In an extraordinary derby at Headingley where Rotherham were slaughtered in the first half by six tries to one, Yorkshire Carnegie resisted a Titans recovery and confirmed their status as genuine candidates for the promotion play-offs in the spring.
Carnegie have now won 12 of their 13 Championship contests and achieved a maximum of five points as Rotherham were outclassed, especially in the opening 40 minutes in which the Titans failed miserably to cope with their opponents’ pace and penetration.
While Carnegie were overwhelmingly the far superior team, even though they received three yellow cards against skipper Ryan Burrows and second rows Ben West and Matt Smith, Rotherham fought back strongly to score three second-half tries on 43, 50 and 55 minutes by lock Oli Curry, scrum-half George Tresidder and no8 Tom MacDonald.
Astonishingly, given their shocking and embarrassing display earlier when they were being thrashed 42-7 at the interval,Rotherham won the second half by 19-14, and by adding to the try on 30 minutes by prop Tom Williams, they earned a bonus point even though they lost badly by 30 points.
As Rotherham recovered because the pack won territory and decent ball to attack, Carnegie were forced to spend more time in their own half. Chances to score were by no means as regular as before, but on 48 minutes replacement three-quarter Stevie McColl touched down for the seventh to hint at more to come.
However, Rotherham’s spirit – why wasn’t it seen earlier? – restricted the league’s second-placed team to only one more try in added time as full-back Chris Elder shot through for his second.
With his team surely heading for the play-offs, coach Bryan Redpath was highly satisfied with the result and his second win against Rotherham in the Championship this season.
“The pace and the energy at the start was outstanding” he said. “We were great for 35 minutes and the execution was excellent.We finished really well in the first half.
“We’ll have to deal with the issue of yellow cards as we were down to 13 at one point. But these things happen. Credit to Rotherham. They got a sniff and they made opportunities. Now, we’ve got big games coming up and there are no easy matches left.”
Carnegie started sensationally scoring a thrilling try from the kick-off as Elder completed a devastating move with less than a minute gone, and if that wasn’t bad enough, Rotherham’s defence was smashed again a minute later. This time winger Taylor Prell finished a slick attack and with fly-half Joe Ford converting both tries, a lead of 14-0 rapidly appeared.
A one-sided contest, at this stage, grew when Carnegie’s pack created ball for right winger Jonah Holmes to cross Rotherham’s line unopposed on five minutes. Astonishingly, the Titans were being humiliated at 21-0, and then their hopelessness deteriorated further as Carnegie grabbed a bonus point in the 10th minute with prop Lewis Boyce being driven over. Following Ford’s fourth conversion, he kicked eight in total, Carnegie led 28-0. And the lead went out to 35 before Titans got their act together.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Elder, Holmes, Lucock, Casson(McColl 40), Prell, Ford, Davies, Boyce(O’Donnell 69), Nilsen, Faletau(Thraves 40), West, Smith(Myerscough 60), Mayhew,Bainbridge(Stedman 49), Burrows.
Rotherham Titans: Thomas(Walsh 52), Wilson(Foley 31), Owen, Barker, Millar, Tresidder, Tom Williams(Toby Williams 49), Madison(Graham 28), Rees(Herriott 69), Normandale(D. Oliver 59), Curry, Lawrence, Calladine, MacDonald.
Referee: Andrew Jackson.