Rotherham Titans 17 Bristol 36: Titans face relegation battle

Sean Scanlon scores Titans second try against Bristol at Clifton Lane. Photo:  Glenn Ashley.
Sean Scanlon scores Titans second try against Bristol at Clifton Lane. Photo: Glenn Ashley.
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Rotherham, now fighting for their Championship lives having lost six consecutive league games, today begin plotting the downfall of Birmingham club Moseley who are also facing relegation.

The outcome of this weekend’s clash in the West Midlands is crucial to Rotherham’s future as a professional club. Only seven points separate the three bottom sides in the Championship: the Titans, following their defeat at Clifton Lane by the league leaders remain 10th on 27 points, Ealing, who collected valuable points in the 17-17 draw with Doncaster Knights, are 11th on 21 points and Moseley, bottom of the table, have 20.

Rotherham have seven games left in which to make sure they stay afloat in the Championship: three at home against Bedford, Nottingham and London Scottish, and four difficult matches away at Moseley, London Welsh, Jersey and Ealing on April 23.

Considering how tough the Championship is this season and given there’s little to choose between the bottom three clubs, it may well be that Rotherham will need to win their last game of the campaign at Ealing to stay up.

If the Titans are to survive, one aspect that must improve is their ability to earn bonus points awarded for losing by seven points or fewer and for scoring four tries: so far in 15 Championship games they’ve accumulated only three, the lowest in the league.

Rotherham scored three excellent tries against Bristol by forward Tom Calladine and backs Sean Scanlon and Jordan Davies, but failed to achieve a bonus point which their commitment deserved.

The importance of earning bonus points can’t be stressed too much; they can make the differencebetween survival and relegation.

Titans’ coach Mark Jones, who never expected to be experiencing a relegation battle in his first season at Clifton Lane, says he’s encouraged by Rotherham’s improved form as they’ve been highly competitive against Doncaster and Bristol, the top two teams in the Championship.

“ We have a solid platform to build on. Our commitment was good and I was happy with much of what we did. We showed a lot of skills with the way we took our tries.

“ I am massively disappointed that we did not get a bonus points when we were attacking at the end. The calls went against us. Will Ryan, starting his first game of the season in the pack, did well, but I was less happy when we failed to catch the ball at the start of the second half.

“ We handed the momentum over to Bristol who then scored the fourth of their five tries. ”

Rotherham Titans: Goodwin, J. Hayes, L.Hayes, Davies, Scanlon, Jones, Carter, Hislop, Harris, Tampin, Holmes, Oram, Argyle, Calladine, Ryan. Replacements: Maddison, Williams, Thiede, Sinclair, Cree, White, Gill.

Scorers: Tries: Calladine, Scanlon, Davies. Conversion: Jones.

Referee: Greg McDonald.