Rotherham have two opportunities this week to put their Championship season back on track following two recent defeats by Nottingham and then Esher who won a game which Rotherham had sewn up.
On Wednesday, Titans go to bottom of the league Birmingham-Solihull and then on Saturday, there is the derby against Doncaster at Clifton Lane.
Wins would surely confirm their place in the promotion play-offs. Rotherham have themselves only to blame for Esher’s unexpected victory.
With a lead of 19-9 after 60 minutes, set up by three top class tries scored by forward James Sandford and backs Juan Pablo Socino and Jonny Hampsey,following a great break of 80 metres by full back Matty James, Rotherham were well in control and should have built on this match winning position.
Instead, they allowed Esher to grab the initiative. The Surrey side scored tries on 62 and 75 minutes, and with full back Sam Ulph adding two conversions to his three penalties, Rotherham’s lead was overtaken. Rotherham always struggle to defend against sides which keep the ball in hand and attack out wide. Their defence is stretched and they frequently pay the penalty. However, the damage in terms of transforming the result was inflicted by Esher’s pack who set up prop David Millard’s two tries. Esher’s commendable fight-back and the Titans’ inability to threaten Esher’s try line for almost all the second half, apart from James’s spectacular run of 80 metres delivering Hampsey’s try, proved to be costly.
The result meant that Rotherham earned a losing bonus point only - not the return a team aiming to finish in the top eight should be achieving against one of the league’s weaker teams, supposedly. The club’s poor away form, handicaps their progress up the table and that’s why they must win on Wednesday against opponents who have leaked more than 600 points this season so far.
Another defeat by a side which is in the bottom four would be inadequate preparation for the visit of Doncaster. Rotherham remain in seventh place on 37 points, but whether they will have centres Jonny Hepworth and Cliff Hodgson back from injury on Wednesday is unclear.