Bedford Blues (27) vs Rotherham Titans (0) - Championship Play Offs Pool B
Titans look to finish on a high
Titans have made just one change to the team that narrowly lost to Leeds Carnegie 18-21 at Clifton Lane last time out. The change sees Jamie Kilbane come in at loose head prop for the injured Shane Cahill.
Titans will be looking to round off their season on a high by taking the scalp of the stand-out side of the play-offs to date. Earlier in the season Rotherham produced a terrific display at Goldington Road, going down by a solitary point in their 25-24 defeat.
A similar type of performance would certainly give the Clifton Lane outfit an excellent opportunity of creating a shock result. However, Titans coach Andre Bester is acutely aware of the challenging task ahead as he said, “Bedford are the stand-out side in the play-offs and it is going to be a very difficult encounter down there. They lost by a point at Pirates last time out and they will be smarting from that. They will want to get back to winning ways immediately and that means we are in for a challenging afternoon on Saturday.
“People may assume we don’t have anything to play for, but they’d be wrong. We have our passion and we have our pride. It’s not about money, it’s not about results, it’s about passion and pride. That’s the most important thing in your life and if you lose that, then you have nothing. So yes, we have everything to play for at Bedford!”
Rotherham Titans: 15 Dave McCall, 14 Peter Homan, 13 Shane Monahan, 12 Pale Nonu, 11 Ed Tellwright, 10 Stephen Hamilton, 9 Jimmy Williams, 1 Jamie Kilbane, 2 Dan Baines, 3 Ben Hooper, 4 Neale Patrick, 5 Barney Maddison, 6 Carl Kirwan, 7 Sean Dougall (Capt.), 8 Semisi Taulava.
Replacements: 16 Ted Stagg, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Talite Vaioleti, 19 Adrian Griffiths, 20 Robin Copeland, 21 Matt Rhodes, 22 Byron Godfrey.
Titans beaten at Bedford
Playing uphill into a strong wind first half, Titans knew there were in for a testing 40 minutes and that’s how it panned out as they conceded three tries and trailed 22-0 at the break.
The case could be argued that the three first half tries conceded could have been avoided but for team errors. However, the commitment and endeavour shown by the players is a credit to both themselves and to the coaching staff.
The second period was a far better affair for the South Yorkshire side as they dominated territory and possession. Unfortunately for them however, they were unable to turn that dominance into points and a great deal of credit should go to Bedford for their resolute defence time and again.
On the hour mark Dave McCall touched down near the sticks for what would have been a fair reward for the visitor’s efforts. However, referee Gamage deemed Titans had knocked on in the build up and curtailed McCall’s celebrations.
Titans suffered a further blow just after the hour mark when Pale Nonu and Peter Homan were both yellow carded within 2 minutes of each other. Not surprisingly Bedford exploited their numerical advantage and scored their fourth try of the match whilst Titans were two men short on numbers.
Not deterred Titans showed great heart and continued to press and put their bodies on the line in search of touch downs. It was not to be their day however and the home side held out for their deserved victory.
Post game Titans coach Andre Bester briefly commented, “It’s always a tough game at Bedford and today was no different. We played uphill into the wind first half with a makeshift backline and we struggled to bring our patterns to the game. We also played too much rugby in the first half and that put us onto the back foot.
“I didn’t feel there was a lack of commitment from the players, but maybe the ability of the deeper squad is just not there.”
Referee: Darren Gamage
Bedford: Locke (T), Staff (T), Pritchard (T), Reeves (T), Pritchard (2C, 1P).
Yellow Card: Daniel Baines (64), Peter Homan (65).
Rotherham Titans: 15 Tom Foden, 14 Peter Homan, 13 Dave McCall, 12 Pale Nonu, 11 Shane Monahan, 10 Byron Godfrey (Stephen Hamilton 70), 9 Jimmy Williams (Matt Rhodes 70), 1 Jamie Kilbane (Ben Harris 19), 2 Ted Stagg (Dan Baines 54), 3 Ben Hooper, 4 Neale Patrick (Barney Maddison 30), 5 Adrian Griffiths, 6 Carl Kirwan (Robin Copeland 54), 7 Sean Dougall (Capt.), 8 Semisi Taulava.
Replacements: 16 Dan Baines, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Talite Vaioleti, 19 Barney Maddison, 20 Robin Copeland, 21 Matt Rhodes, 22 Stephen Hamilton.
BedfordBlues: 15 James Pritchard (Capt.), 14 Ollie Dodge, 13 Brendan Burke, 12 Henry Staff, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jamie Lennard (Jake Sharp 61), 9 Darryl Veenendaal (Luke Baldwin 61), 1 Ricky Reeves (Sam Walsh 40), 2 Neil Cochrane (Chris Locke 56), 3 Ben Cooper (Phil Boulton 57), 4 Paul Tupai, 5 Alex Rae (Mike Howard 57), 6 Jon fisher (Sacha Harding 66), 7 Darren Fox, 8 Don Barrell.
Replacements: 16 Chris Locke, 17 Sam Walsh, 18 Phil Boulton, 19 Mike Howard, 20 Sacha Harding, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Jake Sharp.