Yorkshire Carnegie suffered the indignation of being nilled on home soil against one of their most bitter rivals last night.
Penalties by Jordan Davies and James McKinney settled a turgid contest in Rotherham’s favour, one built on stout defence by both teams but a paucity of any running rugby.
It is a fourth Championship defeat out of six for Yorkshire Carnegie this season, and a first in the regular season at home to the Titans since 2007, a year in which Leeds won promotion.
They looked far from promotion candidates though last night. Carnegie were woeful as an attacking threat, save for a five-minute spell before half-time when they finally probed with purpose and originality.
Otherwise, they looked a side torn between the orders from head coach Gary Mercer to be defensive-minded and their own natural instincts to attack.
The greasy surface meant for poor handling, granted, but both teams failed to generate any momentum.
The scoreboard operator wasn’t troubled until the 17th minute on a night when he could have chipped off after an hour.
Rotherham broke the deadlock with a 50-metre penalty from inside centre Jordan Davies that sneaked over the upright.
On their first venture into the visitors’ 22, Carnegie’s Pete Lucock spilled the ball after a thumping hit from the Titans’ Davies.
Every time Rotherham had the impetus they conspired to turn the ball over before the threat of an attack could become anything of menace.
Carnegie’s defence – the area head coach Mercer identified as his first point of business when taking charge – was standing up to the energetic visitors.
Nathan Hannay, Jared Williams and captain Ryan Burrows – Carnegie’s ball-carrying forwards – took the fight to Rotherham, and it was their drive that took the hosts into scoring range shortly before the break.
For all their pounding at the door, with Jonah Holmes and Burrows prevalent, the Titans held firm before forcing an infringement for an obstruction.
But back came Carnegie, Williams bursting through from midfield before Jon Clarke looked set to finish the job, only for Curtis Wilson to make a last-ditch saving tackle that ultimately would prove the decisive act.
Rotherham had to stop the ensuing assault illegally, but it was a ploy that worked, as despite losing Davies to the sin-bin for killing the ball, Harry Leonard missed the penalty for the hosts.
Even with 14 men to start the second half, Rotherham retained the impetus and on a night of low-scoring, McKinney’s decision to kick a second penalty from in front of the posts after a Carnegie infringement to put Rotherham 6-0 ahead appeared wise.
McKinney could have killed the game off for Rotherham with a penalty in the first minute of stoppage time, but he pulled it wide, giving Yorkshire a glimmer of hope, one, fittingly, they could not capitalise on.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Georgiou, Holmes, Lucock, Clarke, McIlwaine, Leonard (Vickerman 50), Pilgrim (Dudman 60); Harris (Imiloek 51), Graham (J Walker 51), Tideswell (Hooper 73), Smith, Hannay (Edwards 60), Williams, C Walker, Burrows. Unused reps: Edwards, Barnard.
Rotherham Titans: Scanlon, Keating, Gill, J Davies, Wilson, McKinney, Mitchell; Williams (Thiede 49), Cruse, Tampin (Hislop 49), Holmes, Robinson, Argyle (Ryan 64), Birch, Rieder. Unused reps: Preece, Parker, A Davies, Hayes.
Referee: I Tempest (RFU).