Titans 3 Bristol 24

Titans put in a sterling 80-minute effort in difficult weather conditions before ultimately falling to a 24-3 defeat to Championship leaders Bristol at Clifton Lane.

Titans would have been delighted with their first half effort as they played into the teeth of a blizzard and to go in at the break trailing 6-0, they would have been confident of causing a huge upset.

However, with the snow easing and the wind losing some of its intensity, the champions elect managed the second half superbly and restricted Rotherham opportunities to a bare minimum.

The result leaves Rotherham 19 points adrift of 11th placed side London Scottish with just four games remaining, meaning Titans will need to win all of their remaining fixtures with a bonus point if they are to give themselves a chance of avoiding relegation.

Bristol started the game in bright fashion and soon got the scoreboard ticking when fly half Ian Madigan knocked over a 3-pointer following Titans transgression at the breakdown.

Undeterred, Rotherham fought back immediately and pressurised the visitors with a powerful driving maul deep inside their 22. However, as the blizzard increased in intensity and visibility deteriorated, Rotherham lost their bearings somewhat and grounded the ball over the dead ball line, giving Bristol a massive let off.

As conditions worsened both sides should be credited as each showed an immense desire to go forward and Rotherham in particular showed great spirit in defence and terrific line speed in the ever-declining conditions.

Just after the half hour mark Bristol doubled their advantage when Madigan added a second penalty. Rotherham had an opportunity to reduce the arrears late on in the first half; however, Caolan Ryan’s penalty attempt was ruthlessly halted by the gale-force wind.

The second period saw the visitors up their performance and despite now having the wind in their faces, they were able to register the first try of the match when winger Ryan Edwards raced in to score in the corner after a period of Bristol dominance. Madigan’s conversion attempt was pushed across the sticks.

On the hour mark Titans finally and deservedly got on the scoreboard when Caolan Ryan struck an impressive long-range penalty to reduce the arrears to 11-3.

Shortly after Rotherham second rower Rob Louw impressed as he charged down a clearance kick and collected nicely before making good ground downfield. Unfortunately as he was brought to ground Bristol turned the ball over.

The visitors then enjoyed a dominant passage of play which saw them add two further penalties through the reliable boot of Madigan.

And to round the game off late on, impressive full back Luke Morahan charged over for Bristol’s second dot down of the match, with Madigan tagging over the extras.

Referee: Tim Wigglesworth

Attendance: 617

Yellow Card: None

Titans: Ryan (P)

Bristol: Edwards (T), Morahan (T), Madigan (4P, C)

Titans: 15 Will Thomas (Millar 69), 14 Ben Foley, 13 Joe Barker, 12 Rory Jennings, 11 Jake Henry, 10 Caolan Ryan, 9 Rhodri Davies (Porter 45), 1 Toby Williams (Tom Williams 73), 2 Luke Cole (Dolly 59), 3 Andrew Foster (Palmer 69), 4 Rob Louw, 5 Adam Peters (Postlethwaite 48), 6 Dan Grange, 7 Charlie Maddison, 8 Tom Calladine (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Nic Dolly, 17 Tom Williams, 18 Brandon Palmer, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Jamie Cooke, 21 Lee Millar, 22 Will Porter.

Bristol: 15 Luke Morahan, 14 Ryan Edwards (Tovey 76), 13 Alapati Leiua, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 David Lemi, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Rhodri Williams, 1 Soane Tonga’uiha (Dawe 76), 2 Jason Harris-Wright (Fenton-Wells 76), 3 Gaston Cortes ( 63), 4 Joe Joyce, 5 Joe Latta, 6 Sam Jeffries (Haining 63), 7 Dan Thomas, 8 Jordan Crane (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Nick Fenton-Wells, 17 Ollie Dawe, 18 James Lay, 19 Nick Haining, 20 Andy Uren, 21 Callum Sheedy, 22 Jack Tovey.

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