Rotherham Titans suffered a 45-10 loss to Ealing Trailfinders in round 3 of the British & Irish Cup on a bitterly cold afternoon at Clifton Lane.
The cup defeat to Trailfinders effectively ends Titans hopes of qualifying for the knock-out stages of the competition, with away trips to Ealing and Connacht to follow and a home tie against Richmond sandwiched in between.
Titans however put in a sterling first half effort which saw them go in at the break level at 10 apiece. Indeed Rotherham took the lead after just five minutes through outside centre Drew Cheshire.
His line-breaking try was well worked, initially through the forwards and then quick hands through the backs allowed Cheshire to scythe through the Ealing defence to score a fine try which Lee Millar converted. It was no more than Rotherham deserved for their bright opening.
Ealing slowly worked themselves into the game and scored their first try on 14 minutes when full back Luke Daniels collected in midfield and showed good footwork and speed to go over near the corner. He was unable to convert his own try.
Just pass the halfway mark Ealing took the lead when hooker Alun Walker barged over following a period of forward dominance from the Trailfinders pack. Again Daniels missed with his conversion attempt.
Rotherham continued to show good signs as they competed admirably against the high-flyers from West London and when just before the break they were awarded a penalty, up stepped fly half Lee Millar to confidently and successfully bag the 3-pointer to send the teams in at the break level.
Titans would have pleased with their first 40 minutes shift and hopeful of repeating it in the second half and in turn creating a massive shock result.
However, their plans were soon dashed as inside the opening 20 minutes the visitors crossed the whitewash four times to take the game away from Rotherham. Tries from Lewis Jones, Harry Casson, Grayson Hart and Lewis Robling, all of which were converted by Luke Daniels, devastated the home side.
To their credit however, the Titans never quit their responsibilities as they continued to try and make their mark in the second half.
Twelve minutes from the end Ealing ran in the final score of the game when Lewis Jones dived over for his second and his side’s seventh try of the game. Daniels tagged over the extras to make the final score 45-10 to the visitors.
Speaking post-match, Titans Andy Key explained, “The boys were outstanding in the first half; unfortunately we came up against a better and more resilient side in the second half.
“It was a difficult second 40 minutes for us; we said at half time we needed to shore-up our inside defence and make sure we didn’t allow them as much space. Going in 10-10 at the break, having had a reasonable amount of the game and with the boys showing good character in the way they kept their shape was very pleasing.
“We knew a good side like Ealing would come back at us in the second half, we tried to work as hard as we could to try and retain the ball, but I think that’s where we slipped up a little bit. We didn’t quite control the ball as well as we had in the first half and as a result they got more possession and more front foot ball.
“There were a couple of guys who really stood out today; I thought Jonny Murphy was outstanding in all departments, his work rate around the field was tireless in everything he did and Charlie Maddison led from the front as he normally does.”
Referee: Fergus Kirby
Yellow Card: Rob Louw (Titans)
Titans: Cheshire (T), Millar (P, C)
Ealing: Lewis Jones (2T), Walker (T), Casson (T), Hart (T), Robling (T), Daniels (T, 5C)
Titans: 15 Ben Foley, 14 Jamie Cooke, 13 Drew Cheshire, 12 Will Thomas, 11 Wesley Hamilton (Henry h-t), 10 Lee Millar, 9 Francisco Vieira (Davies 60), 1 Tom Williams (Toby Williams 60), 2 Jonny Murphy, 3 Brandon Palmer (Foster 64), 4 Rob Louw, 5 James Lasis (Borrowdale 32) (Peters 47), 6 Dan Grange, 7 Charlie Maddison (Capt.), 8 Tom Burns (Calladine 67).
Replacements: 16 Toby Williams, 17 Andrew Foster, 18 Guy Borrowdale, 19 Adam Peters, 20 Tom Calladine, 21 Rhodri Davies, 22 Jake Henry.
Ealing Trailfinders: 15 Luke Daniels, 14 Seb Stegmann, 13 Lewis Jones, 12 Lewis Robling, 11 Will Harries, 10 Rory Clegg (O’Conor 62), 9 Grayson Hart (Carter 67), 1 James Gibbons (Sears-Duru 55), 2 Alun Walker (Lawrence 60), 3 Lewis Thiede (Tampin 55), 4 Harry Casson (Capt.), 5 Oli Curry, 6 Rayn Smid (Maddison 70), 7 Dan Temm, 8 Morgan Allen (Llewelyn Jones 60).
Replacements: 16 Rhys Lawrence, 17 Djustice Sears-Duru, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Llewelyn Jones, 20 Barney Maddison, 21 Luke Carter, 22 Piers O’Conor.