League priority for Titans

Pontypridd 21 Rotherham Titans 12

Rotherham put up a strong performance in South Wales and scored two fine tries in their second game in Pool D of the British and Irish Cup.

While they have remaining games in the competition, including this Saturday's against Ayr, the most important fixture this week is Wednesday's Championship clash at Clifton Lane against London Welsh.

That's why coach Andre Bester kept his top players at home so they could prepare and train on Saturday for Wednesday afternoon's crucial match which, if won, will assist Rotherham's goal of finishing in the promotion play-offs.

The reason the Titans put up such a good show at Sardis Road against the side that is top of the Welsh Premiership and leads Pool D in the British and Irish Cup is that eight of the 15 have played regular Championship rugby this season.

Although three of the match day squad play for Sheffield Hallam University, the starting 15 were not novices.

Far from it.

The tries on 40 and 65 minutes by full-back Peter Swatkins, Rotherham's most dangerous attacking player, and by winger John McMahon, a Sheffield student, were cleverly created and executed.

Swatkins had an excellent match and, with the ball in hand, was a constant threat.

The forwards performed with vigour and earned more than enough possession to cause several anxious moments for Pontypridd who won by three tries to two.

Interestingly, the Titans' new signing from Cambridge, prop Mark Gregory, made a successful debut in the pack.

The team were well led by scrum-half Matt Rhodes and not for the first time this season showed why Rotherham are fortunate to have as Joe Bedford's deputy a top class player in his own right.

Indeed, Rhodes laid on the Titans' second try; his break from the scrum was followed by an accurate pass which set up the try for McMahon on his debut...a score which cut Pontypridd's lead to only 14-12.

Rotherham's improvement after a poor start was maintained, and with their pack winning sufficient ball, the Titans were genuinely competitive.

Towards the end of an entertaining cup tie, the Welsh forwards broke through.

Pontypridd's pack won the ball on Roth's line and in a flash scrum-half Rhys Downes grabbed it and dived over to score a third try.

With home advantage this Saturday, the Titans should beat Ayr,

But Bester's priority is to beat London Welsh on Wednesday, kick-off 2pm.

Third in the Championship table, the visitors are once again heading for a top-eight position and a place in the promotion play-offs.

An adventurous side which has scored 60 tries in the league compared with Rotherham's 29, London Welsh will be hard to beat.

If they defend, too, at Clifton Lane with the same resolve as they have shown in other games, conceding only 21 tries in 17 Championship matches, London Welsh may well beat Roth for the second time this campaign.

Pontypridd: A Thomas, Wyatt, Dacey, Lockyer, Williams, Gunter, Downes, Smout, Dowden, Knaggs, Hill, Dicomidis, J Thomas, O'Connor, Sheppeard.

Tries: O'Connor, Lockyer, Downes.Conversions: Gunter 2, Humberstone.

Rotherham Titans: Swatkins, Hampsey, Du Randt, McMahon, Hunt, Rhodes, Steenkamp, McGregor, George, Harris, Donnehan, Dougall, Baines. Reps: White, Bradley, Wade, Aikman, Imaz.

Tries: Swatkins, McMahon.Conversion: Hodgson.

Referee: L Colgan (Ireland).

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