Rotherham Titans v Bedford Blues
Bedford Blues fell foul of a second half Boxing Day rampage at Rotherham, a victory which lifted the home side into the number two spot on the Championship table. The Titans notched up four unanswered tries in the second period and ran out deserving winners 35-6, confirming their credentials as play-off challengers. Bedford seemed to confirm little other than their season continues to be as consistent as badly made Christmas gravy.
From the off, Rotherham’s intensity and appetite was obvious but Bedford played well with the fading December sun at their backs. They contested the set pieces and breakdowns admirably in the first forty, and repelled everything that the hosts could offer. Just three penalties from the boot of Argentinian Juan Pablo Socino was all the Titans could muster and the Blues could well have been ahead at half time, with Pritchard uncharacteristically missing two out of four from the tee and Jake Sharp’s drop goal drifting just wide. The teams headed in to the mid-game break with the match quite evenly poised; the hosts ahead 9-6.
But the second half was a different kettle of fish. Rotherham seemed to have found the key to Bedford’s defensive door and started to use it at will.
Joel Hodgson, the fly half previously of Newcastle Falcons, began to pull all the right strings and the previous composure of Bedford defence wilted like a chocolate fireguard. With barely five minutes on the second half clock, the fair-haired standoff played in winger Curtis Wilson with a neat inside ball after making the initial break between the Blues’ centres.
The Blues tried desperately to regain momentum but it wasn’t long before Rotherham were again asking questions of the visitors’ defensive line. After a few phases, it was Hodgson himself who skated in relatively untouched, as the Blues found themselves at sixes and sevens. Socino again converted to make the score 23-6.
The crowd were now very much behind the home side and they sensed that more could be scored. The Blues managed to hold out the next few attacks but then the try of the game came from deep in the Rotherham half. After a snatched turn-over, the ball was worked right and following some sublime handling from the Titans’ centre Jack Roberts, Michael Keating plunged over in the corner. The conversion kick was unsuccessful, Socino’s only blemish all afternoon, but with 80 minutes approaching on the clock the Yorkshiremen were desperate for the bonus point try.
The game restarted and under tremendous Titan pressure the Blues knocked the ball on in their own 22 and then infringed giving the home side the option to scrummage just yards from Blues try line. With the roar of the home crowd behind them, the Rotherham pack bent the Blues’ scrum double and the referee ran underneath the posts, indicating a penalty try and sending the Clifton Lane faithful delirious.
The Blues will need to regather their thoughts ahead of next week’s New Year’s Day visit of high-flying London Scottish.