London Welsh (25) vs Rotherham Titans (33) - Championship
Rotherhamready for Welsh warfare
Titans make three changes as they prepare for what is expected to be a tough battle in the capital on Saturday, against Championship leaders London Welsh.
The in form Garry Law returns at fly half for Cliffie Hodgson and in the pack Shane Cahill comes in at loose head prop for Ben Harris and returning from injury Neale Patrick replaces club captain Sam Dickinson at lock.
London Welsh are currently riding high at the top of the Championship and are the league’s highest point’s scorers. Their only defeat of the season was a narrow 22-18 reversal away to Bedford in mid September. Welsh number 8 Ed Jackson will pose a threat, he tops the leading try scorers for the Championship with his tally of six. Ex Scottish International fly half Gordon Ross will equally cause Rotherham concern, as his undoubted quality and game management will spell danger if he is allowed to dictate play.
Titans Head Coach Andre Bester is fully aware of the Exiles menace, he warned, “If we get it wrong we will get blown away, it’s going to be a tough game, especially on their own patch. Their speed in defence is very quick, they’ve got a good first phase, have experience all over the place and they play with tempo. It’s always a tough place to go to. If we don’t turn up we’re going to get 40 or 50 points against us. We have to be switched on but I believe in this squad and I believe in the players. It will be a good measuring stick for us.”
The overall league head to head sees Rotherham hold a 13-9 advantage; however Welsh have won six of the last eight contests between the two sides. Rotherham will need to be at their very best if they are to return home victorious.
RotherhamTitans: 15 Steve Hamilton, 14 Tom Foden, 13 Byron Godfrey, 12 Pale Nonu, 11 Shane Monahan, 10 Garry Law, 9 Jimmy Williams, 1 Shane Cahill, 2 Ted Stagg, 3 Ben Hooper, 4 Neale Patrick, 5 Adrian Griffiths, 6 Robin Copeland, 7 Sean Dougall (Capt.), 8 Semisi Taulava.
Replacements From: Dan Baines, Rob O’Donnell, Jamie Kilbane, Sam Dickinson, Barney Maddison, Ed Tellwright, Cliffie Hodgson, Matt Rhodes, Ben Harris.
Terrific Titans Wallop Welsh
Rotherham Titans produced a marvellous team performance to stun Championship leaders London Welsh 33-25 at Old Deer Park and collect the four try bonus point in the process.
It’s been a long wait for Titans to taste victory on the road, indeed you have to go back 14 months and 21 games to the 26-24 win atBristolback in August 2010. But oh how the wait was worth it! Rotherham’s display was top notch with backs and forwards combining to produce a dominant performance that will draw attention of the Championships other top clubs.
Head coach Andre Bester was very satisfied with the result but he’s not getting carried away by it, he commented, “We made hard work of it, we had a game plan to execute and at times we were brilliant at executing it and at other times we became impatient and let them back into it. At the very end we lost a little focus and let them in for a try, which we really didn’t want to do because it’s a matter of pride.
“But we made a lot of errors and we are not going to make predictions, we’ve got a lot of tough matches ahead starting with Moseley next week. We need to work hard in the trenches and prepare well and then we’ll perform well if we do that.”
On a glorious sunny afternoon in the capital it was Rotherham who had first opportunity to get the scoreboard ticking on 5 minutes, when Welsh gave away a penalty around 30 metres from goal. However, Titans kicking machine Garry Law was to have one of those rare days where the radar wasn’t quite working. Law hit the right upright with his attempt and Welsh cleared the danger.
On 10 minutes and for possibly the only time in the game, Welsh got the upper hand in the scrum and forced a penalty40 metresfrom goal. Up stepped Scotland international fly half Gordon Ross to give the hosts a 3-0 advantage. Law and Ross then traded penalties in the early exchanges of this absorbing contest.
Twenty four minutes in and Adrian Griffiths charged down Ben Stevenson’s clearing kick on the Welsh 22.Griffithscharged forward and gathered, a try looked on but he unselfishly fed back inside to Ted Stagg who was tackled just short of the line. From the resulting skirmish Titans won a penalty and Law levelled matters with the boot.
The game was flowing nicely and Welsh won their own penalty on Titans 22 after the visitors entered a maul from the side. This time Ross surprisingly missed the conversion. Two minutes later and the visitors nudged ahead for the first time after an excellent penalty conversion from45 metresby Law.
In an evenly matched contest the hosts made the breakthrough five minutes before the break. From a scrum on halfway Welsh broke right at pace and ended up just 5 metresout, quick recycling of the ball saw Exiles number eight Ed Jackson collect his 7th try of the campaign. Ross converted to give his side a 13-9 edge.
In added time Titans wing Ed Tellwright just prevented Welsh a second try as he was forced to take the ball into his in goal area, after Rotherham had lost possession deep in Welsh territory and Welsh countered quickly. However the resulting scrum saw Rotherham drive Welsh back and win a penalty which drew the half to a close.
An early Garry Law missed penalty at the start of the second half was soon forgotten about when a minute later Tom Foden broke two tackles and evaded two more as he broke from halfway on an arcing run to score his first try for the visitors. Law missed the conversion. From the restart Rotherham gathered and Law made a sensational 30 metres break before feeding flying winger Tellwright who galloped another 30 metres to touch down. However referee Taylorson brought play back as he deemed Law’s pass to be forward.
Rotherham now upped the ante as their forwards totally dominated their counterparts. Pressure was applied and Welsh repeatedly gave away penalties as they struggled to cope with the Rotherham pack. Referee Taylorson lost patience with the repeated Welsh infringements and sent their tight head prop Greg Bateman to the sin bin.
Rotherham soon exploited their numerical advantage. A ruck close to the Welsh line saw Robin Copeland pick up from the base and athletically dive over a multitude of bodies to touch down for a remarkable try. Law missed the difficult conversion from the touchline.
As the hour mark approached and against the run of play a Titans loose pass in midfield saw turnover ball. Welsh quickly gathered and spread the ball wide at pace down the right flank, which culminated with Exiles skipper Jon Mills going over in the corner. Ross missed the conversion.
Rotherham continued to boss the game and were rewarded further when Pale Nonu crashed through two tackles to dib down under the sticks after some excellent ball carrying from Semisi Taulava. Law Converted to extend Titans lead to 26-18. Law missed another penalty 3 minutes from time but again this was soon forgotten as Robin Copeland picked up from the base of a ruck and galloped with great pace to score near the posts and secure the win and four try bonus point. Law converted to make it 33-18.
The last play of the game saw Welsh full back Ed Thrower touch down for Alex Davies to convert and make the final score 33-25 to Titans. The Welsh try did not taint Rotherham’s wonderful performance one jot and the Titans players celebrated accordingly on the pitch.
Bester concluded afterwards, “We were apprehensive about this game, but our whole approach was that we were going to relax. We weren’t going to work ourselves up about this game. I told the players to relax and just believe in themselves, not to worry and not to freeze, last year we froze down here.
“At half time I thought if we kept on believing, we could execute our game plan. It’s a good win forRotherham and it’s a good thing for the club, but this is a very tough league and anyone can beat anyone on any given day. We have to be ready for that and ready for the Moseley match, there won’t be any complacency from us next week.
“I’m obviously satisfied with the execution of the game plan but I’m not here to send messages, I don’t want to say we are going to do this and we are going to do that and we are in it, because we are not in it. We have to play every game on its merits and that’s what we’ll do. We are in the infant stages of our development, this is a process that we have to go through, it’s a good win and I would rather walk away from here with a win than a loss, but I am not getting carried away by this result.”
Referee: Andrew Taylorson
RotherhamScorers: Copland (2T), Foden (T), Nonu (T), Law (2C, 3P).
LondonWelsh Scorers: Jackson (T), Mills (T), Thrower (T), Ross (1C, 2P), Davies (1C).
Yellow cards: Greg Bateman (48mins)
RotherhamTitans: 15 Steve Hamilton, 14 Tom Foden, 13 Shane Monahan, 12 Pale Nonu, 11 Ed Tellwright, 10 Garry Law, 9 Jimmy Williams, 1 Shane Cahill, 2 Ted Stagg, 3 Ben Hooper, 4 Neale Patrick, 5 Adrian Griffiths, 6 Robin Copeland, 7 Sean Dougall (Capt.), 8 Semisi Taulava.
Replacements: 16 Dan Baines, 17 Jamie Kilbane, 18 Rob O’Donnell, 19 Sam Dickinson, 20 Barney Maddison, 21 Cliffie Hodgson, 22 Byron Godfrey.
LondonWelsh: 15 Edd Thrower, 14 Will Hurrell, 13 Paul Mackey, 12 Seb Jewell, 11 Ashley Smith, 10 Gordon Ross, 9 Ben Stevenson, 1 Shawn Pittman, 2 Dan George, 3 Greg Bateman, 4 Adam Brown, 5 Matt Corker, 6 Jon Mills (Capt.), 7MichaelHills, 8 Ed Jackson.
Replacements: 16 Vili Ma’asi, 17 Billy Moss, 18 Gary Johnson, 19 Lee Beach, 20 Rob Lewis, 21 Alex Davies, 22 Hudson Tonga’uiha.