For the second Championship game in a row Rotherham were handed a tough-to-take defeat as an 85th minute penalty from Luke Daniels saw Ealing snatch a dramatic 37-35 victory at Vallis Way.
Having lost 18-15 to Bedford last time out with the final kick of the match, Rotherham’s hearts were broken again late on and the defeat will hurt all the more as Titans believed they were the better side on the day.
Titans arguably played their best rugby of the season in the first half of a thriller which saw them secure the 4-try bonus point within the opening 30 minutes to give them a 26-3 lead.
Rotherham opened the scoring on five minutes when Ealing knocked on just inside the Titans 22. The loose ball was collected brilliantly by Caolan Ryan who showed tremendous speed to race almost 80 metres to score. Ryan converted his try to make it 7-0.
Five minutes later Luke Daniels, who kicked exceptionally throughout the game, reduced his side’s arrears with a well-taken penalty.
Rotherham roared back however and enjoyed a dominant 20 minute period where both backs and forwards combined effectively to score three further tries.
On 13 minutes following some aggressive forward pressure the ball came out to Caolan Ryan who found Joe Barker in support. Barker just managed to squeeze away a long miss-pass before being clattered to Drew Cheshire who raced in to score in the corner. Ryan narrowly missed the difficult conversion from the touchline.
On 19 minutes Rotherham were in again. This time Ryan found Ben Foley who utilised the long miss-pass to great effect as he found Drew Cheshire out wide. The winger then made good ground before slipping a nice pass inside to Joe Barker who ran through for Titans third try. Ryan added the extras.
As the half hour mark approach Titans secured the bonus point. Cheshire collected a clearing kick just inside the Ealing half and took the ball infield before finding Ben Foley. The full back then injected some pace into the attack as he bulldozed his way inside the 22 before finding Rhodri Davies on his inside. The Welshman collected nicely and ran in to score near the posts. Ryan’s conversion put Titans 26-3 up.
Ealing are not second in the league for no good reason and a reaction was always to be expected. Before half time the hosts crossed the whitewash twice through impressive centre Piers O’Conor, both of which were converted by Daniels to reduce Trailfinders arrears to 26-17.
Just before the break Titans won a penalty; unfortunately for them Ryan’s effort was pushed wide by the ever-increasing wind.
Ealing’s comeback continued early in the second period when on 49 minutes former Titan prop forward, Lewis Thiede crashed over from close range following a period of pack pressure. Daniels successful conversion saw the host draw to within two points as the scoreboard showed 24-26.
Rotherham continued to attack the hosts and on 52 minutes were rewarded with a penalty which Ryan converted to extend the visitors advantage.
However, before the hour mark Ealing took the lead for the first time when replacement front rower Matt Cornish dotted down from a catch and drive close to the Titans line. Daniels extras made it 31-29 to the home side.
Both sides continued to attack as each went in search of the vital victory. Two Caolan Ryan penalties sandwiched a 3-pointer from Luke Daniels to leave Rotherham 35-34 ahead going into injury time.
With one minute remaining and tension within the ground at a heightened stage Ealing were awarded a penalty which Daniels slotted to snatch victory from a devastated Rotherham outfit.
Referee: John Meredith
Yellow Card: None
Titans: Cheshire (T), Barker (T), Davies (T), Ryan (T, 3C, 3P)
Ealing: O’Conor (2T), Thiede (T), Cornish (T), Daniels (4C, 3P)
Titans: 15 Ben Foley (Thomas 49), 14 Drew Cheshire (Porter 64), 13 Joe Barker, 12 Rory Jennings, 11 Jake Henry, 10 Caolan Ryan, 9 Rhodri Davies (Millar 63), 1 Toby Williams (Tom Williams 63), 2 Jonny Murphy (Cole 58), 3 Andrew Foster (Palmer 71), 4 Rob Louw (Postlethwaite 69), 5 Adam Peters, 6 Dan Grange, 7 Charlie Maddison, 8 Tom Calladine (Capt.).
Replacements: 16 Luke Cole, 17 Tom Williams, 18 Brandon Palmer, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Will Thomas, 21 Will Porter, 22 Lee Millar.
Ealing: 15 Luke Daniels, 14 Will Harries, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Joe Munro, 11 Miles Mantella (Lydon 22), 10 Aaron Penberthy, 9 Calum Waters (Carter 60), 1 James Gibbons (Davis 71), 2 Alun Walker (Cornish 29), 3 Mark Tampin (Thiede 29), 4 Barney Maddison (Dickinson 49), 5 Harry Casson, 6 Kieran Murphy (Allen 67), 7 Rayn Smid, 8 Mark Bright (Capt.).
Replacements: 16 Matt Cornish, 17 Will Davis, 18 Lewis Thiede, 19 Morgan Allen, 20 Sam Dickinson, 21 Luke Carter, 22 Peter Lydon.