Rotherham Titans must be wondering how they managed to lose to the best side in the competition having come so close to beating them at Clifton Lane.
Leinster A, winners of the Cup in 2013 and 2014, lived up to their reputation, but were challenged throughout by the Titans who may well have won if the Welsh referee had been kinder to them in the first half when arguably a penalty try should have been awarded as the Irishmen were continually being penalised, and if he had allowed a try by flanker Ali Birch who was certain that he had grounded the ball fairly.
In the closest of games, Rotherham fought non-stop in atrocious conditions, and while Mr Rhys Thomas may have been at fault, promising scoring positions were not turned into points by the pack.
The Titans’ line out also did not function as efficiently as it should have done, and with Leinster in front by only 12-9 going into added time, Rotherham’s forwards attacked relentlessly, but could not break through for the decisive score their efforts deserved.
Rotherham, who relied on three penalties from fly half Ross Jones to maintain the pressure, were probably the better team in the second half as Leinster were prevented from scoring other than by a drop goal on 72 minutes.
Titans’ coach Mark Jones was, therefore, deflated having seen his team almost cause a major upset: “It’s very frustrating because we had enough opportunities to win. We played good rugby in difficult conditions and it was a good all round performance.
“ We made strides forward in defence. Robin Hislop and Max Argyle did really well in the pack and in the backs centre Joe Barker organised our defence well.
“ Our back three of Sean Scanlon, Curtis Wilson and Michael Keating also produced fine efforts against a very good team.”
With a view to the future, Canadian international and flanker , Kyle Gilmour, made a promising home debut, and also in the pack, George Oram and Toby Salmon showed they have genuine potential.
And Ulster fly half James McKinney, playing his first game for more than six months having recovered from a serious leg injury, looked the part once again.
“The knee felt fine and it was great to get a run-out after such a long lay-off. It’s going to take a while to get up to speed, but I felt good out there.”
Rotherham Titans: Scanlon, Keating. Hayes, Barker, Wilson, Jones, Davies, Hislop, Maddison, Tampin,Holmes, Oram, Gilmour, Birch, Argyle. Replacements: Preece, Cromie, Thiede, Salmon, J.Hayes, Carter, McKinney.
Scorer: Jones 3 penalties.
Referee: Rhys Thomas(Wales).