Roth ace Swats away fightback

Rotherham Titans 19 Cornish Pirates 18

Showing outstanding character from start to finish, Rotherham won, albeit by the narrowest of margins, a significant match and achieved a result which will help them achieve their ambition of reaching the promotion play-offs.

This result keeps Rotherham in seventh place in the Championship table. While the Titans' fly-half from Argentina, Juan Pablo Socino, scored all the team's points, it was the skill and quick thinking of replacement back Peter Swatkins that proved to be crucial.

Having established a lead of 19-0 with almost an hour gone, thanks to Socino's four penalies, a thrilling try from a 50 metres and his conversion, Rotherham then rapidly lost control.

Pirates, who will certainly finish in the top eight, fought back strongly, slashing Rotherham's lead to only 19-18 by 75 minutes.

The award of a penalty try gave Pirates' goal-kicker, Rob Cook, the simplest of chances to stretch the lead to 20-19,and, with the flow of the game now in their favour, Pirates would surely have gone on to win.

But amazingly skill and luck turned Rotherham's way. Swatkins dramatically charged down Cook's kick, so Rotherham survived and kept their lead.

"When we lined up behind the posts, we decided to put the big lads at the front," said hero Swatkins.

"I've charged down kicks before and it was great to hear our fans cheer after the charge-down.

"This is a massive win for us. The front row did really well but it was a good collective team effort.

"We decided to turn the disappointment of last week's narrow defeat by Plymouth into something positive and it worked."

Rotherham, revealing depths of determination and a fighting spirit which were a credit to them and coach Andre Bester, somehow managed to hang on to their one point lead for another 10 minutes and more in a tense climax.

Once again, the rub of the green went the Titans' way; not once but twice.

Pirates' fly-half, Jonny Bentley missed a simple drop goal which, if it had gone over, would again have given his team the lead, this time by two points.

And then as the Cornish pack strove repeatedly to smash Rotherham's line in injury time the referee, Michael Tutty, saved the day.

On 85 minutes, it seemed certain that Pirates forward the superb Blair Cowan had scored the match-winning try.

Surprisingly, as Pirates celebrated and Rotherham looked glum, Tutty refused to allow Cowan's score, deciding that the flanker had knocked on.

Few others believed his decision was correct but Rotherham were not complaining and the ruling enabled the Titans to win and put behind them three successive Championship defeats.

Attention now turns to this Saturday's tie in South Wales against Pontypridd in the British and Irish Cup; this match is expected to see a Rotherham debut for Spanish prop Gorka Imaz who is on trial at Clifton Lane.

Titans: Hodgson, Welding, Hepworth, Godfrey, James, Socino, Rhodes, Kilbane, Loney, Quigley, Sandford, Smidt, Dickinson, Kettle, Burrows. Reps: Steenkamp, Harris, Dougall, Bedford, Hunt, Swatkins.

Pirates: Cook, Pointer, Hopper, Winn, Davies, Bentley, Cattle, Rimmer, Elloway, Brits, Myerscough, Gulliver, Cowan, Betty, McGlone.

Scorers: Try - Socino; conversion - Socino; penalties - Socino 4 (Titans). Tries - Davies, penalty; conversion - Cook; penalties - Cook 2 (Pirates).

Referee: M Tutty (RFU).

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