Rotherham Titans have suffered batterings in successive consecutive league games after surprisingly losing at home by five tries to three against a lively Bedford side who have also failed to perform in the Championship so far this season.
Taking this latest defeat into account, Rotherham have now let in 12 tries in two games and, as against Yorkshire Carnegie, their tackling was often weak.
Given that Rotherham’s coach Justin Burnell is trying to build for the future and assemble a competitive squad for next season, it is a reasonable question to ask how many of this campaign’s players will be offered new contracts.
Rotherham, to be fair, have been badly hit by a serious injury crisis which has reduced their ability to compete, but that does not explain why five line-outs were lost at Clifton Lane and why their defence was broken so easily by opponents who were just above them in the league before kick-off.
Rotherham fought back in the second half as they added to an earlier try by centre Will Owen when winger Jake Henry scored on 48 minutes, and then following solid pressure by their forwards towards Bedford’s line, the Titans were awarded a penalty try.
That converted score cut the gap to 29-21 in Bedford’s favour, but with 10 minutes remaining, the Blues, enterprising throughout, smashed Rotherham’s defence yet again as their outstanding centre Piers O’Conor shot through to touch down for his team’s fifth try.
Rotherham’s performance was one of their worst for several seasons and one that was condemned by flanker Tom Calladine, who could not understand why, when preparations had been so thorough, the team had failed so badly at home.
“This was unacceptable. We’ve leaked points all over the pitch. It is massively disappointing,” he said of Rotherham’s 10th defeat in 15 Championship games.
“We are professional rugby players playing amateur rugby in my eyes and we are making the same simple mistakes. When we lose line-outs, it’s our mistakes because we are not under pressure.
“If you give the ball back to Bedford, they will score and we gifted them tries.”
The challenges facing Rotherham, second from bottom and, thankfully, safe from relegation this season, are formidable.
Next Sunday in Penzance they take on in-form Cornish Pirates, who are chasing a play-off place having conquered Yorkshire Carnegie, and then their next home game is against another free-scoring unit, Ealing Trailfinders, also aiming to finish in the top four.
Rotherham Titans: Thomas, Foley, Owen, Barker, Henry(Ryan 77), Millar, Tresidder(Walsh 70), Toby Williams(Tom Williams 59),Graham(Cole 38), Rees(Herriott 59), Normandale, Curry(Salmon 40), Calladine,Maddison, MacDonald(Lawrence 51).
Bedford Blues: Clement-Hill, Tapley, O’Conor, Dodge, Adamson, Dorrian (Sharp 76), Whiteley (Burns 63), Thompson-Stringer, George (Fields 69), Cooper (Walker 61), Onojaife, Hodge, Tupai, Adams, Hill (Blanchet-Dufresne 59).
Referee: Ben Blain.