Rotherham Titans suffered a disappointing derby defeat against fierce local rival Doncaster Knights, as they went down 36-19 in an entertaining Championship encounter.
Titans enjoyed a productive first half and deservedly went in at the break 16-14 up after a dominant performance from both forwards and backs.
Despite Knights taking an early lead on 10 minutes, when former Titan Will Owen skipped through the home defence to score a fine try, which Simon Humberstone converted, Rotherham soon bounced back to impose themselves on the visitors.
On 16 minutes Titans levelled matters with well-worked try of their own. Following a powerful forward drive in midfield the ball came out to the backs and saw Ben Foley draw the Doncaster defence before sending in Drew Cheshire to score near the posts. Caolan Ryan added the extras.
Titans’ dominance continued though the half which forced Knights into conceding a succession of penalties. Titans’ fly half demonstrated great competence from the tee as he drilled over 3 long-range penalties, the latter impressively from inside his own half which stretched the home side’s advantage to 16-7.
However, just before the break Doncaster set-up a driving maul close to Rotherham line which saw hooker Ben Hunter crashed over for the visitor’s second try; Humberstone’s successful conversion narrowed the visitor’s arrears to 16-14.
Inside the opening 12 minutes of the second period Humberstone and Ryan traded penalties as Rotherham held a narrow 19-17 advantage.
However, the experienced Doncaster pack began to take control of the game as they upped their tempo and physicality. On 55 minutes Knights regained the lead after their pack forced play close to the Titans line, before scrum half Michael Heaney picked up from the base to snipe up the blind side to score his side’s third try.
The momentum began to shift in favour of the visitors and now it was the Titans turn to concede a glut of penalties. Humberstone nailed 3 successful penalty attempts as Knights pulled away to 31-9 on the scoreboard.
Titans managed a late rally but found penetrating Doncaster’s defence a tough task and to make matters worse for the home side, former Titan Curtis Wilson crashed over in the final play of the game to secure a try-bonus point for the visitors.
Commenting post-game Andy Key explained, “I think the score line flatted Doncaster a little, but that’s credit to them for taking their chances and opportunities. They got themselves into the strike zone two or three times and they always came away with points and that’s where we’ve been a little bit guilty of old and we were again at times today.
“We got ourselves into the strike zone but didn’t always come away with it, but I thought Caolan Ryan kept us in the game massively, I thought our defence was awesome and it just shows again that we’re definitely moving in the right direction; but we’ve got to learn how to play for 80 minutes, especially against the better and bigger sides.”
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Yellow Card: None
Titans: Cheshire (T), Ryan (C, 4P)
Doncaster: Owen (T), Hunter (T), Heaney (T), Wilson (T), Humberstone (2C, 4P)
Titans: 15 Will Thomas, 14 Ben Foley, 13 Drew Cheshire (Odogwa 61), 12 Joe Barker, 11 Jake Henry, 10 Caolan Ryan, 9 Rhodri Davies 1 Toby Williams (Tom Williams 71), 2 Jonny Murphy (Cole 61), 3 Sam Nixon (Palmer 68), 4 Matt Postlethwaite (Burns 72), 5 Rob Louw, 6 Adam Peters, 7 Charlie Maddison, 8 Tom Calladine (Capt.).
Replacements: 16 Luke Cole, 17 Tom Williams, 18 Brandon Palmer, 19 Dan Grange, 20 Tom Burns, 21 Lee Millar, 22 Paolo Odogwa.
Doncaster Knights: 15 Paul Jarvis, 14 Curtis Wilson, 13 Mat Clark (Foley 79), 12 Will Owen, 11 Tyson Lewis, 10 Simon Humberstone, 9 Michael Heaney (James 75), 1 Richard List (Bergmanas 54), 2 Ben Hunter (Nelson 59), 3 Colin Quigley (Sproston 68), 4 Matt Challinor (Eames 59), 5 Nick Civetta, 6 Jack Ram, 7 Michael Hills (Capt.), 8 Alex Shaw (Batt 79).
Replacements: 16 David Nelson, 17 Jack Bergmanas, 18 Joe Sproston, 19 Morgan Eames, 20 Adam Batt, 21 Tom James, 22 Charlie Foley.