ROTHERHAM TITANS were agonisingly beaten by Bristol in an intriguing British & Irish Cup quarter-final at the Memorial Stadium last night.
The two Championship high-flyers traded blows in an enthralling game – with Rotherham leading 16-5, 19-12 and, late in the game, 24-22 – before two late Bristol tries sent Andy Robinson’s side into the last four.
Lee Blackett’s men acquitted themselves superbly against the Championship pacesetters, responding positively to falling behind when Charlie Amesbury raced on to Auguy Slowik’s chip.
Juan Pablo Socino knocked over a penalty before Titans took the lead when they ran a penalty from their own 22, with Sean Scanlon going on a remarkable individual run from deep inside his own half to score. Socino converted.
Rotherham took the game to their big-spending hosts, with Socino adding two more penalties to give them a 16-5 lead approaching half-time.
But Bristol struck right before the interval to make it 16-12, Jack Tovey racing in to score after a mix-up from Rotherham following a scrum.
Socino knocked over a 30m penalty to make it 19-12 three minutes after the restart, but Bristol responded with their third try, Grieve being driven over from a line-out after they had kicked a penalty to touch.
Jarvis’s conversion drew the sides level, then a rare Bristol penalty edged them in front, only for Michael Keating to give the visitors the lead with a wonderful try.
But Grieve twisted his way to the line to nudge Bristol back in front before another Jarvis penalty and Amesbury’s late score gave a lop-sided scoreline.
Bristol: Slowik; Edwards, Tovey, Mosses (Rennie 70), Amesbury; Jarvis, Braley; Lilley (Genge 70), Hayes (Lawrence 62), Hobson (Davis 80), Joyce, Townson (Sambucetti 35), Eadie, Grieve, Skirving (capt). Unused replacements: Grindal, D’Arcy.
Scorers – Tries: Amesbury 2, Tovey, Grieve 2; goals – cons: Jarvis 4, pens: Jarvis 2.
Rotherham: Scanlon (Hayes 77); Broadley, Gill, Roberts, Wilson (Keating 53); Socino, White (Mulchrone 62); Gadd, Cruse (capt), Tampin (R Stout 62), Thomas-Brown, Williamson (Quigley 76), Rieder, Birch (Preece 44), To’oala (Williams 57).
Scorers – Tries: Scanlon, Keating; goals – cons: Socino, pens: Socino 4.