Jersey 29 Rotherham 32: Victorious Rotherham must improve as standards rise

Rotherham Titans' Michael Keating scored a vital second-half try for his team in Jersey.
Rotherham Titans' Michael Keating scored a vital second-half try for his team in Jersey.
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Rotherham TITANS raised their game in the second half to seal a third successive win.

A 27-point surge in the third quarter underpinned Rotherham’s success after a frustrating first half.

Jersey came back late on but had left themselves with too much to do and had to be content with two bonus points.

“I felt we played some good rugby in the first half but we were also too eager with unnecessary off-loads and passes and, as a result, most of our opportunities came to nothing,” said Titans coach Lee Blackett.

“There were a few harsh words at half-time, and the team reacted well.

“I’m pleased to have three wins out of four – the standard in this league is definitely improving. You look at a team like Jersey who have got some real quality and realise that we will have to improve ourselves if we want another top-four finish.”

The Titans were behind within three minutes thanks to an opportunist try from Jersey flanker Nick Haining but good running by Sean Scanlon and Dan White set up James McKinney for the visiting side’s opening try shortly afterwards.

The Titans failed to add to their tally in spite of some promising territorial gains, and it was Jersey who stretched their lead before the break through Tommy Bell’s penalty, although the full-back also put wide two kickable efforts.

Rotherham’s scrum was the platform for the second-half recovery, with two tries resulting from turnover ball on Jersey’s put-in. Alex Rieder claimed the first within three minutes of the restart and Willie Ryan had an identical score within seconds of arriving as a 56th-minute replacement.

When Jersey conceded possession, the Yorkshire side reacted instantly and a kick-chase involving wingers Michael Keating and Jamie Broadley saw Keating claim the try 70 metres downfield.

At 32-15, the contest looked over but Jersey refused to lie down and after two tries from rolling mauls and another for Haining, they set up a nail-biting finale, especially when Tom Holmes was the second Titan to be sent to the sin-bin after Tom Cruse’s earlier punishment.

The Islanders turned down a shot at goal to draw the match, but their attacking intentions came to nothing as Titans refused to yield and hung on for victory.

Jersey: Bell, Foster (Bishop 65), Locke, Robling, Burroughs (McCrea 52), Bentley, Glynn (Dudley 63); Lancuba (Herriott 55), Garcia-Veiga (Harris 68), Williams (Lancuba 60), Phillips (Markham 60), Rae, Haining, Hodson, Noone (Kaho 55).

Rotherham Titans: Scanlon, Keating (Hayes 63), Gill, Davies, Broadley, McKinney (Barrett 59), White (McGaffin 56); Hislop (Williams 59), Cruse, Thiede (Tampin 56), Morris (Parker 50), Holmes, Birch (Ryan 56), Preece, Rieder.

Referee: D Proctor (RFU).