Bristol 26 Rotherham Titans 17: Bristol still prove too strong as Titans fall short again

Bristol, the team who ended Rotherham’s promotion hopes last term, inflicted a third defeat of the season on Lee Blackett’s side at Ashton Gate yesterday.

Sean Scanlon scored for Rotherham at Bristol.

Max Crumpton’s last-gasp score sealed a five-point victory for Bristol, extended their winning start in the league to a club record eight matches – and denied Rotherham a losing point.

That was tough on a competitive Titans side who led 10-7 at half-time, and then, after Bristol fought back to lead 19-10, got back to within two points as the game entered stoppage time.

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Chris Brooker, George Watkins and Glen Townson all scored tries for Bristol before Crumpton’s late score, while Sean Scanlon and Alex Rieder went over for the visitors.

Scanlon had given the Titans an eighth-minute lead, ghosting through the Bristol defence from James McKinney’s pass to score a fine solo try, which McKinney converted to quieten the home contingent in a crowd of 6,428.

Bristol, who turned down a number of early kicks at goal in order to go for touch, finally saw the policy pay off on 26 minutes, when hooker Brooker reached over following a drive. Nicky Robinson converted.

But Bristol, despite all their territory and possession, went in at half-time 10-7 down after McKinney knocked over a penalty from close to the halfway line. Bristol regained the lead after half-time when Robinson picked out Watkins on the left wing with a finely-executed kick.

McKinney snaffled an interception and raced in from close to halfway to touch down but it was pulled back for a foul.

Townson touched down from a lineout after visiting flanker Jack Preece was sin-binned.

But again the Titans battled back, Rieder going over after Bristol had strayed offside, before a long spell of Bristol pressure ended with Auguy Slowik playing in Crumpton to clinch the win.

Bristol: Slowik, Wallace, Eves, Mosses, Watkins, Robinson (Jarvis 66), Peel; O’Connell (Cortes 60), Brooker (Crumpton 70), Hall, Glynn (M Sorenson 57), Townson, Mama, Robinson (N Koster 57), Eadie. Unused replacement: C Hampson, G Maule.

Rotherham: Scanlon, Keating, Gill (Harris 58), Davies, Wilson, McKinney (Barrett, 66), Davies; Hislop, Cruse (Birch 16), Thiede (Tampin 62), Parker, Holmes (Maddison 57), Rieder, Preece, Ryan. Unused replacement: J Mitchell.

Referee: L Pearce.