League Table

P W D L Pts
1 Bristol 21 17 0 4 86
2 London Welsh 21 18 0 3 82
3 Leeds 21 16 0 5 75
4 Rotherham Titans 21 16 0 5 75
5 London Scottish 21 13 0 8 61

Fixtures

Bristol (30) vs Rotherham Titans (20) - Championship

Sunday February 17th - KO 3.00pm

Pre-Match Report

Of the five changes that Codling has made for Bristol, the only one across the backline sees player coach Lee Blackett come in at inside centre for Pale Nonu.

Up front Harry Hannan makes his first start for the club at hooker following his arrival from Leeds Carnegie in late November, whilst on his shoulder Ross Davies returns to the side at tight head prop. In the back row Toby Freeman starts at blind side and Carl Kirwan gets the nod at open side as he makes his first start for 6 weeks following a back injury.

Titans’ recent record against Bristol is good, having beaten them four times in the last five meetings. The fixture earlier in the season at Clifton Lane saw the host’s run out 23-16 victors, with a penalty try and one from Alex Rieder sealing the points for the Titans back in October. However, the overall head to head in all competitions sees both sides with seven wins each.

Looking ahead to the contest Alex Codling explained, “Bristol are an outstanding side, they have a lot of experience and a lot of leaders within their squad and they are very focused on getting back into the Premiership. But we are in good shape after last weekend, we know we played well in parts, but we also know there are areas where we can improve too.

“We know how tough it will be down there and we know we’ll have to battle for everything we get. You know when you play sides like Bristol and Newcastle you have to be at your very best if you are going to win, but it also focuses the mind on the task in hand. The boys have trained well this week and we are going to go down there and give it absolutely everything.

“Bristol have a very strong set piece and the driving maul is a key aspect for them. They have a powerful back row and in Adrian Jarvis at fly half, they have a guy there who gives them some real control with ball in hand and with his kicking abilities. Add to that the pace that they have out wide and we quickly realise they will pose us some real danger. But we are ready for the challenge and it’s a challenge we are looking forward to.”

Titans: 15 Garry Law (Capt.), 14 Mike Doneghan, 13 Eamonn Sheridan, 12 Lee Blackett, 11 Pete Homan, 10 James McKinney, 9 Charlie Mulchrone, 1 Marshall Gadd, 2 Harry Hannan, 3 Ross Davies, 4 Ben Thomas, 5 Dan Sanderson, 6 Toby Freeman, 7 Carl Kirwan, 8 Alex Rieder.

Replacements: 16 Ted Stagg, 17 Jamie Kilbane, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Joe Ellyatt, 20 Latu Makaafi, 21 Pale Nonu, 22 Jimmy Williams.

Match Report

A spirited second half performance took Rotherham to the brink of a surprise victory in the South West. The South Yorkshire side won the second half battle, but they just couldn’t find enough to overturn an 11-0 first half deficit. Bristol deserved their half time lead following a George Watkins try and two penalties from ex Harlequins fly half Adrian Jarvis.

Garry Law got the visitors on the scoreboard early in the second period from a penalty, after sustained Titans pressure on the Bristol 22 forced the host’s to infringe at the breakdown.

Ten minutes in and Titans suffered a set back when lock forward Dan Sanderson was sent to the bin for foul play. Bristol quickly capitalised with the man advantage when four minutes later winger Ryan Edwards finished off a fine backs move for the host’s. Jarvis converted to extend Bristol’s lead to 18-3.

Rotherham responded with another Law penalty after Bristol were penalised again for repeated infringements at a ruck. Sanderson returned to the fray as the Titans were defending a scrum, five metres from their own line. However, after conceding a penalty at the set piece, referee Matthew Carley ran under the sticks and awarded Bristol a penalty try. Jarvis converted to stretch the host’s lead to 25-6 after 63 minutes.

At this stage a lesser side could have rolled over and conceded a cricket score. However, the Titans showed a huge amount of character and resolve. In the space of three minutes they scored two converted tries from Joe Ellyatt and James McKinney.

Ellyatt’s effort was a fine team try that was started initially by Toby Freeman; he made a neat break and took play inside the Bristol half before finding Mike Doneghan cutting in off the wing. Doneghan progressed the move into the Bristol 22 before off-loading to Ellyatt who charged in to score under the posts.

McKinney’s score saw Eamonn Sheridan and Mike Doneghan combine nicely to set McKinney free into space. McKinney showed great pace to run in from 40 metres to score near the corner. Law’s conversion made it a 5 point game with ten minutes left in the match.

Bristol became nervous and started to make a number of handling errors; the home crowd sensed this and the atmosphere also became edgy. However, with three minutes remaining Rotherham lost the ball around halfway and Bristol hacked on, taking play close to the Titans line. Bristol recycled quickly and fed the ball out wide for Luke Eves to score near the corner to seal the match for the host’s.

Post match a disappointed Alex Codling commented, “I can’t fault the effort the boys put in today and with three minutes to go we were right in there with a chance of victory. Bristol are a good side and they will finish in the top four for sure, but we pushed them all the way and if one or two certain things had been better, we’d have come away with a great win.”

Attendance: 4,504
Referee: Matthew Carley
Yellow Card: Sanderson
Titans: Ellyatt (T), McKinney (T), Law (2P, 2C).
Bristol: Watkins (T), Edwards (T), Eves (T), Penalty Try, Jarvis (2P, 2C).

Titans: 15 Garry Law (Capt.), 14 Mike Doneghan, 13 Eamonn Sheridan, 12 Lee Blackett (Pale Nonu 64), 11 Pete Homan, 10 James McKinney, 9 Charlie Mulchrone (Jimmy Williams 67), 1 Marshall Gadd (Jamie Kilbane 40), 2 Harry Hannan (Ted Stagg 40), 3 Ross Davies (Gareth Denman 40), 4 Ben Thomas, 5 Dan Sanderson, 6 Toby Freeman, 7 Carl Kirwan (Latu Makaafi 56), 8 Alex Rieder (Joe Ellyatt 64).

Replacements: 16 Ted Stagg, 17 Jamie Kilbane, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Joe Ellyatt, 20 Latu Makaafi, 21 Pale Nonu, 22 Jimmy Williams.

Bristol: 15 Jack Tovey; 14 George Watkins, 13 Fautua Otto (Tristan Roberts 70), 12 Luke Eves, 11 Ryan Edwards; 10 Adrian Jarvis, 9 James Grindal (Capt.) (Ruki Tipuna 48); 1 Kyle Traynor (Bruce Douglas 60), 2 Ross Johnston (Rhys Lawrence 76), 3 Gaston Cortes (Wayne Thompson 48), 4 Mariano Sambucetti (Ben Glynn 48), 5 Glen Townson, 6 Alafoti Faosiliva (Marco Mama 60), 7 Redford Pennycook, 8 Mitch Eadie.

Replacements: 16 Rhys Lawrence, 17 Bruce Douglas, 18 Wayne Thompson, 19 Ben Glynn, 20 Marco Mama, 21 Ruki Tipuna, 22 Tristan Roberts.