Moseley (16) vs Rotherham Titans (20) - Championship
The only change across the Titans back line sees Pale Nonu return at inside centre. In the pack, Ross Davies comes back in at tight head prop, whilst there is a welcome return for Latu Makaafi and Rory pitman from long term injuries.
Makaafi returns to the side at blind side flanker, following a 10 week lay-off after sustaining a painful triple fracture of his collarbone during Titans match against Jersey in September. Rory Pitman starts at number 8 following his 6 weeks absence through fracturing his eye socket in the B&I Cup victory over Plymouth Albion.
There’s a bench spot for new-boy Harry Hannan, who joined the Titans from Leeds Carnegie this week. Hannan is 21 years-old, plays hooker and is a real prospect with much expected from the Yorkshire man.
The Moseley match sees Titans new Head Coach Alex Codling take charge for the first time and looking ahead to tomorrow’s game he said, “Moseley is always a difficult place to go and I’ve got a lot of time for the coaches down there and what they are trying to achieve. We will have to be super-disciplined and look to put things right which were a problem against Leeds last week.
“We were disappointed that we didn’t control the ball better in the second half and there were errors made which we have looked at this week in training.”
Titans: 15 Fergus Mulchrone, 14 Peter Homan, 13 Garry Law (Capt.), 12 Pale Nonu, 11 Eamonn Sheridan, 10 James McKinney, 9 Charlie Mulchrone, 1 Marshall Gadd, 2 Ted Stagg, 3 Ross Davies, 4 Toby Freeman, 5 Dan Sanderson, 6 Latu Makaafi, 7 Carl Kirwan, 8 Rory Pitman.
Replacements: 16 Harry Hannan, 17 Gareth Denman, 18 Jamie Kilbane, 19 Nile Dacres, 20 Alex Rieder, 21 Joel Gill, 22 Ed Styles.
Playing up the famous Moseley slope in the first half, Rotherham Titans made a bright start and took the lead on 5 minutes when Garry Law knocked over a penalty, following a high tackle on Latu Makaafi. Oli Thomas missed an opportunity to level matters 5 minutes later when his penalty effort dropped just short of the sticks. However, Thomas redeemed himself midway through the half, knocking over his effort from the edge of the Titans 22.
There wasn’t much to choose between the sides at this stage, but an excellent break by Eamonn Sheridan gave a glimpse of the ex Leinster players huge potential.
Just before the half hour mark a quick tap penalty from Charlie Mulchrone inside his own 22 caught the home side napping. The quick thinking scrum half found James McKinney who quickly shipped the ball on to Peter Homan on the left wing. Homan pinned his ears back and outstripped the home defence to touch down near the corner following his 75 metre gallop. Law missed the conversion from near the touch line.
As half time approached indiscipline at the breakdown from the Titans allowed Oli Thomas to knock over a couple of penalties and send the host’s in at the break with a slender 9-8 advantage.
Probably disappointed with themselves at the interval, Titans made a thunderous start to the second period and regained the lead inside a minute. Latu Makaafi, who was most effective on his return to the side following a 10 weeks injury lay-off, broke magnificently down the right making 30 metres downfield. As the contact approached he found Garry Law who kept the break moving, before finding a neat inside pass to Fergus Mulchrone who joined the line intelligently to touch down. With no kicking tee available, Law missed the conversion.
Rotherham were now on top and looked threatening; their scrum was dominating and their line out, both attacking and defensively was outstanding. From a line out steal on 50 minutes, Dan Sanderson charged 30 metres down field before finding the excellent Carl Kirwan in support. Unfortunately for the visitors the move broke down.
However, four minutes later quick ball among the Titans backs involving Joel Gill and Fergus Mulchrone allowed Peter Homan to run in for his second try of the afternoon. Law converted to ease Titans into a 20-9 lead.
On the hour mark a fracas involving a number of players from both sides, resulted in Latu Makaafi and Neil Mason receiving a yellow card from referee Steve Lee. The game restarted with a Moseley line out just 5 metres from the Titans line. Once again the visitors stole the ball from the set piece and cleared the danger.
Twelve minutes from time Rotherham threatened the home line again in search of the try bonus point. Unfortunately for them, they were penalised and the opportunity passed. Seven minutes from the end Titans prop Gareth Denman received a yellow card and Moseley scented an opportunity.
Two minutes later from a 5 metre line out, Moseley collected and drove through the visitors with Dan Herriott dibbing down for Thomas to convert and in doing so reduced the host’s arrears to 16-20. Suddenly, with 5 minutes plus injury time remaining and with Titans a man short, the unlikely scenario of a Moseley victory looked possible.
Moseley applied a huge amount of pressure on the Titans deep inside their 22 late on. However, time and time again the men from Clifton Lane stubbornly refused to let the Birmingham side breach their line as they deservedly held on for the away victory.
Titans Head Coach Alex Codling looking slightly relieved post match commented, “I thought there were lots of positives to take out of the match, some of our handling and ambition in the first half was outstanding and we scored three great tries. In the second half we had some pressure on their line and had we scored there, then the whole dynamics of the game would have changed.
“Our discipline killed us today however and that is something that we really need to work on. When you give silly penalties away and pick up yellow cards, it gives the opposition a huge amount of momentum and a shot in the arm and that’s what happened with Moseley at the end. I have to give Moseley a huge amount of credit, they hung in there and they pushed us right to the end and they gave us a few nervous moments at the death, but I’m absolutely delighted with the win.
“My aim is to develop this great bunch of player’s week on week and if we do that, as a team we will get better and the results will come. I want the boys to be comfortable with the ball and to show some ambition and I thought we saw signs of that today.
“I thought our line out both offensively and defensively was particularly good and that allowed us to keep the pressure on Moseley, particularly in the first half. I was disappointed with a couple of penalties we conceded near the end of the first half which allowed them to go in at half time just ahead and we do need to look at our discipline, but overall I am thrilled with the result.”
Referee: Steve Lee
Yellow Card: Mason (60), Makaafi (60), Denman (73).
Titans: Homan (2T), F. Mulchrone (T), Law (1P, 1C).
Moseley: Herriott (T), Thomas (3P, 1C).
Titans: 15 Fergus Mulchrone, 14 Peter Homan, 13 Garry Law (Capt.), 12 Pale Nonu (Joel Gill 50), 11 Eamonn Sheridan, 10 James McKinney, 9 Charlie Mulchrone, 1 Marshall Gadd (Jamie Kilbane 68), 2 Ted Stagg, 3 Ross Davies (Gareth Denman 60), 4 Toby Freeman, 5 Dan Sanderson, 6 Latu Makaafi (Alex Rieder 70), 7 Carl Kirwan, 8 Rory Pitman.
Replacements: 16 Harry Hannan, 17 Jamie Kilbane, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Nile Dacres, 20 Alex Rieder, 21 Joel Gill, 22 Ed Styles.
Moseley: 15 Anthony Carter, 14 Simon Hunt, 13 Greg King (Bradley Hunt 45), 12 Charlie Hayter (Bradley Davies 50), 11 Oliver Thomas, 10 Glynn Hughes, 9 Sam Brown, 1 Ethan Waller (Stefan Thorp 70), 2 Adam Caves, 3 Dan Herriott, 4 Addison Lockley (Sam Wilkes 61), 5 Tom Hicks (Nigel Burrows 54), 6 Neil Mason, 7 Ben Pons, 8 Ben Pienaar (Buster Lawrence 50).
Replacements: 16 Sam Wilkes, 17 Stefan Thorp, 18 Chaz Meddick, 19 Nigel Burrows, 20 Buster Lawrence, 21 Bradley Hunt, 22 Bradley Davies.