Rotherham Titans will find out early this week who their opponents will be in the quarter finals of the British and Irish Cup now that the qualifying stages of the competition are over.
Rotherham guaranteed themselves a home tie in the last eight in February with the last play of a thrilling cup match at Clifton Lane when replacement fly half Tom Barrett dramatically put over a conversion from the touchline to seize the point the Titans required.
Barrett had already kicked one conversion on 73 minutes and then a penalty on 80 minutes, but it will be his calmness and accuracy just when they were needed most that will be remembered.
As his brilliant conversion went through the posts, Barrett’s kick completed an astonishing recovery by Rotherham that never seemed likely because in the last eight minutes they scored 17 points from a hopeless position as they were losing 28-5 in an exciting Yorkshire derby.
Now, thanks to the heroics of try scorers, scrum half James Mitchell and Irish forward Will Ryan, plus the seven points from Barrett, Rotherham will be at Clifton Lane again in the quarter finals probably against Irish sides Munster or Leinster or Pontypridd from South Wales.
Earlier, during the third derby against Yorkshire Carnegie this season, Rotherham, who finished top of Pool 2 with 25 points, were second best as chances failed to be taken and the Leeds club, defending solidly, capitalised on the Titans’ carelessness by scoring four tries.
So by 68 minutes, it looked as if Rotherham, who had already qualified for the last eight by winning Pool 2 but needed one point only to confirm a quarter final tie at Clifton Lane, would fail to secure that advantage.
Carnegie were well worth their lead of 28-5 as Rotherham headed for their first defeat in the B and I Cup, and it was hard to imagine them adding to their first try on 50 minutes by flanker Max Argyle.
However, finally in an exciting climax, solid possession was turned into vital points as scoring opportunities were created and taken now that the forwards were in control.
As coach Lee Blackett starts his preparations for the Boxing Day Championship clash against Moseley at Clifton Lane, he will be insisting there’s no repeat of the mistakes that handed the Headingley side their first win over Rotherham following consecutive defeats.
“ We are happy to have a home draw in the last eight but disappointed with the performance. We are hurt by the loss but right at the end Barrett showed nerves of steel.