Rotherham Titans 24 London Scottish 27

London Scottish came into this game after a strong performance and exciting victory at home the Cornish Pirates last week. Looking to build on the positives from that performance, on a bright, windy, and sunny, though still very cold afternoon in South Yorkshire, Scottish went on the attack from the off.

The Titans were penalised in the opening seconds, and Sharp exploited this by putting Scottish deep into the Titans 22. From the following line out, Scottish tried the catch and drive but it was short.

A number of pick and go’s were unsuccessful until Isaac Miller tried his hand, and made a dive for the line. Sharp added the conversion to give Scottish a 7-0 lead in the opening 90 seconds.

This seemed to jolt the Titans into action, who dominated the rest of the half. Though they didn’t make a lot of ground initially, the Titans kept hold of the ball, and moved through the phases, slowly building the pressure on the Scottish defence. After 9 minutes, the Titans had players and space overlapping the Scottish defence on the wing… they dived into the corner for their opening try, only to be brought back as the referee said the final pass was forward.

A try for the Titans was starting to feel inevitable; Scottish were unable to put together many phases, and when the Titans got the ball, they kept hold of it and prodded and probed the Scottish defence for an opening. After 22 minutes, they got the ball wide from a catch and drive, and Davies sprinted in to score to put the Titans on the scoreboard. Ryan had no problem converting, and levelled the scores, 7-7.

Titans repeatedly found themselves with the overlap on the wing, but were not able to ex-ploit their advantage. On the half hour mark, Scottish gave away a penalty 15m out from their own tryline. From the back of the scrum, Davies was alert and blew down the blind side unopposed. Ryan converted to give Titans a thoroughly deserved lead of 7-14.

In the final ten minutes of the half, Titans continued to dominate possession. Scottish, when they had the ball, tried to step and move the ball, but handling errors were letting them down. After 39 minutes, Scottish were penalised for holding on just inside their own half; Ryan stepped up and added three more points to the Titans lead; Half time, LSFC 7-17 Ti-tans.

The second half began much like the first did. From deep inside the Scottish half, Neal & Mosses combined to move the ball out of the danger zone, up to halfway. Titans were pe-nalised, so Sharp took the opportunity to reduce the deficit, after one minute played, it was Scottish 10-17 Titans.

From then on, Titans heaped more pressure on the hard working Scottish defence. A huge number of phases were put together, but Titans struggled to come away with anything to show for it. Scottish got an opportunity to attack with 6 minutes played; from a 5m line out, a catch & drive made its way to the line. Miller was the man in possession again, who touched down for his second try of the game. Sharp converted to level the scores, with 30 minutes still to play.

Ryan and Davies combined a lot in the middle to create space, and attack in every area of the park. The Scottish defence was working overtime in the increasingly cold Yorkshire sun-shine; Miller, Milne, Atkinson, Appiah and Mills putting in hit after hit.

In an effort to break down the Scottish defence, Ryan and Davies were increasingly using up & under kicks, and grubber kicks to get in behind the defence, but Williams, Lyle and Holland were alert to it.

Both teams were still keen to keep ball-in-hand, and there were some enor-mous carries from Milne and Mosses in the middle of the park, to shift the games momentum in favour of Scottish.

With only ten minutes to go, Titans were penalised again, and Sharp duly stepped up and scored, to give Scottish a very slender 3 point lead; 20-17.

Just two minutes later, an incident looked to have turned the game in Titans favour: Scottish pinged the ball back from their 22m line to Charlie Ingall who went to clear through his boot, but his kick was charged down.

In his desperate attempt to prevent a try, it appeared he blocked the attacker from getting past him to the ball.

For this infringement, he was sent to the sin bin and the Titans were awarded a penalty try. With barely 6 minutes to go, Titans took a 20-24 lead, and Scottish were down to 14 men.

This set the game up from some incredible, edge-of-your-seat rugby, which had everyone in the ground screaming their support. Both teams wanted to play in the last 5 minutes, so when they each had the ball, they went through the phases, but neither was able to land that final blow.

Titans attempted to run out the clock, but gave away too many penalties which let Scottish keep the ball in play well past the 80-minute mark.

On the 87th minute, Scottish had run the ball all the way up to the Titans 5m line; the noise from the home crowd was deafening as they cheered their players on, and willed them to defend. Scottish moved the ball through the hands but could not seem to break through. Phase after phase the Scottish attackers met with the Titans desperate defensive, every player from both sides was putting their body on the line.

On the 89th minute, the ball was pinged wide to Craig Holland who stepped the defender and dived for the line.

The final score, to end a breathless and hugely physical second half, was Scottish 27-24 Rotherham Titans.

London Scottish Lyle; Williams; Neal; Mosses; Holland; Sharp; A. Walker; Atkinson; C. Walker; Gillanders; Mills (c); Milne; McQuillin; Miller; Appiah // Replacements: George; Chris-tie; Cringle; Marley; Berry; Hoadley; Ingall Tries Miller (x2) Holland Conversion Sharp (x3) Penalty Sharp (x2)

Rotherham Titans Thomas; Foley; Loizias; Tibbetts; Cheshire; Ryan; Davies; Tom Wil-liams; Cole; Shields; Peters; Hidge; Calladine (c); Maddison; Burns // Replacements: Toby Murphy; Williams; Palmer; Postlethwaite; Grange; Millar; Hamilton Tries Davies (x2) Penalty Try Conversion Ryan (x2) Penalty Ryan Referee Matt O’Grady