Rotherham Titans endured a bad day at the office as they crashed to a disappointing 13-12 defeat away to Sale FC.
Titans crossed the whitewash twice through Kieran Frost and Henry Roberts, with Ellis Abrahams adding a conversion to collect a losing bonus point.
Missing 11 points from the tee didn’t help the Titans cause and they will now look to bounce back against Loughborough Student at Clifton Lane on Saturday.
Titans have had their fair share of closing out tight games in their favour and have enjoyed the huge satisfaction that comes with those outcomes.
This time against Sale they couldn’t do that and instead they left Heywood Road with the bitter taste of regret and to make matters worse for Titans it was a game they should have won comfortably.
Titans started much the brighter, but despite this had to wait until the 22nd minute to take the lead through lock forward Kieran Frost, who barged his way over following some good forward pressure from his pack mates. Ellis Abrahams converted to make it 7-0.
Sale showed lots of endeavour but found it difficult to penetrate the Rotherham line; this was until the 34th minute when bulky prop forward used his physical advantages to dot down from the tail of a maul. Scrum half Matt Bradley missed the extras.
Despite Titans having much the better of territory and possession during the first period, to go in at the break leading by only 2 points would have been disappointing for them.
However, they would have been delighted when winger Henry Roberts danced his way through the Sale defence just 4 minutes into the second half for a fine individual try. Crucially the conversion was missed from out wide.
On 53 minutes a poor kick-chase by Rotherham saw the home side move the ball quickly across the field for winger Anthony Bingham to touch down in the corner. Bradley missed the conversion to leave Titans 12-10 to the good.
As the game moved into the final quarter Titans appeared to lose their way somewhat and the all-round advantages they’d enjoyed earlier seemed to be decreasing.
However, when they were awarded a penalty on 62 minutes they had an opportunity to take their lead to 4 points; unfortunately for the South Yorkshire side the opportunity was missed.
As the game entered the final 10 minutes and with a feeling of inevitability about it, the home side were awarded a penalty which Bradley knocked through the sticks to edge his side 13-12 ahead.
The remainder of the contest saw Rotherham throw everything they had at Sale, but credit to the home side as they managed to withstand the huge pressure that came their way to hold out for a crucial victory.
Post match a disappointed Joe Barker explained, “We should have controlled the game better than we did and we probably should have been a lot further ahead at half time. We scored first in the second half with a good try and we should have kicked on from there, but instead of doing that we let them back into the game.
“Overall our performance just wasn’t good enough today; we weren’t ruthless enough to finish it off and we were slack in the small areas and although we were good in other aspects of the game, the small detail killed us today.
“Credit to Sale they finished the game off and they came back at us and scored a good try to be fair, but that came about from our poor kick-chase and it is disappointing because these lads have got it in them but they’ve got to be there mentally on the day and they’ve got to stay in it for 80 minutes.
“You have to be constantly on it and you have to make sure you’re doing the small things every bit as much as the bigger things and if everyone was doing that today we would have got the result, but that wasn’t the case and that’s the disappointing thing.”
Referee: Nick Wood
Yellow Card: Ball (Titans)
Titans: Frost (T), Roberts (T), Abrahams (1C)
Sale FC: Kelly (T), Bingham (T), Bradley (1P)
Titans: 15 Callum Irvine, 14 Dan Leake, 13 Jamie Cooke, 12 Ellis Abrahams (Dunne 55), 11 Henry Roberts, 10 Joe Barker, 9 Connor Dever (Dolly 47), 1 Dan Richardson, 2 Jack Bergmanas (Thomson 55), 3 Rikki Stout (Dennis 53), 4 Luis Ball, 5 Kieran Frost (Keys 40), 6 Tom Cotterill, 7 Zak Poole, 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Capt.).
Replacements: 16 Ali Thomson, 17 Will Dennis, 18 Conor Keys, 19 Harry Dunne, 20 Alex Dolly.
Sale FC: 15 Jonty Rawcliffe, 14 Elliot Hodgson (Owen 70), 13 Jack Moorhouse, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Anthony Bingham (Hodgson 77), 10 Matt Sturgess, 9 Matt Bradley, 1 Dan Birchall, 2 Neil Briggs (Taylor 47), 3 Joe Kelly (Aigbokhae 47), 4 Will Davies (Priestley-Nangle 67), 5 Matt Postlethwaite, 6 Andy Hughes (Capt.), 7 David Seymour, 8 Ryan Parkinson (Ailes 67).
Replacements: 16 Adam Aigbokhae, 17 Christian Taylor, 18 Stone Priestley-Nangle, 19 Tom Ailes, 20 Chris Owen.