Cornish Pirates (25) vs Rotherham Titans (17) - Championship Play Offs Pool B
Titans ready for “Toughest Challenge in the Championship”
Following Titans impressive 20-3 victory away to Leeds Carnegie last week, the Clifton Lane outfit are ready to give their all as they chase a semi-final berth in the promotion play-offs.
The only change to Andre Bester’s 22 sees Neale Patrick come in at lock forward for injured skipper Sam Dickinson. Dickinson’s season was ended prematurely in last week victory at Headingley after sustaining a broken arm.
With just 5 victories from a previous 18 encounters, Titans Andre Bester is under no illusions as to the difficulty of the challenge that lies ahead for his troops. Bester said, “I think most clubs in the Championship would agree that the toughest assignment in the division is away to Cornish Pirates. However, we have always believed our application in what we do and we are playing better and better every week. We are focused on what we have to do in the play-offs and making sure that we do the little things well.
“We are probably a little bit unlucky not be at the top with Bedford right now, but as long as we learn, we know we can compete with the top clubs in the division.
“We know Leeds probably had an off day last week, but we also know that Pirates at home won’t have an off-day. Therefore we know it will be a much closer game and if we are going to win down there, it will be very close.
“But we also know that we can back ourselves and believe in ourselves. We need to go down there and go and apply what we believe in and the result will look after itself. It’s not an insurmountable challenge and life without a challenge is a life that’s not worth living. Our challenge is to go down there and turn them over.”
Rotherham Titans: 15 Tom Foden, 14 Stephen Hamilton, 13 Dave McCall, 12 Pale Nonu, 11 Shane Monahan, 10 Garry Law, 9 Jimmy Williams, 1 Shane Cahill, 2 Dan Baines, 3 Ben Hooper, 4 Neale Patrick, 5 Barney Maddison, 6 Robin Copeland, 7 Sean Dougall (Capt.), 8 Semisi Taulava.
Replacements: 16 Ted Stagg, 17 Jamie Kilbane, 18 Talite Vaioleti, 19 Adrian Griffiths, 20 Carl Kirwan, 21 Matt Rhodes, 22 Peter Homan.
Titans narrowly beaten in Cornwall
Rotherham Titans narrowly lost 25-17 to Cornish Pirates at the Mennaye Field after putting in an outstanding effort against one of the very best sides in the division.
In a very competitive encounter at Penzance, Rotherham came very close to upsetting the men from Cornwall and if individual errors had been eradicated at crucial times, the Clifton Lane outfit would have made the long journey home with a fistful of points and narrowed the gap to pool leaders Bedford Blues.
However, if and buts are of little consequence in sport and now Titans find themselves where they will probably need to win their final three games in pool B, to claim a semi-final berth in this season’s Championship. Although, if the same spirit, commitment and character is shown from here on in; anything is still achievable with this group of players.
Indeed, Rotherham got off to a perfect start when outside centre Dave McCall collected from Jimmy Williams and then proceeded to race through the Pirates defence to dib down after just three minutes for an unconverted try.
Pirates responded quickly and five minutes later were level after a blind side move culminated in Grant Pointer touching down near the right corner flag for an unconverted try. Further home pressure yielded a penalty in front of the Titans sticks which Rob Cook slotted over to leave the visitors trailing 8-5.
Almost from the restart, it was Pirates who now gave away a penalty 35 metres from goal. Titans’ goal-machine Garry Law stepped up to the plate and bisected the post to level matters once again. Titans grew in confidence and began to exert some pressure on the hosts. Titans’ pressure was rewarded after Pirates entered the maul from the side in an attempt to stop the visitor’s progress. Law nailed the kick to edge Rotherham 11-8 ahead.
Just pass the half hour mark with the visitors looking bright; they created a neat try-scoring opportunity through a marvellous Shane Monahan break. Unfortunately however, the powerhouse wing hesitated briefly and the opportunity was lost.
As half time approached Gavin Cattle collected from the base of a ruck and quickly skipped down the blind side to catch Titans cold and touch down. Rob Cook converted to send the hosts in at the break 15-11 up.
The commitment and intensity from the first half continued into the second period, with neither side looking for any favours. Inside the first 15 minutes two Law penalties to Cook’s one saw Titans trail by a solitary point at 18-17.
With the hour mark approaching Rotherham were hesitant under a high ball on the edge of their 22. The resulting passage of play saw Pirates reclaim possession and quickly feed the ball along the line for Pointer to score his 2nd try right in the far corner. Rob Cook crucially converted from out wide to open the lead to a significant 8 points.
Within two minutes Law had a long range penalty opportunity from wide out narrowly miss the posts. Moments later a typical galloping run from Robin Copeland stretched the home defence as he made 30 metres plus, before being tackled into touch near the 22.
Rotherham continued to press and spent some time deep inside Pirates 22. From this period of pressure Adrian Griffiths collected five metres out with the line beckoning, however the giant second rower unfortunately knocked on at the crucial moment.
The remainder of the contest was keenly fought but Titans couldn’t manage to score again which would have given them a deserved losing bonus point.
Post game Titans head coach Andre Bester said, “We are very disappointed at not coming away with the victory. We felt we had a lot more opportunities than Pirates to score tries and put the game beyond them, we also gave them some very soft tries. But I have to take my hat off to the players. They kept on playing and kept on fighting and we are still alive in this promotion play-off pool.
“Nothing is over as yet! We now have two home matches to look forward to and we need to win both of those. If we do that, then it’s all to play for again and we are still very positive.”
Referee: Darren Gamage
Titans: McCall (T), Law (4P).
Pirates: Pointer (2T), Cattle (T), Cook (2P, 2C).
Titans: 15 Tom Foden, 14 Ed Tellwright, 13 Dave McCall, 12 Pale Nonu (Cliffie Hodgson 62), 11 Shane Monahan, 10 Garry Law, 9 Jimmy Williams, 1 Shane Cahill (Ben Harris 65), 2 Ted Stagg (Dan Baines 40), 3 Ben Hooper (Robert O'Donnell 59), 4 Barney Maddison (Neale Patrick 50), 5 Adrian Griffiths, 6 Carl Kirwan (Semisi Taulava 50), 7 Sean Dougall (Capt.), 8 Robin Copeland.
Not Used: Matt Rhodes.
Pirates: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Grant Pointer, 13 Andrew Suniula, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Matt Evans (Thomas Kessell 40), 10 Ceiron Thomas, 9 Gavin Cattle (Capt.), 1 Carl Rimmer (Ryan Storer 66), 2 Dave Ward, 3 Alan Paver, 4 Matt Smith (Mike Myerscough 59), 5 Ian Nimmo, 6 Chris Morgan (Kyle Marriott 64), 7 Phil Burgess (Robert Elloway 68), 8 Ben Maidment.
Not Used: Aaron Penberthy, Thomas Cooper.