Rotherham Titans 6 Jersey 27: Titans launch inquest as pack loses its power in defeat

Rotherham Titans today begin a detailed analysis and discussion as to why they performed so poorly at Clifton Lane where they surprisingly lost to a highly committed Jersey team which outplayed the home side from start to finish.

Action from Rotherham Titans against Jersey. The hosts lost 27-6. Picture: Chris Etchells.

Rotherham, who have dropped to sixth in the league table, several points behind regional rivals Doncaster Knights and Yorkshire Carnegie, lacked a decisive attacking threat, managing only two penalties from fly-half Ross Jones and depriving themselves of a losing bonus point.

This unexpected defeat, their fourth in 10 Championship games, means that it is essential to recover quickly by winning at London Scottish on Saturday.

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Jersey were well worth their win by four tries to none and it will have come as something of a shock for Titans’ coach Mark Jones to watch his forwards being outfought.

The Channel Islanders led comfortably at half-time by 22-6 and Rotherham never looked as if they could assemble a match winning fightback.

Conceding three tries on 6, 19 and 34 minutes handed the initiative to Jersey, who never lost their authority, and when their pack, through flanker and captain Alex Rae scored a fourth try on 55 minutes from a line-out and driving maul, the contest was settled.

Weak defence allowed Jersey’s opening try by winger Ross Adair, the second by centre Fautua Otto was extremely lucky because he touched down the ball after it had bounced off a defender’s head or shoulder, but there could be no complaints about the third and fourth tries.

Shortly after 30 minutes, Rotherham’s forwards, struggling to adapt to the atrocious conditions in the constant downpour, lost control of the ball which was kicked on by Otto. His effort was followed up by winger Tom Howe, who touched down between the posts to put Jersey 17 points in front.

Later in the second half, Rotherham gave away another penalty that set up Rae’s try to confirm Jersey’s victory and a maximum five-point haul.

Apart from conceding four tries at home, what also stood out was Rotherham’s failure to create scoring chances to upset Jersey’s control. Arguably, they should have broken through on 47 minutes as the Titans enjoyed several phases of possession, but the opposing forwards turned the ball over.

Rotherham’s coaches, Jones and Steve Salvin, will no doubt express harsh words at today’s inquest.

“What’s important is that we learn the lessons from this defeat. The task now is to make sure we are well prepared for Saturday and that we turn up and perform at London Scottish,” said Jones.

Rotherham Titans: Scanlon, Rath, Hayes, Barker, Wilson, Jones(Goodwin 70), Davies(White 62), Hislop (Cromie 53), CMaddison, Thiede(Tampin 46), Holmes(Salmon 57), B Maddison, Calladine, Birch, Argyle.

Jersey: Penberthy, Howe, Otto (McCrae 72), Robling,Adair, Cope, Fisilau (Moates 64), Lockwood (Lancuba 63), Garcia-Veiga, Tomaszczyk (Herriott 49), Rowlands, Phillips, Rae, Graham (Freeman 65), Haining (Kolo’Ofa’l 65).

Referee: J Meredith (RFU).