League Table

P W D L Pts
8 Nottingham 0 0 0 0 0
9 Plymouth Albion 0 0 0 0 0
10 Rotherham Titans 0 0 0 0 0
11 Worcester Warriors 0 0 0 0 0
12 Yorkshire Carnegie 0 0 0 0 0

Fixtures

Rotherham Titans (35) vs Cornish Pirates (30) - Championship

Saturday January 4th - KO 2:00pm - View Photos

Pre-Match Report

Both sides come into the clash in fine fettle with Rotherham having won their previous five games and Cornish Pirates unbeaten in their last five outings. Indeed, Pirates have only lost two games in all competitions in their last thirteen fixtures.

The overall head to head between the sides have all come at this level and of the 22 previous encounters Rotherham have won just 6, with one game drawn. Therefore the Titans will be under no illusions as to the difficulty of their task ahead.

Going into the game the South Yorkshire outfit has made five changes, with two of those being enforced. Scrum half Charlie Mulchrone has failed to recover from a shoulder injury suffered in the Boxing Day win over Bedford Blues and Dan White comes in for him. Joel Hodgson is not available, so Dallan Murphy, who has also just returned from injury get the chance to shine in the number 10 jersey.

In the pack Ben Sowrey’s recent impressive performances from the bench has earned him at start at hooker. Likewise, Ben Thomas has earned the right to continue his recent fine form with a start in the boiler house. There’s also a welcome return after injury for the Titans Forward Coach Ed Williamson; Ed hasn’t played since the away defeat to Bristol back in the middle of November and his presence at number 8 will be seen as a welcome return.

Titans Lee Blackett commenting ahead of the game explained, “Losing a quality player like Charlie is always going to be a bit of a loss, but having said that Dan White did enough last week to give himself a good chance of starting this week anyway. When Dan came on last week he made a massive difference and he was one of the main reasons why we did so well in the second half and he deserves his chance.

“It’s also great to see Dallan back; we’ve given him another week since his injury and he’ll be coming back fresh and raring to go. Dallan’s got a great attitude and we can’t wait to see him back in a Titans jersey because before his injury he was one of the form 10’s in the league.

“In the pack Ben Thomas came on last week and made a great impact and he’s another one who deserves his start; as is Ben Sowrey at hooker who has impressed every time he’s pulled on the shirt. We’ll still be looking for that big impact from the guys coming off the bench, but the game is no longer about just 15 players; it really is a 22 man game and you also have to keep thing fresh as we know what a long season the Championship is.

“Our fans were awesome on Boxing Day against Bedford and they really helped us to get the bonus point late on; I hope they once again turn out in their numbers and make the same noise levels as we attempt to get the win we need over the Pirates.”

Titans: 15 Sean Scanlon, 14 Michael Keating, 13 Jack Roberts, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Curtis Wilson, 10 Dallan Murphy, 9 Dan White, 1 Robin Hislop, 2 Ben Sowrey, 3 Colin Quigley, 4 Barney Maddison (Capt.), 5 Ben Thomas, 6 Alex Rieder, 7 Jack Preece, 8 Ed Williamson.

Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Toby Williams, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Dan Sanderson, 20 Laurence Pearce, 21 Joel Gill, 22 Jamie Broadley.

Match Report

In a match that the Rotherham fans will remember for a long time, both sides should be given credit for putting on an outstanding and exciting contest; in which both teams tried to play rugby throughout.

Despite a bright opening period from the home side they quickly found themselves in all sorts of trouble as the Pirates took advantage of some loose play from the hosts. An interception try by Pirates full back Craig Holland was quickly followed by tries from centre Tom Riley and livewire scrum half Tom Kessell, which the Titans will be disappointed with when they check out the review on Monday with coach Lee Blackett. That added to an early Holland penalty, matched on 11 minutes by Juan Pablo Socino and Rotherham trailed 24-3 approaching the half hour mark.

But this Titans side has bags of spirit and character and were not about to roll over without a fight. On 31 minutes Rotherham set up a catch & drive move from a line out deep in the Pirates twenty two. From there the Titans pack rumbled forward and it was first half replacement Laurence Pearce who made an immediate impact as he bulldozed over to give Rotherham a lifeline. Socino nailed the conversion and suddenly the mood inside Clifton Lane began to lift.

Five minutes later and the comeback was really on! Following a wonderful piece of rugby involving Laurence Pearce, Juan Pablo Socino and Sean Scanlon, the ball arrived with Jack Roberts. The Welsh pocket-rocket showed tremendous pace and vision to arch his run through and around Pirates cover defence to score a thrilling try near the corner. Socino just missed the difficult conversion from the touchline to leave Titans trailing 15-24 at the break.

The momentum shift that had moved in the home side’s direction towards the end of the first half was quickly enhanced at the beginning of the second period. Just 3 minutes in and following a terrific breakthrough from Michael Keating, in which he took play up close the Pirates line, the ball was quickly recycled for hooker Ben Sowrey to collect and crash over for a well deserved try. Socino’s successful conversion reduced the Titans arrears to 22-24 and it would have taken a brave man to bet against the home side now.

On 50 minutes Rotherham took the lead for the first time in the match when confusion momentarily appeared inside the Pirates half following Jack Preece having the ball stripped out of his grasp. First to react was Alex Rieder; he collected the loose ball and made good ground before finding Irish winger Keating who nipped in nicely to score his side’s fourth try of the match. Socino tagged on the extras to remarkably send Rotherham 29-24 ahead.

Approaching the hour mark Craig Holland nibbled back into Rotherham’s lead as he knocked over a penalty from around 35 metres on the angle. Two Socino penalties inside the final ten minutes extended the hosts lead to 35-27 and it appeared as though the Pirates would make the long journey home without any reward for their efforts. However, Holland ensured they would take the losing bonus point as he nailed a penalty in the 79th minutes and no one inside Clifton Lane would deny them that for their part in this thrilling Championship contest.

Afterward Titans head coach Lee Blackett reflected, “We were bitterly disappointed with the first 25 minutes of the game, but I was really proud of the boys in how they kept their belief. We know we are a team that can score points and despite conceding those three tries, defensively we have been very good recently. So even at that stage I knew we had the capabilities within us to get back into it. Those two tries we scored before half time were massive and at that stage I felt the momentum had shifted towards us.

“We didn’t have to say too much at the break; discipline was the key message and a couple of things in attack. But I felt we were on a roll going into the second half and the boys carried that on and I thought we deserved the five points.

“We were happy with Ben Sowrey’s contribution; he’s been playing really well recently when he’s come off the bench and he deserved his opportunity. Then in the second half we knew we had to get Tom Cruse on; he’s a big player for us, he’s got a great attitude and he offers us a lot around the field. And the best compliment I could pay Ben was we had to play Tom Cruse in the back row.

“For me also I think for the second week in a row the guys that have come off the bench have made a massive difference and although we used the bench a bit earlier that usual, I thought all the boys did very well.”

Attendance: 1735
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Yellow Card: None
Titans: Pearce (T), Roberts (T), Sowrey (T), Keating (T), Socino (3P, 3C).
Pirates: Holland (T, 3P, 3C), Riley (T), Kessell (T).

Titans: 15 Sean Scanlon, 14 Michael Keating, 13 Jack Roberts (Gill 70), 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Curtis Wilson (Broadley 43), 10 Dallan Murphy, 9 Dan White, 1 Robin Hislop (Williams 58), 2 Ben Sowrey, 3 Colin Quigley (Tampin 58), 4 Barney Maddison (Capt.), 5 Ben Thomas (Sanderson h/t), 6 Alex Rieder (Cruse 50), 7 Jack Preece, 8 Ed Williamson (Pearce 25).

Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Toby Williams, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Dan Sanderson, 20 Laurence Pearce, 21 Joel Gill, 22 Jamie Broadley.

Cornish Pirates: 15 Craig Holland, 14 Mike Pope, 13 Tom Riley, 12 Alex Dancer (James 65), 11 Kieran Goss (Moyle 76), 10 Matt Evans (Sinclair 51), 9 Tom Kessell; 1 Kieran Davies (Andrew 51), 2 Rob Elloway, 3 Ben Prescott, 4 Neale Patrick (Atkinson 65), 5 Darren Barry, 6 Chris Morgan (Capt.), 7 Joel Conlon (Parker 76), 8 James Phillips (Carpenter 68).

Replacements: 16 Aaron Carpenter, 17 Paul Andrew, 18 Jake Parker, 19 Joe Atkinson, 20 Rheon James, 21 Angus Sinclair, 22 Kyle Moyle.