Rotherham Titans remain winless in the Championship after crashing to a disappointing 55-10 defeat to table-toppers Bristol Rugby at Ashton Gate.
The hosts ran in 8 tries to the Titans one, in a fixture that was always going to be a challenging one for the South Yorkshire side.
Nevertheless, Rotherham will be disappointed with their overall performance, as a steady stream of errors constantly prevented them from gaining a foothold in the game. As for Bristol, they look well set for an immediate return to the top tier of English Rugby.
Rotherham actually started the game quite brightly and enjoyed some early go-forward possession and when Caolan Ryan slotted over a penalty on 4 minutes it was no more than the Titans deserved.
That however, was just about as good as it got for the visitors, as the home side quickly established themselves on the game and soon found themselves ahead following a penalty try on 13 minutes.
Rotherham attempts to keep Bristol at bay, whilst full of effort and endeavour, proved to be futile as the hosts ran in three further first half tries through hooker Ross McMillan, centre Tusi Pisi and second rower Joe Joyce to leave Titans trailing 26-3 at the break.
The second period followed a similar pattern to the first, as an early penalty try for Bristol was followed by another three tries for the hosts. Winger Luke Morahan, replacement front row forward Jason Harris-Wright and winger Tom Varndell all crossed the whitewash to rub salt into the Titans wounds.
To be fair to Rotherham however, they never stopped trying to take the game to Bristol and 8 minutes from time were rewarded for their never-say-die attitude when a quick tap and go from replacement scrum half Rhodri Davies saw the Welshman carve through the home defence to dot down under the posts. Lee Millar added the extras to get Rotherham into double figures.
However, the final score of the game came four minutes from time when Bristol fly half Callum Sheedy nailed an impressive long-range drop goal to make the final score 55-10.
Speaking after the game a frustrated Andy Key said, “We’re obviously disappointed; we’ve come to a club where we knew what we needed to do to apply pressure having done our homework, but we made too many mistakes. There were too many errors and at times when we were starting to apply pressure, we couldn’t sustain it.
“The game is simple really; you build pressure, you sustain it and you maintain it and we didn’t do that and we let them off the hook. When you start letting sides like Bristol, who understand the Premiership, off the hook they’re going to kill you. That’s what they did today and off our mistakes they probably scored three or four tries.
“It’s easy to be disappointed about a game like that and we are and that’s how we are as a squad and how we need to react. We’ve got a run of games coming up now where we need to step up and show that the team and the club understands where it’s going.
“We will take some positives from today, I thought the last 10 minutes when certain players came on they made a difference. It was great to see Rhodri Davies back in the form he’s in, he puts massive pressure on the opposition and he tap and went a couple of times and showed that a side can never switch off with him around. Bola came on which was good to see after his injury; he carried well and made some good off-loads.
“We put Bristol under some pressure, but we weren’t able to convert that into points. We need to understand where we are in relation to Bristol, but we also need to understand where we are going forward and what needs to happen over the next two or three weeks.”
Referee: Adam Leal
Yellow Card: Tom Williams (Titans)
Titans: Davies (T), Ryan (P), Millar (C)
Bristol: Penalty Try (2T), McMillan (T), Pisi (T), Joyce (T), Morahan (T), Harris-Wright (T), Varndell (T), Sheedy (4C, D-G)
Titans: 15 Will Thomas, 14 Drew Cheshire, 13 Yiannis Loizias, 12 Luke Peters, 11 Jake Henry, 10 Caolan Ryan (Millar 30), 9 Francisco Vieira (Davies 52), 1 Toby Williams (Tom Williams h-t), 2 Luke Cole (Maddison 60), 3 Matt Shields (Palmer 65), 4 Rob Louw (Grange 57), 5 Byron Hodge, 6 Adam Peters, 7 Tom Calladine (Capt.), 8 Tom Burns (Boladau 61).
Replacements: 16 Charlie Maddison, 17 Tom Williams, 18 Brandon Palmer, 19 Dan Grange, 20 Ifereimi Boladau, 21 Rhodri Davies, 22 Lee Millar.
Bristol: 15 Mat Protheroe, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Siale Piutau (Hurrell 50), 12 Tusi Pisi (Madigan 53), 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Andy Uren (Williams 71), 1 Soane Tonga’uiha (O’Connell 50), 2 Ross McMillan (Harris-Wright 50), 3 Nicky Thomas, 4 Joe Joyce, 5 Joe Batley, 6 Sam Jeffries, 7 Dan Thomas, 8 Jordan Crane (Capt).
Replacements: 16 Jason Harris-Wright, 17 Jack O’Connell, 18 Gaston Cortes, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Rhodri Williams, 21 Ian Madigan, 22 Will Hurrell.