Rotherham Titans put in a much-improved all-round performance against new boys Hartpury, before ultimately losing out 32-21 at Clifton Lane.
Indeed Rotherham started the game very brightly and controlled much of the game in the opening 15 minutes and having created several try-scoring opportunities, they would have been disappointed to only have led the game 3-0 on the quarter hour mark with a Lee Millar penalty kick.
Eventually Hartpury established a foothold in the game and stunned Rotherham by scoring 19 points in a 15 minute spell, as they ran in 3 tries scored by Harry Randall, Elias Caven and Harry Cochrane, two of which were converted by Jacob Perry. The Titans will have been disappointed with the space and opportunities given to the visitors during this spell.
The second period saw the host’s all-round game improve significantly as the held the upper hand throughout the 40-minute period, eventually winning the half 15-13.
Titans reduced their arrears on 47 minutes after back rower Adam Peters, making his first Titans start, bulldozed his way over from close range, after some sterling work from his fellow pack members.
Jacob Perry and Lee Millar then traded penalties, before Titans added their second try on 63 minutes when a barnstorming run down the left wing saw Jake Henry gallop over the whitewash. Millar tagged over the extras to leave Rotherham trailing by a point; 22-21.
With the momentum now firmly in Titans favour, they would have been confident of claiming their first win of the season.
However, credit must be extended to the visitors as they regrouped to score the match winning try on 75 minutes through replacement prop Tom Heard. Replacement kicker James Williams converted and knocked over a penalty 3 minutes later to seal the match.
Speaking after the game Titans Andy Key reflected, “The result was a frustrating one because we brought a lot to the game today; I thought our first 15 minutes was right up there and that’s exactly how we want to play. We put them on the back foot, but we were unable to finish off the opportunities that we created.
“Then arguably it was the next 25 minutes what did it for us; we gave them far too much space and far too many opportunities. They came into our 22 on four occasions and each time they went away with points. Whilst crediting them for that, we need to be looking hard at the way we were during that spell.
“We said at half time there’s no way we can allow ourselves to defend like that and allow them to come in and score in the manner they did. I think we saw the improvement from the boys in the second half, they upped everything including physicality, commitment, pace in the game and our fitness was there right up until the end.
“So whilst we were really pleased with the second half performance, you look at the final score and it is still a defeat. However, going forward, if we can start games and go forward in the manner we did in the second half for the whole game, then we really will be on the up.”
Referee: Jack Makepeace
Yellow Card: Harden (Hartpury)
Titans: A Peters (T), Henry (T), Millar (3P, C)
Hartpury: Randall (T), Caven (T), Cochrane (T), Heard (T), Perry (P, 2C), Williams (P, C)
Titans: 15 Will Thomas, 14 Drew Cheshire, 13 Luke Peters, 12 Joe Barker, 11 Jake Henry, 10 Lee Millar, 9 Rhodri Davies, 1 Toby Williams, 2 Luke Cole, 3 Matt Shields, 4 James Lasis, 5 Byron Hodge, 6 Adam Peters, 7 Tom Calladine (Capt.), 8 Dan Grange.
Replacements: 16 Jonny Murphy, 17 Tom Williams, 18 Andrew Foster, 19 Tom Burns, 20 Francisco Vieira, 21 Caolan Ryan, 22 Ben Foley.
Hartpury: 15 Mike Wilcox, 14 Harry Cochrane, 13 Nick Carpenter, 12 Luke Eves, 11 Elias Caven, 10 Jacob Perry, 9 Harry Randall, 1 Dan Murphy, 2 Will Tanner, 3 Rupert Harden, 4 BJ Edwards, 5 Rhys Oakley, 6 Rob Langley, 7 Mat Gilbert, 8 Iain Grieve.
Replacements: 16 Luke Stratford, 17 Mike Flook, 18 Tom Heard, 19 Joe Quinn, 20 Darrel Dyer, 21 James Williams, 22 George Boulton.