Rotherham took a significant step towards Championship safety with a much needed homevictory as they beat promotion candidates Bedford by five tries to four.
The Titans’ win, the second in succession under new coach Justin Burnell, achieved a maximum return of five points which takes them to 33 points, seven points clear of Ealing Trailfinders and nine above bottom club Moseley on 24.
Rotherham’s transformation under Burnell saw them succeed for the first time in the Championship since November, and his appointment has changed the outlook of a squad that had lost seven consecutive league matches.
This vibrant, all-round performance produced first half tries for winger Lloyd Hayes and two by flanker Tom Calladine, and two more in the second by second row forward Toby Salmon, excellent throughout, and fly half Will Goodwin who delivered a polished, match-winning display totalling 19 points-a try, four conversions and two penalties.
“This was a good and workmanlike performance and I’m pleased, but there were still three times when we were in the right areas and didn’t score.
“I’m not getting carried away and we’ve still got London Scottish and Nottingham to come here.I want to make Clifton Lane a fortress and I don’t want teams coming here thinking all they have to do is to rock up to win.
“The boys are responding, I’m instilling a work ethic and we will go up another gear this week before going to London Welsh,” says Burnell.
The 48 year old Welshman hasn’t let the dust settle at Clifton Lane and has made several changes .
He has arranged a loan deal with Premiership club Wasps so that hooker George Edgson,who made his debut against Bedford, can gain competitive experience by playing in the Championship.
Burnell has brought in the former Northampton Saints centre Jon Clarke, born in Sheffield, as the backs coach, winger James Broadley has re-joined the Titans from Sheffield Tigers and today another new face, fly half Will Robinson from London Welsh, starts training at Clifton Lane.
Interestingly, Clarke, 32, who made more than 160 appearances for Northampton between 2003-2012, has also been registered as a player following his move from Yorkshire Carnegie.
Burnell’s decision to sign Robinson,23, for the rest of the season makes sense because another number 10 is needed following the serious shoulder injury to James McKinney.
Robinson, who played a major role at London Welsh when they were promoted to the Premiership in 2014 under Burnell’s leadership, has hardly played this season, and sees his move to Rotherham as a good opportunity to revive his career. Before establishing himself at London Welsh, Robinson played at Wasps, Rosslyn Park and Henley.
Rotherham Titans: Scanlon, Keating, J. Davies, Owen, Hayes, Goodwin, Carter, Hislop, C.Maddison, Tampin, Holmes, Salmon, Argyle, Calladine, Ryan.Replacements: Edgson, Williams, Thiede, B Maddison, Preece, A.Davies, Jones.
Scorers: Tries: Calladine 2, Hayes, Salmon, Goodwin. Conversions: Goodwin 4.Penalties: Goodwin 2.
Referee: Steve Lee.