Rotherham Titans may have been beaten on the final day of the season 31-12 by second placed side Old Elthamians, but they can hold their heads high after a sterling effort against a very good side.
Titans defeat at College Meadow combined with Plymouth Albion’s victory at Chinnor sees the South Yorkshire side finish sixth in the division and having started the campaign with just 2 players from last term, the achievement can be considered a creditable one.
The final game itself won’t go down as a classic and the difficult windy conditions didn’t help either team. Indeed, the half time score which saw the home side go in with a 5-0 lead, after prop Kieron Scutt barged over, was probably a fair reflection of the excitement levels produced.
The second half was a more entertaining encounter which saw the home side extend their advantage on 47 minutes when winger Dom Lespierre darted over for an unconverted try.
Titans however rallied and narrowed the deficit to 3 points before the hour mark when fly half Callum Irvine danced his way over to dot down under the posts. Alex Dolly’s conversion made it 10-7 and game on.
Following their success Rotherham went on to enjoy a good period of territory and possession, but to be fair to Elthamians they resolutely kept out the visitors with some tenacious defending.
The game was eventually sewed up for the home side when inside the final 12 minutes they ran in 3 unanswered tries through scrum half Ollie Claxton, full back Ben Howard and a second for winger Dom Lespierre; all of which were expertly converted by Tom White.
Rotherham did have the final say of the afternoon when skipper Seb Nagle-Taylor scored a try in the corner with 2 minutes remaining to end his exceptional season on a personal high.
Commenting post-match Titans Joe Barker revealed, “Old Elthamians is a tough place to come at the best of times, but with all the injuries we’ve got at the moment and with no fit second rows at the club, it just makes a tough place like this even more difficult.
“We had a tight head prop in the second row and a hooker in the back row and we didn’t have another fit player at the club outside our match day 20.
“So with all that in mind I have to give credit to the lads for the huge effort they put in today. Their mental attitude was spot on and overall I thought they did very well in the circumstances.
“A lot of things could have gone our way in the game and on another day they may have and potentially we could have been looking at a different result. But I am proud of every one of the lads and I think they’ve done the club proud.
“As a group of men I don’t think they’ll go through again what they’ve been through this year and I’ve thanked them for what they’ve done for Rotherham Rugby Club.
“There’s been a few clubs over the years that have been relegated into this division and not been seen again, but these lads have definitely kept Rotherham on the rugby map and that’s a big achievement.
“I’d also like to express our thanks and appreciation to our supporters who have all year been outstanding. They are very welcoming to our opposition at Clifton Lane and I’m sure every club has enjoyed our supporters at their ground; the atmosphere they create is tremendous and I’m sure bar takings receive a huge boost when they visit.”
Referee: Veryan Boscawen
Yellow Card: None
Titans: Irvine (T), Nagle-Taylor (T), Dolly (1C)
Old Elthamians: Lespierre (2T), Scutt (T), Claxton (T), Howard (T), White (3C)
Titans: 15 Sam Allan, 14 Dan Leake (Roberts 61), 13 Jamie Cooke, 12 Harry Dunne (Abrahams 40), 11 Connor Field, 10 Callum Irvine, 9 Alex Dolly (Dever 65), 1 Dan Richardson, 2 Jack Bergmanas, 3 Rikki Stout (Dennis 40), 4 Antony Dickinson, 5 Luis Ball, 6 Ali Thomson, 7 Zak Poole, 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor (Capt.).
Replacements: 16 Will Dennis, 17 Ellis Abrahams, 18 Connor Dever, 19 Henry Roberts, 20 Joe Barker.
Old Elthamians: 15 Ben Howard, 14 Dom Lespierre, 13 James Golledge, 12 Kieran Moffat, 11 Charlie Dockery (Hotston 63), 10 Tom White, 9 Ollie Claxton (Neden 71), 1 Alex Rogers, 2 Nathan Morris (Rudland-Thomas 53), 3 Kieron Scutt (Brown 51), 4 Fred Hosking, 5 Charlie Self, 6 Harry Ledger (Messum 49), 7 Hamish Barton (Capt.), 8 Ben King.
Replacements: 16 Lewis Brown, 17 Jay Rudland-Thomas, 18 George Messum, 19 Ally Neden, 20 Bryan Hotston.