Rotherham produced a fighting and at times superb attacking performance at Bristol in the quarter-finals of the British and Irish Cup, but in the end were overcome 39-24.
The Titans, who led by 16-12 at half time and then by 24-22 on 68 minutes, fought non-stop and were the better side for several periods in a thrilling and close game which was much more competitive than the final score suggested.
Rotherham kept the ball alive and scored outstanding tries by full back Sean Scanlon who ran 60 metres to touch down for a brilliant try on 12 minutes and then by replacement winger Michael Keating, completing a fine build up that had ruined the Bristol defence just short of 70 minutes.
The Titans also threatened to steal what came near to being a major upset thanks to the accurate goal kicking of Juan Pablo Socino who struck four penalties, three in the first half and one in the second.
Rotherham controlled much of the play before the interval and led 16-5 as the end of the first period approached, but just before the break, Bristol scored their second try, and with their fly half Adrian Jarvis kicking the first of his four conversions, they cut the gap to only 16-12.
The Championship leaders were the stronger team after the break scoring three more tries on 46, 74 and 80 minutes.
While they go out of the Cup, the Titans remain very much candidates to reach the promotion play-offs; they have confirmed that they will play the home semi-final at Abbeydale, Sheffield RUFC’s ground, which will also stage the Sky game against Leeds Carnegie, in a fortnight.
“I want to reassure Rotherham fans that Clifton Lane remains our spiritual home and we will be playing there next season even though we have not been able to reach agreement with Rotherham Town Cricket Club who share the facilities with us,” said Nick Cragg, the Titans’ chairman.
“What we must do is to create our Shed atmosphere in Sheffield,” Cragg added.
Titans: Scanlon, Broadley, Gill, Roberts, Wilson, Socino, White, Gadd, Cruse, Tampin, Williamson, Thomas-Brown, Rieder, Birch, To’oala. Replacements: Quigley, Williams, Stout, Preece, Keating, Mulchrone, Hayes.
Tries: Scanlon, Keating. Conversion: Socino. Penalties: Socino 4.