RUGBY UNION: Titans battle way to third win of season

Alex Rieder
Alex Rieder
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Rotherham Titans....23

Bristol.............16

Rotherham overcame the toughest of challenges at Clifton Lane where they achieved their third win in six Championship matches to stay in the top half of the league.

Winning by two tries to one, Rotherham showed great fighting spirit and commitment.

Coach Andre Bester had insisted on the toughest of preparations following the defeat at Plymouth; the homework paid off because the Titans’ forwards excelled, especially in the second half which they controlled.

Eye catching performances by forwards Dan Sanderson, Ted Stagg, Rory Pitman and Alex Rieder, among others, gradually grabbed the initiative after Bristol led 6-0 and then 13-10.

The breakthrough came just before the interval as flanker Alex Rieder finished an effective move and with Garry Law converting, Rotherham led 10-6.

For the most part, the defence was solid and sharp, but it failed to deal with a Bristol raid on 52 minutes when David McIlwaine swerved through at least three would-be tacklers to score a soft try.However, from then on, Rotherham took charge as the pack rose to the occasion.

The forward forced their opponents to concede a penalty try and following Law’s conversion, the Titans, probably for the first time in a close contest, were in control. Leading 23-13 Rotherham were heading towards their third Championship win, but had to deal with late Bristol attacks.

The opposition deservedly earned a losing bonus point with a penalty on 77 minutes from Tristan Roberts and then in injury time, Bristol continued to press dangerously.

However, ferocious tackling by centres Lee Blackett and Palepoi Nonu and by forwards such as Pitman and Carl Kirwan stopped Bristol adding another try.

Titans: Law, Homan, Blackett, Nonu, Sheridan, McKinney, Williams, Cahill, Baines, Davies, Sanderson, Maddison, Rieder, Kirwan, Pitman. Reps: Stagg, Denman, Kilbane, Freeman, Doneghan, Whitehead,Mulchrone.

Tries: Rieder, penalty; conversions: Law 2; penalties: Law 3.