Rotherham Titans 10 London Irish 38: Titans not disgracd against champions-elect
Championship leaders London Irish, who are favourites to return immediately to the Aviva Premiership, were too powerful and skilful at Clifton Lane where they won by five tries to one.
But their coach Nick Kennedy paid tribute to beaten Rotherham Titans:
“We expected a tough match and we got one. It was very close at half time and the Rotherham pack played strongly. Rotherham are a well-coached side.”
Titans may have lost for the sixth time in the league, but can be highly satisfied with their efforts, competitiveness and spirit against a team that included Ben Franks, their All Black prop who has twice won the World Cup.
Indeed, Franks’ colleagues in the London Irish front row- Tom Court and David Paice - are Ireland and England internationals respectively and Court has appeared for the British and Irish Lions.
So against such vast experience, the Rotherham front row of Tom Williams, Joe Graham and Joe Rees had a mountainous challenge to confront and not once did they buckle.
They were outstanding and as Titans’ coach Justin Burnell said: “The whole front row were very impressive. They played their guts out and I thought Tom Williams was tremendous the way he stood up to Franks.
“Our forwards were most competitive. The game could have gone horribly wrong for us, but it didn’t.
“We were in the fight and at half time we could have gone in 17-all when we were over their line and lost the ball.
“The match showed that if you turn the ball over against better opposition, they make gains.
“But we can take good points from the game.”
Burnell said Titans may have Will Thomas back from injury against Munster A next Saturday in the British and Irish Cup Pool 2 clash at Clifton Lane.
Rotherham scored an excellent try from an attacking line out as hooker Joe Graham shot over to begin a recovery after a poor start which saw Irish quickly go ahead by 17-0.
But with fly half Caolan Ryan converting and then adding a penalty, Rotherham were back in the contest at 17-10.
However, as in the first half when they failed to score from two line outs, the Titans then made the same error again to reprieve their opponents.
The Championship leaders, for whom full back Tommy Bell scored 23 points, were never so generous and, instead, ruthlessly created and took their opportunities.
Rotherham’s line was crossed three times in the second half as London Irish attacked quickly to confirm their 11th successive league win.
The Championship campaign has reached its half way stage with Rotherham in 10th place on 22 points with four wins, six defeats and one draw.
Rotherham Titans: Goodwin, Foley, Owen, Barker, Henry, Ryan, Tresidder, Williams, Graham, Rees, Salmon, Hicks, Grange, Calladine, Lawrence.
Replecaments: Hutchinson, Herriott, Normandale, Curry, Sanderson, Walsh, Sykes.
Scorers:Try: Graham. Conversion: Ryan. Penalty: Ryan.
Referee: Andrew Jackson.