Horsham were well beaten at Coolhurst by a Beckenham side that mixed power and athleticism to score eight tries in a 50-22 London 2 South East success.
It was a performance that would suggest the visitors are one of the favourites to win the league and return to London 1 South after an absence of five seasons.
The Green and Whites were optimistic going in to the game having had a good result away at Maidstone last week, and completing the double over Beckenham last season.
But they were caught unawares by the dynamism of second row Eb Ikediashi, who missed last season through injury, but scored a hat-trick of tries, the pace of full-back KK Orelaja, returning to the side after university, and the powerful surging runs of experienced prop James Cleverly.
From Beckenham’s first meaningful attack, Horsham conceded a penalty which resulted in a powerful drive before Ikediashi scored converted by Louis Richards.
On 25 minutes, a fine counter attack saw a Michael Tredgett line break and then with good hands from Nick Bell and Jonny Whiting the ball was spun left to Declan Nwachukwu who showed his pace to run around the defence to score from the halfway line which was well converted by Johnson.
A pick up at No.8 saw a great blind side try scored by Beckenham scrum-half Craig Thomson and then Ikediashi scored the individual try of the game when he broke through four weak tackles.
Johnson came back with a penalty to keep Horsham in touch as they went into the break 10-17 down.
The Green and Whites had further hope for a revival when Hans Laud-Anderson was yellow carded on the stroke of half-time.
Both sides rang the changes at half-time but it was Cleverly who made the impact off the bench by bulldozing his way through several tackles to set up the first of full-back Orelaja’s two tries. Ikediashi then completed his hat-trick with a good try following some great recycling.
Horsham countered with a great try from Tom Blewitt following good work by Johnny Goward, who suffered a fractured cheek bone, and Tredgett.
Orelaja showed amazing acceleration to round his man from a standing start and burst through the gap in Horsham’s defence to score.
Centre George Hickson scored for the visitors and then Horsham scored their third try from Josh Steggles, before Josh Smith scored for Beckenham in the closing minutes.
Horsham head coach Nick Stocker said: “It was a very disappointing performance. We did not have the appetite for the physical contest and gave their ball carriers too much respect missing too many tackles.
“Combined with a malfunctioning lineout, and an inability to look after the ball, we could not build any pressure of our own to get our own game into effect which we only saw in glimpses. We were well beaten by a good side but we were significant architects of our own downfall.
“On the positive side, the scrum went well and on occasions we showed a threat with the ball. The team will learn from this. Things have gone really well until today and perhaps we’d developed a bit of hubris. It will serve as a reminder just how competitive this league is and to progress we need to bring our A game and appetite week in week out.”
Horsham: J.Bell; Nwachukwu, Wilde, Johnson (capt), Blewitt; Blake (Ordidge), Steggles; Reid, N.Bell, Powell (Fisher); Goward (Fairs), Whiting; Osgood, Smith, Tredgett.