Rotherham Titans were denied their first Championship victory of the season as London Scottish winger Craig Holland went over for a try in the tenth minute of injury time to give the visitors a 27-24 victory at Clifton Lane.
The late drama was brutally heart-breaking for the South Yorkshire side, as for much of the contest they had been the better side and would have fully deserved their first win of the season.
However, the result leaves Rotherham 16 points adrift of both Jersey and London Scottish at the foot of the table and with a mountain to climb if they are going to avoid relegation into National One for next season.
The game itself started in worrying fashion for the Titans as inside 5 minutes the Exiles crashed over for their first try through hooker Isaac Miller and with a successful conversion from fly half Jake Sharp to follow, the visitors quickly moved into a 7-0 lead.
Rotherham however didn’t let this early setback deter them as they bounced back quickly with good periods of territory and possession; although they did have to wait until the 22nd minute before getting on the scoreboard themselves.
But when they did they did in some style as the ball arrived with scrum half Rhodri Davies from a line out and the Welshman showed terrific pace and awareness to skip through the Scottish defence to score a fine try. Caolan Ryan added the extras to draw the scores level.
Rotherham continued to enjoy the lion’s share of play as both backs and forwards combined well to keep the visitors under pressure and error-strewn. On the back of that pressure Titans added a well-deserved second try just before the break when Rhodri Davies once again showed his class as he made a blind side break, before accelerating away to score near the posts. Ryan’s extras double Titans lead to 14-7.
And there was just enough first half injury time remaining to allow Ryan to knock over a penalty to send the hosts in at the break with a well-earned 17-7 advantage.
Rotherham would have looked to keep things tight in the opening exchanges of the second period; however, that’s not how it panned out. Within 8 minutes of the restart London Scottish had levelled the game following a Jake Sharp penalty and then a second try from hooker Isaac Miller, which Sharp successfully converted.
The game then tightened up as both sides appeared to realise the importance of the game and each side looked nervous in what they were trying achieve.
However, ten minutes from time it was the visitors who nosed ahead when Sharp calmly slotted over a 3-pointer following Rotherham being penalised for offside.
The tension now within Clifton Lane was palpable, but that was massively eased for the home side five minutes from the end when winger Ben Foley charged down a clearing Scottish kick and hacked on into the try-scoring zone. As he was about to dot down he was taken out off the ball by Scottish replacement Charlie Ingall. The referee immediately awarded a penalty try to give Rotherham a 24-20 lead and yellow carded the offender.
Quite where 10 minutes of injury time came from at the end no one in the ground appeared to know afterwards. However, credit to London Scottish as they never gave up in their attempts to win the game and you could almost hear a pin drop when winger Craig Holland crashed over at the death.
A very disappointed Andy Key commented post-match, “I’m really don’t understand where all the injury time came from at the end, but having said that we haven’t helped ourselves in the game and there were times when our discipline let us down around the offside line.
“I’ve got to bite my lip a little, but I think they’ve got to take a hard look at London Scottish and opportunities that could have come our way with regards to them being offside. I don’t really want to talk about the officials, but once again we have been hurt in the last couple of weeks. We are in control of our own destiny, but we expect things to happen in the middle are in line with what should happen. We got penalised three times for being offside, I think they got penalised once, if that.
“At the end we were in the right area of the field, we were defending them and they knocked the ball on and when we go down to pick it up we get nudged in the back; that should be a penalty to us and it’s as simple as that because you can’t do that.
“I thought we saw a huge shift in performance from the boys and they showed a massive amount of character and I’m really pleased with what they did, I couldn’t have asked for much more. But at the end of the day I think it’s fair to say we’ve only got ourselves to blame; some of that indiscipline gave them opportunities to score some points.”
Referee: Matthew O'Grady
Yellow Card: Ingall (Scottish)
Titans: Davies (2T), Penalty Try, Ryan (P, 2C)
London Scottish: Miller (2T), Holland (T), Sharp (2P, 3C)
Titans: 15 Will Thomas, 14 Ben Foley, 13 Yiannis Loizias (Hamilton 29), 12 Logan Tibbetts, 11 Drew Cheshire, 10 Caolan Ryan, 9 Rhodri Davies, 1 Tom Williams (Toby Williams 60), 2 Luke Cole (Murphy 54), 3 Matt Shields (Palmer 67), 4 Adam Peters, 5 Byron Hodge, 6 Tom Calladine (Capt.), 7 Charlie Maddison (Postlethwaite 72), Tom Burns (Grange 67).
Replacements: 16 Jonny Murphy, 17 Toby Williams, 18 Brandon Palmer, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Dan Grange, 21 Lee Millar, 22 Wesley Hamilton.
London Scottish: 15 Fraser Lyle (Ingall 67), 14 Matt Williams, 13 Ross Neal, 12 Ben Mosses, 11 Craig Holland, 10 Jake Sharp, 9 Alex Walker, 1 Derrick Appiah (Christie 72), 2 Isaac Miller (George72), 3 Ewan McQuillin (Cringle 53), 4 Ed Milne, 5 Jonathan Mills (Capt.), 6 Gregor Gillanders, 7 Chris Walker (Marley 73), 8 Joe Atkinson.
Replacements: 16 Dan George, 17 Ben Onyeama Christie, 18 Phil Cringle, 19 Matt Marley, 20 Max Berry, 21 Ed Hoadley, 22 Charlie Ingall.