Rotherham Titans put in an outstanding team performance to run out 32-26 winners over what had been pre-match top-of-the-table side Chinnor.
Titans secured the maximum points on offer as they outscored their opponents by 5 tries to 4, but had to withstand some late Chinnor pressure on their own line to eventually hold out for a deserved win.
On a blustery afternoon at Clifton Lane it was the visitors who nosed in front when following a series of pick-and-goes inside the Titans 22, the ball was flung out to centre Alex Dancer who showed good strength to power over from close range. Former Titans favourite Caolan Ryan added the extras to make it 7-0.
Rotherham soon came back and narrowed the gap on 7 minutes when scrum half Alex Dolly knocked over a penalty from the edge of Chinnor’s 22.
Dolly was in the thick of it again 7 minutes later when from a five metre line out he got himself involved in a driving maul before dotting down from the tail. He then composed himself to nail the conversion against a difficult crosswind to give Roth a 10-7 advantage.
Chinnor came into the game as league leaders and they proved what a capable side they are when they bounced back within five minutes to retake the lead after flanker Joe Dancer touched down from a driving maul and Ryan converted.
Rotherham are also starting to show they too are developing into a very decent side and with 5 minutes remaining in the half took control when they crossed the line twice.
Firstly, following good work from the pack Roth took play up to the visitor’s line before the ball came out to the backs, which allowed Joe Barker to throw a long miss-pass out to winger Connor Field who dived over in the corner. And then in the final play of the half from a catch and drive five metres out, hooker Ali Thomson crashed over from the back of the maul to give the hosts a 22-14 half time lead.
It was important for Rotherham to maintain their momentum in the second period as Chinnor have showed all season what a good side they are and if they are given an opportunity they will take it. However, Rotherham made a perfect start to the second period as they scored their bonus-point fourth try inside five minutes.
The try evolved from an Alex Dolly’s box kick which bounced kindly for Roth and allowed Connor Field to collect just inside the touchline. The powerful winger then galloped down the flank and held off a powerful last-ditch tackle from Ryan before dotting down near the corner flag.
Things got even better for Rotherham just 3 minutes later when a sweeping move which started on the edge of their own 22, when they stripped the ball from Chinnor, culminated in centre Ellis Abrahams scoring Titans fifth try of the game following good work in the build from Callum Irvine and Jamie Ure. Dolly’s conversion just drifted across the face of the posts in the swirling wind, which left Rotherham with a healthy 32-14 advantage.
Again the visitors showed tremendous resilience as they fought back tenaciously; on 51 minutes following a number of phases from the pack the ball was flipped out to the backs who worked the ball across the field for full back Craig Holland to score an unconverted try.
Twelve minutes from time and Chinnor set up a tense finale when they pounced on an opportunistic moment in the game. Rotherham were camped on the visitor’s line and looked to be about to put the game to bed when a pass 2 metres from the Chinnor line went astray. The loose ball was hacked downfield which saw winger Reon Joseph race through to collect and score under the sticks. Ryan’s successful conversion made it a 6-point game and everything to play for.
The final embers of a pulsating game of rugby saw Chinnor put Rotherham under huge pressure with a scrum 5 metres from the Titans line. However, the home pack showed tremendous character and technique to win a free kick and see out the remaining minute to deservedly win the game.
Speaking afterwards Titans Joe Barker explained, “It was an outstanding win from the boys, we were in total control for 50 minutes but credit to Chinnor they came back at us. We managed the game pretty well throughout however and there’s no doubt the lads deserved the win.
“It was pleasing to see the lads handle the pressure at the end when they were on our line and I think our boys showed everyone just how much character they have. The lads are putting in huge shifts every Tuesday and Thursday in training and that character is built in those sessions.”
Referee: Jamie Leahy
Yellow Card: None
Titans: Field (2T), Thomson (T), Abrahams (T), Dolly (1T, 2C, 1P)
Chinnor: A Dancer (T), J Dancer (T), Holland (T), Joseph (T), Ryan (3C)
Titans: 15 Callum Irvine, 14 Henry Roberts, 13 Harry Dunne, 12 Ellis Abrahams, 11 Connor Field, 10 Joe Barker, 9 Alex Dolly, 1 Dan Richardson (Bergmanas 67), 2 Ali Thomson, 3 Will Dennis (Stout 61), 4 Jamie Ure, 5 Tom Cotterill (Petrowitsch 67), 6 Luis Ball, 7 Eru Smith-Wano (Poole 36), 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Capt.).
Replacements: 16 Jack Bergmanas, 17 Rikki Stout, 18 Zak Poole, 19 Anton Petrowitsch, 20 Connor Dever.
Chinnor: 15 Craig Holland, 14 Reon Joseph, 13 Alex Dancer, 12 Danny Barnes (Capt.), 11 James Neal, 10 Caolan Ryan, 9 Josh Barton (Goodfellow 67), 1 Matt Beesley (Price 51), 2 Dan George, 3 Jack Gilding (Davis 48), 4 Cameron Gray, 5 Jack Ramshaw (Oliver 57), 6 Joe Dancer, 7 Ben Manning (Bell 48), 8 Tom Burns.
Replacements: 16 George Davis, 17 Tom Price, 18 George Oliver, 19 Rob Bell, 20 Greg Goodfellow.