Rugby Union: Leeds just too good for under-strength Rotherham Titans

Rotherham's Dallan Murphy is stopped in his tracks
Rotherham's Dallan Murphy is stopped in his tracks
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Rotherham should regard this defeat, largely self-inflicted, as a temporary set-back and provided the harsh lessons are learned, they can go into the promotion play-offs next month full of confidence.

The short term move to Abbeydale did not produce the result or the performance Titans’ fans wanted in a Yorkshire derby, but the atmosphere generated by a crowd of just over 2,000 was excellent.

The next time Rotherham play at the home of Sheffield RUFC, their opponents in the play-offs are more than likely to be Bristol, and any repeat of the weaknesses shown against Leeds will be punished just as brutally.

The Titans should be stronger by then because second row Dan Sanderson will be back from suspension and hooker Tom Cruse should have recovered from his shoulder injury.

Both were badly missed as the Rotherham line-out was a disaster. It would not be right to put all the blame on Johnny Matthews, the Sedgley Park hooker, who was registered specially for the Leeds game.

His throwing-in was inaccurate so much so that the first four line-outs were lost and then to complete a debut that went wrong from the start, Matthews was then sin binned after little more than 30 minutes during which Leeds scored two of their three tries.

However, this new signing for next season clearly has potential and with the ball in hand, he is a threat, and once Matthews is a full time professional his long term promise will be fulfilled.

As the play-offs approach in three weeks, Rotherham must show greater discipline; against Leeds they gave away four kickable penalties in the opening 25 minutes putting the Headingley side 12-0 in front.

And quite why they often begin poorly against the top three teams, who they have still to beat, is a failure that must be rectified.

Leeds led 24-0 at the interval as their superior pack, exemplified by the outstanding former Titan, Ryan Burrows, dominated possession and territory,but,conscious they had never realised their true ability in a depressing first half, Rotherham delivered the recovery that was urgently needed.

Indeed, following tries by flanker Ali Birch and two by winger Jamie Broadley,they won the second half by 17-10.

It may well have been more conclusive than that; the referee disallowed two tries by replacement scrum half Charlie Mulchrone which if given could have snatched an improbable victory.

The impact of the replacements-Alfie To’oala,Mulchrone,Toby Williams and Garry Law and others-changed the performance. Rotherham challenged, threatened and put Leeds under pressure.

The second half was a genuine contest, but Leeds confirmed their deserved win in the sixth minute of added time as their superior pack were awarded a penalty try.

A minute later,Broadley ran in his second try to finish a dangerous counter-attack-proof that Rotherham are a far better side than the result suggested.

Rotherham Titans: Scanlon, Broadley, Roberts, Socino, Keating, Murphy, White, Hislop, Matthews, Quigley, Thomas, Holmes, Birch, Preece, Rieder.

Replacements: Morris, Williams, Tampin, Law, To’oala, Mulchrone,Davies.

Scorers: Tries: Birch, Broadley(2).Conversion: Socino.

Referee: Martin Fox.