Rotherham Titans put in a tremendous effort before eventually going down 24-17 to a determined Plymouth Albion side at Brickfields.
Titans collected a losing bonus point for their endeavours, but ultimately what cost them victory was their indifferent start to a game which saw them trail 14-0 inside the first 20 minutes.
Rotherham pretty much bossed the final 50 minutes of an enthralling contest, but the home side showed great determination in defence to hold out for a crucial win.
Titans overall strength was undoubtedly their scrum, which pretty much dismantled the opposition throughout the match. However, their line-out proved to be their Achilles heel as all too often at critical times in the game it let them down badly.
After tries from Albion backs Jon Dawe and Jack Arnott, both of which were converted by full back Matt Shepherd on 17 minutes, it was always going to be difficult for Rotherham to overcome their deficit. But try they did and they are to be commended for their determined approach and never-say-die attitude.
Titans Alex Dolly and Albion’s Shepherd traded penalties late in the half, before deep into injury time Titans number 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor rounded off a sweeping move to score near the posts. Dolly added the extras to send his side in at the break trailing 17-10.
Rotherham’s aim would have been to score first in the second period; however Albion doubled their advantage to 14 points on 54 minutes when a five metre catch and drive was finished off by ex-Titan hooker Davy McGregor, with Shepherd adding the extras.
Undeterred by the set-back Rotherham continued to power forward and enjoyed large spells of dominance, both in terms of territory and possession.
On 67 minutes Titans reduced their arrears to 7 points when Nagle-Taylor dotted down from the tail of a scrum for Dolly to convert the extras. There was some surprise that Albion didn’t receive a yellow card at this juncture as they conceded numerous penalties, as their set-piece crumbled and disintegrated under huge Titans pressure.
However, the score set up the game nicely for an excitingly tense finish; but as hard they tried Rotherham were just unable to convert their dominance into points. Ironically in the 87th minute Albion received a yellow card for their repeated transgressions, but all too late to make any real significance on the game.
Commenting post-match Titans Joe Barker explained, “Based on the full 80 minutes and if you look at the stats overall I think the better side lost today and as such we are very disappointed with the outcome. However, we weren’t the better team in the first 30 minutes, despite showing glimpse of what we are capable of we trailed 14-0 and ultimately that indifferent start cost us the game.
“You just can’t get into the opponents red zone as often as we did and lose the ball, whether that is at line-outs, at the breakdown or whatever. We dominated for long periods but our errors cost us the win.
“But to be fair to the boys they showed tremendous resilience and character to keep coming back, no matter what happened during the game; a lot of stuff didn’t go our way but the boys were outstanding in their efforts to keep on battling against all the obstacles in their way and I’m proud of them for that.”
Referee: Veryan Boscawen
Yellow Card: Swain (Albion)
Titans: Nagle-Taylor (2T), Dolly (P, 2C)
Plymouth Albion: Dawe (T), Arnott (T), McGregor (T), Shepherd (P, 3C)
Titans: 15 Alex Dolly, 14 Dan Leake, 13 Ellis Abrahams, 12 Joe Barker (Cooke 40), 11 Connor Field, 10 Callum Irvine, 9 Connor Dever, 1 Dan Richardson, 2 Jack Bergmanas (Thomson 50), 3 Will Dennis, 4 Jamie Ure (Preston-Routledge 50), 5 Kieran Frost, 6 Luis Ball (Cotterill 56), 7 Zak Poole, 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Capt.).
Replacements: 16 Ali Thomson, 17 Rikki Stout, 18 Dan Preston-Routledge, 19 Tom Cotterill, 20 Jamie Cooke.
Plymouth Albion: 15 Matt Shepherd, 14 Josh Skelcey, 13 Jon Dawe (Powell 74), 12 Dean Squire, 11 Jack Arnott, 10 Connor Eastgate, 9 Cameron Setter (Snow 64), 1 James Kenny (Pullinger 67), 2 Ashlee Crouch (McGregor 46), 3 Dan Pullinger (Norton 56), 4 Lewis Pearson, 5 Dan Swain, 6 George Mills, 7 Flynn Elworthy (Tuima 64), 8 Herbie Stupple (Capt.).
Replacements: 16 Davy McGregor, 17 Rusi Tuima, 18 Will Norton, 19 Joe Snow, 20 Dan Powell.