Bees 0 - 23 Bristol
The severity of this scoreline exaggerated the disparity between the sides. There was no doubting the propriety of the result but there was reasonable argument over its worth.
A mere statistic did not explain the heroism of the Bees' defence.
On the other hand, it got one thing right: Bees' defence was not as good as Bristol's.
"We never had the rub of the green," complained Phil Maynard, the Bees' director of rugby. Which is how it often goes for a club in a slump.
Bees have lost their last three games in a row, which is not exactly a crisis. But that is not to say that it won't become one; they have some pretty tricky missions coming up and it's just as well that they have some points in the bank.
Bristol, of course, are in one of the First Division's more exalted regions; this victory will have put their promotion challenge back on track.
"But I thought we made them look a very ordinary side," said Maynard. Which, really, was the best that could be said for the Bees.
They were never going to win this match, rub of the green or not. Their achievement was to contest it as spiritedly as they did.
"We had a very good first half," thought Maynard.
True, but not in the context of building a winning platform. It was good in the sense that it was true to rugby's best traditions of trying hardest when the going is at its most grim.
Bristol could have been out of sight after the first quarter.
They scored the first of their three tries after six minutes and in a very professional manner. They booted a penalty into the right-hand corner, drove on the line-out catcher and their hooker, Neil Clark, was awarded the try.
To find themselves in the last ditch this early in the game could have demoralised the Bees.
It didn't. It inspired them to a prolonged show of defiance.
Bristol, in an apparently endless sequence, had seven attacking line-outs within five yards of the Bees' line. And the defence held them out in every one of them.
Bees actually grabbed an interception as Bristol pounded away in the seventh of these lunges and had Tom Richardson possessed a quicker turn of foot, had Nick Baxter not been tackled without the ball, they might have stolen a breakaway try.
But to turn at a mere five-nil down was an uplifting testament to Bees' commitment to their difficult task.
They had a great deal to play for in the second half - which brings us again to the capriciousness of the day.
Bees' line-out couldn't compare with Bristol's for reliability and overall they had the less inviting possession, but they found some nice ball early in the new half.
Middle of the park and just inside the Bristol half. There were options. And the one that fly-half Tim Walsh took was a diagonal kick down the right flank which would have turned Bristol and set up a promising chase.
Somehow, the fly-half slewed the ball too flat and too far. It went straight out, line-out Bristol and that was a critical moment in the match.
From the line-out, Bristol sent the ball into midfield, Robert Higgitt made a huge break which won Bristol the position that they maintained until Bees were penalised and Mark Woodrow, who until earlier this season played for the Birmingham side, kicked the goal.
Every penalty that Bristol were awarded in the first half, regardless of range or angle, they put into touch. And Bees had warned them about looking at where gift horses put their hay and Bristol took the point.
Woodrow, from a long way out, then kicked a beauty against his old club in the 57th minute.
An eleven-nil deficit was not, in theory, conclusive.
Except that it was and Bees were playing the last quarter for their pride. Eleven-nil looked just about right but then Bristol drove Paul Nelson over from a penalty-line-out sequence and worse was to follow.
In the 76th minute, as the Bees were putting together just about their most telling, most continuous, assault of the afternoon, they were intercepted in the left corner. Which is a grievous misuse of the word intercepted.
A Bees pass was knocked down, one-handed, by Woodrow and if this didn't come under the heading of
deliberate knock-on (sometimes punishable by a penalty try!), then it is difficult to imagine what does.
Woodrow then steadied the ball, fed Marko Stanojevik on the wing and with almost everybody else going the other way, the wing ran 80-odd yards for a try that Woodrow converted.
Rub of the green? This was grand larceny.
PERTEMPS BEES: D Knight; A Takarangi, S Woof (rep S Williams-Greenaway, 71 min), M Davies, N Baxter; T Walsh, T Richardson (P Knight, 50); A le Chevalier, M Miles, M O'Keefe (M Long, 53), A Davidson (M Walton, 52), R Hurrell (H Kakatou, 66), B Hughes, J Jenner, N Carter (T Jordan, 65). BRISTOL: S Marsden; M Stanojevik, R Higgitt (A Billig, 67), J Pritchard (D Gray, 79), L Nabaro; M Woodrow, R Blake (H Martens,
67); A Clarke, N Clark (P Nelson, 63), J Hobson (D Hilton, 63), A Kohn, J Brown-rigg, M Salter (R Bigwell, 83), R Martin-Redman, J el Abd.
Referee: Mr T Beddows.