Doncaster Knights 14 Rotherham Titans 15
The dramatic, last minute match winning penalty kick by Rotherham’s fly half, Garry Law, which not only shocked the Scotsman but everyone else in the crowd of just over 4,000 at Castle Park, is going to have beneficial long term consequences as the Titans enter the play-offs next month.
After Law’s thrilling kick in the eighth minute of injury time which overturned Doncaster’s 14-12 lead, Rotherham coach Andre Bester said: “We now have a lot of self-belief going into the promotion play-offs.
“I can now get more out of my players in terms of preparation, mentally we are learning to cope with pressure and we were substantially better than against Cornish Pirates last Monday.”
The excellent attendance at the South Yorkshire derby showed that if the region can sustain two successful rugby teams and the sport is marketed professionally, then Championship rugby union has a solid future.
Law’s match winning contribution was by no means the only decent performance in a contest which removed years of failure at Doncaster by Rotherham.
This was their first win at Castle Park in nine attempts. Irish winger Shane Monahan shot through for two superb scores, one in each half, for the Titans as they fought back from being 14-7 down at the interval.
Rotherham’s centre Dave McCall had a fine game, too, as did forward Sam Dickinson whose try saving tackle on winger Michael Keating, just in front of the posts on 64 minutes, stopped Doncaster stretching their lead.
Irish flanker Robin Copeland and number eight, Semisi Taluava, also produced powerful efforts in the Titans pack during a close match which saw the visitors recover after a poor 20 minutes towards the end of the first half.
Rotherham may well have conceded a penalty try and then a soft try when they were reduced to 13 men following yellow cards against forwards Ben Harris and Shane Cahill, but they overcame a bad patch and continued to show total belief in each other.
After consecutive Championship defeats to Bristol and Pirates morale boosting win, is invaluable in terms of team spirit; however,discipline needs to improve, too many penalties were given away, and Rotherham must find ways of turning their possession into points.
That is precisely what Law achieved on 88 minutes enabling Rotherham to earn a rare achievement: two league wins against their rivals in the same season.
He said: “I’m full of relief having missed a couple of kicks in the first half and then in the second, the conversion toppled off the tee. I was standing there and the wind was coming right to left.
“I could then see the big flag in the corner and the wind was blowing left to right. I did not know what the direction was and when I kicked it, I thought it was too far to the left. It was embarrassing but then it just took off and swung out. Actually, I thought it was going to hit the bar, but it went through. I guess, I’m really relieved.”
Knights: Flockhart, Goss, Burdon, Gidlow, Keating, McDonogh, Hallam, Davies, Boden, Brown, Challinor, Parsons, Boyde, Farivarz, Noone. Reps: Yeandle, Corsar, Kettle, Makaafi, Planchant, Heaney, Hewley-Berridge.
Tries: Penalty, Farivarz.Conversions: Flockhart 2.
Titans: Hamilton, Foden, McCall, Nonu, Monahan, Law, Williams, Harris, Stagg, O’Donnell, Dickinson, Patrick, Copeland, Dougall, Taulava. Reps: Baines, Cahill, Hooper, Maddison, Kirwan, Tellwright, Hodgson.
Tries: Monahan, 2.Conversion:Law.Penalty: Law.
Referee: Steve Lee.