Rotherham Titans 24-23 Ealing Trailfinders
Ealing Trailfinders were denied a win on their return to the Greene King IPA Championship when Rotherham Titans fly-half Tom Barrett landed a last-minute penalty from 48 metres to win the match.
It was redemption for Barrett who had earlier missed 11 points-worth of kicks and which meant Ben Ward’s side went into the closing minutes 23-21 ahead.
The visitors fully played their part in an absorbing contest, which is a marked improvement on the last time they visited South Yorkshire and left with a 79-9 defeat in their second match of the 2013-14 season.
Despite the loss Ward's side are off the mark for the current season and head back down the M1 with a losing bonus point.
Ealing Trailfinders opened the scoring two minutes in when Alex Davies knocked over the first of his 10 points on his competitive debut for the West Londoners after Rotherham’s defence had come up offside.
It set up a good opening period for the visitors with James Stephenson and Joe Munro making good headway when they had the chance to stretch their legs.
Eventually the hosts found their feet and while Tom Barrett knocked a penalty wide on 12 minutes, he quickly made amends by dropping a goal to level the score. It marked a dominant period for the hosts and when Ealing Trailfinders’ defence held their backline out they turned to their forwards.
Barney Maddison caught a line-out throw, flanker Tom Calladine raced round on the peel and after he was tackled Rotherham captain Tom Holmes kept the move alive to dive over and put the hosts into the lead.
They continued to enjoy the upper hand, but Ealing Trailfinders worked their way back down the field and into the game and just before halftime captain Chris York picked off from the back of a scrum to dot down for a try that Davies converted to put the visitors in the lead once more.
Rotherham came strong again, but a well-timed Stephenson intercept stopped their momentum and while they won another penalty from a rolling maul on the stroke of halftime Barrett dragged his kick wide.
Ealing Trailfinders stretched their lead early in the second half when Tristan Roberts popped over a drop-goal, but Barrett slotted a penalty to keep Rotherham in contention.
Rotherham then scored their second try after punching a number of holes in the Ealing Trailfinders defence and eventually Number 8 Tim Cree forced his way over. They continued to dominate and fullback Will Harries stopped his opposite number Sean Scanlon as he threatened to break through.
The match swung 15 minutes from time when Roberts attacked from deep and set Stephenson running. He offloaded to York and him in turn to Arthur Ellis who ran in from just outside the 22.
Barrett landed another penalty, but with three minutes remaining Davies landed another of his own to give Ealing Trailfinders the lead. As the clock ran down Rotherham rallied once more. York’s line-out steal and Roberts charge down appeared to have thwarted the danger, but from a ruck Rotherham won one a last penalty and Barrett dropped his kick onto the bar and over for the win.
Scanlon, Keating, Owen, Barker, Wilson, Barrett, Carter; Hislop, Maddison, Tampin, Holmes (captain), Argyle, Calladine, Cree
Preece, Williams, Thiede, Oram, Birch, White, Goodwin
Will Harries, Rhys Crane, Danny Barnes, Joe Munro, James Stephenson, Tristan Roberts, Alex Davies; George Porter, Alun Walker, Michael Holford, Carwyn Jones, Llewelyn Jones, Iain Grieve, Arthur Ellis, Chris York (captain)
Sam Rodman, Matt Thompson, Nathan Buck, Adam Preocanin, Harrison Orr, Tom Bliss, Toby Berridge
Tries (Holmes 27, Cree 48), Conversions (Barrett 48), Penalties (Barrett 45, 68, 80), Drop-goals (Barrett 20)
Tries (York 38, Ellis 66), Conversions (Davies 38, 66), Penalties (Davies 2, 77), Drop-goals (Roberts 42)
Referee – Matthew O’Grady
Attendance - 887