Rugby Union: Rotherham Titans 59 Connacht Eagles 3

Alfie To'oala scores a try for Titans against Connacht. Pic: Dean Atkins.
Alfie To'oala scores a try for Titans against Connacht. Pic: Dean Atkins.
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Rotherham’s excellent progress so far this season which has already taken them to second in the Championship has now achieved a place in the quarter-finals of the British and Irish Cup.

A strong Irish provincial side, at least on paper, was thrashed by nine tries to none at Clifton Lane during a performance that was both ruthless and thrilling.

The result sends the Titans through to the last eight for the first time since the competition was introduced five years ago

After such a convincing display, the Titans 13th win in 17 league and cup matches, coach Lee Blackett, who has extended his contract by another two years, confirmed that several players had already been offered deals for next season.

“We’ve talked to a few players we are trying to retain but we know and expect that we will lose a few to the Premiership. We wish them well.

“As for the Cup, this competition is about making history for the club and it would be nice for our fans to remember this set of players.

“The first 40 minutes was among the best we have played this season.

“We had masses of tempo and desire and some of the tackling was top notch.

“The way the backline took their chances was outstanding, and the forwards at the back of the scrum, Laurence Pearce, Ali Birch and Alfie To’oala worked well as a unit.”

The speed of Rotherham’s attacks in the first half was quite superb.

Rotherham scored six tries before the interval, two by winger Curtis Wilson and one apiece for forwards Pearce and To’oala.

In addition, winger James Broadley and centre Lloyd Hayes also ruined Connacht’s defence as Rotherham rapidly built up a lead of 40-3 by half time.

What was also encouraging was the confident form of Australian fly half Dallan Murphy who rose to the challenge after a mediocre game against Cornish Pirates a week ago.

The Queenslander struck seven conversions, ran hard at the Connacht defence and played sharply.

The Irish offered stronger resistance for 30 minutes into the second half, but once Rotherham reasserted their authority after a quite period, Connacht’s defence was raided again and again.

Tries on 70,73 and 79 minutes completed the crushing defeat as backs Jack Roberts, Sean Scanlon and replacement winger Ben Rath ran in exciting scores which assured the Titans’ place in the quarter finals.

Rotherham have one game remaining in the British and Irish Cup at Bedford on Saturday where they will be chasing their fifth win in six games in the competition this season.

Having beaten Bedford twice already during this campaign, the Titans will be confident, but not complacent, about repeating this success at Goldington Road and will be keen to show that topping Pool 3 is by no means down to luck.

n Rotherham Titans: Scanlon, Broadley, Hayes, Roberts, Wilson, Murphy, White, Williams, Sowrey, Tampin, Thomas, Sanderson, Pearce, Birch, To’oala. Replacements: Cruse, Dias, Stout, Rieder, Preece, Socino, Rath.

* Scorers: Tries(9): Wilson 2, Pearce, Broadley, To’oala, Hayes, Roberts, Scanlon, Rath.

* Conversions: Murphy 7.

* Referee: Craig Evans (Wales).