Chinnor were met with a warm welcome from the officials and fans of the Yorkshire club. The fixture featured a number of former Rotherham players in the Chinnor ranks and many old friendships were rekindled. With a fairly small pitch and a near “Hellfire” slope mixed with near 50mph winds it was a relief that the conditions remained dry for the whole game.
In the first ever encounter between Rotherham and Chinnor the visitors won the toss and elected to play into the wind and up the slope in the first half. From the kick off Reon Joseph made a clean take and set up a period of sustained possession that saw simple passes and strong running punch early holes in the Titans defence. Following a successful line out a well worked backs move resulted in Alex Dancer powering over after just 4 mins. The conversion was added by Caolan Ryan.
The Villagers then began trying to force play and gave easy ball to the hosts resulting in a penalty for the Titans which was slotted over by Alex Dolly. This was followed by a series of surging runs by the hosts to enable Dolly to score a try which he duly converted.
With scores being traded with possession it was Chinnors turn with the ball and Joe Dancer finished off a well-executed catch and drive line out with the 5 points again converted by Caolan Ryan. As Chinnor exerted more pressure Wakefield referee, Jamie Leahy, began his influence on the game allowing the hosts backline to reset on side and ordering a line out retake when Chinnor had clean ball and were set for another driving maul 15 metres out. The mid period of the half continued with the hosts capitalising on some individual errors by Chinnor and clearing their lines with the assistance of the elements.
The first half played out with Chinnor being thwarted by a mixture of poor decision making, excellent Rotherham defence and some decisions that the travelling supporters found it difficult to fathom. from local RFU match official development officer Leahy. Late in the half from yet another pressure relieving penalty the Titans made good use of the conditions to clear to touch. From the resulting play Connor Field ran in a try to edge Rotherham ahead 15-14 which was extended on the stroke of half time with Alistair Thompson touching down and Dolly again converting to make the score at Half Time 22-14
With the wind in their favour Chinnor came out for the second half full of intent but gave up cheap possession and allowed a speculative kick though to be picked up again by Field and run in almost unopposed. With Chinnor still reeling and in defensive disarray Abrahams ran in a 4th try in 12 minutes for the hosts taking the score to 32-14. With the strong wind, although an onerous lead, it was not insurmountable if the visitors played to their strengths.
Chinnor made tactical changes with Rob Bell and George Davis entering the fray. This paid immediate dividends with a number of surging runs from the revitalised villagers creating space in the Rotherham ranks and almost inevitably opened up an opportunity for Craig Holland to score out wide. Then, as Chinnor battled the calls of the former RFL referee Leahy, a loose pass form the hosts allowed Chinnor to hack the ball down field which with a kick and kind bounce fell for Reon Joseph to score under the posts. With the conversion by Caolan Ryan good Chinnor were back within a converted score of the hosts.
Chinnor were in almost total ascendancy for the final 15 minutes of the game the comeback seemed to be on. A knock on by Rotherham on half way was called back and no advantage played though Chinnor were clean though with a 4 on 2 mismatch. Chinnor were persistently denied by stout Rotherham defence and unfathomable officiating and the final 5 minutes almost descended into farce. The Villagers threw everything at the Titans line the with the hosts defending from what appeared offside positions at the ruck on more than ten consecutive occasion. After a prolonged pounding of the Rotherham line the visitors were awarded a scrum under the posts 5 m out. With Chinnor scrum dominant and driving forward to the line 2m out the Titans forwards popped up- result- penalty try? Penalty? No a reset scrum. Chinnor where then penalised for delaying the put in at the unstable scrum- Free kick to the hosts. This allowed Rotherham to manage the final seconds and clear the ball to touch to end the game.
This was another game that Chinnor perhaps might have won and were left wondering as to why they hadn’t. Rotherham played the elements most effectively and Chinnor failed in the second part of the first half to ram home their advantage. On the plus side when this Team hit their full stride they will be more competitive which will be needed in what is perhaps the most evenly matched league in many a year.
Dolly 13, Field 35,44, Thompson 40, Abrahams 47
Cons : Dolly 13, 40 Pen: Dolly 6
A.Dancer 4, J.Dancer 18, Holland 51, Joseph 67
Cons: Ryan 4,18,67
Referee Mr Jamie Leahy (Wakefield)