Titans need two wins to ensure safety

Tom Calladine scored his fifth try in three games for Rotherham Titans. Photo: Glenn Ashley/glennashley.org

Tom Calladine scored his fifth try in three games for Rotherham Titans. Photo: Glenn Ashley/glennashley.org

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Rotherham’s new coach, Justin Burnell suffered his first defeat in three games since taking over at Clifton Lane.

And on his return to his former club, he saw the extent of the weaknesses that have to be put right.

But Titans,beaten by four tries to one at Old Deer Park, can be thankful that the two other clubs fighting relegation, Ealing Trailfinders and Moseley, also lost and failed to earn any points in the Championship.

Rotherham have four league matches left against Nottingham, Jersey, London Scottish and Ealing and probably still require two wins to make sure they stay up and don’t drop into National One.

Following Rotherham’s 11th loss in 18 Championship games, the club remain in 10th place on 33 points, still seven points clear of Ealing (26) and nine above bottom club Moseley on 24.

Burnell now has plenty of time to work on the faults that resulted in the defeat because Rotherham don’t have another league fixture until the last Saturday of the month, so with 20 days to prepare for the visit of Nottingham to Clifton Lane, the coaches can try to rectify the careless errors that ruined their prospects in London.

Burnell said: “ I’m very disappointed. We gifted them their tries from our turn-overs. At crucial times we handed the ball over to Welsh and we allowed them into the game from our own mistakes.”

Rotherham were losing 22-3 early in the second half, but fought back with energy and commitment to set up a try for flanker Tom Calladine, his fifth in the last three games, on 50 minutes.

Replacement fly half Ross Jones then added the conversion but also went on to kick two important penalties on 56 and 68 minutes, points that slashed London Welsh’s lead to only six points.

So with just 12 minutes left, Rotherham, now behind by just 22-16, had the momentum and, at least, the hope of a losing bonus point.

However, shortly after gaining a foothold in the game and putting their opponents under pressure, Rotherham ruined their chances. From a line out, London Welsh won the ball, spread it wide and created gaps in the Titans’ defence that allowed full back Chris Elder to score his team’s fourth try on 70 minutes and with it certain victory.

The conversion put Rotherham 29-16 in arrears, and just before the end, home fly half, Olly Barkley, capped 23 times by England, struck his second penalty to add to his three conversions in a match winning display.

Now Rotherham have two Saturdays off, fly half Will Goodwin, who suffered a rib injury in the first half, should have time to recover to face Nottingham.

Rotherham Titans: Scanlon, Keating, Hayes, Owen, Broadley, Goodwin, Carter, Hislop, C.Maddison, Tampin, Holmes, Salmon,B.Maddison,Calladine, Argyle. Replacements: Harris, Thiede, Williams, Birch, Preece, Davies, Jones.

Scorers: Try: Calladine. Conversion: Jones. Penalties:Jones 3.