YOU WONDER if Rotherham Titans can really get over this.
It will certainly be a question posed internally at the club this week as they sift through the pieces of a brutally cruel defeat at the hands of London Scottish.
At the end, drained players looked utterly broken scattered across the Clifton Lane pitch, either on their haunches, head in hands or just lying supine staring up into the sky.
That is what happens when the rarest of victories is snatched away from you at the death.
It was in an absurd 10th minute of injury-time, and with the very last play, that Scottish winger Craig Holland scampered over for the winning try, finally breaching an exhausted Rotherham defence that seemed intent on still somehow holding firm.
To lose in such a fashion is always hard to bear but when you have lost all nine league games previously and get so close to at last gaining some rewards, it borders on being inhumane.
Nevertheless, the cold facts state Rotherham are bottom, 16 points adrift of 11th placed Scottish and Jersey in 10th, already staring relegation in the face.
Granted, there was complaints, not just about the length of injury-time but some contentious decisions, too, and Rotherham captain Tom Calladine did concede: “It is so disappointing.
“To get the game pulled away from you by officials – which is what I think happened today – is gut-wrenching.
“We gave ourselves opportunity to win the game and I just feel like it has been taken away from us. You try to play so the ref can’t control the game or take decisions away from you.
“But I feel when it’s that tight and you look up at the clock and it says 51 minutes and there’s been a one-minute injury…?
“Or when Will Thomas, our full-back, was taken out in the air which is a red card in international rugby and yellow in Championship. Watch it on the Premiership highlights show and it’s a yellow every day of the week but nothing happened here.
“Those sorts of decisions change the game.”
The pressure will now undoubtedly increase on head coach Andy Key with Rotherham facing a derby at his former club Yorkshire Carnegie on Sunday.
Scottish hooker Isaac Miller crossed after just four minutes but the hosts quickly sorted themselves out and went in 17-7 ahead after two fine tries from the wonderful scrum-half Rhodri Davies, seven points courtesy of Caolan Ryan’s boot and despite seeing Yiannis Loizias stretchered off with a knee injury.
Their opponents were much improved in the second period, though, Jake Sharp slotting a penalty and then levelling when converting Miller’s second after line-out drive in the 48th minute.
Sharp put them in front with a 71st minute penalty but just four minutes later, replacement full-back Charlie Ingall saw his clearance kick charged down. Ben Foley hacked on but Ingall cynically tackled him off the ball as the Rotherham winger chased, and a penalty try was awarded, leaving Titans 24-20 ahead.
Ingall was yellow-carded and it seemed the hosts would hang on only for their game-management to falter during that contentious injury-time.
Flanker Calladine added: “I can’t take any credit away from the boys. After that first five minutes we scored 17 points and nilled them, scoring from all over the pitch and Caolan kicked really well in the first half. In the second we lacked a bit of accuracy but you sometimes do playing into the wind.
“To be in with a chance of winning at 80 minutes is a far cry from the beginning of the season.
“But this and last week were the games we needed to win – Scottish and Jersey – and we haven’t.
“We’ll have to take a long hard look at ourselves. Leeds away is a hard game to go into now and we don’t make it easy for ourselves.
“We’re feeling the pressure – the club, the coaches, the players – but the sign of a good team is how it comes out the other side.
“You’d just like to think some of the decisions and all the Lady Luck will come our way one day.”
Rotherham Titans: Thomas; Foley, Loizias (Hamilton 32), Tibbetts, Cheshire; Ryan, Davies; Tom Williams (Murphy 62), Cole (Toby Williams 56), Shields (Palmer 67), Peters, Hodge, Calladine, Maddison (Postlethwaite 76), Burns (Grange 72). Replacement unused: Millar
London Scottish: Lyle (Ingall 73); L Williams, Neal, Mosses, Holland; Sharp, Walker; Appiah (Christie 72), Miller (George 72), McQuillan (Cringle 54), Milne, Mills, Gillanders, Walker (Marley 73), Atkinson. Replacements unused: Onyeama, Berry, Hoadley.
Referee: Matthew O’Grady (RFU).