Rotherham Titans suffered a disappointing 29-23 home defeat to bottom placed side Loughborough Students.
A penalty try, a Harry Dunne try and 11 points from the tee from Alex Dolly managed to salve a bonus point for the South Yorkshire side.
However, that was little consolation for a team who have grand ambitions in National 1 and who for the second week in succession will look inwards at why they didn’t come away with a victory over a bottom-end placed side in the division.
The first 30 minutes went according to plan for Rotherham; an early penalty from Alex Dolly and a penalty try from a pack which demonstrated great dominance at the set scrum saw the hosts comfortably race into a 10-0 lead.
However, not for the first time recently Titans were unable to convert their pressure into points and when 6 minutes before the break Loughborough’s full back Tim Bitirim charged through to score with little interference, the alarm bells started to ring.
Deep into first half injury time Dolly added a second penalty, but within a minute of the restart Titans yet again offered little resistance as Bitirim went over in the corner for his second try. The conversion from Charlie Reed was added to give the visitors a surprise 14-13 lead.
Dolly and Reed then traded penalties before on the hour mark Harry Dunne finished off a good Titans move which saw the centre go over for his seventh try of the season. Dolly’s extras gave the hosts a 6 point lead and a base from which to kick on and seal the game.
However, that wasn’t to be as two tries from the visitors inside the final 6 minutes from Bitirim and replacement prop Ben Christie meant Rotherham had to settle for an unsatisfactory losing bonus point.
Speaking afterwards a disappointed Joe Barker explained, “That was not good enough and that’s not Rotherham. We were very patchy and although we were good at times, we weren’t good enough for long enough and we were inconsistent.
“I would also say in the four games since Christmas we haven’t performed well. Some of our lads have got to have a look at themselves off the pitch so we can perform on the pitch, because it’s not been good enough as a squad.
“It always hurts when you lose, but this one hurts so much more because we were poor. We can no longer use the excuse of being a new squad and we can’t have any excuses for this one.
“Certain individuals didn’t get their jobs right; as a team once we got into our defensive sets we were completely fine, but at times some individuals just switched off and that isn’t good enough.
“At 10-0 up we should have finished the game off but we didn’t and we paid for that. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement; we’ve let ourselves down and we’ve let the club down today.”
Referee: John Meredith
Yellow Card: Boye (Loughborough)
Titans: Pen Try, Dunne (T), Dolly (3P, C)
Loughborough Students: Bitirim (3T), Christie (T), Reed (P, 3C)
Titans: 15 Callum Irvine, 14 Dan Leake, 13 Jamie Cooke, 12 Harry Dunne (Dever 62), 11 Connor Field, 10 Joe Barker, 9 Alex Dolly, 1 Dan Richardson (Williams 62), 2 Ali Thomson, 3 Rikki Stout (47), 4 Luis Ball, 5 Kieran Frost, 6 Tom Cotterill (Preston-Routledge 70), 7 Zak Poole, 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Capt.).
Replacements: 16 Jack Bergmanas, 17 Jessie Williams, 18 Will Dennis, 19 Dan Preston-Routledge, 20 Connor Dever.
Loughborough Students: 15 Tim Bitirim, 14 Will Attfield, 13 Alex Glashan (Capt.), 12 Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas, 11 Will Brown, 10 Charlie Reed, 9 Jack Moates (Watson 60), 1 Keston Lines (Christie 50), 2 Harry Newborn (Adams 50), 3 Andrew Boye (Lines 65), 4 Cameron Boon, 5 Sam Bailey, 6 Thibaud Flament, 7 Musa Yusuff, 8 Ogwenesuvwe Obano (Van Der Ploeg 34).
Replacements: 16 Oliver Adams, 17 Ben Christie, 18 Adrian Van Der Ploeg, 19 Callum Watson, 20 Matt Edwards.