Worcester Warriors 48
Birmingham & Solihull 3
With the hardest task of their Championship season already behind them Birmingham & Solihull can look forward to a more prosperous campaign than the last.
And with their simplest task of the embryonic season behind them Worcester can now prepare for more stern tests as they seek to repair the damage wrought by the last. These are two clubs with contrasting agendas.
Save for the fact they both want to win rugby matches Bees and Warriors might as well be playing a different sport such is the financial, structural, physical and mental gulf that separates the second tiers polar opposites.
Yet for long periods of this absorbing Championship curtain raiser Russell Earnshaw and Richard Hills teams were entwined like dozing pythons, with little obvious difference in terms of quality.
Bees, as they always do, had enterprise aplenty and Worcester, as they used to do, set up camp on the gain line with a powerful pack that ought to have given Joey Carlisle and Jonny Arr an arm chair ride.
That the hosts young half backs didnt more fully exploit that advantage was down to the odd injudicious tactical option and a resolute defensive performance by their opponents.
Hill lamented the fact Worcester couldnt score more tries yet he could just as easily have hidden behind the visitors commitment and determination. One feels the days for excuses and hiding are over, however.
Bees conjured both of the games two Champagne moments. First the corner-flagging Ollie Groves appearance from nowhere to shove Miles Benjamin in to touch and deny the wing a try.
Second Ngalu Taus interception late in the game that sent the prop plodding out of his own 22. There is always something amusing when a tighthead finds nothing but 80m of daylight between him and the try line. Especially when the front rower in question is 41-years-old.
To be fair to the Tongan veteran his break and the support offered by Ollie Winter with their side 45 points down deserved a try and it was unfortunate for Mitch Culpin that Worcesters Rob Higgitt had the angle to reach the ball in goal first.
That is to say nothing of Taus compatriot Semisi Taulava who gave a devastatingly good impression of Bees last Pacific Island sensation, Akapusi Qera with his awesome ball carrying.
While he lacks Qeras pace he more than makes up for it with his work in the tight. This is a player destined to both crack and turn a few heads this season.
And what of Worcester? Overall they looked like a XV playing together for the first time and lacked the fluency of a well-grooved unit.
But the combative edge brought by Ed Shervington and Neil Best will make them too much to handle for most Championship forwards.
Marcel Garveys pace has not diminished and Tom Arscott ran some incisive lines from full back. It would have been interesting to see how many points the home team scored with Andy Goode pulling the strings for longer.
Hills call for more accuracy is welcome and suggests standards have been raised at Sixways after a match that contained positives and negatives for both participants.
WORCESTER: Arscott; Garvey, Crockett (Rasmussen 68), Higgitt, Benjamin; Carlisle (Goode 54), Arr (Williams 54); Black, Shervington (Lutui 54), Douglas (Taumoepeau 54), Bowley, Gillies (Kitchener 24), Best, Abbott (Collins 71), Horstmann.
BEES: Foden; Hunt (Winter 74), Grove, Lawson, Culpin; Crook (Robinson 45), Brake (Petty 65); Dugard (Parkins 51), Sammons (Gerry 31-37) Gerry 65), Halavatau (Tau 51), Taulava, Griffiths, Connolly, Preece (Clayton 60), Hopley.
Referee: Keith Lewis (RFU)