IT took fully 82 minutes for Jamie Broadley to score Rotherham Titans’ sole try and, by then, Worcester had already crossed five times and racked up 42 points.
The difference in quality and scoring prowess was, too often, plain to see.
Maybe it should have been no surprise given Rotherham’s wage bill is perhaps only a fifth of the £3m invested by the visitors, who, newly relegated from the Premiership, are intent on making an immediate return.
Indeed, when Worcester amassed a 37-0 interval lead, even the most optimistic Titans fan must have been concerned a record defeat was looming.
That Lee Blackett’s side then re-emerged transformed – they dominated large parts of the second period and only conceded again to Matt Cox in the 74th minute while Broadley was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on – said plenty about the character of the hosts.
Furthermore, according to the winger, it underlined that they were never really as bad as the final scoreline suggested.
That might offer some comfort but probably more frustration to Blackett given his side – having surprised many by reaching fourth last term – wanted to truly test their 2014-15 credentials against a leading Championship opponent and, ultimately, failed mainly due to too much indiscipline.
Broadley admitted: “It’s the same things we talked about last season that, against the top-four sides, you have to come out firing in that first 20 minutes.
“But I think a few boys went into their shells a little bit and as soon as Worcester got the momentum it was very difficult to take it back from them. That’s the quality they have.
“There were no fireworks going off at half-time. It was all very measured. You looked at the scoreboard and couldn’t really work out how we were that far behind.
“We were the ones that played the rugby. It was just the penalties and what happened on the back of those. You can get away with isolated ones but we’d given away strings of penalties and those are what cost us.
“A side like Worcester will end up in the corner, driving and make it hard work. It was.
“But we still felt we were dangerous. We made quite a few clean breaks and just didn’t quite finish them off, which happened against Plymouth and in a few of the other early games, too.
“The good thing is we know there’s loads to work on and we can go away and do that.”
Broadley was correct that his side looked threatening at times in that costly first half when Worcester’s tries came via two charges from Georgian prop Val Rapava-Ruskin, Andrew Symonds – who crashed through James Mackinney’s tackle after good work from ex-Rotherham captain Charlie Mulchrone – and a glorious team effort finished by Samuel Smith, Ignacio Mieres adding 17 points with his boot.
Last season, despite such a hefty deficit, one would have still fancied the Titans to hit back given the strike potential in their ranks. However, much of that has gone with scrum-half Mulchrone at Worcester and prolific fly-half Juan Pablo Socino – the Championship player of the year – operating for Premiership Newcastle.
It remains open to debate whether their replacements can be as effective.
“If you look at some of the key lads who were here last time, like Charlie and Dan Sanderson, they’d been here a couple of seasons,” added Broadley.
“The entire core of our squad has moved on so it’s going to take a little while to gel. We’ve got a new half-back pairing and in the line-out, too, so they need time to bed down. They come under real scrutiny at this level.
“It’s no reason to panic. We had games like this last year against London Welsh and it actually galvanised our season and helped us push for that top four. We know Worcester are going to be one or two so there’s no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water.
“At half-time, we set a target of four tries and a bonus point.
“It didn’t happen but to keep them at nil nearly all the way through and reverse that momentum a little was important and it was nice to give the crowd a bit of something at the end as they were great. We feel like we let them down a bit.”
Worcester, who had Samuel Betty yellow-carded for a swinging arm on Mackinney early in that second period, finished off with a Darren O’Shea try deep into stoppage-time.
But it was undoubtedly Rotherham who had enjoyed the better of that half, No 8 Alex Rieder and centre Jack Roberts prominent, but with little reward.
Titans now head to Scarborough on Friday night to open their British & Irish Cup campaign against Yorkshire Carnegie.
Rotherham Titans: Scanlon; Broadley, Roberts, Harris (Davies J 37), Keating; Mackinney (Barrett 44 BB and 58), White (Davies A 55); Hislop (Williams 7), Cruse, Tampin (Macklin 60), Morris (Parker 60), Holmes, Birch (Ryan 55), Preece, Rieder.
Worcester Warriors: Howard; Smith, Stelling (Fatiaki 54), Symonds, Humphreys; Mieres, Mulchrone (Arr 77); Ruskin (Bower 54), George (Annett 59), Daniels (Rees 23), Sanderson, O’Shea, Cox, Samuel (Gilbert 73), Van Velze.
Referee: I Tempest.