The ambitious Bulls slumped to a 53-21 reverse at newly-promoted Leicester Forest in their first outing of the new campaign. Phil Brown's men enjoyed a terrific pre-season and went into battle with high hopes of laying the foundations for a promotion challenge, but they couldn't live with their rampant hosts who won the Midlands Division Three East (South) title last term. Two converted Forest tries in the opening eight minutes left Bulls with a mountain to climb - and it was one they rarely looked capable of scaling. They did halve their arrears when Duncan Williams went over for a try, which was converted by Max Dominy, following a driving maul. But the home side regained momentum with a penalty and try before the break after St Ives had Paul Ashbridge yellow-carded to open up a 22-7 cushion. The Bulls, who were dealt the further blow of losing full-back Warwick Brittany to a facial injury, conceded two further tries in quick succession early in the second half while still reduced to 14 men with Ashbridge serving his punishment. Chris Williams and Matt Wood provided further tries for St Ives - Dominy again converting on both occasions - once they had returned to a full complement of players. Those efforts sandwiched another Forest score and the home side then ran in two further tries to emphasise their superiority. The Bulls applied late pressure in vain as they came up short of a losing bonus point on a day they will quickly want to forget. Director of Rugby, Brown, admitted: "We took a while to get off the bus, but once we started to play as we know we can, we created many opportunities. On another day we would have taken more of them and the result would have been a lot closer." The Bulls have to stew on their disappointing start until returning to action on September 28 when hosting relegated side Leighton Buzzard at Somersham Road.