Titans pack power

Rotherham Titans v Leeds....First try of the new season for Rotherham scored by Robin Copeland as he celebrates with team-mate Adrian Griffiths
Rotherham Titans v Leeds....First try of the new season for Rotherham scored by Robin Copeland as he celebrates with team-mate Adrian Griffiths
0
Have your say

RELIEVED Rotherham bagged their first win points of the season in a gritty Yorkshire derby, coach Andre Bester saying: “Our pack was superb.”

RELIEVED Rotherham bagged their first win points of the season in a gritty Yorkshire derby, coach Andre Bester saying: “Our pack was superb.”

The Clifton Lane men had to dig deep to beat Leeds, relegated from the Premiership last term and who, like the Titans, have almost completely revamped their side.

It was only after a nervy finale that Bester’s side clinched victory after racking up a catalogue of second-half penalties and almost allowing their rivals to snatch it at the death.

The key for Rotherham was a top-drawer first half shift which, with the stiff breeze at their backs, saw them wrench open a 19-3 lead.

With the home pack always in control, despite Leeds having the bigger bulk, they chalked up four Garry Law penalties in the opening 30 minutes to one from Carnegie’s Joe Ford.

But when Robin Copeland collected and broke two tackles to score Titans’ only try of the game in added time, after Leeds’ Curtis Wilson had a clearance kick charged down by Shane Monahan, it gave the hosts a precious 16-point advantage at the break.

Leeds came out determined to use the wind in the second period and with referee Steve Lee repeatedly penalising the home side it gave them the lion’s share of territory.

But the Rotherham defence worked superbly to combat the Headingley side’s pressure.

Law tagged on another three-pointer to counter an earlier kick from Ford, who missed two shots at the sticks as Leeds were awarded three penalties inside the first five minutes of the half.

That made it 22-6 but Carnegie forced their way into the game when the referee ran out of patience with Bester’s side and, after yellow-carding replacement prop Shane Cahill - who had only been on the field a matter of minutes – then awarded Leeds a penalty try which, with Ford’s conversion, made it 22-13.

The nerves really started jangling when the visitors’ man advantage began to tell and from another penalty, a line-out catch from Jon Pendlebury led to a drive to the line which was finished off by skipper Andy Titterell. Crucially, Ford’s conversion attempt from the touchline was wide, meaning the visitors needed to score a third try to win it – but Rotherham’s defence remained solid, especially after Cahill returned to the fray, and they held on for the win.

A delighted Bester said: “I have to take my hat off to the pack because they fought hard against a team which will go on and do well this season.

“We still have a lot to work on, especially our discipline, because those penalties caused us so many problems in the second half, especially with the wind in Leeds’ favour.”

Bristol are the early pacesetters and defeated London Scottish 32-13 yesterday while Cornish Pirates climbed up to fourth after a 39-32 victory over Doncaster Knights. Leeds are second from bottom after collecting just one point from two outings.

TITANS: Hodgson, Monahan, Godfrey, Nonu, Homan; Law, Williams; Kilbane, Baines, Hooper, Patrick, Griffiths, Copeland, Dougall (c), Taulava. Reps: Stagg, Cahill, Harris, Vaioleti, Kirwan, Rhodes, Hamilton.

LEEDS: McColl, Blackett, Thornley, S. Barrow, Wilson; Ford, Hampson; Denman, Titterell, Young, Denton, Hohneck, Pendlebury, Rowan, Burrows. Reps: Nilsen, Swainston, D. Barrow, Beck, White, Barker, Stephenson.

REFEREE: S. Lee (RFU).

ATTENDANCE: 1,750.