Former Rotherham favourite Lloyd Hayes put paid to another late comeback by the new-look Clifton Lane side in Saturday’s Championship derby at Castle Park.
The summer signing won the race to an astute kick through by scrum-half Michael Heaney, put away by Beau Robinson, to touch down for Doncaster’s third try on 75 minutes to secure the home side a 25-13 win.
But Titans, who came from behind to pip London Welsh at the death last week, could have snatched a late losing bonus point, had they made better use of a strong midfield break by replacement Charles Foley.
Skipper Will Owen had earlier raised hopes among the Rotherham supporters when touching down in the corner for a 70th minute try goaled by stand-off Will Robinson to make it 18-13.
Prior to Owen’s try the game had looked to be petering out as a contest with Knights leading 18-6 and seemingly heading for their first win of the season.
Titans made the early running, in what was an entertaining opening with both sides looking to move the ball, and led 6-0 with a brace of Robinson penalties.
Dougie Flockhart posted Doncaster’s first points of the season when kicking a 12th minute penalty but failed to level the scores with a later kick from a similar distance.
But the Scot made amends when adding the extras after Heaney had touched down for Knights’ first try of the season on 38 minutes after Paul Jarvis made a superb break after fielding a clearance kick in his own half.
Flockhart, who had earlier bundled his opposite number Jake Henry into touch after Rotherham had moved the ball well in the Doncaster 22, also converted a penalty with the last kick of the half to secure his side a 13-6 interval lead.
Titans would have been justified in feeling that the score didn’t reflect the game for they had enjoyed the better of the territorial exchanges and had gone close on a couple of occasions before Knights claimed their first try with the strong-running Owen and No 8 Buster Lawrence both showing up well.
Well-served by the likes of Jarvis, Mat Clark, hooker Harry Allen and young prop WillGriff John, Knights raised their game in the second half and took the spoils.
Knights set the bar high last season and have yet to reach those heights this season. But it is early days with new recruits still settling in and key players still missing.
Although the team’s willingness to play an expansive game will be welcomed by the Castle Park faithful, there have been too many examples of players trying to force the pass in the opening games.
Considering the wholesale changes to have taken place during the summer, Titans boss Justin Burnell should be encouraged by the first two games.
He looks to have made some useful signings and once his players get to know each other better he’ll be expecting them to be more competitive than at times last season.
Given the size of their pack, they’ll be hard to beat at home.
Doncaster Knights: Jarvis; Flockhart, L Hayes, Clark Lewis; Cusack, Heaney; List, Allen, John, Challinor, Young, Makaafi, Robinson, Shaw. Replacements: Nelson, Hislop, Quigley, Nolan, Williams, Humberstone, Edgerley.
Rotherham Titans: Goodwin; J Hayes, Hudson, Owen, Henry; Robinson, Dudman; Williams, Maddison, Herriott. Normandale, Hicks, Curry, Grange, Lawrence. Replacements: Cole, T Williams, I Williams, Salmon, Oliver, Tressider, Foley.