Rugby: Ben Foley and Caolan Ryan step up to rescue Rotherham Titans
During a fighting team performance in the last 15 minutes, two individuals, however, stood out and turned a possible defeat into cheerful celebrations.
Winger Ben Foley, a villain four weeks ago when he was red carded at London Welsh and banned for a month, scored two thrilling tries on 75 and 78 minutes as Rotherham recovered from being 16-9 down.
The other hero is much less well known: replacement fly half Caolan Ryan, signed last week from National One club, Darlington Mowden Park.
On his Championship debut and within a few minutes of being sent on, Ryan was given the responsibility of kicking the points that would secure the Titans win.
Remarkably, the 25 year old, who began his professional career at the Worcester academy and then played for Moseley and Coventry, skilfully converted both of Foley’s tries.
His first kick made it 16-16 and then soon afterwards Ryan’s second put Rotherham in front by 23-16.
Considering the playing background of both Foley and Ryan this season, they took their opportunities brilliantly as if they were veterans with years of experience.
“I’m pretty pleased and I didn’t have to do anything special,” said Foley modestly.
“I got a good pass from Ryan for my first try and then I just kicked the ball ahead for the second, hit it and hoped, and then fell on the ball to score.
“We made it harder four ourselves than it needed to be, and it was nice to get the win after the bad defeat at Ealing.
“This was an outstanding team effort and it showed the value of all the hard work we do on Mondays in the fitness sessions which are not always good fun.
“We showed that in the last 10 or 15 minutes of a game, there are not many sides that can keep up with us.”
In a dull contest , apart from the climax, and featuring errors by both teams, Rotherham’s other points came from fly half Will Robinson who put over three penalties on 5, 39 and 52 minutes before being replaced by Ryan.
Coach Justin Burnell was delighted with the team’s commitment throughout.
“One thing we have in abundance here is the work ethic. We never roll over and I am proud to say that I’ve never come across before in my career such a hard working group of players.
“They keep on going and just want to learn. When I signed Caolan Ryan I told the directors that he had talent and it showed and he is with us until the end of the season.”
Rotherham Titans: Hudson, Foley, Owen, Barker, Henry, Robinson, Tresidder, Toby Williams, Cole, Rees, Salmon, Hicks, Curry, Calladine, MacDonald.
Replacements: Graham, Tom Williams, Herriott, Lawrence, Grange, Walsh, Ryan.
Scorers: Tries: Foley 2.Conversions: Ryan 2. Penalties: Robinson 3.
Referee: Mike Hudson.