In the increasingly dispassionate world of professional rugby union Boy's Own stories have become less and less common. Romance might not be dead but it's none too well.

Yet having been taken from the sport's backwaters and plunged straight into the deep end in the first game of the First Division season, even the hardest heart would have to concede there is something of the fairytale about Jack Preece's ascent to the Pertemps Bees first team.

The 18-year-old was left to sink or swim as he skinny-dipped, a reference to his slight physique rather than his attire, against the vaunted Rotherham pack in last Saturday's 31-17 defeat and by common consensus he did reasonably well and at least managed to reach the bank in one piece.

More than that in fact, the Gloucester-born openside actually scored a try on his National League debut and did enough to suggest his is the brightest of futures. Certainly Ben Harvey had no complaints with the way Preece navigated the hazardous waters.

"For someone as young as he is, he did tremendously," the Bees head coach said. "His attitude has been phenomenal since he's been here. He listens to what you say, is willing to learn and does what you ask him - he is a very good prospect."

He needs to be to. Preece, an apprentice coving fitter with his father's company, has played only one season of senior rugby and that came in the Western Counties North - the equivalent of Midlands Three - with hometown club Old Centralians.

He was spotted by Bees centre Dave Knight and brought to Sharmans Cross Road on the understanding that here was a talented young sprat whose game and body required considerable development.

Preece made a favourable impression on new forwards coach Russell Earnshaw and when Will Matthews pulled up lame before the Titans match, neither Earnshaw nor Harvey had any hesitation about tipping the teenager out of the boat.

"It was brilliant," Preece said in reference to Saturday's match. "It's easy playing with people who know what you are going to do. You just have to do your job. Normally I'm used to having to do everyone else's job but against Rotherham all I had to worry about was what I needed to do.

"Scoring that try was probably one of the happiest moments I've ever had. When I saw him [Rotherham tighthead Phil Boulton] go down I knew I could strip him and when I had the ball I knew I was going to score. I never dreamed I'd score on my debut, I only ever get six or seven a season."

If the script had been sent to Mills and Boon, they'd have scoffed.

Preece continued in a similarly influential vein, getting through his tackling without fuss and snuffling around for the ball at rucks. He looked at home in an unfamiliar environment.

"I was more nervous coming up to training for the first time," he said. "I've swum with sharks twice, once when I was 12 and once when I was 16, but I wasn't as scared as I was on the way up in the car that day.

"Every county or club team I have played for I have always been the best player. Coming up here I knew for certain I would be the worst by far.

"I thought I'd make loads of mistakes and every time I did no one would talk to me. I was really worried but they all made me feel welcome."

There have to be caveats though. Preece was turned over frequently, once which led directly to a Rotherham try, and clearly lacked the upper body strength to dominate in the positions into which he darted.

With Matthews likely to be fit for this weekend's derby against Moseley, Preece's desire to continue frying bigger fish may have to be put on hold.

"I'd like to keep my place in the side," he said. "I know we have got some good players and I know Will Matthews is coming back but I don't want to play just one game, I want to carry on where I left off against Rotherham."

For once hard-nosed rugby union, normally so cruel on the small fry, has allowed the dreamers an afternoon off.