ONE of Rotherham’s best performances of the Championship campaign so far in a thrilling contest, which they were unlucky to lose by the narrowest of margins, finished on a controversial note that will occupy the attention of Clifton Lane this week.
Titans coach Andre Bester, whose side would probably have won if fly half Garry Law had not uncharacteristically missed a penalty on 77 minutes, indicated that he would be complaining to the RFU about the performance of the referee, Matthew Carley, and one of the touch judges.
Prior to criticising the officials after the game for their lack of consistency, Bester had been ordered midway through the second half by Mr Carley to watch from the stand after disputing the conduct of a touch judge.
Rotherham’s coach complained that the official had failed to notice a high tackle on forward Semisi Taulava, but had earlier reported to the referee a similar offence by a Titans player.
Bester’s complaints were supported fully by a senior Rotherham figure.
Rotherham were disappointed to leave the East Midlands with only a losing bonus point after coming so close to causing a major upset.
Bester’s decision to change Rotherham’s style of play to suit the wide pitch at Bedford surprised the opposition who had predicted that Rotherham would play a tight game and not spread the ball.
This change of approach delivered two thrilling tries by Law on 18 minutes and by flanker Robin Copeland after 48 minutes, his ninth in the Championship.
With Tom Foden, Ed Tellwright, Shane Monahan and Dave McCall prominent in attack, Rotherham’s backs threatened as they supported the raids into Bedford territory by forwards Sam Dickinson, Copeland, Rob O’Donnell and Sean Dougall.
The difference between two evenly matched teams was the two tries which Rotherham conceded from Bedford’s rolling mauls on 29 and 38 minutes.
Bedford added a third converted try to lead by 21-20 but Rotherham still had time to win the game.
A third penalty by Law cut the gap to only 24-23 on 65 minutes.
Rotherham’s forwards, continuing to advance, then forced Bedford to give away another penalty which in turn set up Law with a kickable opportunity to win the game late in the second half.
Considering his success at scoring 18 points in the match it seemed certaint that the league’s top points’ scorer would again hit the target, but it wasn’t to be.
Rotherham: Foden, Tellwright, McCall, Nonu, Monahan, Law, Williams, Cahill, Baines, O’Donnell, Maddison, Griffiths, Copeland, Dougall, Dickinson. eps: Taulava, Kirwan, Kilbane, Hooper, Rhodes, Hodgson, Stagg.
Tries: Law, Copeland; conversions: Law 2; penalties: Law 3.
Referee: Matthew Carley.