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, 13 Jamie Cooke, 12 Rory Jennings, 11 Will Thomas, 10 Lee Millar, 9 Rhodri Davies, 1 Toby Williams, 2 Jonny Murphy, 3 Andrew Foster, 4 Rob Louw, 5 James Lasis, 6 Adam Peters, 7 Charlie Maddison, 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, 14 Howard Packman, 13 Rich Lane, 12 Michael Le Bourgeois (Capt.), 11 Dean Adamson, 10 Will Hooley, 9 Jordan Burns, 1 Sean McCarthy, 2 Tom Lindsay, 3 Ben Cooper, 4 Ed Taylor, 5 Will Carrick-Smith, 6 Alex Rae, 7 Josh Buggea, 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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Connacht Eagles 3 Titans 27

Rotherham Titans ended their British & Irish Cup involvement with an impressive 27-3 win over Connacht Eagles on a heavy pitch at Galway Corinthians to secure runners-up spot in pool 4.

The victory saw Titans record back-to-back wins for the first time since February 2016 as they outscored their Irish hosts by 4 tries to nil.

From the off Rotherham looked bright and energetic and quickly gained field position as their pack dominated with some fierce tackling to lay a positive foundation.

Titans’ hard work was rewarded on 7 minutes, when from a catch and drive close to the line hooker Jonny Murphy crashed over from the tail of a maul. Lee Millar narrowly missed the conversion from out wide and unfortunately had to leave the field shortly after due to a chest injury.

Nevertheless Rotherham continued to impress, especially in defence when required to do so. Terrific line speed combined with aggressive and physical tackling often forced the home side into making errors.

Good line speed enabled Rotherham to add a second try on 26 minutes when Will Thomas quickly closed the gap to charge down a clearance kick which allowed centre Jamie Cooke to race through to dot down. Caolan Ryan added the extras.

Within 3 minutes however Eagles made headway into Rotherham’s half and enjoyed a short period of front-foot ball which forced the Titans on to the back foot and into giving away a penalty. Fly half Luke Carty stepped up to confidently knock over the 3-pointer to reduce his sides arrears to 12-3.

Undeterred Rotherham roared forward once again as their pack re-established control, which in turn led to a line out inside the Eagles 22 on 34 minutes. From there Rotherham rumbled forward before releasing the ball down the blind side to Drew Cheshire who raced through for his fifth try in as many games. On this occasion Ryan missed the extras. However, with the last kick of the half he knocked over a penalty to send Titans in at the break with a healthy 20-3 advantage.

The second half saw both sides make changes throughout which led to the game losing some of its shape and although Titans created some scoring opportunities, as they chased the bonus point try, all too often things broke down at the crucial moment.

However, in the final play of the game Rotherham did secure the bonus point, when replacement winger Jake Henry scored a fine individual try. From around 30 metres out Henry danced his way through a number of challenges before he crashed over the line. Ryan’s conversion put the cherry on top of the Titans cake.

Speaking after the match Titans Nic Rouse reflected, “It probably wasn’t a classic but it was great for our fans that made the trip, I think we had over 50 make the journey and I’m really pleased we gave them something to shout about. We’ve been slowly getting better over the last few weeks; we are trying to implement a few things and I can see the improvement in the boys.

“It wasn’t pretty at times but I thought we were clinical in the first half as we went 20-3 up at the break and I was delighted we got the bonus point try right at the end. I’m happy for the boys because it’s our first back-to-back wins for a long time.

“I think more importantly we didn’t concede a try; we knew they were a dangerous side and they can play from anywhere on the park. So I was pleased with the pressure we put on them which led to them making mistakes and then we capitalised on them.

“The forwards put in a great shift on a very heavy pitch; they imposed themselves and got dominance from very early on in the game.

“We had a long day travelling across and the Captain, Tom Calladine, did a great job with the boys in terms of keeping everyone together, focused and up for the game. It can be easy to drift off with all the travelling, but credit to the boys for going out there right from the off to put in a really good performance.

“Our fans were amazing and the lads really appreciate their passion and support and I’m sure they’ll enjoy a few beers together tonight.”

Referee: Chris Busby

Attendance: 601

Yellow Card: Masterson (Connacht)

Titans: Murphy (T), Cooke (T), Cheshire (T), Henry (T), Ryan (2C, P)

Connacht: Carty (P)

Titans: 15 Caolan Ryan, 14 Drew Cheshire (Henry 55), 13 Jamie Cooke, 12 Joe Barker, 11 Will Thomas, 10 Lee Millar (Foley 20), 9 Rhodri Davies, 1 Toby Williams (Tom Williams 51), 2 Jonny Murphy (Cole 51), 3 Andrew Foster, 4 Rob Louw, 5 James Lasis, 6 Tom Burns (Grange 59), 7 Charlie Maddison (Peters 46), 8 Tom Calladine (Capt.) (Dolly 61). 

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

Connacht Eagles: 15 Darragh Leader, 14 Rory Scholes, 13 Kieran Joyce, 12 Andrew Deegan, 11 Matt Byrne, 10 Luke Carty, 9 Ryan Feehily, 1 Matt Burke, 2 Tom McCartney, 3 Conor Kenny, 4 Peter Claffey, 5 Niall Murray, 6 Cillian Gallagher, 7 Sean Masterson, 8 Paul Boyle (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Callum Torpey, 17 Conan O’Donnell, 18 Dylan Tierney, 19 Dan Law, 20 James Mitchell, 21 Conor McKeon, 22 Michael O’Reilly.

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Titans 31 Richmond 10

Rotherham Titans put in a much-improved performance as they notched-up their second British & Irish Cup success with an impressive 31-10 victory over Richmond at Clifton Lane.

Titans outscored their opponents by three tries to one, with Jamie Cooke, Drew Cheshire and a penalty try securing the points. The victory lifts the Titans from the foot of pool 4 and a win next Friday evening in Ireland over Connacht Eagles would see the South Yorkshire side finish runners up in the group.

Titans started the game in bright fashion as they enjoyed a huge amount of territory and possession. Unfortunately for them, Richmond’s defence held firm and it was not until the 23rd minute that Rotherham got on the board. This came via the boot of fly half Lee Millar who confidently slotted over a 3 pointer in difficult, windy conditions.

Titans however didn’t have to wait too much longer to add to their tally. On 28 minutes following some penetrative play from the pack, the ball came out to Jamie Cooke, who playing at centre for the first time, showed impressive footwork and physicality to power over for the first try. Millar’s conversion was pushed narrowly wide by the crosswind.

Rotherham continued to dominate proceedings and five minutes before the break increased their advantage when the impressive Drew Cheshire galloped through the visitors defence to dot down under the posts. Millar bagged the extras from in front of the sticks to stretch the home side’s advantage to 15-0.

In the final play of the half Richmond finally gained some territory and forced Rotherham into conceding a penalty. Winger Ali Chisholm converted with the last kick of the half and Titans went in at the break with a deserved 15-3 advantage.

Rotherham were determined not to let their first half hard work be spoiled with a sloppy start to the second period and their defence ensured this would not be the case.

Titans’ intensity remained high in the opening exchanges and they steadily increased their advantage with three successful penalties from the reliable boot of Millar.

The only blot on the Titans afternoon came 8 minutes from time when Richmond’s loose head prop, Will Goodrick-Clarke crashed over for a try, following a short period of forward pressure close to the Titans line.

Undeterred by this setback Rotherham rallied and showed their own pack-power. From a line out just outside the Richmond 22 Titans set up a driving maul and powered their way up to the visitor’s line before illegally being brought to ground. Referee Mike Hudson was left with no choice but to award Rotherham a penalty try.

Titans went in search of a bonus-point fourth try, but credit to the visitors defence as they held out firmly to deny Rotherham the cherry on top of the cake.

Speaking post-match Titans Nic Rouse explained, “You can only play the team that’s in front of you and Richmond have suffered a few injuries in the last few weeks and they had a mixed side out there. They had some real quality on the bench though, especially in their front row and at scrum half, but at the same time you’ve still got to perform against the opposition and I thought the boys put in a good shift.

“I was disappointed with their try as it came off our mistake, but overall I thought we made a step in the right direction. We won’t get ahead of ourselves and our focus is really on the Championship; we have a big game here in a couple of weeks against Cornish Pirates and that’s what we’re building towards.

“What pleased me with our performance today was they didn’t get in our half in the first 40 minutes until the final minute when they got a penalty and overall our defence was really good. The boys are really buying in to what we are doing and we got the win so we’re all delighted with that.

“I thought Caolan Ryan, playing out of position, really made a difference in the second half. Likewise I thought Jamie Cooke came in and did a job; he held a few defenders for us to score the first try. I thought Drew Cheshire had an outstanding game on the wing and Andrew Foster, who has been a bit in and out of the squad, really showed us what he can do at scrum time.”

Referee: Mike Hudson

Attendance: 227

Yellow Card: None

Titans: Cooke (T), Cheshire (T), Penalty Try, Millar (4P, 1C)

Richmond: Goodrick-Clarke (T), Chisholm (1P, 1C)

Titans: 15 Caolan Ryan, 14 Drew Cheshire, 13 Jamie Cooke, 12 Joe Barker, 11 Wesley Hamilton, 10 Lee Millar, 9 Francisco Vieira (Foley h-t), 1 Tom Williams (Toby Williams 52), 2 Luke Cole (Capt.), 3 Brandon Palmer (Foster 17), 4 Rob Louw, 5 James Lasis, 6 Nic Dolly, 7 Dan Grange (Peters59), 8 Tom Burns (Maddison 66). 

Replacements: 16 Jonny Murphy, 17 Toby Williams, 18 Andrew Foster, 19 Adam Peters, 20 Charlie Maddison, 21 Ben Foley, 22 Jake Henry.

Richmond: 15 Jordan Simpson-Hefft, 14 Martin Freeman, 13 Cameron Mitchell, 12 Cameron Hudson, 11 Ali Chisholm, 10 Freddie Gabbitass (Damant 52), 9 Rhodri Adamson (Jones 66), 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 2 Jason Phipps (Townsend 50), 3 Craig Trenier (Tarrant 50), 4 Stan South, 5 Fraser Wem (Scott 55), 6 Lorcan Dow (Lee36), 7 Tom Sargeant, 8 Harison Edwards.

Replacements: 16 Jamie Townsend, 17 Jeremy Cunnew, 18 Myles Scott, 19 Luc Jones, 20 Rory Damant, 21 Adam Lee, 22 Joe Tarrant.

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Hartpury RFC 27 Titans 18

Rotherham Titans showed at times glimpses of their quality during what was a hard-fought and competitive match, before ultimately going down 27-18 to Hartpury RFC.

The defeat leaves Rotherham still searching for their first league win of the season and 22 points adrift of eleventh placed Jersey in the Championship table, with nine games remaining.

New head coach, Nic Rouse, would have been pleased with his side’s first half efforts, as playing into a severe head wind Titans contained the home side for the majority of the half and went in at the break trailing by just 10 points to 3, which to be fair flattered the hosts somewhat.

Titans had actually taken the lead on 4 minutes after a bright start to the game saw Caolan Ryan knock over a penalty in very blustery conditions.

However, on 7 minutes the hosts made good use of the elements to work the ball downfield, before a series of pick and goes from the Hartpury pack culminated with loose head prop Dan Murphy crashing over next to the posts for the first try of the game. Fly half James Williams added the straightforward extras to give the home side a 7-3 lead.

Undeterred, Rotherham continued to enjoy lots of success in terms of possession and field position. This led to a frustrating time for Hartpury and as a result the penalty count against them began to rise.

From 2 of those misdemeanours, two angled penalty attempts from Caolan Ryan, who in normal weather conditions would have comfortably knocked over, saw his efforts forced across the face of the posts by the strong, ever-increasing wind.

Just before the break Hartpury made a rare foray up to the edge of the Titans 22; ill discipline from the visitors gifted them an easy 3-pointer which was tagged over by James Williams to bring the half to a close.

On the back of their first 40 minutes performance Rotherham would have been confident at the break of overturning their arrears, particularly with the elements now in the favour in the second period.

However, a sloppy and somewhat lacklustre start to the half saw the Titans punished. First James Williams added a second penalty to his tally, before replacement hooker Will Tanner dotted down from the tail of a Hartpury driving maul. Williams’ conversion extended the hosts lead to 20-3.

Rotherham eventually found a spark and showed some good quality with ball in hand just after the hour mark. From a scrum on the edge of the Hartpury 22 the ball was worked nicely across the field through the backs. The ball eventually came out wide to Joe Barker who threw a neat inside pass to the charging Ben Foley who crashed over the line at pace. Ryan missed the difficult conversion from out wide.

However, any hopes Titans had of mounting a comeback were scuppered 10 minutes from time when Hartpury’s Tanner was on hand again from the back of a driving maul for his second try. Williams added the extras to make it 27-8.

There was still time for some late drama as Rotherham scored two tries in the final four minutes. Firstly, following some powerful work by the forwards the ball came out to the backs and arrived with Joe Barker; his long pass was perfectly weighted for Drew Cheshire to collect in his stride enabling him to gallop over for a try in the corner. Ryan’s conversion narrowly missed the target.

From the restart Titans collected and with a renewed urgency kept the ball alive with some neat offloading in the tackle. The ball eventually arrived with Charlie Maddison who made a good break on the edge of his own 22 and proceeded to charge downfield. Dan Grange then took over possession and on halfway found Rhodri Davies with a perfectly timed pass which allowed the flying Welshman to race home from 50 metres for a superb try in the corner. Ryan’s conversion narrowly missed the target.

Unfortunately for the Titans the clock ticked down and with it went any hopes of a bonus point.

Commenting post-match Nic Rouse explained, “I think in the first half we applied ourselves and stuck to the game plan and played in the right areas. In the second half with the wind in our favour I thought we should have given a better account of ourselves. We lost a bit of line speed and we allowed them to get on the front foot and I was disappointed with our second half effort.

“I thought overall our set piece was good and we dominated in the early stages, but then they brought on some old heads after 20 minutes which is unheard of really, but because of our dominance they had to do something, but fair play to them for making the changes and it enabled them to swing a couple of scrum their way later on.

“We tried to tweak the way we wanted to play; we wanted to be a bit more pragmatic in our approach, we wanted to play in the right areas through our kicking game and we wanted to be a bit more direct off first phase. We did that on occasions, but we’ve only had 3 days to implement the changes and although there were some promising signs we’ve got a bit more work to do.

“There were some good individual performances today where a number of the boys stuck up their hands and carried all the time, unfortunately it seems to be the same boys doing the same work all the time and unfortunately we didn’t share the workload.”

Referee: John Meredith

Attendance: 826

Yellow Card: None

Titans: Foley (T), Cheshire (T), Davies (T), Ryan (P)

Hartpury: Tanner (2T), Murphy (T), Williams (3C, 2P)

Titans: 15 Will Thomas, 14 Jake Henry, 13 Paolo Odogwa, 12 Joe Barker, 11 Ben Foley (Cheshire 73), 10 Caolan Ryan, 9 Rhodri Davies 1 Toby Williams, 2 Jonny Murphy (Cole 51), 3 Sam Nixon (Foster 73), 4 Rob Louw, 5 Matt Postlethwaite (Burns 62), 6 Adam Peters, 7 Charlie Maddison, 8 Tom Calladine (Capt.) (Grange 73).

Replacements: 16 Luke Cole, 17 Andrew Foster, 18 Brandon Palmer, 19 Dan Grange, 20 Tom Burns, 21 Lee Millar, 22 Drew Cheshire.

Hartpury: 15 Mike Wilcox, 14 Maliq Holden, 13 Nick Carpenter, 12 Luke Eves, 11 Ed Sheldon, 10 James Williams (Perry 78), 9 Harry Cochrane (Chapman 72), 1 Dan Murphy (Flook 75), 2 Luke Stratford (Tanner 41), 3 Mike Daniels (Harden 25), 4 BJ Edwards (Chan 70), 5 Rhys Oakley (Capt.), 6 Joe Dancer, 7 Mat Gilbert (Hinkley 64), 8 Darrel Dyer.

 Replacements: 16 Will Tanner, 17 Mike Flook, 18 Rupert Harden, 19 Ben So’oialo-Chan, 20 Aaron Hinkley, 21 Charlie Chapman, 22 Jacob Perry.

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Titans 19 Doncaster Knights 36

Rotherham Titans suffered a disappointing derby defeat against fierce local rival Doncaster Knights, as they went down 36-19 in an entertaining Championship encounter.

Titans enjoyed a productive first half and deservedly went in at the break 16-14 up after a dominant performance from both forwards and backs.

Despite Knights taking an early lead on 10 minutes, when former Titan Will Owen skipped through the home defence to score a fine try, which Simon Humberstone converted, Rotherham soon bounced back to impose themselves on the visitors.

On 16 minutes Titans levelled matters with well-worked try of their own. Following a powerful forward drive in midfield the ball came out to the backs and saw Ben Foley draw the Doncaster defence before sending in Drew Cheshire to score near the posts. Caolan Ryan added the extras.

Titans’ dominance continued though the half which forced Knights into conceding a succession of penalties. Titans’ fly half demonstrated great competence from the tee as he drilled over 3 long-range penalties, the latter impressively from inside his own half which stretched the home side’s advantage to 16-7.

However, just before the break Doncaster set-up a driving maul close to Rotherham line which saw hooker Ben Hunter crashed over for the visitor’s second try; Humberstone’s successful conversion narrowed the visitor’s arrears to 16-14.

Inside the opening 12 minutes of the second period Humberstone and Ryan traded penalties as Rotherham held a narrow 19-17 advantage.

However, the experienced Doncaster pack began to take control of the game as they upped their tempo and physicality. On 55 minutes Knights regained the lead after their pack forced play close to the Titans line, before scrum half Michael Heaney picked up from the base to snipe up the blind side to score his side’s third try.

The momentum began to shift in favour of the visitors and now it was the Titans turn to concede a glut of penalties. Humberstone nailed 3 successful penalty attempts as Knights pulled away to 31-9 on the scoreboard.

Titans managed a late rally but found penetrating Doncaster’s defence a tough task and to make matters worse for the home side, former Titan Curtis Wilson crashed over in the final play of the game to secure a try-bonus point for the visitors.

Commenting post-game Andy Key explained, “I think the score line flatted Doncaster a little, but that’s credit to them for taking their chances and opportunities. They got themselves into the strike zone two or three times and they always came away with points and that’s where we’ve been a little bit guilty of old and we were again at times today.

“We got ourselves into the strike zone but didn’t always come away with it, but I thought Caolan Ryan kept us in the game massively, I thought our defence was awesome and it just shows again that we’re definitely moving in the right direction; but we’ve got to learn how to play for 80 minutes, especially against the better and bigger sides.”

Referee: Tim Wigglesworth

Attendance: 1,607

Yellow Card: None

Titans: Cheshire (T), Ryan (C, 4P)

Doncaster: Owen (T), Hunter (T), Heaney (T), Wilson (T), Humberstone (2C, 4P)

Titans: 15 Will Thomas, 14 Ben Foley, 13 Drew Cheshire (Odogwa 61), 12 Joe Barker, 11 Jake Henry, 10 Caolan Ryan, 9 Rhodri Davies 1 Toby Williams (Tom Williams 71), 2 Jonny Murphy (Cole 61), 3 Sam Nixon (Palmer 68), 4 Matt Postlethwaite (Burns 72), 5 Rob Louw, 6 Adam Peters, 7 Charlie Maddison, 8 Tom Calladine (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Luke Cole, 17 Tom Williams, 18 Brandon Palmer, 19 Dan Grange, 20 Tom Burns, 21 Lee Millar, 22 Paolo Odogwa.

Doncaster Knights: 15 Paul Jarvis, 14 Curtis Wilson, 13 Mat Clark (Foley 79), 12 Will Owen, 11 Tyson Lewis, 10 Simon Humberstone, 9 Michael Heaney (James 75), 1 Richard List (Bergmanas 54), 2 Ben Hunter (Nelson 59), 3 Colin Quigley (Sproston 68), 4 Matt Challinor (Eames 59), 5 Nick Civetta, 6 Jack Ram, 7 Michael Hills (Capt.), 8 Alex Shaw (Batt 79).

Replacements: 16 David Nelson, 17 Jack Bergmanas, 18 Joe Sproston, 19 Morgan Eames, 20 Adam Batt, 21 Tom James, 22 Charlie Foley.

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Ealing Trailfinders 35 Titans 19

Rotherham Titans put in a spirited second half effort as they went down 35-19 to Ealing Trailfinders in round four of the British & Irish Cup on a cold and wet afternoon in West London.

Titans can be pleased with a second half performance which saw them outscore their high-flying opponents 12-7 and in turn set themselves up in confident mood for next week’s Christmas derby against local rivals Doncaster Knights at Clifton Lane.

However, after 30 minutes of the contest things looked bleak for the South Yorkshire side as Trailfinders cut through the Titans defence to run in four unanswered tries through Grayson Hart, Kieran Murphy, Lewis Robling and Morgan Allen, all of which were expertly converted by full back Peter Lydon.

Titans did manage to cross the whitewash on the stroke of half time when back rower Charlie Maddison barged his way over from the tail of a driving maul, after some good work in the build up from his fellow pack members. Fly half Lee Millar tagged over the extras with the final kick of the half.

Following their disappointing first half performance Titans no doubt shared some honest dialogue in the dressing room at the interval and it appeared to have a positive effect as they started the second half in determined fashion.

Indeed Titans were rewarded for their bright and steely opening endeavours to the half when on 48 minutes winger Ben Foley collected the ball and showed tremendous speed to race down the right flank to score in the corner. Millar narrowly missed with his touchline conversion attempt.

Titans will however be disappointed with allowing Ealing back rower Harry Ellis the freedom of the pitch just 2 minutes later as he galloped home from distance to score under the posts. Lydon knocked over the extras from in front of the sticks.

Undeterred by this setback Rotherham continued to take the game to the hosts and began put them under pressure. As the Titans upped their intensity a new-found aggression forced Trailfinders onto the back foot which in turn led to a number of Ealing errors. Titans scrum also began to enjoy some dominance as it earned a growing number of penalties.

It was no surprise when 10 minutes from time Rotherham added to their tally. As the Ealing defence charged off the line Titans Lee Miller cleverly kicked over the top, allowing hooker Jonny Murphy to charge through to collect skilfully before sliding in under the posts on the wet surface. Millar slotted over the extras from in front of the sticks.

Rotherham went in search of a four-try bonus point but the home defence held out to earn a deserved victory and cement their place at the top of pool 4 as they chase a home quarter final tie in the knock-out stages.

Commenting after the game Titans Andy Key revealed, “When we came in at half time we were very critical of ourselves because as a squad we knew that we’d let ourselves down. A lot of that was just the simple things that we weren’t doing as effectively as we needed to and that’s probably the story of our season.

“We needed to take the space a lot earlier and we needed to make our first-up tackles a little bit tougher. At times we are not respecting or appreciating the work that needs to be done, the hard yards that are needed to be made and sometimes we misunderstand that.

“However, our second half performance was spot on and we won it 12-7; ok we lost the game but I was really pleased with what we saw in the second period. We started to impose ourselves on them; we put them on the back foot and as a result sometimes the game becomes a lot easier.

 “We put them under pressure which made them make mistakes and we turned them around; they then kicked poorly and turned over ball. The conditions weren’t the best but I thought we used the ball really well in the second half.

 “We’ve now got the massive Christmas derby game next week at Clifton Lane against our local rivals Doncaster Knights and I’m happier that we’ll go into that one on the back of our second half effort.

“If this team learns and understands how it needs to play for between 60 and 80 minutes to win a game it can be effective as we’ve proved again today in the second half against a side that’s sitting second in the Championship and which has some very good players.”

Referee: Karl Dickson

Attendance: 407

Yellow Card: None

Titans: Maddison (T), Foley (T), Murphy (T), Millar (2C)

Ealing: Hart (T), Murphy (T), Robling (T), Allen (T), Ellis (T), Lydon (5C)

Titans: 15 Will Thomas, 14 Ben Foley, 13 Drew Cheshire, 12 Rory Jennings (Barker 21) (Cooke 64), 11 Jake Henry, 10 Lee Millar, 9 Francisco Vieira (Davies 53), 1 Tom Williams, 2 Jonny Murphy, 3 Sam Nixon (Foster 55), 4 Rob Louw, 5 Guy Borrowdale (Burns 50) (Palmer 70), 6 Dan Grange (Calladine 56), 7 Charlie Maddison (Capt.), 8 Adam Peters. 

Replacements: 16 Tom Calladine, 17 Andrew Foster, 18 Brandon Palmer, 19 Tom Burns, 20 Rhodri Davies, 21 Joe Barker, 23 Jamie Cooke.

Ealing Trailfinders: 15 Peter Lydon, 14 Seb Stegmann, 13 Lewis Jones, 12 Lewis Robling, 11 James Cordy Redden, 10 Rory Clegg (Penberthy 55), 9 Grayson Hart (Carter 69), 1 James Gibbons (Sears Duru 55), 2 Rhys Lawrence (Walker 61), 3 Mark Tampin (Rodman 56), 4 Llewelyn Jones (Casson 64), 5 Oli Curry, 6 Kieran Murphy (Capt.), 7 Arthur Ellis, 8 Morgan Allen.

Replacements:  16 Alun Walker, 17 Djustice Sears Duru, 18 Sam Rodman, 19 Harry Casson, 20 Rayn Smid, 21 Luke Carter, 22 Aaron Penberthy.

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Titans 10 Ealing Trailfinders 45

Rotherham Titans suffered a 45-10 loss to Ealing Trailfinders in round 3 of the British & Irish Cup on a bitterly cold afternoon at Clifton Lane.

The cup defeat to Trailfinders effectively ends Titans hopes of qualifying for the knock-out stages of the competition, with away trips to Ealing and Connacht to follow and a home tie against Richmond sandwiched in between.

Titans however put in a sterling first half effort which saw them go in at the break level at 10 apiece. Indeed Rotherham took the lead after just five minutes through outside centre Drew Cheshire.

His line-breaking try was well worked, initially through the forwards and then quick hands through the backs allowed Cheshire to scythe through the Ealing defence to score a fine try which Lee Millar converted. It was no more than Rotherham deserved for their bright opening.

Ealing slowly worked themselves into the game and scored their first try on 14 minutes when full back Luke Daniels collected in midfield and showed good footwork and speed to go over near the corner. He was unable to convert his own try.

Just pass the halfway mark Ealing took the lead when hooker Alun Walker barged over following a period of forward dominance from the Trailfinders pack. Again Daniels missed with his conversion attempt.

Rotherham continued to show good signs as they competed admirably against the high-flyers from West London and when just before the break they were awarded a penalty, up stepped fly half Lee Millar to confidently and successfully bag the 3-pointer to send the teams in at the break level.

Titans would have pleased with their first 40 minutes shift and hopeful of repeating it in the second half and in turn creating a massive shock result.

However, their plans were soon dashed as inside the opening 20 minutes the visitors crossed the whitewash four times to take the game away from Rotherham. Tries from Lewis Jones, Harry Casson, Grayson Hart and Lewis Robling, all of which were converted by Luke Daniels, devastated the home side.

To their credit however, the Titans never quit their responsibilities as they continued to try and make their mark in the second half.

Twelve minutes from the end Ealing ran in the final score of the game when Lewis Jones dived over for his second and his side’s seventh try of the game. Daniels tagged over the extras to make the final score 45-10 to the visitors.

Speaking post-match, Titans Andy Key explained, “The boys were outstanding in the first half; unfortunately we came up against a better and more resilient side in the second half.

“It was a difficult second 40 minutes for us; we said at half time we needed to shore-up our inside defence and make sure we didn’t allow them as much space. Going in 10-10 at the break, having had a reasonable amount of the game and with the boys showing good character in the way they kept their shape was very pleasing.

“We knew a good side like Ealing would come back at us in the second half, we tried to work as hard as we could to try and retain the ball, but I think that’s where we slipped up a little bit. We didn’t quite control the ball as well as we had in the first half and as a result they got more possession and more front foot ball.

“There were a couple of guys who really stood out today; I thought Jonny Murphy was outstanding in all departments, his work rate around the field was tireless in everything he did and Charlie Maddison led from the front as he normally does.”

Referee: Fergus Kirby

Attendance: 289

Yellow Card: Rob Louw (Titans)

Titans: Cheshire (T), Millar (P, C)

Ealing: Lewis Jones (2T), Walker (T), Casson (T), Hart (T), Robling (T), Daniels (T, 5C)

Titans: 15 Ben Foley, 14 Jamie Cooke, 13 Drew Cheshire, 12 Will Thomas, 11 Wesley Hamilton (Henry h-t), 10 Lee Millar, 9 Francisco Vieira (Davies 60), 1 Tom Williams (Toby Williams 60), 2 Jonny Murphy, 3 Brandon Palmer (Foster 64), 4 Rob Louw, 5 James Lasis (Borrowdale 32) (Peters 47), 6 Dan Grange, 7 Charlie Maddison (Capt.), 8 Tom Burns (Calladine 67). 

Replacements: 16 Toby Williams, 17 Andrew Foster, 18 Guy Borrowdale, 19 Adam Peters, 20 Tom Calladine, 21 Rhodri Davies, 22 Jake Henry.

Ealing Trailfinders: 15 Luke Daniels, 14 Seb Stegmann, 13 Lewis Jones, 12 Lewis Robling, 11 Will Harries, 10 Rory Clegg (O’Conor 62), 9 Grayson Hart (Carter 67), 1 James Gibbons (Sears-Duru 55), 2 Alun Walker (Lawrence 60), 3 Lewis Thiede (Tampin 55), 4 Harry Casson (Capt.), 5 Oli Curry, 6 Rayn Smid (Maddison 70), 7 Dan Temm, 8 Morgan Allen (Llewelyn Jones 60).

Replacements: 16 Rhys Lawrence, 17 Djustice Sears-Duru, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Llewelyn Jones, 20 Barney Maddison, 21 Luke Carter, 22 Piers O’Conor.

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Yorkshire Carnegie 47 Titans 11

Rotherham Titans suffered a disappointing derby day defeat, as they crashed 47-11 to Yorkshire Carnegie in the Greene King IPA Championship at the Emerald Headingley Stadium.

The defeat leaves Rotherham still searching for their first league success after 11 games as they remain bottom of the table at the half way mark in the Championship.

Overall Titans will be disappointed with their performance, particularly in the first half where they appeared to be second best in most departments.

Carnegie dominated for most of the first 40 minutes as they crossed the white wash five times, four of which came direct from driving mauls, with the fifth coming via a driving maul.

Titans had taken the lead after just 3 minutes when fly half Lee Millar nicely converted a penalty. However, the hosts soon settled into the game and within 2 minutes nosed themselves ahead when loose head prop Marc Thomas crashed over from the tail of a maul close to the Titans line.

Carnegie’s advantage was stretched on 12 minutes when following a powerful driving maul the ball came out and was quickly fed to the backs. A cheeky grubber-kick followed which caught out the Titans defence, allowing Pete Lucock to chase through to dot down.

Carnegie’s hooker Joe Buckle then helped himself to a brace of tries as again the home maul drove over the Rotherham line. Sandwiched in between Titans scored a good try through winger Ben Foley after a brief period of possession in the hosts half.

Just after the half hour mark Lee Millar reduced the Titans arrears to 26-11 after he nailed a superb long-range penalty.

However, normal service was resumed by the hosts just before the break when Captain Richard Mayhew crashed over the line from another Carnegie driving maul.

Rotherham improved their performance in the second period, but not enough to make a significant impact on the overall score line.

Early in the second half Carnegie full back Chris Elder went over for a well taken backs try and midway through hooker Joe Buckle secured his hat trick when again from the tail of a driving maul he was on hand to dot down.

Rotherham finished well and had lots of territory and possession and often found themselves deep inside the hosts 22. However, credit to Carnegie; each and every time they found themselves under threat they managed to repel the Titans and keep their line intact.

Speaking post-match a disappointed Andy Key reflected, “We can take some solace from our second half performance; it was a performance which allowed us to put a little bit of pride back into the side, but we can’t start games in the manner we did.

“In the very early stages we actually played quite well,  our kicking game was good, we were playing territory quite well and we scored 3 points to take the lead.

“But then it’s the consequences of some of our mistakes, and we saw today nearly everything that they got came off our mistakes. So that’s hugely disappointing, because to go in at half time 33-11 down is embarrassing.

“I was more pleased with our second half display; but unfortunately we’re still looking at a loss and we still shipped 47 points overall.

“Our defence of the driving maul was also disappointing; when you play Carnegie you know that’s what they’re going to do, so we’re disappointed at allowing them to get into those positions and then in how we deal with it when it came.

“Frustratingly, our defence in both halves at times was excellent, it’s just the guys have to understand that’s what we have to do to succeed in this particular league and it’s not about just doing it now and again.

“So as a group we are all hugely disappointed, but we’ll be back at training next week and we’ll dust ourselves down and we’ll get on with it again.”

Referee: Dean Richards

Attendance: 1,429

Yellow Card: James Thraves (Carnegie)

Titans: Foley (T), Millar (2P)

Yorkshire Carnegie: Buckle (3T), Thomas (T), Lucock (T), Mayhew (T), Elder (T), Homer (6C)

Titans: 15 Will Thomas, 14 Wesley Hamilton, 13 Drew Cheshire, 12 Logan Tibbetts, 11 Ben Foley (Cooke 70), 10 Lee Millar, 9 Rhodri Davies, 1 Toby Williams (Tom Williams 59), 2 Luke Cole (Murphy 59), 3 Matt Shields (Palmer 61), 4 Matt Postlethwaite (Burns 67), 5 Byron Hodge (Lasis h-t), 6 Tom Calladine (Capt.), 7 Charlie Maddison, 8 Adam Peters. 

Replacements: 16 Jonny Murphy, 17 Tom Williams, 18 Brandon Palmer, 19 James Lasis, 20 Tom Burns, 21 Jamie Cooke, 22 Francisco Vieira.

Yorkshire Carnegie: 15 Chris Elder, 14 George Watkins (Beech 71) (Watkins 74), 13 Andy Forsyth, 12 Tom Casson (Burdon 44), 11 Louis Brown (Atkins 59), 10 Pete Lucock, 9 Will Homer, 1 Marc Thomas (Capps 73), 2 Joe Buckle (Newborn 75), 3 Charlie Beech (Thraves 61), 4 Jack Whetton (Bainbridge 52), 5 Mike Myerscough, 6 Richard Beck, 7 Richard Mayhew (Capt.), 8 Ollie Stedman (West 52).

Replacements: 16 Harry Newborn, 17 Charlie Capps, 18 James Thraves, 19 Ben West, 20 Josh Bainbridge, 21 Fred Burdon, 22 Darren Atkins.

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Titans 24 London Scottish 27

Rotherham Titans were denied their first Championship victory of the season as London Scottish winger Craig Holland went over for a try in the tenth minute of injury time to give the visitors a 27-24 victory at Clifton Lane.

The late drama was brutally heart-breaking for the South Yorkshire side, as for much of the contest they had been the better side and would have fully deserved their first win of the season.

However, the result leaves Rotherham 16 points adrift of both Jersey and London Scottish at the foot of the table and with a mountain to climb if they are going to avoid relegation into National One for next season.

The game itself started in worrying fashion for the Titans as inside 5 minutes the Exiles crashed over for their first try through hooker Isaac Miller and with a successful conversion from fly half Jake Sharp to follow, the visitors quickly moved into a 7-0 lead.

Rotherham however didn’t let this early setback deter them as they bounced back quickly with good periods of territory and possession; although they did have to wait until the 22nd minute before getting on the scoreboard themselves.

But when they did they did in some style as the ball arrived with scrum half Rhodri Davies from a line out and the Welshman showed terrific pace and awareness to skip through the Scottish defence to score a fine try. Caolan Ryan added the extras to draw the scores level.

Rotherham continued to enjoy the lion’s share of play as both backs and forwards combined well to keep the visitors under pressure and error-strewn. On the back of that pressure Titans added a well-deserved second try just before the break when Rhodri Davies once again showed his class as he made a blind side break, before accelerating away to score near the posts. Ryan’s extras double Titans lead to 14-7.

And there was just enough first half injury time remaining to allow Ryan to knock over a penalty to send the hosts in at the break with a well-earned 17-7 advantage.

Rotherham would have looked to keep things tight in the opening exchanges of the second period; however, that’s not how it panned out. Within 8 minutes of the restart London Scottish had levelled the game following a Jake Sharp penalty and then a second try from hooker Isaac Miller, which Sharp successfully converted.

The game then tightened up as both sides appeared to realise the importance of the game and each side looked nervous in what they were trying achieve.

However, ten minutes from time it was the visitors who nosed ahead when Sharp calmly slotted over a 3-pointer following Rotherham being penalised for offside.

The tension now within Clifton Lane was palpable, but that was massively eased for the home side five minutes from the end when winger Ben Foley charged down a clearing Scottish kick and hacked on into the try-scoring zone. As he was about to dot down he was taken out off the ball by Scottish replacement Charlie Ingall. The referee immediately awarded a penalty try to give Rotherham a 24-20 lead and yellow carded the offender.

Quite where 10 minutes of injury time came from at the end no one in the ground appeared to know afterwards. However, credit to London Scottish as they never gave up in their attempts to win the game and you could almost hear a pin drop when winger Craig Holland crashed over at the death.

A very disappointed Andy Key commented post-match, “I’m really don’t understand where all the injury time came from at the end, but having said that we haven’t helped ourselves in the game and there were times when our discipline let us down around the offside line.

“I’ve got to bite my lip a little, but I think they’ve got to take a hard look at London Scottish and opportunities that could have come our way with regards to them being offside. I don’t really want to talk about the officials, but once again we have been hurt in the last couple of weeks. We are in control of our own destiny, but we expect things to happen in the middle are in line with what should happen. We got penalised three times for being offside, I think they got penalised once, if that.

“At the end we were in the right area of the field, we were defending them and they knocked the ball on and when we go down to pick it up we get nudged in the back; that should be a penalty to us and it’s as simple as that because you can’t do that.

“I thought we saw a huge shift in performance from the boys and they showed a massive amount of character and I’m really pleased with what they did, I couldn’t have asked for much more. But at the end of the day I think it’s fair to say we’ve only got ourselves to blame; some of that indiscipline gave them opportunities to score some points.”

Referee: Matthew O'Grady

Attendance: 634

Yellow Card: Ingall (Scottish)

Titans: Davies (2T), Penalty Try, Ryan (P, 2C)

London Scottish: Miller (2T), Holland (T), Sharp (2P, 3C)

Titans: 15 Will Thomas, 14 Ben Foley, 13 Yiannis Loizias (Hamilton 29), 12 Logan Tibbetts, 11 Drew Cheshire, 10 Caolan Ryan, 9 Rhodri Davies, 1 Tom Williams (Toby Williams 60), 2 Luke Cole (Murphy 54), 3 Matt Shields (Palmer 67), 4 Adam Peters, 5 Byron Hodge, 6 Tom Calladine (Capt.), 7 Charlie Maddison (Postlethwaite 72), Tom Burns (Grange 67). 

Replacements: 16 Jonny Murphy, 17 Toby Williams, 18 Brandon Palmer, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Dan Grange, 21 Lee Millar, 22 Wesley Hamilton.

London Scottish: 15 Fraser Lyle (Ingall 67), 14 Matt Williams, 13 Ross Neal, 12 Ben Mosses, 11 Craig Holland, 10 Jake Sharp, 9 Alex Walker, 1 Derrick Appiah (Christie 72), 2 Isaac Miller (George72), 3 Ewan McQuillin (Cringle 53), 4 Ed Milne, 5 Jonathan Mills (Capt.), 6 Gregor Gillanders, 7 Chris Walker (Marley 73), 8 Joe Atkinson.

Replacements: 16 Dan George, 17 Ben Onyeama Christie, 18 Phil Cringle, 19 Matt Marley, 20 Max Berry, 21 Ed Hoadley, 22 Charlie Ingall.

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Titans 14 Jersey Reds 45

Rotherham Titans put in a disappointing display as they crashed 45-14 at home to Jersey Reds to leave them rock bottom of the Greene King IPA Championship and without a win after nine games of the campaign.

The gap to London Scottish, who are eleventh in the league has widened to 13 points, leaving the Titans with a real fight on their hands if they are to avoid finishing bottom of the pile this term.

Jersey wasted little time in making an impact as winger Tom Pincus raced over for the first of his three tries after just 2 minutes, with fly half Brendan Cope adding the extras to give the Islanders a 7-0 dream start.

To be fair, Titans then enjoyed the majority of both territory and possession over the next 15 minutes, as they pressed the Reds and caused them to concede numerous penalties. From three such penalties Titans fly half Caolan Ryan stepped up and convincingly knocked them over to nudge Rotherham into a 9-7 lead.

The visitors however came back with real force and through their big set of combative forwards had considerable success as they forced the Titans backwards. The pressure told on 22 minutes when flanker Seb Nagle-Taylor peeled off a driving maul to race in virtually unopposed. Brendan Cope nailed the extras and a penalty just after the half hour mark to close out the first half with the Reds holding a 17-9 advantage.

Rotherham made a bright and breezy start to the second period and it looked as if they’d pulled themselves back into the game just 2 minutes in when winger Drew Cheshire showed electrifying pace down the right wing to dot down. Unfortunately for him and the Titans, the Assistant Referee flagged to denote Cheshire had just gone into touch close to the line. Chances for the home side thereafter proved scarce.

 A dominant period followed for the Reds as they scored 21 unanswered points. First of all lively scrum half Kieran Hardy helped himself to a brace of tries on 53 and 65 minutes, before winger Tom Pincus collected his second try on 76 minutes, all of which were expertly converted by Cope.

Rotherham battled on gamely and Charlie Maddison gained some reward for his efforts when he crashed over in the final minute for Titans sole try of the game.

However, the final say went the way of the visitors as winger Tom Pincus collected his hat trick in stoppage time to round off a disappointing day for the South Yorkshire side.

Speaking post-match Titans Andy Key honestly reflected, “We were not good enough on the day. I think the players said it in the huddle and very passionately and honestly as well and there’s no getting around it we were just not good enough today.

“There were a lot of good things that went on in the week and we knew what we needed to do; we rocked up at times, but rocking up at times isn’t good enough, we’ve got to be there for the majority. And then you start forcing things and then you give away interceptions.

“When you start playing catch-up rugby things start going against you; I’d rather we didn’t do that, but it’s a reflection as well of what the players are prepared to do, to try and get themselves back in the game. It’s been a massively disappointing day.

“We’re not hiding from anything, today was massively important and we genuinely believed in the week, with the things that we did and the homework that we did on Jersey, we thought we knew how to beat them.

“Early on in the game, although they got an early score, we clawed ourselves back and created some opportunities. We just needed to persevere with what we were doing. We probably didn’t work hard enough at times, in order to get ourselves onto the front foot in the first half and we maybe should have played a little bit more territory at times.

“But that the style we are playing, with where we are we can’t go toe to toe with some of these guys, so we have to be a bit smarter in the sense of how we play and that’s what we’re trying to do. But today I think we came up against a good side; a side that came over here looking to put some of their wrongs right and they did just that.”

Referee: Steve Lee

Attendance: 812

Yellow Card: None

Titans: Maddison (T), Ryan (3P)

Jersey: Pincus (3T), Hardy (2T), Nagle-Taylor (T), Cope (6C, P)

Titans: 15 Ben Foley, 14 Drew Cheshire, 13 Yiannis Loizias, 12 Luke Peters (Millar 53), 11 Jake Henry (Tibbetts 46), 10 Caolan Ryan, 9 Rhodri Davies, 1 Tom Williams (Toby Williams 54), 2 Luke Cole (Murphy 62), 3 Matt Shields (Palmer 62), 4 Adam Peters (Postlethwaite 68), 5 Byron Hodge, 6 Tom Calladine (Capt.), 7 Charlie Maddison, 8 Ifereimi Boladau (Grange 10). 

Replacements: 16 Jonny Murphy, 17 Toby Williams, 18 Brandon Palmer, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Dan Grange, 21 Logan Tibbetts, 22 Lee Millar.

Jersey Reds: 15 Auguy Slowik (Bryant 58-68 HIA), 14 Tom Pincus, 13 Apakuki Ma'afu, 12 Ellis Abrahams, 11 Josh Hodson (Bryant 68), 10 Brendan Cope, 9 Kieran Hardy (Dudley 66), 1 Jake Woolmore (Capt.) (Godfrey 64), 2 Nick Selway (Saunders 52), 3 Jake Armstrong (Atalifo 59), 4 Jerry Sexton, 5 James Voss (Quarrie 62), 6 Conor Joyce (Kolo'ofa'I 65), 7 Seb Nagle-Taylor, 8 Matt Rogerson.

Replacements: 16 Jared Saunders, 17 Roy Godfrey, 18 Leeroy Atalifo, 19 Tom Quarrie, 20 Uili Kolo'ofa'I, 21 Joel Dudley, 22 Oli Bryant.

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Bristol 55 Titans 10

Rotherham Titans remain winless in the Championship after crashing to a disappointing 55-10 defeat to table-toppers Bristol Rugby at Ashton Gate.

The hosts ran in 8 tries to the Titans one, in a fixture that was always going to be a challenging one for the South Yorkshire side.

Nevertheless, Rotherham will be disappointed with their overall performance, as a steady stream of errors constantly prevented them from gaining a foothold in the game. As for Bristol, they look well set for an immediate return to the top tier of English Rugby.

Rotherham actually started the game quite brightly and enjoyed some early go-forward possession and when Caolan Ryan slotted over a penalty on 4 minutes it was no more than the Titans deserved.

That however, was just about as good as it got for the visitors, as the home side quickly established themselves on the game and soon found themselves ahead following a penalty try on 13 minutes.

Rotherham attempts to keep Bristol at bay, whilst full of effort and endeavour, proved to be futile as the hosts ran in three further first half tries through hooker Ross McMillan, centre Tusi Pisi and second rower Joe Joyce to leave Titans trailing 26-3 at the break.

The second period followed a similar pattern to the first, as an early penalty try for Bristol was followed by another three tries for the hosts. Winger Luke Morahan, replacement front row forward Jason Harris-Wright and winger Tom Varndell all crossed the whitewash to rub salt into the Titans wounds.

To be fair to Rotherham however, they never stopped trying to take the game to Bristol and 8 minutes from time were rewarded for their never-say-die attitude when a quick tap and go from replacement scrum half Rhodri Davies saw the Welshman carve through the home defence to dot down under the posts. Lee Millar added the extras to get Rotherham into double figures.

However, the final score of the game came four minutes from time when Bristol fly half Callum Sheedy nailed an impressive long-range drop goal to make the final score 55-10.

Speaking after the game a frustrated Andy Key said, “We’re obviously disappointed; we’ve come to a club where we knew what we needed to do to apply pressure having done our homework, but we made too many mistakes. There were too many errors and at times when we were starting to apply pressure, we couldn’t sustain it.

“The game is simple really; you build pressure, you sustain it and you maintain it and we didn’t do that and we let them off the hook. When you start letting sides like Bristol, who understand the Premiership, off the hook they’re going to kill you. That’s what they did today and off our mistakes they probably scored three or four tries.

“It’s easy to be disappointed about a game like that and we are and that’s how we are as a squad and how we need to react. We’ve got a run of games coming up now where we need to step up and show that the team and the club understands where it’s going.

“We will take some positives from today, I thought the last 10 minutes when certain players came on they made a difference. It was great to see Rhodri Davies back in the form he’s in, he puts massive pressure on the opposition and he tap and went a couple of times and showed that a side can never switch off with him around. Bola came on which was good to see after his injury; he carried well and made some good off-loads.

“We put Bristol under some pressure, but we weren’t able to convert that into points. We need to understand where we are in relation to Bristol, but we also need to understand where we are going forward and what needs to happen over the next two or three weeks.”

Referee: Adam Leal

Attendance: 8,184

Yellow Card: Tom Williams (Titans)

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

Bristol: Penalty Try (2T), McMillan (T), Pisi (T), Joyce (T), Morahan (T), Harris-Wright (T), Varndell (T), Sheedy (4C, D-G)

Titans: 15 Will Thomas, 14 Drew Cheshire, 13 Yiannis Loizias, 12 Luke Peters, 11 Jake Henry, 10 Caolan Ryan (Millar 30), 9 Francisco Vieira (Davies 52), 1 Toby Williams (Tom Williams h-t), 2 Luke Cole (Maddison 60), 3 Matt Shields (Palmer 65), 4 Rob Louw (Grange 57), 5 Byron Hodge, 6 Adam Peters, 7 Tom Calladine (Capt.), 8 Tom Burns (Boladau 61).

Replacements: 16 Charlie Maddison, 17 Tom Williams, 18 Brandon Palmer, 19 Dan Grange, 20 Ifereimi Boladau, 21 Rhodri Davies, 22 Lee Millar.

Bristol: 15 Mat Protheroe, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Siale Piutau (Hurrell 50), 12 Tusi Pisi (Madigan 53), 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Andy Uren (Williams 71), 1 Soane Tonga’uiha (O’Connell 50), 2 Ross McMillan (Harris-Wright 50), 3 Nicky Thomas, 4 Joe Joyce, 5 Joe Batley, 6 Sam Jeffries, 7 Dan Thomas, 8 Jordan Crane (Capt).

Replacements: 16 Jason Harris-Wright, 17 Jack O’Connell, 18 Gaston Cortes, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Rhodri Williams, 21 Ian Madigan, 22 Will Hurrell.

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Titans 18 Ealing 23

Rotherham Titans put in their best display of the season before ultimately just falling short as Ealing ran out 23-18 winners at Clifton Lane.

Titans did however collect a well-deserved bonus point against the high-flyers from West London and on another day may well have secured all four points for the win.

It was a difficult task to select Titans man-of-the-match with so many individuals staking a claim for the accolade, but scrum half Will Porter couldn’t have been far away as he scored 2 tries to cap off a fine individual performance.

The game started with Ealing showing just why they are at the top end of the division as they moved the ball quickly through the backs and their forwards demonstrating good power and aggression.

Indeed it took the visitors just 5 minutes to breach the whitewash as second rower Harry Casson barged his way over from close range, following some fine ball retention from his pack mates. Shane O’Leary tagged over the extras to give his side an early 7-0 lead.

Rotherham however had an energetic look about them and their intensity combined with good line speed repeatedly stopped the Trailfinders penetrating the gain line. Titans were rewarded for their endeavours on 11 minutes when fly half Caolan Ryan knocked over a fine penalty in the difficult blustery conditions.

Better was to come for Rotherham moments later when turnover ball in midfield was quickly fed out wide to Drew Cheshire. He made 30 plus metres downfield before offloading back inside to Will Porter who in turn glided over to put nudge Titans ahead. Ryan’s conversion from almost in front of the sticks made it 10-7 to the hosts.

In this entertaining encounter both sides held little back in the physicality department and credit to both teams as each were willing to play some fine rugby at every given opportunity.

Ealing nosed ahead again just after the half hour mark as Championship veteran Mark Bright was on hand to crash over the Titans line for an unconverted try, following an Ealing scrum five metres out.

Rotherham however continued to perform at a high standard and thus put pressure on their opponents. During this period and just two minutes before half time Caolan Ryan added his second penalty of the match to edge the home side 13-12 up.

Unfortunately for Rotherham with the last play of the half Ealing scored a thrilling breakaway try through Will Harries following a terrific break downfield from full back Luke Daniels.

Undeterred Rotherham came out for the second half in determined fashion as their intensity and work-rate continued to impress. However, it was replacement fly half for Ealing, Peter Lydon, who scored next with a fine penalty kick to stretch his side’s advantage to 20-13.

On the hour mark however Rotherham came storming back as first Drew Cheshire found some space down the right hand side before finding Yiannis Loizias in support. The outside centre showed great pace before being tackled close to the line, but as he was tackled he popped the ball to Porter who collected nicely to dash over for his second try. Unfortunately Ryan missed the difficult conversion from out wide which would have levelled the scores.

In the closing stages both sides pressed with great intent, but two minutes into injury time it was Lydon who knocked over his second penalty to give Ealing a 23-18 lead and the match.

Speaking post-game Titans Andy Key explained, “We can be pleased with our performance and we’ve been working on that for the last few weeks in terms of building on our performances; but we lost the game. We know there was a couple of opportunities out there that we missed, including conceding a silly try on the stroke of half time and that’s the thing with these better sides, you make one mistake and they take advantage of it.

“However, I can only applaud the performance from our guys and how deep they dug in during the game. They now know that is the minimum standard that we have to maintain in every game going forward.

“But it wasn’t just about our defence today, which I thought was very good and you can see the massive improvement we’ve made in that area under Dave Ellis, but we also created some outstanding opportunities. The hard work the boys put in created those chances, but unfortunately we didn’t manage to just finish them off.”

Referee: Simon Harding

Attendance: 714

Yellow Card: None

Titans: Porter (2T), Ryan (2P, C)

Ealing: Cason (T), Bright (T), Harries (T), O’Leary (1C), Lydon (2P)

Titans: 15 Will Thomas, 14 Drew Cheshire, 13 Yiannis Loizias, 12 Luke Peters, 11 Jake Henry, 10 Caolan Ryan, 9 Will Porter, 1 Toby Williams, 2 Luke Cole (Maddison 52), 3 Matt Shields (Palmer HIA 52-66) (Palmer 79), 4 Rob Louw (Postlethwaite 69), 5 Byron Hodge, 6 Adam Peters, 7 Tom Calladine (Capt.), 8 Tom Burns (Willis 47).

Replacements: 16 Charlie Maddison, 17 Brandon Palmer, 18 Matt Postlethwaite, 19 Tom Willis, 20 Ben Foley, 21 Francisco Vieira, 22 Lee Millar.

Ealing Trailfinders: 15 Luke Daniels, 14 James Cordy Redden, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Joe Munro, 11 Will Harries, 10 Shane O’Leary (Lydon 49), 9 Grayson Hart (Carter 69), 1 Will Davis (Gibbons 58), 2 Alun Walker, 3 Lewis Thiede (Rodman 62), 4 Harry Casson (Curry 58), 5 Barney Maddison, 6 Rayn Smid, 7 Dan Temm (Allen 71), 8 Mark Bright (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Matt Cornish, 17 James Gibbons, 18 Sam Rodman, 19 Oli Curry, 20 Morgan Allen, 21 Luke Carter, 22 Peter Lydon.

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Richmond 35 Titans 5

Rotherham Titans suffered a disappointing defeat to Richmond in round 2 of the British & Irish Cup, as they went down 35-5 at the Athletic Ground.

The defeat will be a difficult one to take for the South Yorkshire side after they totally dominated the opening 30 minutes of the match, much of which was spent camped in the hosts 22.

And although Rotherham winger Jamie Cooke scored a good try on 11 minutes, which allowed him to demonstrate impressive speed and clinical finishing, Titans ultimately will be disappointed they were unable to add to their tally during this dominant 30 minute spell.

Indeed, had they taken only half the opportunities created during this period, the final outcome would likely have been very different!

However, credit must be given to the hosts as they resolutely defended wave after wave of Titans pressure. The intensity and effort of the Richmond defence is to be applauded and ultimately this set the platform for victory.

As the game went into the final 10 minutes of the first half, Richmond finally escaped from their own 22 and worked the ball downfield into Titans territory. A period of forward pressure ensued as the hosts crept ever closer to the Titans line.

However, despite some good initial defensive work from the Titans close to their line, livewire scrum half Rhodri Adamson was alert enough to spot a gap in the Titans defence to dive over from the base of a ruck. Rob Kirby converted to give the hosts a 7-5 lead on 35 minutes.

Titans were probably still stunned when they came out for the second half and no doubt Richmond were buoyed by their late success in the first period.

Within 10 minutes of a sloppy restart, Rotherham found themselves 21-5 down following tries from winger Jono Woodward and fly half James Swan, both of which were converted by Kirby.

Rotherham were now rocked and the hosts took total control of the game as two more converted tries were added either side of the hour mark from flanker Toby Saysell and replacement front row forward Ross Grimstone.

Titans did muster a late flurry, but ultimately it was too little too late and the visitors were left to ponder the what ifs on the journey back up the M1.

Post-match Titans Andy Key reflected, “I was pleased with the opening 30 minutes of the game, we scored a good try and we applied the right sort of pressure in the right areas of the field. Our whole pressure, whether it was in attack or defence was outstanding and we stopped them playing which was very pleasing.

“The only disappointment in that opening 30 minutes was the amount of time we spent in their half and their 22 and we didn’t convert it into even more points. But I can’t fault what we did, we had a game plan to go in against them and we executed that reasonably well, not always as we’d have liked to have done, but to be honest we did enough to know we could have won this game.

“There was a 12 minute period just before half time and then just after the break where unfortunately we conceded three tries and by conceding those tries we gave ourselves too much to do. Then all of a sudden we’re looking down the barrel at 21-5 which was really tough for us to take at that time.”

Referee: Mike Hudson

Attendance: 623

Yellow Card: Tarrant (Richmond), Maddison (Titans)

Titans: Cooke (T)

Richmond: Adamson (T), Woodward (T), Swan (T), Saysell (T), Grimstone (T), Kirby (5C)

Titans: 15 Ben Foley, 14 Wesley Hamilton (Millar 49), 13 Yiannis Loizias, 12 Joe Barker (Capt.) (Vieira 68) (Murphy 76), 11 Jamie Cooke, 10 Caolan Ryan, 9 Will Porter, 1 Tom Williams (Foster 73), 2 Jonny Murphy (Maddison 50), 3 Brandon Palmer (Pope 59), 4 James Lasis (Postlethwaite 50), 5 Byron Hodge, 6 Tom Willis, 7 Adam Peters, 8 Tom Burns (Calladine 65).

Replacements: 16 Charlie Maddison, 17 Jake Pope, 18 Andrew Foster, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Tom Calladine, 21 Francisco Vieira 22 Lee Millar.

Richmond: 15 Rob Kirby, 14 Jono Woodward, 13 Cameron Mitchell, 12 Ronnie McLean, 11 Jordan Simpson-Hefft (Freeman 61), 10 James Swan (Gabbitass 51), 9 Rhodri Adamson (Grant 65), 1 Jeremy Cunnew (Goodrick-Clarke 49), 2 Jason Phipps (Grimstone 49), 3 Craig Trenier (Tarrant 49), 4 Will Warden (Crawford 65), 5 Alex Humfrey, 6 Jesse Liston (Trenier 76), 7 Toby Saysell, 8 Jake Parker.

Replacements: 16 Ross Grimstone, 17 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 18 Max Crawford, 19 Callum Grant, 20 Freddie Gabbitass, 21 Martin Freeman, 22 Joe Tarrant.

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Titans 28 Connacht Eagles 23

Rotherham Titans started their British & Irish Cup campaign in winning fashion as they beat Connacht Eagles 28-23 in an entertaining encounter at Clifton Lane.

Following an indifferent first half from the Titans which saw them trail at the break 23-10, they stormed back in impressive style to nil the Eagles in the second half to run out worthy winners.

In a lively opening 10 minutes there was little to choose between the sides as Connacht’s Luke Carty and Titans’ Caolan Ryan traded penalties.

However, as the first quarter elapsed the visitors scored the first try of the game; good work at the line out saw the ball arrive with Connacht’s big number 6 Naulia Dawai who crashed over menacingly. Carty tagged over the extras.

Back came Rotherham though as they tried to put some intensity into their performance. From a line out close to the visitors’ line, the Titans pack collaborated to drive forward with real urgency. Charlie Maddison was on hand from the tail of the maul to dive over for a good pack try. Ryan levelled the game at 10 apiece with a neatly taken conversion.

Rotherham then appeared to ‘switch-off’ which allowed the Eagles to take advantage and following some forward pressure close to the titans line, the ball was fed out wide for hooker Dave Heffernan to dive over in the corner. Carty stuck a marvellous conversion from the touchline to put the visitors 17-10 ahead.

As the first half drew to a close Connacht began to enjoy some dominance which forced Rotherham into conceding a number of penalties. From two such misdemeanours in injury time fly half Carty slotted over two further successful kicks to draw the half to an end.

Rotherham however came out for the second period with an urgency scarcely seen in the first 40. Titans raised the tempo of their work which saw the visitors repeatedly forced onto the back foot.

Eventually on 54 minutes and following a dominant period from the home pack, the ball arrived with winger Ben Foley who somehow managed to leap over a number of Connacht defenders to dot down in the corner for an unconverted try.

The momentum had now shifted massively in Rotherham’s favour as they continued to power forward. Titans’ work-rate was rewarded on the hour mark when man-of-the-match candidate Tom Burns powered over following some great mauling from his pack-mates. Ryan’s conversion drew the host’s to within a point at 22-23.

Spurred on Rotherham went in search of their first win of the season. Now it was the visitors turn to start racking up the penalty count. From such a penalty Titans nosed ahead for the first time in the game when Caolan Ryan calmly slotted over on 71 minutes.

Rotherham impressed during the latter stages as they managed the game well without panicking as Connacht attempted to run the ball whenever possible.

The game was sealed in the eight minute of injury time when Ryan stepped up to knock over his third successful penalty of the match and when referee Elgan Williams blew for time there was huge joy and relief all around Clifton Lane.

Commenting post-match Titans Andy Key explained, “I’m delighted to get our first win of the season, but I’m more delighted for the boys. We facilitate the process of actually putting them into positions and we help to make them better players, but at the end of the day they have to prove that to themselves and the main area to do that is on a match day.

“But I thought today our composure and the way we reacted to a poor first half performance and to come back in the way we did was very good, especially in how we controlled the final 10 minutes.

“Tom Burns had a very good game, he set a good target and he showed a never-say-die attitude. His leg drive into contact to make sure we could get every yard possible was outstanding.

“I was also massively impressed with the two lads from Wasps who came in this week. Both Will Porter and Tom Willis showed there’s some great young talent out there.

“Will controlled things at the base and he kept the tempo high when we needed it to be and he got to the breakdown early and distributed the ball well. Then when Tom came on he only knows one direction and he set a good platform. So I was really pleased with those two boys.”

Referee: Elgan Williams

Attendance: 417

Yellow Card: None

Titans: Maddison (T), Foley (T), Burns (T), Ryan (2C, 3P),

Connacht: Dawai (T), Heffernan (T), Carty (2C, 3P)

Titans: 15 Ben Foley (Cooke 70), 14 Wesley Hamilton, 13 Yiannis Loizias, 12 Luke Peters, 11 Drew Cheshire, 10 Caolan Ryan, 9 Francisco Vieira (Porter h-t), 1 Tom Williams (Opedo 68), 2 Charlie Maddison (Capt.) (Murphy 70), 3 Andrew Foster (Palmer h-t), 4 Rob Louw, 5 Guy Borrowdale (Willis 52), 6 Matt Postlethwaite, 7 Adam Peters, 8 Tom Burns.

Replacements: 16 Jonny Murphy, 17 Brandon Palmer, 18 Nathaniel Opedo, 19 Tom Willis, 20 Will Porter, 21 Lee Millar 22 Jamie Cooke.

Connacht Eagles: 15 Matthew Byrne, 14 Niyi Adeolokun (Leavy h-t), 13 Stacey Ili, 12 Kieran Joyce, 11 Colm de Buitléar, 10 Luke Carty, 9 Conor McKeon (Kerins 70), 1 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 2 Dave Heffernan, 3 JP Cooney (Kenny 51), 4 Gavin Thornbury (Murray 68), 5 Peter Claffey, 6 Naulia Dawai (O’Toole 70), 7 Paul Boyle, 8 Harley Fox (Huxford 65).

Replacements: 16 Pat O’Toole, 17 Conor Kenny, 18 Niall Murray, 19 Cian Huxford, 20 Stephen Kerins, 21 Morgan Codyre, 22 Adam Leavy.

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Bedford 34 Titans 14

Rotherham Titans put in a much improved performance against Bedford Blues before ultimately going down 34-14 at Goldington Road.

Overall Rotherham had the lion’s share of territory and possession, particularly in the first half where they would have been disappointed to go in at the break pointless after such a dominant display.

Titans’ forwards impressed hugely as they drove the Blues backwards on numerous occasions, but unfortunately for them they were unable to turn that pressure into points.

Bedford however gave Rotherham a lesson in clinical finishing as on just about the only three occasions they entered the Titans 22 they scored three tries; two came the way of rapid scrum half Jordan Burns, whilst winger Dean Adamson ran in the third on the stroke of half time. Harry Sheppard converted all three tries to add to his earlier penalty on 12 minutes which opened the scoring sequence.

Rotherham continued to enjoy periods of territory and possession throughout the second period and were rewarded for their endeavours on 55 minutes when winger Jake Henry barged his way over in the bottom left corner, following some quick hands from the Titans backs. Caolan Ryan nailed a superb conversion from the touchline.

Again however the home side demonstrated their ruthless, clinical side as they crossed the whitewash on two further occasions after Rotherham had enjoyed strong periods of pressure.

Dean Adamson helped himself to a second dot down before speedy centre Rich Lane showed a tremendous turn of foot to race away for Bedford’s fifth try of the game.

Gamely, Rotherham continued to battle on, determined to show their undoubted character. Late on, having been camped on the Bedford line for some time, replacement hooker Charlie Maddison dived over to earn Titans a deserved second try of the match. Lee Millar converted nicely with the final kick of the game.

Speaking afterwards Titans Andy Key reflected, “We probably had more territory and possession overall and certainly so in the first half, yet we go in at the break 24-0 down. Some of that is probably as a result of the first-up tackles that we missed.

“You have to give Bedford credit; as soon as they got behind us their cutting edge was better than ours. But I thought there was a lot of good things in our forward play; our line out was really good and our drive functioned well and we gave ourselves opportunities.

“I think that’s the difference when you’re a side like us who are really battling for that first win, certain things are going to go right and some things aren’t. Our attack wasn’t quite as sharp as it needed to be, albeit we won the second half 14-10.

“Bedford don’t lose too many games down here, but I felt we competed and we had a really good go at them, but they took their opportunities. You look at where we were on the field at times and maybe we could have made better use of those positions.

“But when that doesn’t go your way you have to make sure you stop them gaining momentum the next time they come at you. We did that for long periods, but when they did get the momentum they scored from it.

“I thought we dominated enough from a forwards point of view and physically at times to get more out of the game and certainly we should have done in the first half. That didn’t happen and as a result going in at 24-0 it’s a big uphill battle thereafter.”

Referee: John Meredith

Attendance: 2,337

Yellow Card: Will Carrick-Smith (Bedford)

Titans: Henry (T), Maddison (T), Ryan (1C), Millar (1C),

Bedford: Burns (2T), Adamson (2T), Lane (T), Sheppard (P. 3C)

Titans: 15 Will Thomas, 14 Ben Foley (Loizias 69), 13 Luke Peters, 12 Joe Barker, 11 Jake Henry, 10 Caolan Ryan (Millar 75), 9 Francisco Vieira, 1 Toby Williams (Tom Williams 75), 2 Luke Cole (Maddison 55), 3 Matt Shields (Foster 69), 4 Rob Louw, 5 Byron Hodge, 6 Adam Peters, 7 Tom Calladine (Capt.), 8 Dan Grange (Postlethwaite 43).

Replacements: 16 Charlie Maddison, 17 Tom Williams, 18 Andrew Foster, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Drew Cheshire, 21 Lee Millar, 22 Yiannis Loizias.

Bedford: 15 Chris Czekaj, 14 Elliot Clements-Hill, 13 Rich Lane, 12 Michael Le Bourgeois (Capt.), 11 Dean Adamson (Hutler 63), 10 Harry Sheppard, 9 Jordan Burns (Dickson 59), 1 Sean McCarthy (Lindsay 55), 2 George Edgson (Parilli-Ocampo 55), 3 Ben Cooper (Spelman 72), 4 Jordan Onojaife (Tupai 59), 5 Will Carrick-Smith, 6 Alex Rae, 7 Ben Adams (Nay 55), 8 Jarad Williams.

Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Camilo Parilli-Ocampo, 18 Dave Spelman, 19 Paul Tupai, 20 Jack Nay, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Ryan Hutler.

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Titans 22 Richmond 37

Rotherham Titans put in a disappointing performance as they crashed 37-22 at home to Richmond, as they still search for their first Championship victory of the season.

There were pockets during the game where Rotherham looked dangerous, their driving maul and line out work in particular functioned well. There were also periods in the game where their backs created fine opportunities, but effective defensive work from the visitors, coupled with poor execution ultimately cost Titans the game.

It was Titans who actually started the brighter and deservedly took the lead on 8 minutes through loose head prop Toby Williams, who crashed over from close-range following some sterling work from his fellow pack members.

Rotherham’s lead was short-lived as within 5 minutes Richmond levelled matters when livewire scrum half Luc Jones showed great awareness to skip over.

Undeterred, Rotherham showed good energy and commitment to bounce back before the end of the first quarter. From a Titans turnover the ball arrived with Will Thomas, he made good ground before drawing the last tackle to send in Ben Foley down the right wing for a fine try in the corner.

Again Richmond soon levelled as they mounted a series of pick and goes inside the Titans 22, which resulted in lock forward Chris Davies barging his way over the line.

The visitors now began to enjoy a productive spell which resulted in the home side conceding a number of penalties. Inside the final 7 minutes of the first half Richmond full back Rob Kirby punished Rotherham for their misdemeanours as he knocked over 2 penalty attempts to send his side in at the break with a 20-14 advantage.

Kirby extended Richmond’s lead early in the second period with his third successful kick, after more indiscipline from the home side.

Titans Lee Millar reduced the arrears on 53 minutes from a penalty as Rotherham attempted to re-establish themselves in the game.

Again however, Titans allowed the visitors inside their own 22 and again it was the impressive visiting scrum half Luc Jones who threw an outrageous dummy before racing over for his sides third try of the game.

Rotherham continued to give their best and were not finished yet; following more forward pressure from the pack the ball arrived with Titans Will Thomas who showed good footwork and strength to barge his way over under strong pressure. Millar’s conversion from out wide unfortunately struck the left hand post to leave the hosts 8 points adrift.

Titans continued to make inroads into the Richmond defence and created opportunities inside their half of the pitch. Unfortunately for the hosts they were unable to make the most of these and as the game went into injury time it was Richmond who secured the final score of the game with a bonus-point try from replacement back-rower Toby Saysell.

Commenting post-game Andy Key reflected, “To say we are disappointed with the result doesn’t start to summarise it; we are massively disappointed. Collectively we need to be very disappointed in our overall performance and in our individual performance. That is not a performance by any shadow of doubt.

“I don’t mean to undermined Richmond in anything I say, because they’ve worked exceptionally hard to get themselves into a position where they know what they need to do to win the game and they’ve done that magnificently today.

“They took their chances; I think unfortunately at times we gave them those chances through our mistakes or through our indiscipline and then every time they found themselves in our 22 they came away with points. We didn’t do that.

“When we were inside their 22 and even when they were down a man, a forward, we didn’t do that. I think we are making poor decisions and I think we are making wrong decisions.

“I understand why we probably kicked for goal, but we’d just proved in the corner they’d just binned somebody for going for a drive when there are 8 on the field. Now they’ve got 7 on the field and why we’ve not kicked for the corner and really had a crack at them I do not know.

“We did show snippets in the second half which showed we are more than capable, but 10 minutes here and there will never make a side that can look at his self and say it’s capable of going anywhere other than the bottom of the table and at the moment we are where we are because of our performances.”

Referee: Greg Macdonald

Attendance: 768

Yellow Card: Chris Davies 47 (Richmond)

Titans: Toby Williams (T), Foley (T), Thomas (T), Millar (2C, P),

Richmond: Jones (2T), Davies (T), Saysell (T), Kirby (4C, 3P)

 Titans: 15 Will Thomas, 14 Ben Foley, 13 Drew Cheshire (Loizias 71), 12 Joe Barker, 11 Jake Henry, 10 Lee Millar, 9 Rhodri Davies (Vieira 22), 1 Toby Williams, 2 Luke Cole (Dolly 71), 3 Matt Shields, 4 Rob Louw (Boladau 52), 5 Byron Hodge, 6 Adam Peters, 7 Tom Calladine (Capt.), 8 Dan Grange.

Replacements: 16 Nic Dolly, 17 Tom Williams, 18 Andrew Foster, 19 Ifereimi Boladau, 20 Francisco Vieira, 21 Caolan Ryan, 22 Yiannis Loizias.

Richmond: 15 Rob Kirby, 14 Martin Freeman (Simpson-Hefft 72), 13 Cameron Mitchell, 12 Ronnie McLean, 11 Jono Woodward, 10 Freddie Gabbitass, 9 Luc Jones (Gibbs 74), 1 Jeremy Cunnew (Goodrick-Clarke 70), 2 Jason Phipps (Grimstone 62), 3 Craig Trenier (Tarrant 62), 4 Will Warden (Capt.) (Humfrey 66), 5 Chris Davies, 6 Jesse Liston (Saysell 66), 7 Jack Allcock, 8 Jake Parker.

Replacements: 16 Ross Grimstone, 17 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 18 Alex Humfrey, 19 Jamie Gibbs, 20 Jordan Simpson-Hefft, 21 Toby Saysell, 22 Joe Tarrant.

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Pirates 62 Titans 47

Spirited Titans fall short in Penzance

Rotherham Titans put in spirited performance in a high-scoring thriller of a match, before ultimately losing out 62-47 to Cornish Pirates at the Mennaye Field.

Titans played their full part in this barn-stormer of a Championship fixture and collected their first point of the campaign as they ran in seven tries.

Titans scrum half, Rhodri Davies, caught the eye in particular and was arguably man-of-the-match having raced in for a hat-trick of tries to cap-off a fine individual performance.

Pirates also enjoyed a productive try-scoring afternoon as they ran in 8 tries in a game which produced 109 points.

The game started in disastrous fashion for Rotherham, as within 5 minutes they shipped two converted tries through Pete Laverick and Alex O’Meara, to trail 14-0 after some indifferent work in defence.

Stunned by Pirates’ opening salvo, Titans regrouped and responded almost immediately as scrum half Rhodri Davies collected a neat pass from Will Thomas to race in for the visitors opening dot down.

A whole 6 minutes would elapse before the next score, but when it did, it came from Pirates nippy winger Kyle Moyle who showed good footwork to score his side’s third try.

Before the hosts secured the four-try bonus point on 19 minutes through hooker Tom Cowan-Dickie, Rotherham were awarded a penalty try after further good work down the right hand side from their Welsh Wizard Rhodri Davies, who was prevented from scoring by a high tackle from Alex Day. Day received 10 minutes in the sin bin for his transgression.

On 23 minutes Titans reduced their arrears to 7 points when a neat backs move was finished off by centre Luke Peters in the far right corner, with Lee Millar striking a terrific touchline conversion.

Titans had the opportunity to draw closer moments later after their pack forced a penalty, unfortunately for Millar this time his effort just drifted across the face of the posts.

Just after the half hour mark Pirates extended their lead when fly half Laurence May tagged over a 3-pointer.

Despite half time drawing near there was still time for each side to add a further score in this frenzied first half. For the hosts Kyle Moyle cut a great line to burst through at pace for his second try, before deep into injury time Tom Williams bulldozed his way over from close range to secure the Titans with their first point of the season.

The second period was as unrelenting as the first as the glut of tries continued to flow. Within 13 minutes of the restart each side secured a further two tries; Cowan-Dickie and Nicolas De Battista crossed for the hosts, whilst Rhodri Davies demonstrated tremendous footwork and speed to cross the whitewash twice more to complete his hat-trick.

And when, with 19 minutes remaining Titans replacement hooker, Luke Cole, crashed over for a converted try, Titans trailed by just 5 points as the overworked scoreboard signalled 52-47.

However, any hopes the Titans had of a memorable win in Penzance were effectively dashed late on when referee Dean Richards awarded the hosts a penalty try, and with the final kick of a pulsating encounter, Pirates replacement Will Cargill knocked over a penalty from in front of the sticks.

Commenting afterwards Titans Andy Key reflected, “I Think today was more about our character, we’ve got this never-say-die approach and a great attitude and I think today the boys showed that. But we also know from a realistic point of view we can’t afford to let as many tries in as we did.

“So whilst the fact we can score 47 points is very good, by the same token we conceded 62 points and that’s not acceptable.

“We have been working hard on our defence for the whole of the season and there are times when I think individually we defend or tackle well, but at the moment we are struggling to pick up and understand perhaps collectively who it is we need to hit.

“That’s disappointing because there’s been a lot of time and energy spent on that in training, but I take my hat off to the boys because they didn’t at any stage say they can’t get back into the game and they were always in with a sniff; it’s just a little bit disappointing in the end that we come away not have collected the second bonus point.

“However, we have taken a step in the right direction, there’s stuff we are doing in the pack which is now paying dividends, we are opening up sides and from that perspective we can be pleased.

“We always look at our performances and it’s about trying to be proud of them. If we look after the simple things and the little things then the big performances will come.

“We got a lot of things right today, we were a bit critical over the last few weeks because we’ve been creating chances but not finishing them off. Today we’ve made those chances and we’ve finished them off and to score 7 tries in any game is a pretty good feat and to score 47 points and not win the game is a bit difficult to swallow.”

Referee: Dean Richards

Attendance: 1,241

Yellow Card: Day (Pirates)

Titans: Davies (3T), L Peters (T), Tom Williams (T), Cole (T), Penalty Try, Millar (4C), Ryan (1C).

Cornish Pirates: Moyle (2T), Cowan-Dickie (2T), Laverick (T), O’Meara (T), De Battista (T), Penalty Try, L May (7C, P), Cargill (P).

Titans: 15 Will Thomas, 14 Ben Foley (Cheshire 76), 13 Luke Peters, 12 Joe Barker, 11 Jake Henry, 10 Lee Millar (Ryan 52), 9 Rhodri Davies (Vieira 71), 1 Tom Williams (Toby Williams 50), 2 Jonny Murphy (Cole 16), 3 Matt Shields (Foster 64), 4 James Lasis (Burns 52), 5 Byron Hodge, 6 Adam Peters, 7 Tom Calladine (Capt.), 8 Dan Grange.

Replacements: 16 Luke Cole, 17 Toby Williams, 18 Andrew Foster, 19 Tom Burns, 20 Francisco Vieira, 21 Caolan Ryan, 22 Drew Cheshire.

Cornish Pirates:  15 Toby May, 14 Alex O’Meara, 13 Pete Laverick, 12 Nicolas De Battista (Capt.), 11 Kyle Moyle, 10 Laurence May, 9 Alex Day, 1 Marlen Walker, 2 Tom Cowan-Dickie, 3 Christian Judge, 4 Rupert Cooper, 5 Josh Caulfield, 6 Dan Lee, 7 Matt Bolwell, 8 Tom Lawday.

Replacements: 16 James Fish, 17 Billy Keast, 18 Tom Duncan, 19 Toby Freeman, 20 Mike Pope, 21 Will Cargill, 22 Dan Koster.

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Titans 21 Hartpury 32

Titans beaten by Hartpury

Rotherham Titans put in a much-improved all-round performance against new boys Hartpury, before ultimately losing out 32-21 at Clifton Lane.

Indeed Rotherham started the game very brightly and controlled much of the game in the opening 15 minutes and having created several try-scoring opportunities, they would have been disappointed to only have led the game 3-0 on the quarter hour mark with a Lee Millar penalty kick.

Eventually Hartpury established a foothold in the game and stunned Rotherham by scoring 19 points in a 15 minute spell, as they ran in 3 tries scored by Harry Randall, Elias Caven and Harry Cochrane, two of which were converted by Jacob Perry. The Titans will have been disappointed with the space and opportunities given to the visitors during this spell.

The second period saw the host’s all-round game improve significantly as the held the upper hand throughout the 40-minute period, eventually winning the half 15-13.

Titans reduced their arrears on 47 minutes after back rower Adam Peters, making his first Titans start, bulldozed his way over from close range, after some sterling work from his fellow pack members.

Jacob Perry and Lee Millar then traded penalties, before Titans added their second try on 63 minutes when a barnstorming run down the left wing saw Jake Henry gallop over the whitewash. Millar tagged over the extras to leave Rotherham trailing by a point; 22-21.

With the momentum now firmly in Titans favour, they would have been confident of claiming their first win of the season.

However, credit must be extended to the visitors as they regrouped to score the match winning try on 75 minutes through replacement prop Tom Heard. Replacement kicker James Williams converted and knocked over a penalty 3 minutes later to seal the match.

Speaking after the game Titans Andy Key reflected, “The result was a frustrating one because we brought a lot to the game today; I thought our first 15 minutes was right up there and that’s exactly how we want to play. We put them on the back foot, but we were unable to finish off the opportunities that we created.

“Then arguably it was the next 25 minutes what did it for us; we gave them far too much space and far too many opportunities. They came into our 22 on four occasions and each time they went away with points. Whilst crediting them for that, we need to be looking hard at the way we were during that spell.

“We said at half time there’s no way we can allow ourselves to defend like that and allow them to come in and score in the manner they did. I think we saw the improvement from the boys in the second half, they upped everything including physicality, commitment, pace in the game and our fitness was there right up until the end.

“So whilst we were really pleased with the second half performance, you look at the final score and it is still a defeat. However, going forward, if we can start games and go forward in the manner we did in the second half for the whole game, then we really will be on the up.”

Referee: Jack Makepeace

Attendance: 882

Yellow Card: Harden (Hartpury)

Titans: A Peters (T), Henry (T), Millar (3P, C)

Hartpury: Randall (T), Caven (T), Cochrane (T), Heard (T), Perry (P, 2C), Williams (P, C)

Titans: 15 Will Thomas, 14 Drew Cheshire, 13 Luke Peters, 12 Joe Barker, 11 Jake Henry, 10 Lee Millar, 9 Rhodri Davies, 1 Toby Williams, 2 Luke Cole, 3 Matt Shields, 4 James Lasis, 5 Byron Hodge, 6 Adam Peters, 7 Tom Calladine (Capt.), 8 Dan Grange.

Replacements: 16 Jonny Murphy, 17 Tom Williams, 18 Andrew Foster, 19 Tom Burns, 20 Francisco Vieira, 21 Caolan Ryan, 22 Ben Foley.

Hartpury: 15 Mike Wilcox, 14 Harry Cochrane, 13 Nick Carpenter, 12 Luke Eves, 11 Elias Caven, 10 Jacob Perry, 9 Harry Randall, 1 Dan Murphy, 2 Will Tanner, 3 Rupert Harden, 4 BJ Edwards, 5 Rhys Oakley, 6 Rob Langley, 7 Mat Gilbert, 8 Iain Grieve.

Replacements: 16 Luke Stratford, 17 Mike Flook, 18 Tom Heard, 19 Joe Quinn, 20 Darrel Dyer, 21 James Williams, 22 George Boulton.

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