Rotherham Titans returned to winning ways in dramatic fashion, as they edged an absolute thriller of a game 33-29 against Caldy at Paton Field.
Following an impressive start which saw the Titans race into a 14-0 lead after 12 minutes, an impetuous period followed resulting in them going in at the break trailing by 10 points.
Rotherham then enjoyed the majority of the second half and eventually retook the lead 3 minutes from time to set up a nervy finish. Titans then showed terrific character late on to hold out under the sternest pressure from the home side to edge the 10-try thriller.
Titans may have thought they were in for a comfortable afternoon after full back Callum Irvine and centre Harry Dunne breezed in for two early converted tries. However, the home side weren’t about to roll over for their South Yorkshire visitors.
Showing tremendous heart and determination they powered back into the game to score four tries before the break.
Caldy’s first try on 18 minutes came from number 8 JJ Dickinson, brother of former Titan Sam; JJ showed terrific footwork to dance through the Rotherham defence to dot down near the corner.
Six minutes later a catch and drive five metres from Titans’ line resulted in centre Mike Barlow crashing over, whilst Caldy’s third try on 33 minutes came from back rower Jack Collister following a series of pick and goes inside the Rotherham 22.
The bonus point try for Caldy came just before the break when lock forward Martin Gerrard crashed over from a catch and drive close to the Titans line.
Rotherham left the field shell-shocked as they went in for their half time oranges trailing 24-14. However, following some frank words at the interval Titans came out in determined fashion and with good intensity about their work.
The intensity paid off within 2 minutes as following a number of phases the ball arrived with Callum Irvine who popped a pass to Zak Poole in support, the mobile flanker charged in from 20 metres to finish off a fine team try. Dolly’s conversion from in front of the posts narrowed the gap to 24-21.
Rotherham’s bright start to the second period was undone when deep inside the Caldy 22 a pass was intercepted by winger Nick Royle who proceeded to gallop 80 metres down the right wing to score in the corner.
Titans’ response to that disappointment was admirable. The South Yorkshire side showed terrific character as they redoubled their efforts to bombard the visitors with great energy and ambition.
The pressure eventually took its toll on Caldy in the 55th minute when the ball was spread wide to Dan Leake, the winger showed good skill and strength to beat the defence to score in the corner for an unconverted try to leave Titans trailing 29-26.
Rotherham continued to press forward and pretty much camped themselves inside the Caldy half; yet the hosts showed great resilience as they repeatedly kept out the visitors.
Finally on 77 minutes the crucial breakthrough for Rotherham was made by Seb Nagle-Taylor from a line out on the Caldy 22. The hosts backed-off at the set piece allowing the number 8 to show good awareness to charge through to score next to the posts. Dolly added the extras to give Titans a 33-29 lead.
The final throws of the match saw Caldy with a scrum 5 metres from the Titans line. However, full credit must be extended to the Rotherham pack as they disrupted the host’s set piece to steal the ball and clear their lines to seal a deserved victory.
Commenting post-match a delighted Joe Barker said, “We came out of the gates well and in the first 15 minutes we were very professional and we played some outstanding rugby. Unfortunately we then lose our discipline, which was disappointing because we’d spoken about not doing that in the week and as a result they score four tries and we go in at half time 10 points down.
“At the break we had a few harsh words and then we came out firing at the start of the second half which saw us score an outstanding try. We again start to play some outstanding rugby and we build massive pressure, but unfortunately we throw an interception and they run 90 metres to score.
“What was great to see on the back of that was the character shown by the boys; they didn’t get downhearted by the interception, they kept working hard and they bounced back to score 2 more tries.
“At the death we were under massive pressure close to our own line from their scrum, but our young front row were outstanding, especially when you consider they were up against a Championship quality front row and to come out on top in that situation shows a lot of character and we are delighted to come away with the win against a very good Caldy side.”
Referee: James O'Brien
Yellow Card: None
Titans: Irvine (T), Dunne (T), Poole (T), Leake (T), Nagle-Taylor (T), Dolly (4C)
Caldy: Dickinson (T), Barlow (T), Collister (T), Gerrard (T), Royle (T), Jones (2T)
Titans: 15 Callum Irvine, 14 Dan Leake, 13 Harry Dunne (Dever 53), 12 Ellis Abrahams, 11 Connor Field, 10 Joe Barker, 9 Alex Dolly, 1 Dan Richardson (Bergmanas 64), 2 Ali Thomson, 3 Will Dennis (Stout 6) (Dennis 69), 4 Dan Preston-Routledge (Cotterill 32) (Preston-Routledge 69), 5 Jamie Ure, 6 Luis Ball (Smith-Wano 54), 7 Zak Poole (Cotterill 75), 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Capt.).
Replacements: 16 Jack Bergmanas, 17 Rikki Stout, 18 Tom Cotterill, 19 Smith-Wano, 20 Connor Dever.
Caldy: 15 Rhys Hayes, 14 Nick Royle, 13 Gavin Roberts, 12 Mike Barlow (Othuha 69), 11 Luke Hibberd, 10 Lewis Barker (Vasey 61), 9 Ben Jones, 1 John Whittaker (Salisbury 53) (Whittaker 73), 2 Ted Stagg, 3 Rob O'Donnell, 4 Martin Gerrard, 5 Tom Sanders (Capt.), 6 Jack Collister, 7 Nyle Davidson (Ridgway 69), 8 JJ Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Callum Ridgway, 17 Derek Salisbury, 18 James Othuha, 19 Michael Cartmill, 20 Richard Vasey.