A week before Rotherham Titans host promotion favourites Worcester Warriors they boosted their morale by delivering an outstanding result in the Channel Islands.
Rotherham not only won, but by scoring four tries at St Peters agains one of the most improved sides in the Championship, they also flew home with a bonus point.
So after losing on the opening day Rotherham have won their last three league matches.
After watching his team concede 27 points between half time and 61 minutesJersey coach Harvey Biljon said: “Rotherham are a serious outfit. That’s the reason why they were in the play-offs last season and are contenders again this year.”
Jersey led 10-5 at the interval and while fly half James McKinney had scored the Titans’ first try after nine minutes, Rotherham had not played convincingly.
However, they exploded in the second half scoring tries by forwards Alex Rieder and Will Ryan on 42 and 58 minutes, both following powerful work by the Titans’ pack, and then on 61 minutes by winger Michael Keating.
What made Rotherham’s victory impressive was that they overcame two self-inflicted handicaps which landed the team in trouble.
Twice in the second half Rotherham were cut to 14 men following yellow cards against hooker Tom Cruse and second row forward and captain, Tom Holmes, on 46 and 68 minutes respectively.
In a thriller attract more than 2,000 fans, Jersey proved to be the toughest of opponents, scoring tries on 3, 47, 67 and 73 minutes, and if Rotherham had not defended so stubbornly in the last few moments may have stolen victory.
Once again, the accurate goal kicking of Ulster fly half McKinney played a match- winning role: since his failures at Bedford, the Irishman has not put a foot wrong.
Last week against Plymouth McKinney kicked 15 points and then in Jersey, he struck two conversions, a penalty and a drop goal to give Rotherham an 18-15 lead .
Earlier, the Titans number 10, one of the best in his position in the Championship, had scored a thrilling try under the posts, so finished with a tally of 15 points.
Titans’ coach Lee Blackett was naturally delighted with the bonus point win, but not entirely satisfied with the performance: “There were a few harsh words at half time because I felt we’d played some good rugby but had wasted lots of opportunities.
“We then improved and our scrum was powerful. The league is getting stronger and we will have to improve if we want to challenge again for a place in the top four.
“Something we need to look at is why we sometimes seem to switch off, but when things mattered the boys really fronted up in the final minutes.”