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

Bristol (39) vs Rotherham Titans (24) - British & Irish Cup

Friday April 4th - KO 7:45pm - View Photos

Pre-Match Report

In addition to long-term absentees Laurence Pearce, Barney Maddison and Sam Heygate, also unavailable for selection are Dan Sanderson, Garry Law, Ben Sowrey, Dallan Murphy, Tom Holmes, Jordan Davies, Ben Morris, Ben Rath, Max Argyle and Ben Thomas.

Despite his selection headache, Titans head coach Lee Blackett, feels his side can upset the odds and progress deeper into the competition, “It’s going to be a difficult challenge at Bristol; it always is because they have a very good team.” Blackett continued, “Obviously with all the absentees this week our job doesn’t become any easier, but we believe we have a real chance of progressing further in the tournament and that’s testament to the quality and depth of the squad we have here.

“We’ll go down there as massive underdogs, but they’ll be no pressure on us as everyone outside Clifton Lane will expect us to lose this one. But we don’t feel that way and our mindset is we believe we can get the result; we’ll go down there and enjoy the occasion.

“Additionally, with all the absentees this week, it offers some other guys in the squad an opportunity to come in and stake a claim. Positions are up for grabs and it’s up to the boys coming in to show what they can do and to prove they deserve to be playing week in and week out.”

Going into the clash Titans have made eight changes to the side that beat Bedford Blues last time out at Goldington Road in the Championship. Along the backline Joel Gill makes his first start of 2014 at outside centre, Curtis Wilson returns on the wing following his illness last week and at scrum half Dan White gets the nod.

In the Titans pack Marshall Gadd and Mark Tampin return to the front row, Josh Thomas-Brown and Ed Williamson form a new second row combination and there’s a return at number 8 for Alfie To’oala.

Titans: 15 Sean Scanlon, 14 Jamie Broadley, 13 Joel Gill, 12 Jack Roberts, 11 Curtis Wilson, 10 Juan Pablo Socino, 9 Dan White, 1 Marshall Gadd, 2 Tom Cruse (Capt.), 3 Mark Tampin, 4 Josh Thomas-Brown, 5 Ed Williamson, 6 Alex Rieder, 7 Ali Birch, 8 Alfie To’oala.

Replacements: 16 Colin Quigley, 17 Toby Williams, 18 Rikki Stout, 19 Jack Preece, 20 Michael Keating, 21 Charlie Mulchrone 22 Lloyd Hayes.

Match Report

Leading 24-22 with just six minutes remaining, the Titans were on the brink of causing a major upset in the South West. However, the home side scored two late tries to secure a semi-final spot against Leeds Carnegie.

Indeed it was Bristol who also scored the first try of the match after just 6 minutes when winger Charlie Amesbury touched down in the corner, following a clever chip through from Auguy Slowik.

Undeterred by the hosts quick start, Rotherham soon began to impose themselves and nibbled into Bristol’s lead on 9 minutes when Juan Pablo Socino knocked over a 3-pointer from the edge of the 22.

Three minutes later Rotherham took the lead with a superb try from Sean Scanlon. Dan White took a quick-tap penalty 10 metres inside the Titans half, from there he found Socino who made good ground before offloading to Scanlon. The Irish full back jinked first one way and then the other as he twisted the Bristol defence inside out, before ultimately touching down right of the sticks. Socino tagged on the extras to give Rotherham a 10-5 advantage.

Rotherham continued to have the better of things as the half progressed; Jack Roberts looked threating as he made two clear breaks and the Titans thought they’d scored a second try when the Welshman was held up over the try line. But for all their efforts Rotherham had to settle for two more successful Socino penalties before the break, giving them a healthy and deserved 16-5 edge.

Unfortunately for the visitors, deep into injury time they lost possession on the edge of their 22 and quick-as-you-like Bristol centre Jack Tovey collected and raced in to score near the posts. Adrian Jarvis converted and the sides went in at the break with Rotherham’s lead cut to just 4 points.

The second period opened with Socino nailing a regulation penalty, but Bristol levelled matters on 46 minutes, when flanker Iain Grieve dibbed down following a catch and drive close to the Titans line. Jarvis’ conversion made it 19 apiece.

Curtis Wilson thought he’d scored Rotherham’s second try of the match on 50 minutes when he crashed through to go over in the corner. Unfortunately for him play was brought back for an adjudged forward pass. Five minutes later Socino’s long-range penalty effort fell short of the target.

Just after the hour mark Bristol edged back ahead when they chose to kick a penalty through fly half Jarvis. But Rotherham pressed again and looked threatening as they pinned Bristol inside their own 22. However, credit to the hosts as they held out and turned the ball over before clearing the danger.

Three minutes later however Rotherham went back on the rampage. A terrific backs move down the left hand side saw slick hands from Jack Roberts and Sean Scanlon send replacement Michael Keating in for a wonderful try. Despite Socino missing the conversion, Rotherham once again held sway in the contest as they went 24-22 up.

As the wounds of battle mounted up for Rotherham, they found themselves with four props on the field, two of which had to play in the back row, meaning Alex Rieder had to move into the second row for the injured Ed Williamson. Bristol ruthlessly took advantage of the situation as flanker Iain Grieve crashed over from close range for his second try. Jarvis’ conversion took Bristol back ahead at 29-24.

Into injury time Jarvis settled the match as his penalty gave his side an 8-point cushion. However, in the sixth minute of added time Rotherham tried to run the ball out of their own 22, unfortunately for them they gave it away and Charlie Amesbury pounced on the loose ball to give the score line a flattering look. Jarvis’ conversion ended the contest with Bristol taking the spoils 39-24.

A disappointed and bewildered Lee Blackett reflected post match, “It’s a tough one to swallow; the game was there for the taking. If you look at the opportunities that we created then you have to be disappointed. For a side that prides itself on being clinical when opportunities arise, we have to be disappointed with our return. We made line-break after line-break; in fact we’ve probably not created so many line-breaks in any other game this year. To only score 24 points in a game like that is disappointing.

“Our attitude was fantastic, our physicality was outstanding and our depleted squad stayed tight throughout. The game was in the balance and we were probably favourites to go on and win it, but then we pick up a few knocks and losing Ali Birch just after the break really hurt us.

“After losing Ali we lose Alfie and then Ed and we had to replace two of those boys with prop forwards and when we got to the end we were down to 14 men and we had four props on the pitch!

“I thought our set piece was very good, in fact I thought there were so many positives to take from the performance and it feels like we just let that one slip away.

“Conceding the try just on half time was possibly a turning point and it’s always disappointing to concede at that point. But I think what just didn’t help us tonight were the injury’s and not having sufficient strength in depth in certain areas. We just ran out of bodies and having five front-rowers on the field is not ideal because of the way we like to play. We had two props in the back row and Alex Rieder in the second row.”

Attendance: 3118
Referee: Craig Evans
Yellow Card: Preece (Rotherham)
Titans: Scanlon (T), Keating (T), Socino (4P, 1C)
Bristol: Amesbury (2T), Tovey (T), Grieve (2T), Jarvis (2P, 4C)

Titans: 15 Sean Scanlon (Hayes 76), 14 Jamie Broadley, 13 Joel Gill, 12 Jack Roberts, 11 Curtis Wilson (Keating 53), 10 Juan Pablo Socino, 9 Dan White (Mulchrone 60), 1 Marshall Gadd, 2 Tom Cruse (Capt.), 3 Mark Tampin (Stout 60), 4 Josh Thomas-Brown, 5 Ed Williamson (Quigley 75), 6 Alex Rieder, 7 Ali Birch (Preece 43), 8 Alfie To’oala (Williams 57).

Replacements: 16 Colin Quigley, 17 Toby Williams, 18 Rikki Stout, 19 Jack Preece, 20 Michael Keating, 21 Charlie Mulchrone 22 Lloyd Hayes.

Bristol: 15 Auguy Slowik; 14 Ryan Edwards, 13 Jack Tovey, 12 Ben Mosses (Rennie 69), 11 Charlie Amesbury; 10 Adrian Jarvis, 9 Callum Braley; 1 Mark Lilley (Genge 69), 2 Ollie Hayes (Lawrence 64), 3 Jason Hobson (Davis 80), 4 Joe Joyce, 5 Glen Townson (Sambucetti 34), 6 Mitch Eadie, 7 Iain Grieve, 8 Ben Skirving (Capt.).

Replacements: 16 Rhys Lawrence, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Mariano Sambucetti, 19 Will Davis, 20 James Grindal, 21 Adam D’Arcy, 22 Bryan Rennie.