Rotherham Titans made it 5 wins on the bounce as they ran out 25-14 winners over Plymouth Albion at a windy Clifton Lane.
For the fifth consecutive game Titans secured the four-try bonus point and have now collected 25 points from their last five outings.
Titans’ four tries came through Seb Nagle-Taylor, Henry Roberts and a brace from Harry Dunne. Alex Dolly added a conversion and a penalty in the blustery conditions.
The victory for Rotherham on a bitterly cold afternoon at the Lane moves them into second spot in the league behind Old Elthamians, by way of games drawn; but with 21 games remaining everything is up for grabs for a number of teams in this most unpredictable of divisions.
The game itself saw Roth nose themselves ahead on 10 minutes when scrum half Alex Dolly successfully knocked over a tricky penalty from distance, after Albion had infringed at a line out on their 10 metre line.
However, the South West side responded well to falling behind and within 4 minutes went ahead themselves when Captain Herbie Stupple dotted down from a catch and drive close to the Titans line. Full back Matt Shepherd added the extras to give Albion a 7-3 advantage.
The game settled and both sides enjoyed periods of possession with each creating opportunities and half chances. However, at this stage in the contest resilient and tenacious defending ensured no line was breached.
On the half hour mark that changed when a dominant Titans scrum powered up to the Albion line before number 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor picked up from the base to bulldoze his way over for Roth’s first try of the game. Dolly impressively nailed the conversion from out wide to edge his side 10-7 ahead.
The second half saw Titans increase their lead on 47 minutes when the backs worked a nice try with some slick hands. The ball arrived with Joe Barker, who just briefly held before finding Callum Irvine in support; he in turn made good ground before drawing the last man to feed Henry Roberts on the wing to race in and score a fine try in the corner.
Titans’ confidence began to soar and they started to enjoy periods of dominance as the home crowd shouted for more. Indeed more came just after the hour mark when Barker got himself involved again. This time his pass out the back to Zak Poole was collected well before he drew his man to find Harry Dunne, who in turn charged in to score Roth’s third try in the corner.
As the game drew towards its close there was late drama in stoppage time. Four minutes into added time Plymouth made sure of a nervy ending when following a sustained period of forward pressure on the Titans line the ball came out to winger Jon Dawe who showed good strength to power over. Shepherd’s conversion made it a 6-point game.
From being in a relatively comfortable position for most of the second period, suddenly a Titans victory which seemed so certain appeared to be under threat.
However, in the final play of the game Rotherham sealed the win with a bonus point try. From turnover ball inside the Albion half the ball arrived with Barker who threw a long pass out to Harry Dunne who jinked back inside to score and round off a perfect afternoon for the home side.
Commenting post-match Rotherham head coach Joe Barker explained, “To come away with five points from such a close game is very pleasing. I think it was a case of who buckled first under the pressure because both teams had a strong pack and were strong defensively and to be fair both sides played some good rugby at times.
“What pleased me the most however was how the boys handled the pressure in a tight game. Plymouth were on our line a number of times but other than on a couple occasions the boys were outstanding in keeping them out. The boys showed tremendous character and I am proud of every one of them.
“Even though we have a very young group here they are learning and gaining experience quickly; they have a great spirit and want to play for each other and that’s a great sign going forwards in terms of taking this club where it needs to be.”
Referee: Joe James
Yellow Card: None
Titans: Dunne (2T), Nagle-Taylor (T), Roberts (T), Dolly (1C, 1P)
Plymouth Albion: Stupple (T), Dawe (T), Shepherd (2C)
Titans: 15 Callum Irvine, 14 Henry Roberts, 13 Harry Dunne, 12 Ellis Abrahams, 11 Connor Field, 10 Joe Barker, 9 Alex Dolly (Dever 59), 1 Dan Richardson (Bergmanas 75), 2 Ali Thomson, 3 Rikki Stout (Dennis 71), 4 Tom Cotterill (Keys 66), 5 Jamie Ure, 6 Luis Ball, 7 Zak Poole (Smith-Wano 75), 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Capt.).
Replacements: 16 Jack Bergmanas, 17 Will Dennis, 18 Conor Keys, 19 Eru Smith-Wano, 20 Connor Dever.
Plymouth Albion: 15 Matt Shepherd, 14 Jon Dawe, 13 Teegan Minkley, 12 Connor Eastgate, 11 Jack Arnott, 10 Dan Mugford (Squire 57), 9 James Tait (Setter 66), 1 Will Norton (Chapman 75), 2 Jamie Salter (McGregor 66), 3 Dan Pullinger, 4 Dan Swain (Westlake 59), 5 Kieran Westlake (Pearson 57), 6 Rusi Tuima, 7 George Mills, 8 Herbie Stupple (Capt.).
Replacements: 16 Davy McGregor, 17 Lewis Pearson, 18 Dean Squire, 19 Luke Chapman, 20 Cameron Setter.