Rotherham Titans put in a sterling effort before eventually going down 48-35 to a lively Chinnor side on a surprisingly warm and sunny February afternoon at Kingsey Road.
The hosts outscored the Titans by six tries to four, meaning the South Yorkshire side collected a try-scoring bonus point, leaving them fifth in the table, one place ahead of Chinnor.
The contest, in which Rotherham trailed for much of the match, was still a live affair until the 77th minute. Trailing by just 6 points Titans went in search of a thrilling victory. Unfortunately for them, as they attacked from deep they threw an interception for winger Craig Holland to run in for his hat trick and to seal an entertaining victory for his side.
Indeed it was Holland who opened this high-scoring affair as early as the fourth minute of the match, after Rotherham had kicked away possession and paid the ultimate price.
Two penalties from Alex Dolly and one from Chinnor’s Jonathan Hopkin followed as Titans trailed 10-6 after just 13 minutes.
One of the major positives for the Titans was their work at the scrum and again it proved to be a good source for scoring points. On 22 minutes following good pressure at the set piece, referee Matt Carley was left with no alternative but to award Rotherham a penalty try.
Two minutes later and a rampant Rotherham crossed the whitewash again. This time following a number of phases the ball was spread wide by Joe Barker to Henry Roberts on the left wing; Roberts showed good pace to race in for a fine try. Dolly narrowly missed the conversion from touch to leave Titans 18-10 to the good.
However, a lapse in concentration from Rotherham allowed the hosts to bounce back quickly; full back Kieran Goss and replacement prop Pat Schickerling both crossed in the space of 5 minutes to give the Thame based side a 24-18 lead.
Alex Dolly did narrow the gap to 3 points with a well taken penalty on 34 minutes, but before half time Holland raced in again for Chinnor for his second dot down to send Titans in at the break extremely disappointed to be trailing 31-21.
That disappointment was exacerbated for Rotherham on 48 minutes when second rower Tom Jubb barged his way over for Chinnor’s fifth try.
At this point the Rotherham faithful must have feared a rout; however, the South Yorkshire side showed tremendous character to mount a stern fight back.
On 62 minutes another massive series of scrums saw Titans earn a second penalty try and then following a 3 pointer from Chinnor’s Hopkin, Rotherham hooker Ali Thomson showed good footwork to dance his way through to touch down under the posts. Dolly’s conversion left Titans trailing by just 6 points with 3 minutes plus injury time remaining.
Titans now had a real buzz and energy about their work and they knew a converted try would give them a one point victory. However, in their eagerness to snatch the win they unfortunately threw an interception for Chinnor to seal the match.
Commenting post-game Joe Barker explained, “Chinnor scored some good individual tries which put them away from us at different points in the game, but when we had the ball I think we scored some great team tries and at times we put in some of the best attacking rugby we’ve done all season. There were periods when we tried to force things, but in terms of effort and the type of rugby we displayed I have to be proud of the lads.
“There was some good stuff from us in the first half but more so in the second forty; we’re not going to be scoring individual tries from the full length of the pitch like they did, but as a team we created some great opportunities because the boys grafted so hard.
“It’s tough for any team to come here, but we came here with 10 injuries and people playing out of position and for the lads to put in a shift like that and to put in some of the best attacking rugby that we’ve put together all season was great to see.
“We’ve now just got to build on this as a squad; individually we’ve got to be better in defence, especially in these dry weather conditions. However, I think as a whole, the squad put in the best attacking rugby that Rotherham has seen in a while and that was good to see.”
Referee: Matthew Carley
Yellow Card: Gilding (Chinnor)
Titans: Penalty Try (2T), Roberts (T), Thomson (T), Dolly (3P, C)
Chinnor: Holland (3T), Goss (T), Schickerling (T), Jubb (T), Hopkin (2P, 6C)
Titans: 15 Alex Dolly, 14 Dan Leake (Allott 36), 13 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Capt.), 12 Harry Dunne, 11 Henry Roberts, 10 Joe Barker, 9 Connor Dever, 1 Dan Richardson, 2 Jack Bergmanas (Thomson 54), 3 Will Dennis, 4 Jamie Ure, 5 Kieran Frost (Preston-Routledge 61), 6 Luis Ball (Frost 65), 7 Tom Cotterill, 8 Zak Poole.
Replacements: 16 Ali Thomson, 17 Antony Dickinson, 18 Dan Preston-Routledge, 19 Christian Head, 20 Tom Allott.
Chinnor: 15 Kieran Goss (Betts 70) (Goss 80), 14 Craig Holland, 13 Reon Joseph, 12 Greg King, 11 Josh Hodson (Barnes 32), 10 Jonathan Hopkin, 9 Ed Hoadley (Goodfellow 65), 1 Ben Betts (Southworth 54), 2 Max Norey (George 65), 3 Jack Gilding (Schickerling 22) (Gilding 54), 4 Ben Thomas, 5 Tom Jubb, 6 Ben Manning, 7 George Oliver (Capt.), 8 William Ryan.
Replacements: 16 Pat Schickerling, 17 Danny Southworth, 18 Dan George, 19 Grieg Goodfellow, 20 Dan Barnes.