in their place against an excellent Rotherham side failed to do themselves justice.
While the visitors left Sharmans Cross top of the league and in danger of having to find a new stadium to facilitate a potential promotion, Bees are in limbo. Which way will they turn?
After watching his troops pummelled in the scrum and bashed around at the ruck, head coach Steve Williams is more anxious to know than most.
The contrast between his and Rotherham's players was stark. "We need to find out if we are going to take this forward," said the Welshman, his disappointment palpable.
"We haven't just got the quick fix of bringing new people in, how many of these guys are here for the long haul?"
He flatly refused to offer his men any refuge. He would not use the club's fitness problems as an escape route. "Once you start making excuses you start lowering your standards," he snapped.
"A lot of us have been cosseted in what it takes to be a rugby player. A lot of people think it's an easy existence but the reason why players in the better teams win is because they work hard.
"We have all got to raise our standards, myself and the other coaches as well. If there are 30 of us in the squad, we are only as strong as the 30th man."
He was at least able to point to some exceptionally committed individual displays and although he would not identify their donors, Matt Nuthall, Leo Halavatau and Tristan Davies need not lose too much sleep over their contributions.
But the afternoon's stand-out performer was visiting flanker Hendre Fourie who scored one try and set up another as well as making hard yards by the dozen.
The South African blindside was an inspiration to his team, never more so than in the 33rd minute when he crashed through the Bees midfield and into their 22.
Once downed he reappeared twice more in an exchange of passes that gave him room to drag a defender five yards across the line.
His final act, two minutes from the end, was to strip Bees of the ball near his own goal-line and off-load delightfully behind a defender's back for Neil Cochrane to release Jannie Bornman to race 50 yards and claim a try bonus. It was a try forged and finished on the veldt.
When he wasn't rampaging through open field Fourie was working his cottons off as part of a Titans pack that dominated.
Their first try, signalled a penalty try by referee Dale Newitt but awarded to Cochrane, came from a pushover in the 18th minute with the game tied at 3-3.
The 17-3 half-time lead was reduced by Nuthall's second penalty but further efforts from Joe Bedford and Born-man, as well as a faultless kicking display from Gareth Steenson, produced a margin that flattered the hosts.
"We were lucky to get away with that scoreline," Williams said. "They were a lot hungrier than us and they capitalised on our frailties. We were far too slow around the park and lost our shape completely."
That is not to say Bees did not have their opportunities although they were few and far between the ones that did present themselves they were not accepted.
Just before the break they had a promising catch and drive position from which they road took the line-out but were inexplicably shunted into the sidings. ..TEXT: Then, during their best period of the match at the start of the second period, they spent ten minutes in the Titans' 22 but came away with only three points.
A similarly well-placed line-out was aimed at Mark Cornwell but stolen.
When a team is not in a game for as long as Bees weren't, they need to be more clinical at such times.
But perhaps the biggest worry is that preferred props Terry Sigley and Casey dunning are still a month away from returning. If Plymouth are made aware of the way Bees' front five was pushed around, next weekend could be even worse.
PERTEMPS BEES: Nuthall; Brodie, Billig, Davies (Martin, 58), Palm; Petty (Higgins, 48), Spee (Baxter, 56); Long (Lewis, 51), Miles (Pearl, 48), Asi, Gabey, Davidson (Cornwell, 44), Halavatau (Miller, 58), Qera, Matthews. ROTHERHAM: Burke (Blackwood, 75); Tuohy, Allen, Hennessey (Buchanan, 75), Turnball; Steenson, Bedford; Walsh (Born-man, 73), Conroy, Hopcroft, McGowan, Head (McComb 76), Fourie (Croall, 78), Cochrane, Bornman (McComish, 56). Replacements: Larbey, Griffiths.
Referee: D Newitt (RFU).