A HIGHLY competitive Yorkshire derby, the second of the season, but this time in the British and Irish Cup, was spoiled by what’s thought to be a suspected broken ankle to Titans forward Talite Vaioleti who had to be taken off by stretcher midway through the second half at Headingley.
The Tongan, in his first season at Clifton Lane, was injured in a nasty clash which resulted in play being held up for several minutes while Vaioleti received treatment on the pitch.
Rotherham trailed 10-3 at half time, but in the second half came back strongly and produced a fine and aggressive performance by the pack that controlled most of the ball and territory.
But despite this authority, the Titans could not convert it into match winning points, and deep into injury time, Leeds scored a third try when the referee awarded them a penalty try, increasing their lead to 17-3 following the conversion.
While the Titans lost by three tries to nil, coach Andre Bester will be satisfied that the players on the fringe of the first team dominated much of the second half, but less pleased that the only points Rotherham managed were from the boot of fly half Dave Marshall who struck a penalty in the first half.
Earlier, Rotherham’s forwards made a strong start with number eight Carl Kirwan prominent in attacks towards Leeds’ posts.
However, on 10 minutes Rotherham’s line was threatened and after initially repelling the raid from the Leeds pack, the Titans’ defence was smashed by Alex Rieder who crashed over putting the Headingley team 5-0 up.
Rotherham’s pack then won a promising position near the Leeds 22 which was awarded with a penalty, but Titans’ fly half Marshall missed the points.
That missed opportunity,a straightforward one,reprieved Leeds who were creating more space to attack than Rotherham. Nevertheless, Rotherham were defending stubbornly and when the chance arose were prepared to run the ball; and after little more than 20 minutes, they set up a dangerous position near the Leeds line following a good break by centre Tom Foden.
But unfortunately,the try scoring chance slipped away because they lost control of the ball, so Leeds were let off again.
Minutes later, Rotherham’s line was under pressure again which was turned into points on 26 minutes when Leeds number eight Rieder scored his second try, putting Rotherham 10-0 behind and, therefore, in some trouble.
Rotherham threw away another scoring chance late in the first half by losing the ball at their own line-out close to the Leeds line, but the Titans’ forwards quickly won the ball back.
This good spell by Rotherham resulted in the award of a penalty which, this time, was put over by Marshall whose kick reduced the deficit to 10-3 on 38 minutes.
n Titans: Hodgson, McMahon, Foden, Godfrey, Du Randt, Marshall, Kirkwood, Cahill, White, Harris, Maddison, Vaioleti, Noonan, Dickinson, Kirwan. Reps: Stagg, Stout, Hooper, Griffiths, Williams, Rhodes, Homan.