Reach for the sky

29th October 2011. Rotherham Titans v Bristol.'Titans Robin Copeland celebrates his try with Edward Tellwright.
29th October 2011. Rotherham Titans v Bristol.'Titans Robin Copeland celebrates his try with Edward Tellwright.
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Rotherham Titans 44

Bristol 6

Rotherham Titans, who have shot up to second place in the Championship after thrashing league leaders Bristol at Clifton Lane, today begin another exhausting week of training under coach Andre Bester.

The South African, delighted that his rapidly improving side have stretched their unbeaten run to six games, warned his players immediately after this remarkable win against Bristol by four tries to none, that they now faced the hardest away challenge in the Championship -Sunday’s clash at Cornish Pirates.

While Bester praised their performance, particularly in the second half when Rotherham scored 22 points without reply, he said: “There is a long way to go and it does not matter where you are at this stage. In the second half, our fitness counted a lot and we were able to accelerate the tempo and grind Bristol down.”

Rotherham’s victory, during which they scored four outstanding tries, two by winger Shane Monahan and one each by centre Palepoi Nonu and flanker Robin Copeland, superb throughout, owed much to top class defence. They did not concede a try which proves Bester’s insistence that ‘tackling wins games’ is the right policy.

Rotherham’s defensive record after nine Championship matches is the best in the competition: 162 points conceded.

Bristol were defeated by their own mistakes, forced by a relentless Rotherham who led 22-6 at the interval.

These errors gave fly-half Garry Law the opportunity to display his accurate goal kicking: his tally of 24 points, six penalties and three conversions, confirmed Law’s importance as a match winner. While Copeland’s try on 66 minutes was quite brilliant, he ran 60 metres to the line stretching the lead to 30-6, the brace scored by Irish winger Monahan on 75 and 86 minutes also excited the crowd of 2,000 plus.

“I was thrilled to score, but the lads up front and the boys inside me, who created the space, did it for me,” said Monahan. “I had the easy job of finishing. This is our third win on the trot where we’ve got a winning bonus point. We’re over the moon at beating the leaders and think we can challenge for the title.

He added: “People keep doubting us but we have belief in ourselves.”

Bristol were never allowed to settle by Rotherham’s forwards, and the back row of Copeland, Sean Dougall and Semisi Taulava not only attacked effectively but retained possession too when it mattered. Lock Adrian Griffiths, enjoyed his most productive game.

Tries: Monahan, 2, Nonu, Copeland. Penalties: Law 6. Conversions: Law 3.