Rotherham’s plans for competing in National One next season are well advanced, but the relegated Championship club waved goodbye in style as they produced a magnificent performance in their last home game at this level in a remarkable Yorkshire derby at Clifton Lane.
The Titans won only their second league match, however, they saved the best for the last as Rotherham fought back from a seemingly hopeless position with Yorkshire Carnegie leading comfortably 19-6 on the hour.
The Headingley club, sixth in the Championship, may well have an injury crisis, but were comfortably in control having scored three tries, two by hooker Mike Mayhew and one from winger Louis Brown.
Suddenly and against the run of play, Carnegie collapsed to concede 21 points in 12 minutes as Rotherham astonishingly broke through to score three tries on 59, 63 and 72 minutes, the first and the third by winger Drew Cheshire and the second from his team-mate on the left wing, Jake Henry.
And with fly-half Caolan Ryan striking the ball accurately to put over three conversions, Rotherham transformed the contest to lead 27-19. Carnegie were handicapped by a yellow card against prop Craig Mitchell and during the 10 minutes of his absence, Rotherham ruthlessly exploited their advantage by scoring 14 points.
The Titans had earlier suffered from their own indiscipline after the sin-binning of forward Matt Postlethwaite and centre Lee Millar on 39 and 51 minutes.
This derby, from which Carnegie earned two points, will not be remembered for the mistakes and missed opportunities, too many by both sides, but for the exciting turnaround and fighting spirit displayed by Rotherham who must be wondering why they are being relegated after 22 years in the top leagues of English rugby when they can produce form, although it was rather late, of such a high standard.
As for Carnegie, shocked by Rotherham’s recovery and their own collapse, they too can bounce back tomorrow night against Ealing Trailfinders at Headingley.
Rotherham Titans: Thomas, Cheshire, Cooke, Millar, Henry, Ryan, Vieira, Williams, Cole (Dolly 69), Foster (Palmer 76), Louw, Postlethwaite, Burns, Peters, Calladine.
Yorkshire Carnegie: McColl, Bullough, Elder, Forsyth, Brown (Dunne 60),Lucock (Davey 58), Cox, Thraves (Beech 60), M.Mayhew (Newborn 76), Mitchell, Whetton, Smith, West, R.Mayhew, Beck(Bainbridge 58).
Referee: Dean Richards (RFU).