Greene King IPA Championship Review: Round 3

Rotherham Titans continued their rampant early season form with a resounding 21-47 victory over Moseley at Billesley Common. The 47 points amassed by Lee Blackett’s side is Rotherham’s largest score posted away from home for five years and ensured a maximum of fifteen points have been earned three rounds into the season.

Titans raced into a 0-10 lead after six minutes courtesy of a penalty from Juan Pablo Socino and an opportunistic try from Charlie Mulchrone. A bulldozing effort from Dan Sanderson helped Rotherham into a 9-24 lead at the break. And they wasted no time in extending that lead as with a minute of the restart the talismanic Socino sent Jack Roberts in for his first try for Rotherham.

Two tries from Moseley hooker Rhys Buckley gave the Midlands side hope, especially when two minutes later Rotherham’s Sanderson was sent to the sin-bin for not rolling away at the ruck. Moseley could not capitalise, however, and Rotherham ensured the bonus point with a try late on from James Broadley and replacement Ali Birch went over at the death to add the icing on the cake.

London Welsh kept the pace with Rotherham at the top of the table, securing their third win in as many games with an impressive 40-9 win over Plymouth Albion.

Making nine changes to the squad that beat Nottingham last week, head coach Justin Burnell displayed the strength of his squad as despite the catalogue of shuffles among the team sheet, Welsh scored four tries and restricted the visitors to just three penalty scores.

Mike Denbee, Daniel Browne, Ollie Stedman and a penalty try supplemented by 20 points from the boot of Gordon Ross sealed the bonus point victory and sets up a mouth-watering top of the table clash with Rotherham next week.

Although Plymouth suffered their first defeat of the season at the hands of London Welsh, not many teams will come away from the Kassam Stadium with a win, which should give Albion fans some consolation.

Elsewhere, Bedford’s early season struggles continued with a narrow 28-29 defeat at home to Leeds Carnegie.

In an evenly-fought contest, Leeds prevailed over the Blues by the narrowest of margins with tries from Steve McColl, Jonah Holmes with Alex Lozowski adding nineteen points from the kicking tee. A thirteen point contribution from Bedford replacement James Pritchard, whose absence from the starting lineup probably proved the difference between the two sides, wasn’t enough to end Bedford’s blues.

Bristol made it two bonus point wins in a row thanks to a first half blitz which included tries from Ruki Tipuna, who touched down in the second minute, and two from fly-half Tristan Roberts in his first start of the season.

A penalty from Jersey’s Niall O’Connor made the halt-time score 3-19. Bristol secured the bonus point within a minute of the restart as winger Ryan Edwards went over under the posts. Jersey worked hard to forge a comeback and almost snatched a losing bonus point only for Niall O’Connor to miss a last-gasp penalty and settle the score at 17-26.

Ealing Trailfinders found no success in their first home game of the season as Cornish Pirates ran out 17-31 winners in the first ever meeting between the two sides.

Despite flashes of quality and periods of sustained pressure against the visitors, and only trailing the Pirates by five at the break, the Penzance outfit’s experience at this level told as tries from Jack Andrew, Aaron Carpenter, Tom Kessell and two from Kieran Goss ensured Cornish made the long trip back to the South West with maximum points.

Pirates’ win places them fourth going into round four while a third defeat in a row sees Ealing firmly rooted to the bottom.

Miles Mantella’s three second half tries spurred London Scottish on to a 27-6 win against Nottingham at the Athletic Ground.

The winger took his tally to five for the season, top of the try scoring charts, and is arguably the form player in the league so far, as he sparked a fairly dour affair into life with an incredible second half performance which included an early contender for try of the season.

Jamie Stevenson delivered quick ball from the lineout to fly-half Lee Millar, who played in Oli Grove and with PJ Gidow making a dummy run, Millar looped round eventually finding James Love. The full-back drew his man passing to Mantella who fought off the challenge of a couple of defenders to finish off a sensational move.

With the scores at 3-3 after the first half, Mantella’s second half exploits proved the difference and ensured Nottingham’s stuttering start to the season continued, as they recorded their second loss in a row while Scottish sit fifth in the standings.

By Rich Elkins

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images