Titans 14 Cambridge 25

Rotherham Titans somehow managed to turn what should have been a comfortable win over Cambridge into a disappointing 25-14 defeat at Clifton Lane.

Rotherham went in at the break cruising to a comfortable 11-0 lead and having created a number of opportunities could have put the game to bed inside the first half.

This combined with the fact that the visitors had virtually offered nothing in terms of attacking threat and there wouldn’t have been too many inside the ground at half time willing to back against the home side.

So full credit must be given to Cambridge, who after scoring a breakaway try on 46 minutes, went on to arguably be the better side on the day and Rotherham will have to analyse why that was if they are going to get back on the winning trail.

Titans’ points in the first period came initially midway through the half when Seb Nagle-Taylor collected a pass close to the line from Alex Dolly, before showing tremendous strength and desire to crash over the line for an unconverted try.

Dolly stretched Titans advantage by adding penalties on 30 and 40 minutes respectively to send Rotherham in at the break with a comfortable 11-0 cushion of a lead.

The opening exchanges in the second half followed a similar pattern with Rotherham in the ascendancy. That was until the 46th minutes when just 10 metres out a Titans pass went astray; the loose ball was hacked on by Cambridge centre James Ayrton before full back Mike Ayrton collected and galloped 60 metres to dot down under the posts. Lawrence Rayner added the extras to make it 11-7.

Around the hour mark Alex Dolly sandwiched a penalty in between two from Cambridge replacement Jack Green, to leave Rotherham 14-13 ahead, but the momentum of the game had changed and the visitors started to look dangerous and threatening.

With almost a sense of inevitability Cambridge took the lead 9 minutes from time when following a period of forward pressure the ball was spun out to the backs, with it eventually arriving with winger Sam Yawayawa who touched down in the corner for an unconverted try.

Time was running out as Titans tried to retrieve the advantage they’d enjoyed for much of the match. As 80 minutes approached on the clock Rotherham cleared their lines, but the kick was too long allowing Cambridge plenty of time to run back at the home side.

This they did through winger Nana Asiedu who ran in from 70 metres unopposed to score under the posts to wrap up the match. Green slotted the extras from in front to seal an unexpected win for the visitors.

Commenting on the game a disappointed Joe Barker said, “That was very frustrating. The first half was a good one and we should have taken more points, but we still came in at half time 11-0 up. We even continued to dominate in the opening stages of the second half and at no point did they look like scoring a point, not even from a penalty.

“But as soon as they scored that full length try, I don’t know if our energy went or we stopped doing what we were good at, but we started to give penalties away because we were trying to force things rather than sticking to the system and being consistent.

“The first half worked so well because we stuck to our system and built pressure and pressure brings points; but we stopped doing that and we went back to trying to chase something rather than building it and then we end up making little errors that we didn’t make in the first half.

“Our discipline then killed us and we stopped defending the maul and we didn’t have as much dominance in the scrum and that’s credit to them because they took their chances and they played the referee very well. I think we could have handled him a lot better; he had certain ways of refereeing the game and we have to adapt to the referee and we didn’t do that very well.”

Referee: Daniel Collins

Attendance: 644

Yellow Card: None

Titans: Nagle-Taylor (T), Dolly (3P)

Cambridge: M Ayrton (T), Yawayawa (T), Asiedu (T), Rayner (1C), Green (C, 2P)

Titans: 15 Sam Allan (Irvine 34) (Dever 65), 14 Henry Roberts, 13 Jamie Cooke, 12 Ellis Abrahams, 11 Connor Field, 10 Joe Barker, 9 Alex Dolly, 1 Dan Richardson (Bergmanas 70), 2 Ali Thomson, 3 Will Dennis (Stout 66), 4 Conor Keys (Ball 57), 5 Jamie Ure, 6 Tom Cotterill, 7 Zak Poole, 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Jack Bergmanas, 17 Rikki Stout, 18 Luis Ball, 19 Connor Dever, 20 Callum Irvine.

Cambridge: 15 Mike Ayrton (Capt.), 14 Nana Asiedu, 13 James Ayrton, 12 Matt Hema (Rayner 73), 11 Sam Yawayawa, 10 Lawrence Rayner (Green 55), 9 Kieran Duffin, 1 Henry Peck (Ibrahim 24) (Peck 72), 2 Alex Rayment (Ruddock 58), 3 Jack Higgins, 4 Gillan Benoy, 5 George Bretag-Norris, 6 Jake McCloud, 7 Keifer Laxton (Rawlings 52), 8 Stephen Hipwell (Conquest 55).

Replacements: 16 Cameron Ruddock, 17 Ben Ibrahim, 18 Rob Conquest, 19 Louis Rawlings, 20 Jack Green.

 Picture Courtesy of Darren George

Picture Courtesy of Darren George

Ampthill 22 Titans 8

Rotherham’s five match winning streak came to an end as they crashed to a 22-8 defeat away to Ampthill at a blustery Dillingham Park.

Titans overall performance compared to recent efforts was disappointing and they will look to use this experience as a learning curve when the league recommences in two weeks’ time.

The uniqueness of the set-up at Dillingham Park and the slope of the ground was certainly handled better by the home team. However, had Titans taken some opportunities they created, particularly in the first half, they may well have made it 6 wins in a row.

The defeat leaves Rotherham fifth in the table, 4 points off the summit, but with 20 games remaining in National 1 there’s still everything to play for in this longest of seasons.

The game itself saw Titans make the worst start possible as Ampthill touched down after just 65 seconds through winger Nigel Baker. However, had Rotherham collected a loose ball on the ground from the kick off, it’s unlikely the home side would have scored after one minute.

Nevertheless, Rotherham began to settle into the game and enjoyed periods of territory and possession in the hosts half as they tried to make the most of the slope and strong wind.

Following a powerful drive up to the Ampthill line on 13 minutes it looked as though Roth would open their account; unfortunately for them they lost the ball at the crucial moment 3 metres from goal.

On 19 minutes had the final pass to Henry Roberts been an accurate one, the winger would have strolled in for one of his easiest dot downs of the season.

On 22 minutes had Seb Nagle-Taylor not unluckily spilled the ball forward diving over to score Rotherham would have secured their first points and on 32 minutes had another errant pass out wide not occurred, Titans very well may have touched down there too.

Titans did however get on the board after 34 minutes when Ellis Abrahams knocked over a penalty on the angle from 35 metres. Rotherham had turned down 2 other kicks at goal earlier in the game.

As the half drew to a close Rotherham pressed further looking to add to their total, but a resilient home defence made sure there would be no further score and Titans went in at the break trailing 7-3.

Both teams stayed out on the pitch at half time rather than walking back through the woods to the clubhouse. This new on-the-pitch half time team discussion didn’t hinder Rotherham one jot, as they took the lead 2 minutes into the second period.

Jamie Cooke collected the ball out wide on the right before showing excellent pace and power to run through Ampthill’s defence for a fine try. Abrahams narrowly missed the conversion as the strengthening wind pushed the ball across the face of the sticks.

To be fair however, Rotherham’s opportunities were limited in the second half as the hosts utilised the conditions well. The vastly experienced Ampthill pack trundled around the field to good effect and their backs looked sharp when given the ball; all of which meant Titans had to defend hard for long periods.

On 66 minutes Rotherham’s line was breached when scrum-half Euan McKirdy collected from the back of a maul to snipe round to score next to the posts from 5 metres out. Fly half Josh Sharp added the extras from in front to give the hosts a 14-8 advantage.

Things got worse for Rotherham on 72 minutes when Eru Smith-Wano was shown a yellow card for what the referee said was a no arms tackle. This was Titans second yellow card of the game after Connor Field was shown his on 14 minutes. From the resulting penalty Josh Sharp added the 3 points from 40 metres out to extend his sides lead to 17-8.

As the game went into injury time some sloppy defending by Rotherham allowed Ampthill to run in to score the final points of the game through Josh Sharp, who converted his own try.

Commenting post-match a disappointed Joe Barker explained, “The result is a tough one to take, but ultimately it will do us a world of good. We’ve been on a bit of a roll these last few weeks and sometimes you have to go through some tough results and this is one of those.

“This is now a challenge for us as a group; strong people come out of these situations stronger. You have to have good character to come through these moments and I believe this group has bags of it and there’s no doubt they will bounce back from this.

“I think defensively we were really strong and they gained field position through silly things and some of those things were outside of what we can control, but we still need to handle that.

“However in attack we didn’t get into many phases as we didn’t have the ball too often. Our fitness levels and commitment was outstanding once again and that’s a positive which will stand us in good stead going forwards.”

Referee: George Selwood

Attendance: 385

Yellow Card: Field & Smith-Wano (Titans)

Titans: Cooke (T), Abrahams (P)

Ampthill: Baker (T), McKirdy (T), Sharp (T, P, 2C)

Titans: 15 Callum Irvine, 14 Henry Roberts, 13 Jamie Cooke, 12 Ellis Abrahams, 11 Connor Field, 10 Joe Barker, 9 Connor Dever (Dolly 50), 1 Dan Richardson, 2 Ali Thomson (Bergmanas 70), 3 Rikki Stout (Dennis 39), 4 Tom Cotterill (Keys 53), 5 Jamie Ure, 6 Luis Ball (Smith-Wano 50), 7 Zak Poole, 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Jack Bergmanas, 17 Will Dennis, 18 Conor Keys, 19 Eru Smith-Wano, 20 Alex Dolly.

Ampthill: 15 Ciaran Whyte (Foster 74), 14 Spencer Sutherland, 13 Oli Morris, 12 Sam Hanks, 11 Nigel Baker, 10 Josh Sharp (Whyte 79), 9 Euan McKirdy (Williams 64), 1 Soane Tongauiha (Culverhouse 77), 2 Aleki Lutui (Walliker 40), 3 Matt Collins (Lutui 58), 4 Carl Burgess (Molitika 58), 5 Billy Johnson (Capt.), 6 Syd Blackmore, 7 Joe Bercis (Burgess 70), 8 Ma'ama Molitika (Allman 40).

Replacements: 16 Olly Walliker, 17 Jack Culverhouse, 18 William Allman, 19 Gavin Williams, 20 Will Foster.

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Titans 25 Plymouth Albion 14

Rotherham Titans made it 5 wins on the bounce as they ran out 25-14 winners over Plymouth Albion at a windy Clifton Lane.

For the fifth consecutive game Titans secured the four-try bonus point and have now collected 25 points from their last five outings.

Titans’ four tries came through Seb Nagle-Taylor, Henry Roberts and a brace from Harry Dunne. Alex Dolly added a conversion and a penalty in the blustery conditions.

The victory for Rotherham on a bitterly cold  afternoon at the Lane moves them into second spot in the league behind Old Elthamians, by way of games drawn; but with 21 games remaining everything is up for grabs for a number of teams in this most unpredictable of divisions.

The game itself saw Roth nose themselves ahead on 10 minutes when scrum half Alex Dolly successfully knocked over a tricky penalty from distance, after Albion had infringed at a line out on their 10 metre line.

However, the South West side responded well to falling behind and within 4 minutes went ahead themselves when Captain Herbie Stupple dotted down from a catch and drive close to the Titans line. Full back Matt Shepherd added the extras to give Albion a 7-3 advantage.

The game settled and both sides enjoyed periods of possession with each creating opportunities and half chances. However, at this stage in the contest resilient and tenacious defending ensured no line was breached.

On the half hour mark that changed when a dominant Titans scrum powered up to the Albion line before number 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor picked up from the base to bulldoze his way over for Roth’s first try of the game. Dolly impressively nailed the conversion from out wide to edge his side 10-7 ahead.

The second half saw Titans increase their lead on 47 minutes when the backs worked a nice try with some slick hands. The ball arrived with Joe Barker, who just briefly held before finding Callum Irvine in support; he in turn made good ground before drawing the last man to feed Henry Roberts on the wing to race in and score a fine try in the corner.

Titans’ confidence began to soar and they started to enjoy periods of dominance as the home crowd shouted for more. Indeed more came just after the hour mark when Barker got himself involved again. This time his pass out the back to Zak Poole was collected well before he drew his man to find Harry Dunne, who in turn charged in to score Roth’s third try in the corner.

As the game drew towards its close there was late drama in stoppage time. Four minutes into added time Plymouth made sure of a nervy ending when following a sustained period of forward pressure on the Titans line the ball came out to winger Jon Dawe who showed good strength to power over. Shepherd’s conversion made it a 6-point game.

From being in a relatively comfortable position for most of the second period, suddenly a Titans victory which seemed so certain appeared to be under threat.

However, in the final play of the game Rotherham sealed the win with a bonus point try. From turnover ball inside the Albion half the ball arrived with Barker who threw a long pass out to Harry Dunne who jinked back inside to score and round off a perfect afternoon for the home side.

Commenting post-match Rotherham head coach Joe Barker explained, “To come away with five points from such a close game is very pleasing. I think it was a case of who buckled first under the pressure because both teams had a strong pack and were strong defensively and to be fair both sides played some good rugby at times.

“What pleased me the most however was how the boys handled the pressure in a tight game. Plymouth were on our line a number of times but other than on a couple occasions the boys were outstanding in keeping them out. The boys showed tremendous character and I am proud of every one of them.

“Even though we have a very young group here they are learning and gaining experience quickly; they have a great spirit and want to play for each other and that’s a great sign going forwards in terms of taking this club where it needs to be.”

Referee: Joe James

Attendance: 621

Yellow Card: None

Titans: Dunne (2T), Nagle-Taylor (T), Roberts (T), Dolly (1C, 1P)

Plymouth Albion: Stupple (T), Dawe (T), Shepherd (2C)

Titans: 15 Callum Irvine, 14 Henry Roberts, 13 Harry Dunne, 12 Ellis Abrahams, 11 Connor Field, 10 Joe Barker, 9 Alex Dolly (Dever 59), 1 Dan Richardson (Bergmanas 75), 2 Ali Thomson, 3 Rikki Stout (Dennis 71), 4 Tom Cotterill (Keys 66), 5 Jamie Ure, 6 Luis Ball, 7 Zak Poole (Smith-Wano 75), 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Jack Bergmanas, 17 Will Dennis, 18 Conor Keys, 19 Eru Smith-Wano, 20 Connor Dever.

Plymouth Albion: 15 Matt Shepherd, 14 Jon Dawe, 13 Teegan Minkley, 12 Connor Eastgate, 11 Jack Arnott, 10 Dan Mugford (Squire 57), 9 James Tait (Setter 66), 1 Will Norton (Chapman 75), 2 Jamie Salter (McGregor 66), 3 Dan Pullinger, 4 Dan Swain (Westlake 59), 5 Kieran Westlake (Pearson 57), 6 Rusi Tuima, 7 George Mills, 8 Herbie Stupple (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Davy McGregor, 17 Lewis Pearson, 18 Dean Squire, 19 Luke Chapman, 20 Cameron Setter.

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Esher Rugby 15 Titans 45

Rotherham Titans made it four wins on the trot as they scored 7 tries in a 45-15 drubbing to overwhelm a tenacious Esher side at Molesey Road.

Titans secured the four try bonus point inside a pulsating first half performance, before running in another 3 dot downs in the second half.

The victory sees Rotherham move into fourth spot in the table, just 2 points behind league leaders Caldy after 8 games and with all to play for in what will be a very long and demanding season.

The game itself saw Esher enjoy spells of possession, particularly in the first half; however, a massively impressive defensive display from Rotherham, which exuded commitment and desire, kept the hosts at bay for much of the match.

Rotherham showed a ruthless edge to their game and were clinical in taking opportunities when they arrived, the first of which came along after just 4 minutes.

Seb Nagle-Taylor was on hand to charge down a clearing kick on halfway before racing through to hack on and collect, he then delivered a delightful back-of-the-hand pass to Joe Barker in support, allowing him to race in from 20 metres to dot down. Alex Dolly added the extra 2 points from the tee.

Esher’s only score of the first half came on 11 minutes when fly half Owen Waters knocked over a straightforward penalty after Rotherham had infringed at the breakdown.

Titans soon extended their advantage though, when 4 minutes later winger Henry Roberts collected a high ball on the Esher 10 metre line and proceeded to show good pace to charge around the home defence to score Roth’s second try, with Dolly tagging over the extras.

Things got even better for the Titans 10 minutes later when Nagle-Taylor intercepted a pass just inside his own half before showing impressive pace to gallop in from 55 metres, whilst evading the home winger’s chase down from Kariym Irving, to score under the posts. Dolly made it three from three from the tee.

Five minutes before the break and Rotherham secured the try bonus point when from a scrum close to the line Nagle-Taylor collected from the base before feeding Dolly who scampered up the blind side to score in the corner. Unfortunately for him his conversion from the touchline narrowly missed its target and Roth went in at the break 26-3 to the good.

If Esher were to work their way back into the game it was vital they scored first in the second period. However, that wasn’t to be as it took Rotherham just 18 seconds to open their second half account!

From the kick-off Titans gathered and Alex Dolly reacted quickly to fire a pass inside to Nagle-Taylor who came into the line at full throttle and proceeded to charge through to score Rotherham’s fifth try of the match. Dolly tagged over the extras.

On an afternoon where almost everything went the way of the Titans, things improved further when Connor Dever picked up from the base of a scrum close to the Esher line, before snipping up the blind side to touch down in the corner. Dolly’s touchline conversion just missed its target to leave Rotherham 38-3 to the good.

A slight blight on a terrific afternoon for the Titans came when front rower Jack Bergmanas received a yellow card for a high tackle. The subsequent 10 minute period saw Esher take full advantage of their numerical advantage as they crossed the whitewash twice through second rower Cameron Gentles and livewire winger Joe Beckett.

However, it was apt when Rotherham rounded things off with the final try of the game.

Following a number of phases where Rotherham’s backs and forwards combined effectively, the ball came out to Henry Roberts who picked a fine line to cut through to score under the posts. Dolly nailed his fifth conversion of the match to end the scoring and send Rotherham on their long journey home with smiles on their faces.

Commenting post-game Titans’ Joe Barker explained, “We knew Esher had a lot of threats in certain areas, but we concentrated on ourselves this week. I thought our work rate and desire was outstanding and that shone through in our defence. The lads wanted to work hard for each other and that got us the points today.

“Esher found it difficult to threaten us because the boys worked so hard to get in the right positions. The lads were always on their feet and worked their socks off in defence and that caused them to make errors and we kept scoring on the back of them.

“I was really pleased with our discipline and because that was good we didn’t allow them the field position they needed to hurt us. We’ve worked hard in training on various aspects of how we want to play and I think we are now seeing the benefits of the squad coming together as a group.

“But no one at Rotherham is getting carried away and we know we’ll face a massive challenge in our next game against Plymouth. So it all starts again on Tuesday night at training and we’ll work harder, that’s the only way we’re going to get better.”

Referee: Jack Lewars

Attendance: 509

Yellow Card: Bergmanas (Titans)

Titans: Nagle-Taylor (2T), Roberts (2T), Barker (T), Dever (T), Dolly (T, 5C)

Esher: Gentles (T), Beckett (T), Waters (P, C)

Titans: 15 Callum Irvine, 14 Henry Roberts, 13 Harry Dunne, 12 Ellis Abrahams, 11 Connor Field, 10 Joe Barker (Dever 45), 9 Alex Dolly, 1 Dan Richardson (Poole 70), 2 Ali Thomson (Bergmanas 55), 3 Rikki Stout (Dennis 41) (Stout 70), 4 Jamie Ure, 5 Tom Cotterill (Keys 60), 6 Luis Ball, 7 Zak Poole (Thomson 68), 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Capt.) (Smith-Wano 50).

Replacements: 16 Jack Bergmanas, 17 Will Dennis, 18 Conor Keys, 19 Eru Smith-Wano, 20 Connor Dever.

Esher Rugby: 15 Lloyd Davies (Simpson 45), 14 Kariym Irving, 13 Dan Rowland (Davies 68), 12 Basil Strang, 11 Joe Beckett, 10 Owen Waters, 9 James Brooks (Fluker 45), 1 Matthew Lowes, 2 Devlin Hope (Clements 55), 3 Henry Paul (Head 25) (Paul 70), 4 Graham Logan, 5 Cameron Gentles, 6 Harrison Collins (Hore 55), 7 Rob Dudley-Jones, 8 Izzy Moore-Aiono.

Replacements: 16 Brad Clements, 17 George Head, 18 Andrew Hore, 19 George Simpson, 20 Andy Fluker.

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Titans 32 Chinnor 26

Rotherham Titans put in an outstanding team performance to run out 32-26 winners over what had been pre-match top-of-the-table side Chinnor.

Titans secured the maximum points on offer as they outscored their opponents by 5 tries to 4, but had to withstand some late Chinnor pressure on their own line to eventually hold out for a deserved win.

On a blustery afternoon at Clifton Lane it was the visitors who nosed in front when following a series of pick-and-goes inside the Titans 22, the ball was flung out to centre Alex Dancer who showed good strength to power over from close range. Former Titans favourite Caolan Ryan added the extras to make it 7-0.

Rotherham soon came back and narrowed the gap on 7 minutes when scrum half Alex Dolly knocked over a penalty from the edge of Chinnor’s 22.

Dolly was in the thick of it again 7 minutes later when from a five metre line out he got himself involved in a driving maul before dotting down from the tail. He then composed himself to nail the conversion against a difficult crosswind to give Roth a 10-7 advantage.

Chinnor came into the game as league leaders and they proved what a capable side they are when they bounced back within five minutes to retake the lead after flanker Joe Dancer touched down from a driving maul and Ryan converted.

Rotherham are also starting to show they too are developing into a very decent side and with 5 minutes remaining in the half took control when they crossed the line twice.

Firstly, following good work from the pack Roth took play up to the visitor’s line before the ball came out to the backs, which allowed Joe Barker to throw a long miss-pass out to winger Connor Field who dived over in the corner. And then in the final play of the half from a catch and drive five metres out, hooker Ali Thomson crashed over from the back of the maul to give the hosts a 22-14 half time lead.

It was important for Rotherham to maintain their momentum in the second period as Chinnor have showed all season what a good side they are and if they are given an opportunity they will take it. However, Rotherham made a perfect start to the second period as they scored their bonus-point fourth try inside five minutes.

The try evolved from an Alex Dolly’s box kick which bounced kindly for Roth and allowed Connor Field to collect just inside the touchline. The powerful winger then galloped down the flank and held off a powerful last-ditch tackle from Ryan before dotting down near the corner flag.

Things got even better for Rotherham just 3 minutes later when a sweeping move which started on the edge of their own 22, when they stripped the ball from Chinnor, culminated in centre Ellis Abrahams scoring Titans fifth try of the game following good work in the build from Callum Irvine and Jamie Ure. Dolly’s conversion just drifted across the face of the posts in the swirling wind, which left Rotherham with a healthy 32-14 advantage.

Again the visitors showed tremendous resilience as they fought back tenaciously; on 51 minutes following a number of phases from the pack the ball was flipped out to the backs who worked the ball across the field for full back Craig Holland to score an unconverted try.

Twelve minutes from time and Chinnor set up a tense finale when they pounced on an opportunistic moment in the game. Rotherham were camped on the visitor’s line and looked to be about to put the game to bed when a pass 2 metres from the Chinnor line went astray. The loose ball was hacked downfield which saw winger Reon Joseph race through to collect and score under the sticks. Ryan’s successful conversion made it a 6-point game and everything to play for.

The final embers of a pulsating game of rugby saw Chinnor put Rotherham under huge pressure with a scrum 5 metres from the Titans line. However, the home pack showed tremendous character and technique to win a free kick and see out the remaining minute to deservedly win the game.

Speaking afterwards Titans Joe Barker explained, “It was an outstanding win from the boys, we were in total control for 50 minutes but credit to Chinnor they came back at us. We managed the game pretty well throughout however and there’s no doubt the lads deserved the win.

“It was pleasing to see the lads handle the pressure at the end when they were on our line and I think our boys showed everyone just how much character they have. The lads are putting in huge shifts every Tuesday and Thursday in training and that character is built in those sessions.”

Referee: Jamie Leahy

Attendance: 617

Yellow Card: None

Titans: Field (2T), Thomson (T), Abrahams (T), Dolly (1T, 2C, 1P)

Chinnor: A Dancer (T), J Dancer (T), Holland (T), Joseph (T), Ryan (3C)

Titans: 15 Callum Irvine, 14 Henry Roberts, 13 Harry Dunne, 12 Ellis Abrahams, 11 Connor Field, 10 Joe Barker, 9 Alex Dolly, 1 Dan Richardson (Bergmanas 67), 2 Ali Thomson, 3 Will Dennis (Stout 61), 4 Jamie Ure, 5 Tom Cotterill (Petrowitsch 67), 6 Luis Ball, 7 Eru Smith-Wano (Poole 36), 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Jack Bergmanas, 17 Rikki Stout, 18 Zak Poole, 19 Anton Petrowitsch, 20 Connor Dever.

Chinnor: 15 Craig Holland, 14 Reon Joseph, 13 Alex Dancer, 12 Danny Barnes (Capt.), 11 James Neal, 10 Caolan Ryan, 9 Josh Barton (Goodfellow 67), 1 Matt Beesley (Price 51), 2 Dan George, 3 Jack Gilding (Davis 48), 4 Cameron Gray, 5 Jack Ramshaw (Oliver 57), 6 Joe Dancer, 7 Ben Manning (Bell 48), 8 Tom Burns.

Replacements: 16 George Davis, 17 Tom Price, 18 George Oliver, 19 Rob Bell, 20 Greg Goodfellow.

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Loughborough Students 5 Titans 38

Rotherham Titans secured their first away success of the season in impressive fashion, as they ran in 6 tries in a 38-5 win over Loughborough Students at University Stadium.

All six Rotherham tries came through the backs as they took advantage of a strong platform set up by the pack.

To be fair to Loughborough they battled for the full 80 minutes and made life difficult for the Titans throughout. Indeed the Students could have gone ahead on 12 minutes had full back Tim Bitirim been more accurate with his penalty attempt.

However, five minutes later Titans got the scoreboard moving when impressive centre Ellis Abrahams carved his way through the home defence to score, with Alex Dolly adding the extra 2 points.

On the half hour mark Titans’ scrum half Connor Dever reacted the quickest from a penalty awarded to Rotherham; his hasty tap-and-go caught the opposition napping which resulted in the half back’s first try for the club.

Just before the break and Dever was in the thick of it again as he broke through the home defence to take play close to the try line before being brought to ground. However, centre Harry Dunne was on hand to collect and show incredible strength and desire to bulldoze his way over for Titans third try. Dolly converted to send the visitors in at the break 19-0 to the good.

Just four minutes into the second period and Rotherham secured the four-try bonus point. A clever dummy from Dolly was bought which enabled him to make good ground into the Students 22, before he found Joe Barker in support who in turn threw an unorthodox pass out wide for Connor Field to dive over in the corner.

Just after the hour mark Loughborough deservedly got on the board for their efforts, when a cheeky move up the short side from a line out saw hooker Harrison King cross the whitewash in the corner. Titans would have been disappointed to have been caught out by the move.

To re-establish control took the South Yorkshire side just 3 minutes. Replacement back Connor Irvine collected the ball on the 10 metre line before proceeding the carve his way through the home defence before offloading 5 metres out to Dolly who accepted with style to score Titans fifth try of the game. After dusting himself down his converted his own try.

The final score of an entertaining contest came 8 minutes from time when from the base of a ruck close to the line, Callum Irvine threw an outrageous dummy which all around bought enabling him to score Rotherham’s sixth try of the match. Dolly rounded off a good afternoon from the tee with his fourth conversion.

Commenting post-game a delighted Joe Barker explained, “The lads put in a good performance, a lot of stuff we have been working on in training clicked for us and that was pleasing.

“We know we’ve got plenty in our armoury; we showed that in the first 40 minutes last week against Sale, but today under these difficult wet conditions the lads were outstanding for pretty much all of the game.

“They really stuck to our game plan, they didn’t overplay and when we did play it was at the right time in the right areas of the pitch.

“Overall it was a good performance and we know there’s still a lot to come out. We did make a few mistakes, but that’s actually exciting for us as a group, because we know when we eliminate some of those we can become a very good side in National 1.

“Now it’s about showing consistency; all the good sides in any division are consistent in their performances. We have to get back into training next week and review what went well and what didn’t; then we fix those and go to the next level.

“We play Chinnor next and they are at the top of the league because they are a very good side. We’ll need to find a new level if we are going to compete against them and that’s exciting for everyone at the club.”

Referee: Dave Sutherland (SRU)

Attendance: 314

Yellow Card: Preston-Routledge (Titans)

Titans: Abrahams (T), Dever (T), Dunne (T), Field (T), Irvine (T), Dolly (T, 4C)

Loughborough Students: King (T)

Titans: 15 Alex Dolly, 14 Henry Roberts, 13 Harry Dunne, 12 Ellis Abrahams (Dever 77), 11 Connor Field, 10 Joe Barker, 9 Connor Dever (Irvine 55), 1 Dan Richardson, 2 Ali Thomson (Bergmanas 67), 3 Will Dennis (Stout 61), 4 Dan Preston-Routledge, 5 Tom Cotterill (Ure 67), 6 Eru Smith-Wano, 7 Zak Poole (Ball 55), 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Jack Bergmanas, 17 Rikki Stout, 18 Jamie Ure, 19 Luis Ball, 20 Callum Irvine.

Loughborough Students: 15 Tim Bitirim, 14 Will Brown, 13 Alex Glashan (Attfield 55), 12 Matthew Edwards (Capt.), 11 Austin Beckett (Attfield 65), 10 Mark Dixon, 9 Callum Watson, 1 Sam Grahamslaw (Christie 40), 2 Harrison King, 3 Andrew Boye, 4 Sam Bailey (Grahamslaw 45), 5 Owen Lloyd, 6 Henri Lavin (Bailey 57), 7 Victor Keunen, 8 Ogwenesuvwe Obano (Reed 76).

Replacements: 16 Jamie Cox, 17 Ben Christie, 18 Max Hill, 19 Charlie Reed, 20 Will Attfield.

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Titans 32 Sale FC 27

Rotherham returned to winning ways as they showed tremendous character to seal a dramatic 32-27 bonus point win over Sale FC at a bright and sunny Clifton Lane.

Having led for much of an entertaining contest, in which both sides endeavoured to play attacking rugby; Rotherham found themselves behind with 5 minutes remaining until Ellis Abrahams collected an interception pass to score under the posts.

Alex Dolly converted and then added a penalty in injury time as the Titans registered their first 5-point victory of the season.

The game started in bright sunshine and with a firm surface underfoot conditions were perfect for an entertaining, fast-paced encounter and to be fair, both sides attempted to deliver just that.

Although the visitors nudged themselves ahead after 3 minutes through a Chris Johnson penalty, it was Rotherham who enjoyed the early exchanges as they raced into a 7 point lead inside the first quarter of the game.

Following an Alex Dolly penalty which levelled matters, Titans manoeuvred themselves inside the Sale 22 before the pack bulldozed their way over the line for prop Will Dennis to touch down on debut. Dolly tagged over the extras to give Rotherham a 10-3 lead.

Sale looked energetic and played with tempo as they tried to work themselves back on terms, but Rotherham matched them for energy and repeatedly snuffed out potential danger.

Eventually Titans added to their tally when big second rower Dan Preston-Routledge barged his way over the line with a little help from his pack mates. Dolly’s conversion stretched the Titans advantage to 17-3 just before the break.

As the game entered the sixth minute of stoppage time Titans allowed the visitors an opportunity to get back into the game when having taken the ball back inside their 22, they kicked-out on the full to give Sale a line-out 10 metres from their line.

From the resulting passage of play Sale set-up a driving maul which powered its way towards the line for replacement forward Dan Birchall to dot down. The try was converted by Johnson with the last kick of the half.

Rotherham came out for the second period determined to build on their success of the first half and this they did on 48 minutes when replacement centre Ellis Abrahams charged down on the Sale 22, before popping a pass to Seb Nagle-Taylor, who then showed terrific strength and determination to power his way over next to the sticks. Surprisingly the reliable Dolly missed the conversion to leave his side 22-10 ahead.

With nothing to lose now, the visitors upped their intensity and enjoyed a period of dominance which saw them score two converted tries through prop Adam Aigbokhae and Captain Andrew Hughes; which sandwiched a penalty from Johnson in the space of 17 minutes to give Sale an unexpected 27-22 lead.

As the game drew to a close it appeared as if Rotherham were going to suffer another hard-luck story. However, five minutes from time Rotherham pressed hard inside the Sale 22 which culminated in Ellis Abrahams picking of a pass from Sale’s replacement fly half, Kieran Wilkinson, to race in and score Titans bonus point try. Dolly converted and added a penalty in stoppage time to seal an important victory.

Post-game a delighted Joe Barker explained, “I am really satisfied with the five point win, I think we showed what we have as an attacking team today and we played some good rugby.

“It was good for the fans to see that; we’d been working on that all week, we brought the game plan in on Tuesday and the lads have worked very hard on it this week.

“At times the boys played some outstanding rugby, but we’ve just got to be a bit more consistent now. I think we showed that in the first half, but in the second half we didn’t quite perform to the same level.

“I also think the lads showed a tremendous amount of character to come back at the end in the manner they did. You can’t teach that and I’m proud that the boys have got that inside them and they showed that today.”

Referee: Veryan Boscawen

Attendance: 534

Yellow Card: None

Titans: Dennis (T), Preston-Routledge (T), Nagle-Taylor (T), Abrahams (T), Dolly (2P, 3C)

Sale FC: Birchall (T), Aigbokhae (T), Hughes (T), Johnson (2P, 2C), Bradley (1C)

Titans: 15 Alex Dolly, 14 Henry Roberts, 13 Harry Dunne (Abrahams 7), 12 Joe Barker, 11 Jamie Cooke, 10 Callum Irvine, 9 Connor Dever, 1 Dan Richardson (Bergmanas 60), 2 Ali Thomson, 3 Will Dennis (Stout 50), 4 Dan Preston-Routledge (Keys 64), 5 Conor Keys (Ure 55), 6 Luis Ball, 7 Zak Poole (Cotterill 60), 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Jack Bergmanas, 17 Rikki Stout, 18 Jamie Ure, 19 Tom Cotterill, 20 Ellis Abrahams.

Sale FC: 15 Jonty Rawcliffe, 14 Paolo Odogwu, 13 Connor Doherty, 12 Jack Moorhouse (Dunne 72), 11 Aaron Reed, 10 Chris Johnson (Wilkinson 60), 9 Matthew Bradley, 1 Adam Aigbokhae, 2 Neil Briggs (Taylor 58), 3 Simon Griffiths, 4 William Davies, 5 Matt Postlethwaite (Priestley-Nangle 64), 6 Andrew Hughes (Capt.) (Postlethwaite 68), 7 Dave Seymour, 8 Tom Ailes (Birchall 37).

Replacements: 16 Dan Birchall, 17 Christian Taylor, 18 Kieran Dunne, 19 Stone Priestley-Nangle, 20 Kieran Wilkinson.

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Birmingham Moseley 28 Titans 22

Rotherham’s high error count and a lack of discipline saw them fall to a disappointing 28-22 defeat against a rugged Birmingham Moseley side at a wet and windy Billesley Common.

Rotherham did however collect a bonus point for their 6 point loss and will look to get back to winning ways this week at home to Sale FC.

There were periods where Rotherham looked the better side, but a lack of discipline ultimately lead to their downfall, as Moseley cashed in with four driving maul tries through hooker Adam Caves.

Titans actually made a bright opening and quickly raced into a 10-0 lead following a Dan Leake try and a penalty and conversion from Alex Dolly.

However, Moseley’s pack of forwards reduced the arrears on 12 minutes when hooker Adam Caves crashed over from the tail of a maul close to the line.

Titans’ Dolly and Moseley’s James Williams then traded penalties before Caves bulldozed his way over again to level the scores at 13 apiece.

The game began to form a pattern where Rotherham tried to play some rugby, whilst the home side appeared to be content with their pack keeping the ball close as they rumbled around the park.

Three minutes before the break Dolly added his third penalty for Rotherham from in front of the sticks as Moseley’s slow retreat saw them pinned for being offside.

However, the final play of the half saw Caves secure his hat trick try from another driving maul close to the Titans line to send the hosts in at the break 18-16 to the good.

With the game finely balanced the first score of the second period would be vital; unfortunately for Rotherham Adam Caves scored his fourth try of the game from a maul just two minutes in, with Williams adding the conversion to stretch the home sides lead to 25-16.

To be fair Rotherham never stopped working hard as they tried to claw their way back into the game and this they did when either side of the hour mark Alex Dolly struck two fine penalties to reduce the arrears to 25-22 with 14 minutes remaining.

Both sides defended well in the final quarter as each team pushed for victory. However, in the final play of the game Moseley won a penalty at a scrum inside the Titans 22 and Williams nailed the conversion to end matters.

Commenting post-game Titans Joe Barker explained, “It was a disappointing result and there’s no doubt about that, but other than in the driving mauls I thought we were defensively strong. The only way they got into our half was through our poor discipline and our errors. We gave away far too many penalties which gave them field position and they used their maul to good effect.

“I think our decision makers, our 9, 10 and 15 controlled our kicking game very well and I think we dominated both halves in terms of that.

“However, if you can’t hold your discipline, scrums and mauls then you are going to find it hard to win games of rugby and these are areas that we have to sort out.

“It wasn’t a game for the purists and the weather conditions didn’t make it easy for either side. We have a young squad here, but they’re going to have to learn and learn quickly and we are going to have to sort it out at training.

“More than half the tries we have conceded this season have come via the driving maul and that’s an area we obviously need to sort out. We knew coming into the game we had a light back five as all four of our second rows are injured. But I can’t complain in terms of the boy’s effort, but sometimes weight wins when you’re in the row.”

Referee: Matt Turvey

Attendance: 736

Yellow Card: Baffour-Awuah (Moseley)

Titans: Leake (T), Dolly (5P, 1C)

Birmingham Moseley: Caves (4T), Williams (2P, 1C)

Titans: 15 Alex Dolly, 14 Dan Leake (Cooke 34), 13 Harry Dunne, 12 Joe Barker, 11 Henry Roberts, 10 Callum Irvine, 9 Connor Dever, 1 Jack Bergmanas (Richardson 53), 2 Ali Thomson, 3 Rikki Stout (Dickinson 63), 4 Anton Petrowitsch, 5 Tom Cotterill (Preston-Routledge 63), 6 Luis Ball, 7 Zak Poole, 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Dan Richardson, 17 Antony Dickinson, 18 Will Dennis, 19 Dan Preston-Routledge, 20 Jamie Cooke.

Birmingham Moseley: 15 Sam Hollingsworth, 14 Charles Baffour-Awuah, 13 Oliver Allsopp, 12 Sam Hayward, 11 Sam Atkin, 10, James Williams, 9 Rob Lewis (Capt.) (Pointon 61), 1 Tom Fidler (Tyack 76), 2 Adam Caves, 3 Jay Tyack (Boyce 60), 4 Buster Lawrence, 5 Lewis Bean, 6 Laurence Cowen, 7 Josh Poole, 8 Chris Brightwell (Le Roux 61).

Replacements: 16 Jamie White, 17 Jonah Boyce, 18 Jacques Le Roux, 19 Sam Smith, 20 Sam Pointon.

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Titans 29 Rosslyn Park 12

Rotherham Titans secured their first National League 1 win of the season as they deservedly ran out 29-12 winners over Rosslyn Park at Clifton Lane.

Titans put in an overall impressive performance, but it was full back Alex Dolly who caught the eye as he bagged 8 successful penalty kicks, to add to an early try from winger Henry Roberts.

Park’s points came way of a try in either half from back rowers Hugo Ellis and Arthur Ellis, with former Titan Greg Lound converting the former from out wide.

Titans might have been concerned early on when inside 2 minutes the visitors stormed into the lead from a catch and drive which saw Hugo Ellis barge over for a dot down.

However, just 5 minutes later and Rotherham crossed the whitewash themselves when winger Henry Roberts showed superb strength to power his way over the line from inside the 22 to touch down in the left corner.

Titans controlled much of what followed and almost had their second try on 18 minutes from a superb break by Seb Nagle-Taylor. Unfortunately the number 8 was dragged down a metre short and although he attempted to release the ball and go again, the referee pinned him and subsequently Nagle-Taylor spent 10 minutes in the bin.

Titans added two penalties before the break through Alex Dolly, which sent the home side in at the break 11-7 to the good.

Rotherham were keen to score the first points of the second half and this they did through Dolly’s third penalty of the game to stretch the lead to 7 points.

However, Park bounced back and on 54 minutes another catch and drive close to the Titans line resulted in flanker Arthur Ellis dotting down for his sides second try of the game. Lound’s conversion drifted just wide of the posts to leave his side 2 points adrift.

As the game progressed it was Rotherham who managed the game more effectively and as the pressure mounted on the visitors they yielded a relentless stream of penalties.

Inside the final 18 minutes Park gave away 5 penalties from all over the field and Alex Dolly stepped up on each occasion to conduct a masterclass of kicking from the tee to nail the lot and give Rotherham a worthy first win of the campaign.

Speaking immediately post-match, Titans head coach, Joe Barker, explained, “I knew our first win was just around the corner and what we did really well today was we stuck to our process of how we were going to play.

“In our first two games we were in those games for a period of time, but we made mistakes and went away from what we wanted to do, but today fair play to the lads they really stuck with it today.

“We asked them to play a certain plan and they stuck to it for the full 80 minutes and that’s why we were relentless and ruthless with our approach all game long.

“I was also pleased with our defence, our positivity and our motivation. We know we have good players here and I believe we are a good team and I think we showed that today in beating a good Rosslyn Park side.”

Referee: Matt Turvey

Attendance: 513

Yellow Card: Nagle-Taylor (Titans)

Titans: Roberts (T), Dolly (8P)

Rosslyn Park: H Ellis (T), A Ellis (T), Lound (1C)

Titans: 15 Alex Dolly, 14 Dan Leake, 13 Harry Dunne, 12 Joe Barker, 11 Henry Roberts, 10 Callum Irvine, 9 Connor Dever (Davey 77), 1 Jack Bergmanas, 2 Ali Thomson, 3 Rikki Stout, 4 Anton Petrowitsch, 5 Conor Keys (Preston-Routledge 58), 6 Luis Ball, 7 Zak Poole, 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Capt).

Replacements: 16 Dan Richardson, 17 Antony Dickinson, 18 Dan Preston-Routledge, 19 Harry Davey, 20 Jamie Cooke.

Rosslyn Park: 15 Henry Robinson, 14 Bam Fadahunsi, 13 Nicolas Nieto (Barnes 51), 12 Jordon Turner-Hall, 11 Neville Edwards, 10 Greg Lound, 9 Oli Grove, 1 Maurice Nwakor, 2 Tom Vaughan-Edwards (Hughes 65), 3 Paul Doran-Jones (Lovell 60), 4 Jonathan Mills, 5 Gregor Gillanders (Barnard 54), 6 Adam Frampton, 7 Arthur Ellis (Vaughan-Edwards 79), 8 Hugo Ellis (Gillanders 58).

Replacements: 16 Owen Hughes, 17 Nick Lovell, 18 Jack Barnard, 19 Aaron Booth, 20 Dan Barnes.

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Darlington Mowden Park 42 Titans 19

Titans’ first away trip of the season ended in disappointment as they went down 42-19 to pre-season favourites Darlington Mowden Park at the Northern Echo Arena.

The hosts deserved their victory as they ran in six tries to Titans three, although the scoreboard has a slightly flattering look to it, as Rotherham felt they were in the game more than the board would suggest.

Rotherham applied pressure on the hosts late on as they went in search of the four try bonus point, however Mowden Park’s defence held firm to deny Rotherham any spoils for their efforts.

Indeed Titans had much the better of the opening 20 minutes of the contest and had they taken the opportunities created, they would have opened up a healthy advantage. Alas for them they did not and the closest they came to opening up their account was a Callum Irvine drop goal effort on 13 minutes which bounced off the uprights.

As the half hour mark approached Mowden established some dominance which saw them score a brace of tries either side of the 30 minute mark through centre Ben Frankland and live-wire scrum half Bruno Bravo, both of which were converted by Warren Seals.

Just before the break Rotherham’s forward pack exerted huge pressure on Park’s line as they looked to cut the deficit on half time. Unfortunately for the Yorkshire side they were turned over and the opportunity was lost.

The second period started in similar fashion to the way the first had ended, as the hosts’ dominance saw them establish a stronghold on the game. As the hour mark was passed Park went over for their third try of the half through replacement Ben Stevenson, after Chris Georgiou and former Titan Talite Vaioleti had crossed the whitewash earlier. 

In between Titans got off the mark when replacement prop Dan Richardson showed good power to drive over from close to the line.

Ten minutes from time Rotherham secured further reward as they continued to battle on and not let their heads drop. Titans’ pack, which had put in a sterling shift all game, drove up to Park’s line before Richardson was on hand again to barrel over for his second try of the match.

Five minutes later and Titans hopes of securing a bonus point received a further boost when number 8, Seb Nagle-Taylor finished off another barnstorming forwards drive for his sides third try. Irvine drop goaled the conversion in an attempt to get the game restarted quickly.

Although Rotherham had some possession in the final stages, it was the hosts who brought the curtain down on the game as second rower Jake Brady smashed his way over for Park’s sixth dot down of the match. Seals conversion secured him a 100% success rate from the tee.

Commenting post match Titans head coach, Joe Barker, explained, “There were a lot of positives to build on, but I don’t want to keep saying that and we now need to start demonstrating our potential. The first 20 minutes we had them under massive pressure and I think they were shocked in how we were managing the game.

“Our kicking game was better and our set piece has improved a lot this week. I think Smithy, Jenks and Christian have done an outstanding job with the front five and the pack to get that set piece working and they fronted up today and you could see that with the tries we scored.

“I thought the bench also made a massive impact when we used it. They showed great intensity, tempo and physicality and they changed the way the game was played. 

“At times you can see what we are trying to do and we are nearly there, but today there were a few decisions made which proved to be wrong ones. I think that’s just a little bit of inexperience but that will come if we continue to work hard during the week.

“I really believe in this squad and I want our fans to be patient and continue to support the lads like they’ve done all along. It will take a bit of time but we will get there.”

Referee: Harry Walbaum
Attendance: 855
Yellow Card: Nott (Titans)
Titans: Richardson (2T), Nagle-Taylor (T), Irvine (2C)
Darlington Mowden Park: Frankland (T), Bravo (T), Georgiou (T), Vaioleti (T), Stevenson (T), Brady (T), Seals (6C)
 

Titans: 15 Harry Davey, 14 Dan Leake, 13 Ellis Abrahams (Field 58), 12 Joe Barker, 11 Connor Field (Dever 46), 10 Callum Irvine, 9 Josh Nott (Dunne 57), 1 Jack Bergmanas (Richardson H-T), 2 Ali Thomson, 3 Rikki Stout (Dickinson 49), 4 Dan Preston-Routledge (Keys 75), 5 Conor Keys (Petrowitsch 57), 6 Luis Ball, 7 Zak Poole, 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Dan Richardson, 17 Antony Dickinson, 18 Anton Petrowitsch, 19 Connor Dever, 20 Harry Dunne.

Darlington Mowden Park: 15 Chris Georgiou, 14 Josh Hall (McTurk 66), 13 Jordy Hop, 12 Ben Frankland, 11 Ollie Walker (Stevenson 46) (Walker 72), 10 Warren Seals, 9 Bruno Bravo, 1 Alfie Barron (Harvey 66), 2 Jordon Poole, 3 Ralph Appleby (Darkintis 57), 4 Jake Brady, 5 Talite Vaioleti (Appleby 72), 6 Joe Duffy, 7 George Stokes, 8 Joe Craggs.

Replacements: 16 Ignas Darkintis, 17 Anthony Harvey, 18 Garry Law, 19 Ben Stevenson, 20 Chris McTurk.

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Titans 33 Old Elthamians 34

Rotherham Titans started their National League 1 campaign with a heart-breaking 34-33 defeat to a much-fancied Old Elthamians side.

Titans out-scored their counterparts by 5 tries to 4 and collected 2 well-deserved bonus points for their efforts; however, poor starts to each half ultimately cost them dearly.

With just one player from last seasons’ Titans squad involved, it was always going to be a challenge to beat one of the divisions’ anticipated top sides, but they almost did and they can be content with their first competitive game together.

In particular Seb Nagle-Taylor who scored a hat trick, Tom Allott who chipped in with a brace of dot downs and fly half Callum Irvine who bossed the game effectively, all can be pleased with their first shift on the Clifton Lane pitch.

However, when the Titans trailed 10-0 after the opening 20 minutes, following a try from Dom McGeekie and a penalty and conversion from Tom White, the signs looked ominous for the home side.

Alleviating the distress, Titans eventually established a foothold in the game on 24 minutes when Captain Seb Nagle-Taylor barged over from close range for Ellis Abrahams to convert, which cut the deficit to 10-7.

Sloppy work at the set piece by Rotherham followed, which enabled the visitors to reinstate their 10 point advantage as winger Dom Lespierre breezed in for a dot down, with White added the extras.

On a balmy afternoon at the Lane Rotherham finally sprang in action and it was fly half Callum Irvine who proved to be the catalyst for 2 quick-fire tries just before half time.

A clever grubber kick from the former Carnegie man allowed Nagle-Taylor to collect nicely to dive over, before an outstanding 60 metre break downfield saw Irvine find Tom Allott in support to touch down under the sticks. Abrahams converted to send the home side in at the break 19-17 to the good.

The restart would be important and again Rotherham came up second best, just as they had done in the opening half. This time the visitors only needed 75 seconds to cross the whitewash as Hamish Barton finished under the posts a counter attack from Elthamians. White knocked over his third conversion from in front to give OE’s a 24-19 lead.

That lead was extended on 63 minutes when White knocked over a penalty and it was stretched further when back rower Harry Ledger secured a bonus point when he dotted down following a powerful maul close to the Titans line. White’s conversion widened the gap to 34-19.

What would have pleased the hierarchy at Clifton Lane was the resilience and character shown by the players to quickly come back with two converted tries of their own.

Full back Tom Allott collected nicely his own kick-through to score and that man Nagle-Taylor barged through to score his third try under the posts. Irvine successfully drop-kicked the conversion to get the game restarted.

If any team was going to score in the final moments of this thrilling encounter it was going to be the home side. However, a knock-on at the death signalled time and the home side had to be content with 2 points for their opening day efforts.

Post-game Titans head coach, Joe Barker, explained, “As a squad we are pretty new, we’ve only been together for 8 weeks and everyone knows in team sports it takes time for things to gel, especially in rugby union when you’ve got to get use to so many things from a technical standpoint.

“I think what we have achieved today makes me really proud of the lads and proud of Rotherham Rugby Club and what we have achieved over the summer in a very short space of time makes me happy that we could produce that kind of display in front of our own fans.

“Elthamians are a very good National 1 outfit and they have high ambitions for this season. They’ve been together for a long time and their aim is to get out of this league. On the back of our display I think we should be excited about where this group of players can take this club.

“I think as a group the lads put in a great shift, but I have to give a special mention to Seb Nagle-Taylor who put in a very destructive and powerful performance and Callum Irvine, who I thought bossed the game very well at 10 and who I thought showed his Championship experience.

“But overall as a team I thought we showed amazing character as we came back on numerous occasions in both halves. As a young group of lads I thought they showed great resilience and that gives us great confidence moving forward this season.”

Referee: Neil Chivers
Attendance: 579
Yellow Card: Ure (Titans)
Titans: Nagle-Taylor (3T), Allott (2T), Abrahams (3C), Irvine 1C)
Old Elthamians: McGeekie (T), Lespierre (T), Barton (T), Ledger (T), White (2P, 4C) 

Titans: 15 Tom Allott, 14 Henry Roberts, 13 Ellis Abrahams, 12 Joe Barker, 11 Connor Field, 10 Callum Irvine, 9 Josh Nott (Dolly 64), 1 Jack Bergmanas, 2 Ali Thomson, 3 Rikki Stout (Dickinson 74), 4 Dan Preston-Routledge (Ure 60), 5 Conor Keys, 6 Luis Ball, 7 Zak Poole (Petrowitsch 66), 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Dan Richardson, 17 Antony Dickinson, 18 Jamie Ure, 19 Anton Petrowitsch, 20 Alex Dolly.

Old Elthamians: 15 Ben Howard, 14 Dom Lespierre (McGeekie 74), 13 Kieran Moffat (Claxton 74), 12 Max Wilkins (Surman 35), 11 Alan Hotston (Morris 74), 10 Tom White, 9 Oliver Claxton (Morgan 60), 1 Alex Rogers (Scutt 67), 2 Nathan Morris (Rudland-Thomas 60), 3 Kieron Scutt (Brown 52), 4 Fred Hosking, 5 Dom McGeekie (Ledger 67), 6 Harry Ledger (Messum 54), 7 Hamish Barton, 8 Ben King.

Replacements: 16 Lewis Brown, 17 Jay Rudland-Thomas, 18 George Messum, 19 Rhys Morgan, 20 Chris Surman.
 

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Nottingham 38 Titans 5

Rotherham Titans finished off their Championship season with a disappointing 38-5 defeat to Nottingham under the lights at Lady Bay.

The final-day defeat brought a long, difficult season to a close for the South Yorkshire side which saw them win just 2 Championship games and as a result they will ply their trade in National Division One next year, as they aim to bounce back at the first attempt.

The game itself had few positives for Rotherham as the home side played with lots of energy and zest, as they looked to put on a show for their supporters in their final home game of the season.

Inside the opening 15 minutes Nottingham raced into a 14-0 lead after two converted tries from centre Gearoid Lyons and winger Jack Spittle.

The second quarter of the game was Titans best as they enjoyed significant periods of dominance, particularly at scrum time. During this spell Titans got on the scoreboard when a powerful driving maul was finished off by back rower Tom Burns on 21 minutes.

However, despite Titans worthy efforts to add to their tally in the first half, the hosts defended with great resilience to keep them at bay. Indeed just before the break it was the Green and Whites that scored next when Tiff Eden knocked over a penalty from just outside the Titans 22.

Coming out for the second half and trailing 17-5, the Titans needed to score first if they were to give themselves a chance of ending the season with a victory.

Those hopes were dashed within 4 minutes when Nottingham centre Will Millett darted through for his side’s third try of the match.

From then on a confident home side controlled the game and added two further tries through prop Tom West and late on through former Titan Ben Morris.

A reflective Nic Rouse commented post-match, “The game kind of summed up our season; we looked like the side that played on Tuesday night, but fair play to them they controlled the game and stopped us playing. We did have a bit of dominance in the first half but we didn’t make the most of that period.

“We were still in the game at half time, but unfortunately they scored early in the second half and it was difficult for us thereafter. It was their last home game and they wanted to send some boys off with the win before they move on. They were really up for it in front of their fans the way we were against Carnegie and they deserved the win.

“It was my last game and it would have been great to go out with the win, but that wasn’t to be. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Rotherham and have met some great people at the club and I’ll take away a lot of fond memories. The results didn’t go our way, but I think since Christmas the boys have made a good fist of it.”

Referee: Andrea Piardi (FIR)

Attendance: 1,055

Yellow Card: Hooper (Nottingham), Foster & Calladine (Titans)

Titans: Burns (T)

Nottingham: Lyons (T), Spittle (T), Millett (T), West (T), Morris (T), Eden (4C, P), Hakalo (1C)

Titans: 15 Will Thomas, 14 Drew Cheshire, 13 Jamie Cooke, 12 Lee Millar, 11 Jake Henry (Foley 52), 10 Caolan Ryan (Hamilton 67), 9 Rhodri Davies (Vieira 67), 1 Toby Williams (Tom Williams 56), 2 Luke Cole (Dolly 64), 3 Andrew Foster (Palmer 75), 4 Rob Louw, 5 Adam Peters, 6 Tom Burns, 7 Dan Grange, 8 Tom Calladine (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Nic Dolly, 17 Tom Williams, 18 Brandon Palmer, 19 Joe Barker, 20 Ben Foley, 21 Wesley Hamilton, 22 Francisco Vieira.

Nottingham: 15 Sean Scanlon, 14 Jack Spittle, 13 Will Millett, 12 Gearoid Lyons, 11 Billy Robinson, 10 Tiff Eden (Hakalo 56), 9 Darryl Veenendaal (McConnell 64), 1 Tom West (Sio 61), 2 Jimmy Stevens (Brownlie 55), 3 Ben Hooper (Hall 52), 4 Tim Cardall, 5 Ben Morris, 6 Jordan Coghlan (Cecil 67), 7 Matt Everard (Capt.), 8 Josh Poullet (Buckley 55).

Replacements: 16 Ben Brownlie, 17 Aniseko Sio, 18 James Hall, 19 Seb Cecil, 20 Shane Buckley, 21 Murray McConnell, 22 Vili Hakalo.

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Titans 30 Yorkshire Carnegie 26

Rotherham Titans mounted a stunning late comeback to snatch a thrilling 30-26 victory over county rivals Yorkshire Carnegie at a warm and sunny Clifton Lane.

Trailing 19-6 with 20 minutes to go Rotherham showed tremendous spirit and character to score two tries through Drew Cheshire and one from Jake Henry, with both Caolan Ryan and Lee Millar adding vital points from the boot to seal a well-deserved, dramatic victory.

The match itself started with the visitors in the ascendancy as they looked to put tempo into the game. Their early endeavours were reward inside four minutes as a powerful driving maul from a line out saw Carnegie hooker Mike Mayhew crash over from the tail. Stevie McColl bagged the impressive extras from out wide to give his side a 7-0 lead.

Carnegie continued to have the upper hand as the game progressed, but a spirited and resilient Titans defence repeatedly held out their Yorkshire rivals, often close to their own line.

Slowly Rotherham began to impose themselves on the game and just after the half hour mark Caolan Ryan struck a terrific long-range penalty to reduce his side’s arrears to 7-3.

Just before the break Titans were reduced to 14 players after lock forward Matt Postlethwaite received a yellow card for his part in a repeated set of penalties.

At the beginning of the second period Carnegie quickly exploited the man advantage as their backs moves the ball effectively across the line for winger Louis Brown to score in the corner. McColl again impressed with his successful conversion from out wide.

Titans’ Lee Millar narrowed the deficit on 47 minutes with a long-range penalty and 4 minutes later almost did the same again from 55 metres. This time however the ball agonising came up just short of the target.

Moments later Millar received what many in the ground thought a harsh yellow card for a ‘late tackle’ on Carnegie fly half Pete Lucock. Again the visitors quickly exploited their numerical advantage as hooker Mike Mayhew crashed over for his second dot down of the match. McColl missed the extras from out wide the leave Carnegie 19-6 to the good.

With just under 20 minutes remaining Titans needed some inspiration and that inspiration arrived from winger Drew Cheshire who collected the ball on the right flank before chipping ahead and outpacing Oli Fox to collect and dot down for a marvellous try. Caolan Ryan tagged over the extras from the touchline.

Five minutes later and Rotherham took the lead for the first time in the match when left winger Jake Henry collected and powerfully barged his way through to narrowly score in the corner under massive Carnegie pressure. Ryan bagged the extras impressively from the left touchline to nudge his side into a 20-19 lead.

With Titans now in full flow and the faithful from the Shed passionately egging their side on Cheshire scored a wonderful try as he dummied a pass before cutting back inside to score next to the sticks. Ryan knocked over the straightforward conversion to put Rotherham 27-19 up.

On 76 minutes Lee Millar again demonstrated his prowess with the boot as he nailed another impressive long-range penalty to stretch his sides lead to 30-19.

With Yorkshire pride at stake the visitors set the game up for a nervy finish after scrum half Oli Fox crossed the whitewash for his sides bonus point try. McColl’s extras reduced Carnegie’s arrears to 30-16.

Carnegie desperately pushed forward in their attempts to steal a victory but the men from Clifton Lane held on resolutely to earn a thrilling victory.

Commenting post-match Titans Nic Rouse explained, “This week has been the toughest week of the year for me as a coach and in terms of preparing the boys; at times we only had 12 boys training and we had to play football. 

“The numbers were so low in training it was difficult and our best session was the team run on Friday. We only had four boys on the bench today and one of those wasn’t really fit enough to go on, so effectively we only had 3 replacements.

“In the game we wanted to play some rugby against Carnegie and we wanted to take a bit of sting out of them. They rarely kick the ball so we needed to be good defensively and I was massively impressed with the boys in that area. Our patience and discipline was very good and I am very proud of the lads.”

Referee: Dean Richards
Attendance: 681
Yellow Card: Postlethwaite & Millar (Titans), Mitchell (Carnegie)
Titans: Cheshire (2T), Henry (T), Ryan (P, 3C), Millar (2P)
Carnegie: Mayhew (2T), Brown (T), Fox (T), McColl (3C)

Titans: 15 Will Thomas, 14 Drew Cheshire, 13 Jamie Cooke, 12 Lee Millar, 11 Jake Henry, 10 Caolan Ryan, 9 Francisco Vieira, 1 Tom Williams, 2 Luke Cole (Dolly 69), 3 Andrew Foster (Palmer76), 4 Rob Louw, 5 Matt Postlethwaite, 6 Tom Burns, 7 Adam Peters, 8 Tom Calladine (Capt.).
 
Replacements: 16 Nic Dolly, 17 Brandon Palmer, 18 Dan Grange, 19 Wesley Hamilton, 20 Joe Barker, 21 James Lasis, 22 Ben Foley. 

Yorkshire Carnegie: 15 Stevie McColl, 14 Tom Bullough, 13 Chris Elder, 12 Andy Forsyth, 11 Louis Brown (Dunne 60) (Bryce 66), 10 Pete Lucock (Davey 58), 9 Oli Fox, 1 James Thraves (Beech 60), 2 Mike Mayhew (Newborn 76), 3 Craig Mitchell, 4 Jack Whetton, 5 Matt Smith, 6 Ben West, 7 Richard Mayhew, 8 Richard Beck (Bainbridge 58).

Replacement: 16 Harry Newborn, 17 Charlie Beech, 18 Kevin Bryce, 19 Elliot Ward, 20 Josh Bainbridge, 21 Harry Davey, 22 Harry Dunne.

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London Scottish 49 Titans 14

Rotherham Titans suffered an awful day at the office as an uninspired performance saw them get punished by a rampant London Scottish side in a crushing 49-14 defeat.

The Exiles ran in seven tries to Titans two, with the South Yorkshire side lacking the urgency and intensity which has been their trademark since the turn of the year.

Rotherham trailed from the off as Scottish raced into an 18-0 lead inside the opening 24 minutes, with tries from centre Ben Mosses and prop forward Dino Waldren; veteran fly half Jake Sharp added 2 penalties and a conversion.

Rotherham eventually worked themselves into the game and were rewarded for their efforts when tight head Andrew Foster crashed over from close range after a period of forward dominance from the Titans pack. Ryan added the extras.

Minutes later however the home side added a third try when prop Waldren barged his way over for his second dot down of the game, Sharp’s successful conversion extended the Exiles lead to 25-7.

As half time approached Titans enjoyed what would be their best period of the game as they camped themselves close to the hosts line. The Scottish scrum buckled on four separate occasions with each time referee Sara Cox awarding Titans a penalty. 

Eventually the referee awarded Rotherham a penalty try, but surprisingly no yellow card followed. Nevertheless Titans went in at the break trailing 25-14 and somewhat rejuvenated for the second 40.

It was vital Rotherham scored the first points after the restart if a comeback was to be a realistic option; unfortunately for them this wasn’t the case as on 47 minutes big second rower Tjiuee Uanivi bulldozed his way over for his sides bonus point try.

Galvanised and full of confidence, Scottish upped their game further and pretty much dominated proceedings for the rest of the match as they ran in another three tries through full back Joe Luca Smith, left winger Charlie Ingall and right winger Matt Williams to secure a deserved and convincing victory.

Speaking after the game Titans Nic Rouse explained, “Today’s performance wasn’t a reflection of how we’ve been since January; it was pretty poor today. I said before the game we need to take them on and there was a big opportunity to take them on up front and it took us until the 25th minute before we got our first penalty. We talk about it beforehand and then we don’t do it. 

“We came into the game confident of getting the result and the way we have been playing the last few weeks against the top sides gave us the confidence to come here and get the win, but I don’t think we really turned up and that’s very disappointing.

“We had good preparation coming into this one and I know the boys are going to be disappointed because they’ll feel they have let themselves down and that will hurt them. I think we needed to score first after the break, but we didn’t and we weren’t great today to be honest.

“Maybe the season has taken its toll on us with the small squad we have, but that’s an excuse and I don’t want to start looking for excuses. 

“I don’t really want to have a go at the boys because they have worked really hard for me and I back them 100%. We now need to pick ourselves up for a big game next week against Carnegie, because if we turn up for that one the way we did today then we are going to get a hiding.

“But we are back at home for a massive Yorkshire derby and we want to put in a performance that we and our supporters can be proud of.”

Referee: Sara Cox
Attendance: 1,330
Yellow Card: Henry (Titans)
Titans: Foster (T), Pen Try, Ryan (1C)
London Scottish: Waldren (2T), Mosses (T), Uanivi (T), Smith (T), Ingall (T), Williams (T), Sharp (2P, 4C),
 
Titans: 15 Will Thomas, 14 Ben Foley (Millar H-T), 13 Jamie Cooke, 12 Joe Barker (Hamilton 58), 11 Jake Henry, 10 Caolan Ryan, 9 Rhodri Davies (Vieira 65), 1 Toby Williams (Tom Williams 60), 2 Luke Cole, 3 Andrew Foster, 4 Rob Louw, 5 Adam Peters, 6 Dan Grange (Burns H-T), 7 Charlie Maddison, 8 Tom Calladine (Capt.).
 
Replacements: 16 Nic Dolly, 17 Tom Williams, 18 Brandon Palmer, 19 Tom Burns, 20 Wesley Hamilton, 21 Lee Millar, 22 Francisco Vieira.
 
London Scottish: 15 Joe Luca Smith, 14 Matt Williams, 13 Ross Neal, 12 Ben Mosses, 11 Charlie Ingall, 10 Jake Sharp (Atkins 61), 9 Alex Walker (Hoadley 55), 1 Derrick Appiah (Harris 55), 2 Isaac Miller (George 55), 3 Dino Waldren (Cringle 55), 4 Ed Milne, 5 Tjiuee Uanivi (Curry 49), 6 Joe Atkinson, 7 Chris Walker (Eliet 69), 8 Danny Kenny (Capt.).
 
Replacements: 16 Dan George, 17 Jonny Harris, 18 Phil Cringle, 19 Oli Curry, 20 Matt Eliet, 21 Ed Hoadley, 22 Jacob Atkins.

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Jersey Reds 38 Titans 16

Rotherham Titans 22 year’s tenure in the top 2 tiers of English rugby came to an end following their 38-16 Championship defeat to Jersey Reds.

Titans gave themselves hope of extending their season with an excellent first half performance, which saw them go in at the break leading 13-7. However, the Islanders produced a powerful second half effort which saw them run out comfortable winners in the end.

With 3 games remaining, Rotherham they will be keen to round off the campaign on a high before embarking on National One rugby next term.

Saturday’s effort against the high-flying Island side demonstrated that Titans are not a poor side and under a different set of circumstances probably wouldn’t be in their current predicament.

The game itself saw the host’s race into an early lead on four minutes through winger Jason Worrall after the Reds moved the ball quickly through the backline.

Rotherham however wasted little time in responding after their pack made good ground inside the Reds 22, before Rhodri Davies peeled away to snipe over for a fine try. Caolan Ryan’s conversion levelled the game at 7 apiece.

Titans continued to enjoy the better of the game and 2 penalties from Ryan extended their advantage to 13-7. However, it could have been much better for the visitors had the Reds not made some crucial last-ditch interventions.  

Titans were denied close to the line when Jersey impressively turned the ball over and Rhodri Davies was denied in the corner after he was bundled into touch just a yard away after making a terrific 40 metre break.

Just before the interval Titans centre Jamie Cooke was shown a yellow card for a late tackle on Jason Worrall. This had repercussions early in the second half as Jersey centre Apakuki Ma'afu waltzed through unattended for a converted try to nudge the hosts 14-13 ahead on 43 minutes.

However, just five minutes later and the Titans regained the lead with Caolan Ryan knocking over his third penalty of the game.

Unfortunately for Rotherham the final quarter of the match saw Jersey implement their power game and as a result the hosts ran in three tries from Nick Selway, Joel Dudley and Kieran Hardy, all of which were converted by Brendan Cope who also knocked over a penalty in this period.

The final score of 38-16 slightly flattered the hosts, but overall the better team on the day won and with it Rotherham’s relegation from the Championship was confirmed.

Commenting post-match Titans Nic Rouse explained, "It's a sad day for the club as we are one of the longest-serving teams in the division.

"We knew we would need to put in a performance and to be fair to the lads we did in the first half, although I thought we left some scores out there.

"Ultimately we weren't ruthless enough but I can't fault the effort of the players, they had nothing left to give."

Referee: Michael Hudson

Attendance: 1,589

Yellow Card: Cooke (Titans)

Titans: Davies (T), Ryan (3P, 1C)

Jersey: Worrall (T), Ma'afu (T), Selway (T), Dudley (T), Hardy (T), Cope (5C), Van Breda (P)

Titans: 15 Will Thomas, 14 Ben Foley, 13 Jamie Cooke (Odogwu 47), 12 Joe Barker, 11 Jake Henry (Millar 66), 10 Caolan Ryan, 9 Rhodri Davies (Porter 59), 1 Toby Williams (Tom Williams72), 2 Luke Cole (Dolly70), 3 Andrew Foster (Palmer70), 4 Rob Louw, 5 Adam Peters, 6 Dan Grange, 7 Charlie Maddison (Burns73), 8 Tom Calladine (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Nic Dolly, 17 Tom Williams, 18 Brandon Palmer, 19 Tom Burns, 20 Paolo Odogwu, 21 Lee Millar, 22 Will Porter.

Jersey Reds: 15 Scott Van Breda (Co-Capt.), 14 James Newey, 13 Apakuki Ma'afu (Best 67), 12 George Eastwell, 11 Jason Worrall, 10 Brendan Cope (Hardy 66), 9 Joel Dudley, 1 Roy Godfrey (Co-Capt.) (Selway 61), 2 Jared Saunders (Woolmore 56), 3 Leeroy Atalifo (Armstrong 56), 4 Jerry Sexton, 5 Dave McKern (Kolo'ofa'I  51), 6 Rory Bartle (Upfield 73), 7 Conor Joyce, 8 Max Argyle.

Replacements: 16 Jake Woolmore, 17 Nick Selway, 18 Jake Armstrong, 19 Uili Kolo'ofa'i, 20 Jake Upfield, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Mark Best.

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Titans 3 Bristol 24

Titans put in a sterling 80-minute effort in difficult weather conditions before ultimately falling to a 24-3 defeat to Championship leaders Bristol at Clifton Lane.

Titans would have been delighted with their first half effort as they played into the teeth of a blizzard and to go in at the break trailing 6-0, they would have been confident of causing a huge upset.

However, with the snow easing and the wind losing some of its intensity, the champions elect managed the second half superbly and restricted Rotherham opportunities to a bare minimum.

The result leaves Rotherham 19 points adrift of 11th placed side London Scottish with just four games remaining, meaning Titans will need to win all of their remaining fixtures with a bonus point if they are to give themselves a chance of avoiding relegation.

Bristol started the game in bright fashion and soon got the scoreboard ticking when fly half Ian Madigan knocked over a 3-pointer following Titans transgression at the breakdown.

Undeterred, Rotherham fought back immediately and pressurised the visitors with a powerful driving maul deep inside their 22. However, as the blizzard increased in intensity and visibility deteriorated, Rotherham lost their bearings somewhat and grounded the ball over the dead ball line, giving Bristol a massive let off.

As conditions worsened both sides should be credited as each showed an immense desire to go forward and Rotherham in particular showed great spirit in defence and terrific line speed in the ever-declining conditions.

Just after the half hour mark Bristol doubled their advantage when Madigan added a second penalty. Rotherham had an opportunity to reduce the arrears late on in the first half; however, Caolan Ryan’s penalty attempt was ruthlessly halted by the gale-force wind.

The second period saw the visitors up their performance and despite now having the wind in their faces, they were able to register the first try of the match when winger Ryan Edwards raced in to score in the corner after a period of Bristol dominance. Madigan’s conversion attempt was pushed across the sticks.

On the hour mark Titans finally and deservedly got on the scoreboard when Caolan Ryan struck an impressive long-range penalty to reduce the arrears to 11-3.

Shortly after Rotherham second rower Rob Louw impressed as he charged down a clearance kick and collected nicely before making good ground downfield. Unfortunately as he was brought to ground Bristol turned the ball over.

The visitors then enjoyed a dominant passage of play which saw them add two further penalties through the reliable boot of Madigan.

And to round the game off late on, impressive full back Luke Morahan charged over for Bristol’s second dot down of the match, with Madigan tagging over the extras.

Referee: Tim Wigglesworth

Attendance: 617

Yellow Card: None

Titans: Ryan (P)

Bristol: Edwards (T), Morahan (T), Madigan (4P, C)

Titans: 15 Will Thomas (Millar 69), 14 Ben Foley, 13 Joe Barker, 12 Rory Jennings, 11 Jake Henry, 10 Caolan Ryan, 9 Rhodri Davies (Porter 45), 1 Toby Williams (Tom Williams 73), 2 Luke Cole (Dolly 59), 3 Andrew Foster (Palmer 69), 4 Rob Louw, 5 Adam Peters (Postlethwaite 48), 6 Dan Grange, 7 Charlie Maddison, 8 Tom Calladine (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Nic Dolly, 17 Tom Williams, 18 Brandon Palmer, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Jamie Cooke, 21 Lee Millar, 22 Will Porter.

Bristol: 15 Luke Morahan, 14 Ryan Edwards (Tovey 76), 13 Alapati Leiua, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 David Lemi, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Rhodri Williams, 1 Soane Tonga’uiha (Dawe 76), 2 Jason Harris-Wright (Fenton-Wells 76), 3 Gaston Cortes ( 63), 4 Joe Joyce, 5 Joe Latta, 6 Sam Jeffries (Haining 63), 7 Dan Thomas, 8 Jordan Crane (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Nick Fenton-Wells, 17 Ollie Dawe, 18 James Lay, 19 Nick Haining, 20 Andy Uren, 21 Callum Sheedy, 22 Jack Tovey.

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Ealing Trailfinders 37 Titans 35

For the second Championship game in a row Rotherham were handed a tough-to-take defeat as an 85th minute penalty from Luke Daniels saw Ealing snatch a dramatic 37-35 victory at Vallis Way.

Having lost 18-15 to Bedford last time out with the final kick of the match, Rotherham’s hearts were broken again late on and the defeat will hurt all the more as Titans believed they were the better side on the day.

Titans arguably played their best rugby of the season in the first half of a thriller which saw them secure the 4-try bonus point within the opening 30 minutes to give them a 26-3 lead.

Rotherham opened the scoring on five minutes when Ealing knocked on just inside the Titans 22. The loose ball was collected brilliantly by Caolan Ryan who showed tremendous speed to race almost 80 metres to score. Ryan converted his try to make it 7-0.

Five minutes later Luke Daniels, who kicked exceptionally throughout the game, reduced his side’s arrears with a well-taken penalty.

Rotherham roared back however and enjoyed a dominant 20 minute period where both backs and forwards combined effectively to score three further tries.

On 13 minutes following some aggressive forward pressure the ball came out to Caolan Ryan who found Joe Barker in support. Barker just managed to squeeze away a long miss-pass before being clattered to Drew Cheshire who raced in to score in the corner. Ryan narrowly missed the difficult conversion from the touchline.

On 19 minutes Rotherham were in again. This time Ryan found Ben Foley who utilised the long miss-pass to great effect as he found Drew Cheshire out wide. The winger then made good ground before slipping a nice pass inside to Joe Barker who ran through for Titans third try. Ryan added the extras.

As the half hour mark approach Titans secured the bonus point. Cheshire collected a clearing kick just inside the Ealing half and took the ball infield before finding Ben Foley. The full back then injected some pace into the attack as he bulldozed his way inside the 22 before finding Rhodri Davies on his inside. The Welshman collected nicely and ran in to score near the posts. Ryan’s conversion put Titans 26-3 up.

Ealing are not second in the league for no good reason and a reaction was always to be expected. Before half time the hosts crossed the whitewash twice through impressive centre Piers O’Conor, both of which were converted by Daniels to reduce Trailfinders arrears to 26-17.

Just before the break Titans won a penalty; unfortunately for them Ryan’s effort was pushed wide by the ever-increasing wind.

Ealing’s comeback continued early in the second period when on 49 minutes former Titan prop forward, Lewis Thiede crashed over from close range following a period of pack pressure. Daniels successful conversion saw the host draw to within two points as the scoreboard showed 24-26.

Rotherham continued to attack the hosts and on 52 minutes were rewarded with a penalty which Ryan converted to extend the visitors advantage.

However, before the hour mark Ealing took the lead for the first time when replacement front rower Matt Cornish dotted down from a catch and drive close to the Titans line. Daniels extras made it 31-29 to the home side.

Both sides continued to attack as each went in search of the vital victory. Two Caolan Ryan penalties sandwiched a 3-pointer from Luke Daniels to leave Rotherham 35-34 ahead going into injury time.

With one minute remaining and tension within the ground at a heightened stage Ealing were awarded a penalty which Daniels slotted to snatch victory from a devastated Rotherham outfit.

Referee: John Meredith
Attendance: 642
Yellow Card: None
Titans: Cheshire (T), Barker (T), Davies (T), Ryan (T, 3C, 3P)
Ealing: O’Conor (2T), Thiede (T), Cornish (T), Daniels (4C, 3P)

Titans: 15 Ben Foley (Thomas 49), 14 Drew Cheshire (Porter 64), 13 Joe Barker, 12 Rory Jennings, 11 Jake Henry, 10 Caolan Ryan, 9 Rhodri Davies (Millar 63), 1 Toby Williams (Tom Williams 63), 2 Jonny Murphy (Cole 58), 3 Andrew Foster (Palmer 71), 4 Rob Louw (Postlethwaite 69), 5 Adam Peters, 6 Dan Grange, 7 Charlie Maddison, 8 Tom Calladine (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Luke Cole, 17 Tom Williams, 18 Brandon Palmer, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Will Thomas, 21 Will Porter, 22 Lee Millar.

Ealing: 15 Luke Daniels, 14 Will Harries, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Joe Munro, 11 Miles Mantella (Lydon 22), 10 Aaron Penberthy, 9 Calum Waters (Carter 60), 1 James Gibbons (Davis 71), 2 Alun Walker (Cornish 29), 3 Mark Tampin (Thiede 29), 4 Barney Maddison (Dickinson 49), 5 Harry Casson, 6 Kieran Murphy (Allen 67), 7 Rayn Smid, 8 Mark Bright (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Matt Cornish, 17 Will Davis, 18 Lewis Thiede, 19 Morgan Allen, 20 Sam Dickinson, 21 Luke Carter, 22 Peter Lydon.
 

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Titans 15 Bedford Blues 18

Rotherham Titans produced a superb second half fightback before ultimately suffering bitter anguish as Bedford’s Will Hooley converted a last-kick-of-the-match penalty to grab the spoils 18-15 for the Blues.

Titans had disappointed with their first half efforts which saw them go in at the break trailing 15-0. However, a spirited second half performance saw them level matters with 7 minutes remaining to set up a thrilling finale, which unfortunately for them ended horribly at the death.

Following the bonus point defeat for Rotherham they are still clinging on to their Championship status, as with 6 games remaining they are 20 points adrift of eleventh placed side London Scottish.

Rotherham will not be eager to review the first 40 minutes of this one as they rarely got inside the Blues half and when they did they ended up kicking away possession which ultimately led to difficult times.

Bedford took the lead on 15 minutes when fly half Will Hooley knocked over a 3-pointer which was quickly followed by fullback Elliot Clements-Hill barging over the whitewash for the first try of the game.

Titans were eager with their efforts and by and large their defence was pretty effective. That was until the half hour mark when they would have been bitterly disappointed to have conceded a try next to the posts from a first-phase move from a scrum close to their own line. Hooley’s extras saw the Blues extend their advantage to 15-0.

Titans rallied late in the half but were unable to penetrate the visitor’s well-organised defence.

However, the second period saw a transformed Rotherham as they upped the tempo and intensity of their work. On 52 minutes Titans livewire scrum half, Rhodri Davies, brought his side back into the game as he sniped his way over after spotting a gap in the Blues defence. Lee Millar added the extras to reduce the home side’s arrears to 15-7.

Rotherham were now rocking and their line-speed out of defence began to take its toll on the visitors as errors crept into their game.

On 64 minutes, a no-arms tackle by Blues’ Alex Rae resulted in him having a 10 minute rest on the touchline and Caolan Ryan superbly knocking over the resulting long-range penalty to draw Rotherham to within 5 points of Bedford.

Seven minutes from time a rampant Rotherham moved the ball swiftly across the backline to replacement winger Jake Henry who showed good composure to dot down in the left hand corner. Unfortunately for Titans, Caolan Ryan’s difficult touchline conversion narrowly missed the target.

As the game approached the final minute it would have been a fair and fitting result for the sides to have shared the spoils. However, the Blues were awarded a penalty after Rotherham got themselves into difficulties from a line out deep inside their own 22. Up stepped Will Hooley who calmly slotted his kick to break Titans hearts.

Commenting post-match, a disappointed Nic Rouse explained, “It’s a horrible way to lose a rugby match, but I guess that kind of sums up our season really. We didn’t have the best first half; we only got into their half on two occasions and then we kick the ball away and they end up on our 5 metre line.

“Defensively, other than on a couple of occasions, I thought the lads were outstanding and that’s definitely a part of our game that is improving all the time and not many teams are scoring a lot of points against us now.

“We regrouped at half time, we wanted to play a bit more in the right areas and there were opportunities to go and attack and up the tempo, because we knew they don’t commit too many numbers at the breakdown defensively, so they don’t really slow your ball down and it was about us moving the ball quickly and play at a higher tempo and I thought we did that really well.

“I was pleased for our attack that we scored a try when we were a man down following Rory’s yellow card and it was a great second half for us, we were a little disappointed with the first half but on reflection maybe a draw would have been a fair result.”

Referee: Fergus Kirby

Attendance: 609

Yellow Card: Jennings (Titans), Rae (Bedford)

Titans: Davies (T), Henry (T), Millar (1C), Ryan (P)

Bedford: Clements-Hill (T), Lane (T), Hooley (2P, C)

Titans: 15 Caolan Ryan, 14 Drew Cheshire (Henry 65), 13 Jamie Cooke, 12 Rory Jennings, 11 Will Thomas, 10 Lee Millar (Foley 51), 9 Rhodri Davies, 1 Toby Williams (Tom Williams 79), 2 Jonny Murphy (Cole 51), 3 Andrew Foster (Palmer 78), 4 Rob Louw (Postlethwaite 79), 5 James Lasis, 6 Adam Peters, 7 Charlie Maddison (Burns 65), 8 Tom Calladine (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Luke Cole, 17 Tom Williams, 18 Brandon Palmer, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Tom Burns, 21 Ben Foley, 22 Jake Henry.

Bedford Blues: 15 Elliot Clements-Hill (Hutchinson 63), 14 Howard Packman, 13 Rich Lane, 12 Michael Le Bourgeois (Capt.), 11 Dean Adamson, 10 Will Hooley, 9 Jordan Burns (Dickson 52), 1 Sean McCarthy (Spelman 74), 2 Tom Lindsay (Fields 73), 3 Ben Cooper (Penny 73), 4 Ed Taylor (Onojaife 52), 5 Will Carrick-Smith, 6 Alex Rae, 7 Josh Buggea (Blanchet 52), 8 Jarad Williams.

Replacements: 16 Jacob Fields, 17 Dave Spelman, 18 Alex Penny, 19 Jordan Onojaife, 20 Justin Blanchet, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Rory Hutchinson.

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Richmond 11 Titans 3

Rotherham put in a disappointing performance as they went down 11-3 to Richmond on a wet and windy afternoon at the Athletic Ground.

Titans put in the graft, but a string of handling errors throughout, combined with a dysfunctional line-out led to a highly frustrating afternoon for the South Yorkshire side.

The slippery conditions restricted attempts for either side to play any free-flowing rugby and lots of kicking from both teams meant the game was not one for the purists.

In a tight, low-scoring contest, the only points in the first half came from the kicking tee inside the first 15 minutes. Following Lee Millar’s opening effort on 9 minutes, Richmond’s Rob Kirby knocked over 2 of his own shortly after.

Midway through the half Rotherham created a glorious opportunity to cross the whitewash, but unfortunately for them, the final pass was knocked on with the line beckoning. Titans will never know how important that error could have been.

The second half followed in similar fashion as both sides tried to come to terms with a greasy ball. However, on 48 minutes Richmond worked the ball nicely out wide for winger Jono Woodward to score in the right hand corner. Kirby missed his conversion by a considerable margin as the wind increased in strength.

Titans then made some changes which lifted their performance and intensity, both Tom Burns and Jake Henry in particular made good impact upon their arrival.

Late on in the game Rotherham enjoyed some good territory and possession as they pressed deep inside the host’s 22 looking for their first try. However, the home side defended with a steely passion which repeatedly kept out the Titans and their attempts to notch-up 4 wins in a row came to a disappointing end.

Speaking post-match Titans’ Nic Rouse explained, “Our line out has functioned really well for some time, but today I think some of our decision making in that area was a bit poor. That is a learning curve for some of the boys, but I thought the way they applied themselves in the second half was an improvement, which was pleasing.

“Unfortunately though, we made 24 errors in the game and gave away 11 penalties and when you do that you don’t really deserve to win a game of rugby and that was the story today.

“I think we showed we could break them down and we created some try scoring opportunities, but unfortunately we knocked the ball on when we looked to be going over in the first half.

“We were a bit too conservative in the first half at times when it was on for us around the edge; we knew they were going to be narrow and that would create opportunities for us to get around them.

“We’ve gone from playing too much to not playing enough in this game, the improvement the boys have made is still there, but I’m gutted we’ve come down here and we’ve not given the best account of ourselves.

“To be fair to Richmond they managed the game better that we did, but if we had taken the try scoring opportunity in the first half we’d have seen a massive difference.”

Referee: Greg Macdonald

Attendance: 468

Yellow Card: None

Titans: Millar (P)

Richmond: Woodward (T), Kirby (2P)

Titans: 15 Caolan Ryan, 14 Drew Cheshire (Foley 60), 13 Jamie Cooke, 12 Joe Barker (Jennings 47), 11 Will Thomas, 10 Lee Millar (Henry 69), 9 Rhodri Davies, 1 Toby Williams (Tom Williams 71), 2 Luke Cole (Murphy 47), 3 Andrew Foster, 4 Rob Louw, 5 James Lasis, 6 Adam Peters, 7 Charlie Maddison, 8 Tom Calladine (Capt.) (Burns 60).

Replacements: 16 Jonny Murphy, 17 Tom Williams, 18 Brandon Palmer, 19 Tom Burns, 20 Rory Jennings, 21 Ben Foley, 22 Jake Henry.

Richmond: 15 Rob Kirby, 14 Jono Woodward, 13 Cam Mitchell, 12 Ronnie McLean, 11 Jordan Simpson-Hefft, 10 Rory Damant, 9 Jamie Gibbs (Grant 65), 1 Jeremy Cunnew, 2 Ross Grimstone (Phipps 40), 3 Joe Tarrant (Trenier 54), 4 Will Warden (Capt.) (Edwards 68), 5 Max Crawford, 6 Jake Parker, 7 Jesse Liston, 8 Chris Davies.

Replacements: 16 Jason Phipps, 17 Craig Trenier, 18 Myles Scott, 19 Rhodri Adamson, 20 James Swan, 21 Harison Edwards, 22 Callum Grant.

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Titans 27 Cornish Pirates 24

Rotherham Titans secured their first Championship victory of the season with a dramatic 27-24 win over Cornish Pirates to make it three wins on the trot following B&I Cup wins over Richmond and Connacht.

Titans clinched the Clifton Lane thrilling with a Caolan Ryan penalty four minutes into injury time. His penalty from close to the touchline was even more impressive as it was his first kick at goal following Lee Millar’s departure on 80 minutes.

Titans had gone in at the break leading 21-10 after a pulsating 40 minutes which saw them score three tries to the Pirates one. However, the visitors mounted a ferocious second half comeback which saw them take a 24-21 lead with less than 10 minutes remaining following two converted tries.

Despite the setback Titans rallied and late penalties from Lee Millar and Caolan Ryan sent the passionate Titans faithful into raptures.

Titans arguably played their best 40 minutes of rugby all season during the first period as forwards and backs combined effectively with pace and precision.

However, despite Rotherham’s bright start it was the Pirates who got the scoreboard ticking first when fly half Will Cargill knocked over a penalty on 8 minutes.

Nevertheless, Rotherham stormed back on 13 minutes when Lee Millar cleverly chipped over the defence to collect before finding Joe Barker, who in turn sent in Will Thomas down the left hand side for a super try. Millar tagged on the extras.

Within 3 minutes Titans were celebrating their second try. From a line out on the left hand side Titans worked the ball across the field to Caolan Ryan who smartly drew the tackle before finding Drew Cheshire. The flying winger showed great pace as he galloped over the line for his sixth try in as many games. Millar impressed again with the boot as he converted from out wide.

Pirates, as always, showed their character as they mounted a ferocious attack through their forward pack which culminated with centre Nicolas De Battista crashing over for a try which Cargill converted on 24 minutes.

Undeterred and roared on by a vociferous crowd Rotherham added their third try five minutes before the break. From a scrum about 10 meters inside their own half Rhodri Davies picked up from the base and made huge yards downfield before finding Drew Cheshire on the wing.

Cheshire fended off a tackle before slipping a lovely pass back inside to Ryan who showed a clean pair of heels to race in near the posts for another terrific Titans try. Millar maintained his 100% kicking record with the conversion.

The visitors were expected to come out for the second half with an increased urgency about their work and this they did. Forwards Chris Morgan and Tom Duncan both crashed over for tries with Will Cargill converting both to edge the visitors 24-21 ahead with less than 10 minutes remaining.

Now it was the turn of Rotherham to show some character following the huge disappointment of losing their long-standing advantage – and this they did!

Rotherham’s pack, led magnificently by skipper Tom Calladine, was heroic as they barged and banged their way through the Pirates defence. From the pressure created the visitors conceded a penalty wide out on the right hand side and from the difficult angle Millar impressed as he knocked over his fourth successful kick of the game on 80 minutes.

Into injury time and with less than two minutes remaining, Titans forwards pack forced another penalty. With Millar now off the field it was up to Caolan Ryan to step up to take the kick five metres from touch. Before the flags were raised the deafening noise from the shed told everyone in the ground it was a good one.

Titans saw out the remaining minute to secure a well-deserved and hard-earned first Championship win of the season.

Commenting post-match a delighted Nic Rouse explained, “I’m ecstatic we were able to get the win and especially for the boys because they deserve it. They’ve worked hard when things weren’t going our way and they’ve always turned up on a Monday morning with a great attitude.

“They boys were fantastic; we trained for a few situations and the scenario at the end where we needed a penalty to win was one of those. Caolan stepped up at the end, having not kicked all day and for him to knock it over was amazing and fair play to him for that. I’m delighted not just for him but to everyone connected with the club.

“I have to give a special mention to Ed Robinson who has come in to help us out with the backs. He’s done a great job for such a young guy, he’s only 24 and he’s made a massive difference since coming in a couple of weeks ago. A lot of credit has to go to him for this win.”

Referee: Fergus Kirby

Attendance: 687

Yellow Card: Calladine (Titans)

Titans: Thomas (T), Cheshire (T), Ryan (T, P), Millar (3C, P)

Cornish Pirates: Battista (T), Morgan (T), Duncan (T), Cargill (3C, P)

Titans: 15 Caolan Ryan, 14 Drew Cheshire (Foley h-t), 13 Jamie Cooke, 12 Joe Barker, 11 Will Thomas, 10 Lee Millar (Henry 80), 9 Rhodri Davies, 1 Toby Williams, 2 Jonny Murphy (Cole 49), 3 Andrew Foster, 4 Rob Louw, 5 James Lasis (Dolly 67), 6 Adam Peters, 7 Charlie Maddison (Burns 73), 8 Tom Calladine (Capt.). 

Replacements: 16 Luke Cole, 17 Tom Williams, 18 Tom Burns, 19 Nic Dolly, 20 Dan Grange, 21 Ben Foley, 22 Jake Henry.

Cornish Pirates: 15 Toby May, 14 Kyle Moyle, 13 Dan Koster, 12 Nicolas De Battista, 11 Nicolas Coronel (O'Meara 58), 10 Will Cargill (May 71), 9 Alex Day, 1 Marlen Walker (Jack Andrew 12), 2 Sam Matavesi, 3 Christian Judge (Paul Andrew 52), 4 Chris Morgan (Capt.), 5 Toby Freeman (Caulfield 58), 6 Rupert Cooper (Lee 47), 7 John Stevens, 8 Tom Duncan.

Replacements: 16 Paul Andrew, 17 Jack Andrew, 18 Josh Caulfield, 19 Dan Lee, 20 Mike Pope, 21 Laurence May, 22 Alex O'Meara.

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