Rotherham Titans were well below their normal high standards as they beat Plymouth Albion 30-25.
And today they begin preparations for their next Championship game in Jersey on Saturday knowing that a major improvement is required if a third league win in four games is to be achieved.
Tries by centre Jordan Davies, who scored twice on his full league debut at Clifton Lane, and winger Michael Keating were among the few highlights in a performance which was sharply criticised by coach Lee Blackett.
“It was a really bad day at the office, we were not in the right state and didn’t come out of the blocks.
“ We made too many mistakes with the ball in hand and that cost us the extra point. We need a massive improvement in Jersey because if we play like that we’ll be beaten.”
No one can question the quality of the Rotherham tries or the goal kicking of fly half James McKinney, returning to form with 15 points, but so much of the Titans’ play in the first half was too careless.
Rotherham, though, produced a much better second half display which prevented what seemed likely to be a rare Plymouth win in the Championship.
Davies’ second try on 69 minutes typified the fight-back that had started earlier with two penalties by McKinney who then put over what proved to be the match winning kick on 74 minutes to provide the Titans with a 30-25 lead against an unfortunate Plymouth side that led 19-14 at half time.
McKinney’s tactical kicking was also top class, but it was his place kicking that delivered 15 invaluable points, three conversions and three penalties, which ruined Plymouth’s chances of a shock win: “To get a win when there is so much to work on is not necessarily a bad thing for us,” explained the Ulsterman.
“Look, a win’s a win in this league which is tough. We put ourselves under too much pressure and made it hard for ourselves. We were a bit loose in the first half and Plymouth played some good rugby.
“There was no point in dwelling on what happened to my kicking at Bedford. Kickers always have off-days. I did, though, put in plenty of work before the Plymouth match.
“As for Jersey, they have a big physical pack and are pretty strong at home. We have work to do this week.”
Davies, who has appeared impressively against Bedford and now Plymouth, scored a thrilling first try on 30 minutes, showing the pace and strength that persuaded Sale Sharks and Salford Reds to sign him.
Having switched to Rotherham last season, competition has forced Davies to be patient as he queues for a starting place in the side.
“I tried to make an impact from the bench last season and again we have tough completion in the centre this season, but that’s good for the team. Mentally, I’m in good shape and hopefully I’ll now get more game-time and get more confidence. The supporters are fantastic, I love playing here and Rotherham’s style of play suits me.”
Fellow centre Chris Harris, limped off in the first half but it’s too soon to say whether he will miss the Jersey game.
Rotherham Titans: Hayes, Keating, Harris, J. Davies, Wilson, McKinney, White, Hislop, Cruse, Tampin, Parker, Holmes, Rieder, Preece, Ryan. Replacements: Birch, Williams, Thiede, Morris, Gill, A.Davies,Barrett.
Tries: J. Davies 2, Keating. Conversions: McKinney 3.Penalties: McKinney 3.
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth.