Rotherham Titans put in a powerful forward performance to run out worthy 25-13 winners over Darlington Mowden Park at Clifton Lane, to make it 5 league wins on the spin.
Two tries from winger Dan Leake, one try from number 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor and 10 points from the tee for Alex Dolly secured an important victory for the South Yorkshire side.
Titans remain in fifth spot in the division, but more importantly they are now just four points off the summit with 14 games remaining.
Rotherham took the lead as early as the third minute when Alex Dolly knocked over a penalty from 40 metres on the angle after Mowden were penalised at the scrum.
Former Titan favourite Garry Law levelled matters just 4 minutes later when he also impressed from the tee with a 3-pointer.
Titans regained a lead they wouldn’t relinquish on 11 minutes, when after turning ball over inside the visitors 22 they moved the ball swiftly across the park. The move saw Joe Barker, Connor Field and Alex Dolly all involved before the ball arrived with winger Dan Leake who finished off in the corner. Dolly’s attempted conversion hit the left upright.
Dolly and Law then traded penalties inside the first 20 minutes to leave the score at 11-6, as each side looked to gain the upper hand.
The momentum significantly went the way of the South Yorkshire side on the half hour mark when once again their dominance at the scrum yielded more success.
The speed at which the Mowden pack retreated would have been a concern for their coaches; however their counterparts would have been delighted when Titans number 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor dotted down from the tail. Dolly added the extras to give Titans an 18-6 advantage.
Rotherham looked good value for their lead and they continued to enjoy the majority of territory and possession.
However, just before the break Mowden stunned the home side when a rare foray into the Titans 22 caught them napping as livewire scrumhalf Martin Lithgo took advantage of a lapse in concentration to dive over from the base of a ruck. Law’s conversion sent the sides in at the break with Rotherham leading 18-13.
Titans would have been disappointed to have conceded such a sloppy try at the end of the first half and Titans came out for the second period looking to put things right.
This they did after just two minutes; from a Mowden clearing kick Nagle-Taylor collected and made 20 metres up field to give Titans some positive momentum. Then following several phases the ball arrived with Joe Barker who popped a nice pass inside to Dan Leake who had come in off his wing, he then danced his way through and around the full back to score a fine try under the posts. Dolly’s extras gave Rotherham a 25-13 lead.
Remarkably there would be no more points scored in the game and to be fair to Darlington they offered much more in the second period. So whilst there may have been a slight disappointment in some quarters that a bonus point hadn’t been secured, the overall feeling in the Titans camp was one of delight.
Commenting post-match Titans Joe Barker explained, “That’s five wins out of the last game games, obviously we tried to get the bonus point, but unfortunately that didn’t come our way and that happens.
“We grafted away but we didn’t actually play that well. We dominated them in one aspect of the game which was the scrum; we scored two good tries in open play and another good scrum try again.
“We didn’t really get to do what we wanted to do and credit to them for that, they defended us quite well. At times we couldn’t find the space and we couldn’t break them down and they slowed our ball down very well; which meant we had to kick the ball away to try and get some field position because we couldn’t with ball in hand.
“However, when we did get quick ball we scored tries and we looked very threatening and at the end of the day a win is a win and we’re delighted to have won 10 of our last 12 games going into the Christmas break and we’re very excited about what we can achieve going into the New Year.”
Referee: Dan Parrott
Yellow Card: Purkiss-McEndoo (DMP), Keys (Titans)
Titans: Leake (2T), Nagle-Taylor (T), Dolly (2P, 2C)
Darlington Mowden Park: Lithgo (T), Law (2P, 1C)
Titans: 15 Alex Dolly, 14 Dan Leake, 13 Harry Dunne, 12 Ellis Abrahams (Cooke 68), 11 Connor Field, 10 Joe Barker, 9 Connor Dever (Allott 72), 1 Dan Richardson (Williams 78), 2 Jack Bergmanas (Thomson 55), 3 Rikki Stout (Dennis 49), 4 Conor Keys, 5 Kieran Frost, 6 Luis Ball, 7 Zak Poole, 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Capt.).
Replacements: 16 Ali Thomson, 17 Jessie Williams, 18 Will Dennis, 19 Tom Allott, 20 Jamie Cooke.
Darlington Mowden Park: 15 Chris McTurk, 14 Ollie Walker (Asher-Wood 55), 13 Callum Mackenzie, 12 Warren Seals (Walker 63), 11 Shaun McCartney, 10 Garry Law, 9 Martin Lithgo, 1 Charley Purkiss-McEndoo (Duff 37), 2 Jordon Poole, 3 Ralph Appleby, 4 Dave Fisher (Brady58), 5 Talite Vaioleti (Brown 66), 6 George Stokes (Duffy 75), 7 Matt Heaton (Capt.), 8 Joe Craggs.
Replacements: 16 Danny Brown, 17 Jake Brady, 18 Rory Duff, 19 Joe Duffy, 20 Brandon Asher-Wood.