Titans play-off hopes hit by another home defeat

Rotherham Titans v Nottingham
Rotherham Titans v Nottingham
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Rotherham Titans’ play-off hopes were hit by a second successive Championship home defeat.

At the half way stage of the campaign, Titans are fifth on 27 points from 11 games, so there is still time to recover.

But their indiscipline, which is proving so costly, must end, and they must also learn lessons from their defeats.

Four were sent off on Boxing Day resulting in a home defeat by Moseley and then against Nottingham at Clifton Lane, another two players were given yellow cards - hooker Tom Cruse on 50 minutes and replacement forward Ben Thomas on 70.

During their absence, Nottingham, now ahead of Rotherham in the Championship by eight points, scored 17 points as they exploited the Titans’ foolishness.

Rotherham also lost because they failed to master the windy conditions. With the wind in their favour in the first half, they ought to have scored more than the two tries by centre Lloyd Hayes.

The interval advantage of 14-5 was insufficient, and the four missed penalties by fly half James McKinney, the match winner against Doncaster a week ago, reprieved Nottingham.

After failing with one kick in difficult conditions, possibly McKinney should have considered kicking for touch and from the line outs near Nottingham’s line, the Rotherham forwards would have had a better opportunity to score.

Nottingham, though, must be given credit for the mature way they managed the swirling wind in the second half during which they scored 23 points, two converted tries and three penalties from fly half Dan Mugford who, along with Nottingham’s forwards, was a highly influential figure.

After Mugford had converted Nottingham’s third try by flanker and skipper, Brent Wilson, Titans were losing 28-14, so in the eight minutes of injury time they needed to earn a losing bonus point.

However, this was not achieved despite an excellent try by winger Michael Keating, his sixth in the Championship, just before the final whistle.

So having slumped to a third loss at home on the trot - including a British and Irish Cup tie - Rotherham’s priority this Saturday is clear: Bedford must be beaten at Clifton Lane and there must be no more yellow cards against opponents who are now only one point behind in the Championship table.

Rotherham have only themselves to blame for the defeats and while they team may not be as threatening as last season’s, surely they have the ability to challenge again for a place in the top four.

Leicester Tigers are to let former Rotherham centre Jack Roberts play in the next two games at Clifton Lane.

Rotherham Titans: Scanlon, Keating, Hayes, Roberts, Dowsett, McKinney, White, Hislop, Cruse, Tampin, Parker, Holmes, Rieder, Preece, Ryan. Replacements: Birch, Gadd, Thomas, Argyle, Barrett, Davies, Thiede.

Tries: Hayes 2, Keating; conversions: McKinney 2.

Referee: Tim Wigglesworth.