Collapse hits Titans hopes

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Just because Rotherham lost their first match in the promotion play-offs does not mean that their campaign to reach the Premiership has been set back fatally.

However, by failing to win at home and ending up without a losing bonus point is a self-inflicted handicap.

The players are now under even more pressure to beat Leeds at Headingley on Sunday, a match which is being broadcast live on Sky.

Having seen that Leeds drew 14-14 at Cornish Pirates, a highly commendable performance, Rotherham will know that the West Yorkshire side’s morale will be strong, and with home advantage and a wide pitch, Leeds should be favourites.

The Titans have five matches remaining in which to make an impact. As coach Andre Bester said:

“We still have 25 points to play for. The target is 16 and that may be enough to get us into the semi finals. There’s no gloom and doom here, but we have to win at Leeds.”

As they assess what went wrong against Bedford, Rotherham must not repeat at Headingley their failure to take scoring opportunities, a weakness which proved costly.

Twice in the first half, decent positions were thrown away and pressure on Bedford’s line after the interval never produced a point, even when the Blues were down to 14 men.

Normally, Scottish fly half, Garry Law, is a reliable goal kicker, but in a stiff wind at Clifton Lane he missed nine important points to reprieve Bedford.

Arguably, the turning point came in the 66th minute when, with Rotherham leading 16-11, hooker Dan Baines was refused a try by the officials.

Baines was put through and dived over to score, but the touch judge ruled that in doing so Baines’s boot had crossed the line. It was a debatable decision.

If the try had stood, Rotherham would have led 21-11 with the conversion to come.

Rotherham had started so brilliantly by scoring a try from winger Shane Monahan after only 38 seconds.

But late in the match, within the space of only seven minutes, their defence crumbled. Between the 74th minute and the 81st, Bedford scored three converted tries, 21 points; surprising considering that Rotherham had earlier been in control and had prevented Bedford entering their 22.

Titans: Hamilton, Foden, McCall, Nonu, Monahan, Law, Williams, Cahill, Baines, Hooper, Dickinson, Maddison, Copeland, Dougall, Taulava. Reps: Stagg, Kilbane, Vaioleti, Griffiths, Kirwan, Rhodes, Godfrey.

Scorers - try: Monahan; conversion: Law; penalties: Law 4.

Attendance: 1,586.