Depleted Titans not disgraced in Bristol defeat

British & Irish Cup 2011-12...Rotherham Titans v Nottingham...Titans Neale Patrick wins this line out
British & Irish Cup 2011-12...Rotherham Titans v Nottingham...Titans Neale Patrick wins this line out
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Bristol .................................37

Rotherham Titans ........................3

Rotherham lost heavily to the Championship leaders at the Memorial Stadium and as a result of this defeat by five tries to none, the Titans dropped to sixth place in the league table.

However, taking into account that coach Andre Bester had rested several major players and instead picked, in effect, an A team, he was not too disappointed with the outcome.

“By and large I am happy with the performance. When we are at full strength and if we play Bristol in the promotion play-offs, I am sure they are beatable.

“It was a useful exercise to see how our reserves would stand up to the competition and they did pretty well.

“I thought our new scrum half, Dale Farnham, did OK and it was good to see some of our injured players coming back and getting valuable game time before the play-offs.”

Rotherham, showing several changes, defended well in the first half and restricted the Championship leaders and promotion favourites to a lead of only 13-0.

But in the second half, Bristol won overwhelming possession and piled on the points, scoring more than 20.

Rotherham’s only points came from a 42nd penalty from fly half Cliffie Hodgson.

In the pack, Bester was satisfied with the progress made by Scottish second row forward Neale Patrick who returned after a long absence through injury.

In the second half, the Tongan forward Talite Vaioleti, also returned, and bearing in mind that he also had not played for several months, he, too, looked sharp.

Elsewhere in the Titans’ pack, there were encouraging performances from props Ben Harris and Ben Hooper.

Rotherham’s downfall after a promising first half was caused by silly mistakes rather than the far superior skills of Bristol.

Unusually, Bester was quite prepared to put up with a defeat at the Memorial Stadium now that Rotherham have qualified for the promotion play-offs.

He was keen to assess the potential of his A team and test the recovery of Patrick and Vaioleti, both of whom will appear in the play-offs.

Rotherham now begin their preparations for this Saturday’s league game at Clifton Lane against Cornish Pirates, and considering that the Titans’ new scrum half, Farnham,the South African who joined from Plymouth last week, showed potential at Bristol, he is more than likely to make a home debut.

In a fortnight Rotherham will be on national television when the South Yorkshire derby against Doncaster will be broadcast live on Sky from Castle Park.

A quick look at the Championship table shows that Yorkshire’s clubs, Leeds, Rotherham and Doncaster are fifth, sixth and seventh respectively.

The Titans stay on 52 points with 10 wins from 19 league games.

Rotherham Titans: Foden, McCall, Brierley, Homan, Tellwright, Hodgson, Farnham, Harris, Stagg, Hooper, Patrick, Griffiths, Maddison, Kirwan, Dickinson.

Scorer: Hodgson (penalty).