Just Juan difference

Juan Pablo Socino kicked 25 points for the Titans in the narrow derby win.
Juan Pablo Socino kicked 25 points for the Titans in the narrow derby win.

THE boot of Juan Pablo Socino proved to be the difference as the Titans edged a brilliant South Yorkshire derby with the Knights at Clifton Lane by just a single point

It was a mud covered match that provided the perfect advertisement for second tier rugby, filled with blood and thunder plus skill and determination as the lead continually changed hands.

And while the Knights outscored the hosts in the try stakes, Socino’s kicking earned Rotherham the wafer thin 35-34 win.

The big picture for South Yorkshire rugby is that both sides are now well on course for a place in the promotion play-offs.

A losing bonus point sealed a top eight finish for Doncaster while the Titans’ four points left them with an eight point advantage over the bottom four with just two games remaining.

Despite three consecutive defeats, Rotherham showed brilliant character and will be confident of entering the play-off stage of the season on a high with clashes against struggling Moseley and Bristol to come.

Socino and Doncaster fly half Tristan Roberts shone in the mud, landing 25 and 21 points respectively.

The two traded penalties in the opening 20 minutes to leave the score tied at 6-6.

But Doncaster moved ahead with second row Latu Makaafi crashing over on 23 minutes and Roberts adding the conversion.

Penalties for both sides pushed the score up to 9-16 but Rotherham hit back to take the lead with right winger Pete Swatkins touching down five minutes before the break.

Socino added the conversion and a penalty shortly after to ensure 10 quick points for the Titans.

But they could not carry the lead into the break as the influential Roberts scored and converted a try of his own for a narow four point advantage on the stroke of half-time.

Socino closed the gap with his fifth penalty but a drop goal from full back Steve McColl opened up the margin in Doncaster’s favour once again.

Scrum half Joe Bedford raced over on 57 minutes with Socino converting to put Rotherham ahead.

But the back and forth nature continued with centre Oli Goss scoring a third try 15 minutes from time.

Then Socino took control, cementing the Argentine’s place as Rotherham’s most valuable asset this season with two crucial penalties to take a 35-31 lead.

Roberts kicked a late drop goal for Doncaster to leave the outcome in the balance heading into injury time.

Rotherham were then subjected to a barrage of assaults from the Knights’ forwards and a fourth Doncaster try should have been added only for a stray pass to fly into touch.

A desperate clearance from fly half Matt James was charged down but the equally panicky Doncaster forwards could not pick up the ball as they slid in the mud.

The Titans travel to Moseley on Friday night at 7.30pm, hoping to add a second away win of the season at their last attempt.

Doncaster host Esher on Saturday at 2.30pm.