League Table

P W D L Pts
1 Bristol 8 8 0 0 37
2 Worcester Warriors 8 7 0 1 35
3 London Scottish 8 6 0 2 30
4 Rotherham Titans 8 5 0 3 22
5 Nottingham 8 5 0 3 22

Fixtures

Rotherham Titans (26) vs Bristol (34) - Championship

Saturday March 1st - KO 4:45pm - View Photos

Pre-Match Report

Going into the top-of-the-table clash Rotherham have made just one change to the starting 15 that beat London Scottish last time out, with Michael Keating coming onto the wing for Curtis Wilson.

On the bench there are three new faces that have recently joined the club; they are back rower Ben Morris, centre Jordan Davies and lock forward Tom Holmes. Ben Morris, as recently announced is on duel registered terms from Newcastle Falcons, Jordan Davies joined the Titans from Rugby League outfit Salford Reds and Tom Holmes linked-up this week on loan from Sale Sharks.

Titans Head Coach Lee Blackett, commenting on the arrival of Tom Holmes explained, “Unfortunately in that last couple of weeks we have lost Ben Thomas and Barney Maddison to injury and neither will play again this season. That has left us with just two options in the second row and as a result we have brought in Tom on loan from Sale Sharks. Tom will be a great addition to the squad, he’s had plenty of game time at Sale, he comes with a good pedigree and we’re delighted to have him here.”

Casting an eye on the visit of Bristol, Blackett added, “It’s going to be a great occasion for the club with the game being the first-ever live game at Clifton Lane and it’s under the floodlights as well which will add to the atmosphere around the ground. All the boys are really looking forward to being involved at the weekend.

“We know it’s going to be a massive test for us because we know how good a side Bristol are; they’re not at the top of the league for nothing. We’ve had first hand experience of playing them this season and we have no doubts as to how god they are. We were miles away from our best when we played them and we’re going to have to much better on Saturday if we are going to compete with them.”

Titans: 15 Sean Scanlon, 14 Jamie Broadley, 13 Jack Roberts, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Michael Keating, 10 Dallan Murphy, 9 Charlie Mulchrone (Capt.), 1 Robin Hislop, 2 Ben Sowrey, 3 Colin Quigley, 4 Josh Thomas-Brown, 5 Dan Sanderson, 6 Alex Rieder, 7 Jack Preece, 8 Alfie To’oala.

Replacements: 16 Ali Birch, 17 Marshall Gadd, 18 Rikki Stout, 19 Tom Holmes, 20 Ben Morris, 21 Dan White, 22 Jordan Davies.

Match Report

Rotherham endured a nightmare start and found themselves 21-0 down inside the first quarter of the game, following tries from Rennie, Koster and Mosses, all of which were nicely converted by fly half Nicky Robinson.

Eventually however, the Titans forced their way back into the contest and began to enjoy a period of possession. Two penalties were earned during that spell and Juan Pablo Socino demonstrated his kicking abilities and he knocked over both.

Just before the break a mix up in the Bristol midfield allowed Titans Skipper Charlie Mulchrone to pounce. The livewire scrum half collected the loose ball and raced in to score from in excess of 40 metres. Socino’s successful conversion was the last kick of an entertaining first half and the Titans trailed by 21-13 at the interval.

Incredibly within five minutes of the restart the hosts trailed by just two points, following another successful brace of penalties by Socino.

The game was delicately balanced now and the next score was always likely to prove crucial. Unfortunately for the Titans it was Bristol that scored it. Following a knock on by the Titans deep inside their 22, Bristol worked a training ground move off the base and switched play back inside. Impressive centre Ben Mosses collected and galloped through to score near the sticks. Robinson’s conversion stretched the visitor’s advantage to 28-19.

In a game screened live by Sky Sports, the contest was proving to be a fantastic advert for the Greene King IPA Championship and Rotherham weren’t finished yet!

Winger Michael Keating fielded a clearance kick from Bristol around half way and close to the left touchline. With little appearing to be ‘on’ he cut infield and made 30 metres as he scythed through the oppositions defence, before finding a lovely long pass out to Socino in support. The diminutive Argentinean showed tremendous pace to touch down in the far right corner under severe pressure from Bristol replacement Jack Tovey. Socino dusted himself down and brilliantly converted from out wide to once again put the Titans within a score.

However, the league leaders struck a penalty inside the last 10 minutes through Robinson and the South West side managed to keep Rotherham out as they held on for the victory and deny the hosts a losing bonus point, which many within the ground felt the Titans had deserved for their efforts.

Post game a frustrated Lee Blackett explained, “The disappointing thing for me was that we spoke all week about how strong Bristol were in the fist 20 minutes of a game. The stats show that they are the best side in the division in those first 20 minutes and we fell short in that period. Our main problem at the start was we just didn’t have any ball, they retained possession very well and we were starved of the ball and if you don’t have the ball there’s very little that you can do. We did some good things defensively but our discipline was poor and it cost us dearly.

“The frustrating thing again is we’ve scored 26 points against a top four side and you expect to win; you should win! Against the top sides we’ve scored enough points against them to get over the line, but we are conceding far too many points.

“The turning point for me was at 21-19 down and we knock on inside our own 22; from the scrum they score their fourth try. We’d just got the momentum back and we were starting to get at them, but for me that error was pivotal.”

Attendance: 2,349
Referee: Ian Tempest
Yellow Card: None
Titans: Mulchrone (T), Socino (1T, 4P, 2C)
Bristol: Rennie (T), Koster (T), Mosses (2T), Robinson (4P, 2C)

Titans: 15 Sean Scanlon, 14 Jamie Broadley (Davies 65), 13 Jack Roberts, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Michael Keating, 10 Dallan Murphy, 9 Charlie Mulchrone (Capt.) (White 59), 1 Robin Hislop (Gadd 61), 2 Ben Sowrey, 3 Colin Quigley (Stout 76), 4 Josh Thomas-Brown (Holmes 55), 5 Dan Sanderson, 6 Alex Rieder, 7 Jack Preece (Morris 65), 8 Alfie To’oala (Birch 47).

Replacements: 16 Ali Birch, 17 Marshall Gadd, 18 Rikki Stout, 19 Tom Holmes, 20 Ben Morris, 21 Dan White, 22 Jordan Davies.

Bristol: 15 Jack Wallace; 14 George Watkins, 13 Luke Eves, 12 Ben Mosses, 11 Charlie Amesbury (Tovey 67); 10 Nicky Robinson, 9 Luke Baldwin (Tipuna 49); 1 Kyle Traynor, 2 Ross Johnston (McInally 58), 3 Gaston Cortes (Hall 49), 4 Glen Townson (Glynn 67), 5 Mark Sorenson (Capt.), 6 Nick Koster, 7 Ross Rennie, 8 Marco Mama (Skirving 64).

Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 James Hall, 18 Ben Glynn, 19 Ben Skirving, 20 Ruki Tipuna, 21 Adrian Jarvis, 22 Jack Tovey.