Titans 24 Ampthill 36

A performance with lots of effort and endeavour was ultimately not enough for Rotherham as they went down 36-24 to Ampthill at Clifton Lane.

Titans were outscored by 5 tries to four, with Jamie Cooke, Seb Nagle-Taylor and a brace from winger Dan Leake securing a losing bonus point for the South Yorkshire side.

In what was always going to be a challenging encounter against the joint top-of-the-league side, Rotherham actually started the brighter and took the lead on 5 minutes.

From a line out on the edge of the Ampthill 22 the ball arrived with Jamie Cooke; the powerful centre smashed his way through the defence to run in and score next to the posts. Connor Dever added the extras to seal a perfect start for the hosts.

The reason Ampthill are joint top is because they are a very decent side, with plenty of experience in the pack and lots of pace in the backs.

This was demonstrated throughout the first half as they crossed the whitewash three times through second rower Jonathan Kpoku, winger Nigel Baker and centre Ollie Morris, with the first two tries being converted by former Canadian international full back James Pritchard.

Trailing 19-7 at the break Rotherham made a better fist of things in the second half, which ultimately played out as a draw.

On 53 minutes Seb Nagle-Taylor picked up from the base of a ruck to charge his way through from 35 metres for a fine try, following what had been a decent period of possession for the Titans.

However, before the hour mark the visitors effectively sealed the game with another two converted tries from back rower and skipper Billy Johnson and replacement front rower Ralph Adams-Hale to make the score 33-12.

Credit to the home side though as they showed good character to keep on battling and a determination not to roll over.

On 65 minutes following a series of pick and goes close to the visitor’s line, the ball was flung out to winger Dan Leake who showed good strength to power through under the sternest of pressure. Dever converted to leave Titans trailing by 14 points and with an outside chance of getting something from the game.

However, late on that appeared a forlorn task as Ampthill’s fly half Josh Sharp knocked over a penalty to stretch his sides lead to 17 points.

Not to be outdone though, in the final play of the match Titans did collect a deserved point for their efforts as Dan Leake dived over in the corner for a bonus-point try.

Speaking after the game a disappointed Joe Barker explained, “Today’s performance showed what we’re like as a squad at the moment; at times we can show some outstanding defensive and attacking sets, but we’re just not consistent enough.

“The tempo of the game wasn’t what we wanted it to be; when teams play like that we need to find ways of raising the tempo to the level we want and to move teams around and keep the ball alive.

“So I think that’s we’re we are as a squad and that’s frustrating because we can see the quality is there both in defence and attack, but the consistency.

“Playing in patches really doesn’t work and we gifted them two, maybe three tries and that’s the game there. I thought we scored some good tries and we deservedly picked up a point for that.”

Referee: Nick Wood

Attendance: 504

Yellow Card: Collins (Ampthill)

Titans: Leake (2T), Cooke (T), Nagle-Taylor (T), Dever, (2C)

Ampthill: Kpoku (T), Baker (T), Morris (T), Johnson (T), Adams-Hale (T), Pritchard, (4C), Sharp (P)

Titans: 15 Tom Allott, 14 Dan Leake, 13 Jamie Cooke, 12 Harry Dunne, 11 Connor Field, 10 Joe Barker, 9 Connor Dever, 1 Dan Richardson (Williams 60), 2 Jack Bergmanas (Thomson 60), 3 Will Dennis (Stout 24) (Dennis 40), 4 Dan Preston-Routledge (Cotterill 40), 5 Jamie Ure, 6 Luis Ball (Preston-Routledge 42) (Ball 64), 7 Zak Poole, 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Ali Thomson, 17 Jessie Williams, 18 Rikki Stout, 19 Tom Cotterill, 20 Alex Dolly.   

Ampthill: 15 James Pritchard (Whyte 69), 14 Spencer Sutherland, 13 Ollie Morris, 12 Sam Hanks, 11 Nigel Baker (Tonga’uiha 80), 10 Josh Sharp, 9 Kevin Barrett (McKirdy 64), 1 Soane Tonga’uiha (Adams-Hale 40), 2 Syd Blackmore (Molitika 64), 3 Matt Collins, 4 Henri Williams (Hudson 17), 5 Jonathan Kpoku, 6 Billy Johnson (Capt.), 7 Joe Bercis, 8 Maama Molitika (Walliker 40).

Replacements: 16 Ollie Walliker, 17 Ralph Adams-Hale, 18 Sam Hudson, 19 Euan McKirdy, 20 Ciaran Whyte.

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