IT WAS far from pretty but Rotherham Titans have, at last, picked up a much-needed victory
Justin Burnell’s side beat bottom-placed Championship rivals Richmond to end a seven-game winless run.
This had initially been billed as a crucial survival clash but, following the RFU’s decision to throw London Welsh out of the competition earlier in the week and subsequently rid relegation for this season, there was none of the expected tension and drama at Clifton Lane today.
Nevertheless, the South Yorkshire side, with only Richmond below them in the table, were desperate to get back to winning ways and they did that with a little help from Lee Millar, the ex-London Scottish fly-half brought in from Hull Ionians.
His kicking proved excellent as the hosts held off a stirring second half effort from the London-based part-time visitors.
Rotherham had built up a 23-3 interval advantage, Millar having piloted them perfectly, but struggled to maintain momentum following a fine opening period.
He slotted the first of his three penalties after just three minutes but even then it certainly was not all one-way traffic.
Richmond quickly levelled via Rob Kirby’s penalty and - when Rotherham were reduced to 14 men later in the half - they enjoyed some genuine pressure of their own.
However, Burnell’s team handled that well, showing great resilience in defence after lock Oli Curry had been yellow carded in the 30th minute for preventing Sam Stuart from taking a quick penalty tap.
Twice, when under real pressure on their own line, they forced Richmond into conceding penalties when in possession, before escaping for Millar to kick his third penalty on the stroke of half-time.
Millar had also helped create a wonderful opening try for George Tressider, the fly-half’s superb short pass seeing Joe Barker burst through and then the scrum-half finishing well on the inside.
Millar converted and did so again when Rotherham’s pack proved far too strong, No8 Tom MacDonald benefitting from a line-out drive in the 22nd minute.
Admittedly, the home side came examination again at the start of the second period, too, but crucially they managed to disrupt two Richmond lone-outs on their own line and clear the danger.
Their opponents - with just two wins since earning promotion - were dogged, though, and never let up.
They scored a well-earned try in the 67th minute when some smart hands out wide saw centre Cameron Mitchell cross, Kirby converting.
Furthermore, Rotherham did not even get into their 22 until the 74th minute when full-back Will Thomas made a long-range break to finally enjoy some respite.
However, it mattered little; Titans picked up their first win since defeating Jersey Reds on November 19 and with perfect timing, too, given they have a derby at high-flying Yorkshire Carnegie next Sunday.
Rotherham Titans: Thomas; Foley, Wilson (Kelly 79), Barker (Owen 57), Henry; Millar, Tressider; Tom Williams (Toby Williams 60), Maddison, Rees (Herriott 71), Salmon, Curry (Hicks 69-Graham 76), Lawrence, Calladine, MacDonald (Tyas 69).
Richmond: Kirby; Woodward, Mitchell, McLean, Cheesman (Browne 77); Damant (Gabbitass 78), Stuart (Gibbs 78); Cunnew (Tarrant 62), Grimstone (Townsend 68), Harden, Warden (Walford 70), Corker, Peters, Allcock, Edwards (Davies 57).
Referee: Tom Foley (RFU)