Rotherham Titans 27 Cornish Pirates 24: First league win and team spirit offers faint hopes of ‘great escape’

Rotherham Titans' Caolan Ryan (Picture: Scott Merrylees).
Rotherham Titans' Caolan Ryan (Picture: Scott Merrylees).
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ROTHERHAM TITANS’ highly-dramatic first league win of the season prompts the question as to why they have left it so late to reveal the competitive form that could prevent relegation if it had been delivered far sooner in the Championship campaign.

The Titans, who fully deserved their first victory after 13 consecutive defeats, have now won three games in succession, two in the British & Irish Cup and now this remarkable triumph in the Championship.

But this improvement will not stop the directors planning for life in National One.

Deep into stoppage-time with the scores level at 24-24, Rotherham clinched an astonishing win once an accurate penalty kick, from a difficult angle and into the wind, had been successfully struck by full-back Caolan Ryan.

Considering that Ryan had only seconds to prepare for such an important kick because Rotherham’s preferred place kicker, fly-half Lee Millar, had been replaced, his calmness under severe pressure was mightily impressive.

Given the team’s consistent failure until the new year, the ecstatic celebrations that broke out were perfectly understandable. “I wasn’t really nervous because I didn’t realise I would be taking the kick. I thought Lee would take it but then I saw him on the bench,” explained heroic Ryan, one of Rotherham’s three tryscorers alongside wingers Will Thomas and Drew Cheshire.

It’s an honour to win the game, but this was a team performance. We have self-belief and the great escape has been mentioned.

Rotherham’s Caolan Ryan

“So I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it. It’s an honour to win the game, but this was a team performance.

“We have self-belief and the great escape has been mentioned. The team spirit is higher than it’s ever been, the disappointments have brought us together and we are undefeated in 2018.”

During a close contest in which Cornish Pirates also scored three tries, some of Rotherham’s back play stood out, an aspect identified by coach Nick Rouse.

Rotherham, way behind London Scottish and Hartpury College at the bottom of the Championship table, have eight games remaining, but only three at home.

Rotherham Titans: Ryan, Cheshire (Foley 40), Cooke, Barker, Thomas, Millar (Henry 78), Davies, Williams, Murphy (Cole 49), Foster, Louw, Lasis (Dolly 67), Peters, Maddison (Burns 78), Calladine.

Cornish Pirates: T May, Moyle, Koster, De Battista, Coronel (O’Meara 58), Cargill (L May 67), Day, Walker (J Andrew 12), Matavesi, Judge (P Andrew 52), Morgan, Freeman (Caulfield 58), Cooper (Lee 47), Stevens, Duncan.

Referee: Fergus Kirby.