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
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.