Jersey 29 Rotherham Titans 3227/09/2014
Rotherham's devastating third-quarter burst made the difference in a pulsating eight-try encounter against Jersey.
The Titans scored 27 points between half-time and the 61st minute to move clear of their opponents; the Islanders fought back and gained two bonus points in defeat, but the visitors kept their noses in front to nail down the win.
"There were a few harsh words at half-time because I felt that we'd played some good rugby but wasted lots of opportunities," said Rotherham's Head Coach Lee Blackett. "There was a definite improvement and our scrum was especially powerful.
"I think the team may have switched off - that's something we'll have to look at - but when things mattered they really fronted up in the final minutes."
Blackett added: "Jersey have some real quality in their ranks and are beginning to deliver some performances - I expect them to be in and around the top six. The league is getting stronger and we will have to improve ourselves if we want to challenge for the top four again."
The Islanders had the perfect start within three minutes when a loose ball was gathered by Ryan Hodson and fed to Martin Garcia-Veiga, who passed to Nick Haining who bounded 30 metres to score.
James McKinney replied for Titans with an unconverted try, but there was only one more score before the break - Jersey's Tommy Bell had three penalty attempts but could only land one of them.
The first scrum of the second period led to a second try for the Yorkshiremen - Jersey's put-in was lost and Alex Rieder seized the ball and charged over. The boot of McKinney kept the scoreboard ticking over and then replacement Willie Ryan scored an identical try from another botched scrum by Jersey and Michael Keating finished off a 70-metre kick-chase after Jersey had lost possession.
Jersey's rolling maul had looked a potent weapon and was responsible for two tries and a yellow card for Titans hooker Tom Cruse. With around six minutes to play and another visiting player, skipper Tom Holmes, despatched to the sin-bin for spoiling tactics, Drew Locke charged down the right and fed Haining for the flanker's second try.
Turning down a kick at goal that could have earned a draw, Jersey pressed for victory via a fifth try, but Rotherham were able to repel a series of attacks, win a penalty and celebrate as the final whistle sounded.
"The players fought back really well, with some great support from the crowd and can hold their heads high - there was some real emotion from both the players and the supporters that made for a tremendous occasion," said Jersey Head Coach Harvey Biljon. "We are moving in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work to do and we have to achieve greater consistency in what we do and continue to learn to adapt to the interpretations of the officials.
"Rotherham are a serious outfit - there's a reason why they were in the play-offs last year and will be contenders again this season."
Report: Tom Innes
Pics: Emma Glendenning
Jersey: Bell, Foster (Bishop 65), Locke,
Robling, Burroughs (McCrea 52), Bentley, Glynn (Dudley 63); Lancuba
(Herriott 55), Garcia-Veiga (Harris 68), Williams (Lancuba 60),
Phillips (Markham 60), Rae (capt), Haining, Hodson, Noone (Kaho
Rotherham Titans: Scanlon, Keating (Hayes 63), Gill, Davies, Broadley, McKinney (Barrett 59), White (McGaffin 56); Hislop (Williams 59), Cruse (YC 46), Thiede (Tampin 56), Morris (Parker 50), Holmes (capt) (YC 68), Birch (Ryan 56), Preece, Rieder.
Referee: David Proctor (RFU)
Man-of-the-match (as chosen by match sponsor IFM Trust): Nick Haining (Jersey)
Tries: Haining 3, 73, Hodson 47, Penalty Try 67
Conversions: Bell 3, 67, 73
Penalty: Bell 37
Tries: McKinney 9, Rieder 42, Ryan 58, Keating 61
Conversions: McKinney 42, 58, Barrett 61
Penalty: McKinney 50
Drop goal: McKinney 53