Rotherham Titans returned to winning ways with a worthy 22-12 win over an impressive Esher outfit at Clifton Lane.
A disjointed first half performance from Rotherham, in difficult blustery conditions, was quickly forgotten as they put in a powerful second half shift, which saw replacement number 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor score a hat trick of tries.
The bonus-point victory was based on an impressive second half scrum effort from the South Yorkshire side, as the platform it set undoubtedly led them to a deserved victory.
Rotherham started the game in bright fashion and quickly took the lead on 6 minutes when tight head prop and skipper for the day, Rikki Stout, barged his way over from a catch and drive five metres from the line. Callum Irvine hit the post with his conversion attempt from out wide in difficult conditions.
Although Titans continued to have good territory and possession the visitors defended with good intensity and forced the home side into errors in handling.
Eventually Esher made their way into Titans territory and after a number of phases they worked the ball across field for outside centre Dan Rowland to dive over in the corner for an unconverted try. Rotherham would have been disappointed with their defensive efforts for the score.
Esher took confidence from their success and enjoyed the better of the latter stages of the half, although there would be no more points added as the teams went in at the break at 5-5.
The visitors would have come out for the second period full of confidence and with a strong wind now at their backs they would probably have been favourites to win the game.
However, at half time Rotherham made a number of changes to their pack which would eventually make the difference at the end.
Before that though it was Esher who took the lead 8 minutes into the second half when loose head prop Matt Lowes crashed over from the tail of a driving maul. Impressively from the touchline Owen Waters added the extras to extend his side’s advantage to 12-5.
Rotherham then showed good character to force their way back into the game and as their scrum started to demonstrate its dominance the confidence levels grew.
On 56 minutes replacement number 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor collected from the base of a scrum five metres out, before charging his way over for Titans second try. This time Callum Irvine impressed from the tee in the difficult conditions to level the scores.
From here on in the momentum of the game shifted and Titans always looked as though they would go on to grab the win. On 68 minutes Titans re-took the lead from a five metre line-out which saw Nagle-Taylor touch down from the tail.
Then three minutes from time the impressive Nagle-Taylor was on hand again. This time from a scrum close to the line Connor Dever popped an inside pass to the number 8 for his hat-trick and to secure the bonus point win.
Commenting post-match Joe Barker explained, “We did struggle in some areas in the first half, but what we did do in that period was tire them in the way we played and we did actually play some good rugby too. At times it maybe didn’t come off, but we knew we had it in us and we defended really well.
“In the second half we showed that when it does all click we can get over the line and we scored four tries to get the bonus point win.
“After the last couple of weeks and the disappointment of those results, to get a five point win at home is really pleasing. The lads have been putting it in hard in training and we’ve been very honest with ourselves within the group and everyone has taken ownership for their roles.
“Esher had a big pack, but we managed to move them around and that had an effect in the second half. The ball was in-play a lot today and that too had an effect.
“We had a positive influence from the bench and Seb made a huge impact when we brought him on in the second half. Obviously he’s very powerful off the back of the scrum and massive credit to the front five for setting the platform for Seb to do what he did.
“So we’re delighted to get the win, but we must now quickly switch our focus on to Plymouth. They are a much-improved side from when we played them earlier in the season; it will be a tough game of rugby, but one we are capable of winning if we get everything right.”
Referee: Harry Walbaum
Yellow Card: None
Titans: Nagle-Taylor (3T), Stout (T), Irvine (1C)
Esher: Rowland (T), Lowes (T), O Waters (1C)
Titans: 15 Sam Allan, 14 Dan Leake, 13 Harry Dunne (Dolly 69), 12 Joe Barker, 11 Jamie Cooke, 10 Callum Irvine, 9 Connor Dever, 1 Dan Richardson, 2 Ali Thomson (Bergmanas 40), 3 Rikki Stout (Capt.) (Dennis 56), 4 Dan Preston-Routledge (Ure 40), 5 Kieran Frost, 6 Luis Ball, 7 Tom Cotterill (Poole 58), 8 Zak Poole (Nagle-Taylor 40).
Replacements: 16 Jack Bergmanas, 17 Will Dennis, 18 Jamie Ure, 19 Seb Nagle-Taylor, 20 Alex Dolly.
Esher Rugby: 15 Callum Monks, 14 Joe Beckett, 13 Dan Rowland, 12 Tom Cheeseman (Fluker 38), 11 Tom James (Irving 29), 10 Owen Waters (Cheeseman 57), 9 Jack Walsh, 1 Matt Lowes (Mines 46) (Zeiss 69), 2 Rhodri Tanner (Hope 46) (Tanner 69), 3 Cameron Zeiss (Lowes 55), 4 Andy Hore, 5 Devin Montgomery, 6 Cameron Gentles, 7 Charlie Gossington (Capt.), 8 Robert Dudley-Jones (Moore-Aiono 54).
Replacements: 16 Devlin Hope, 17 Oliver Mines, 18 Izzy Moore-Aiono, 19 Kariym Irving, 20 Andrew Fluker.