Rotherham Titans 33 – 10 Lymm

1st Team Match Report | Saturday September 16 2023

Lymm’s gritty defence tested to the full

After agonising last minute defeats in their opening two league fixtures of the season, Lymm headed east for what would be the first of 11 away trips to the Norh East over the course of the season.  With Rotherham having won their first two fixtures and positioned towards the top of the league and with promotion no doubt the season’s objective, the Lymm contingent were under no illusions as to the task that lay ahead.

The general consensus was that the two clubs had only previously played one league fixture, way back in 1989 – when Rotherham were rising through the league tables, winning promotions for 7 consecutive seasons.  Rotherham eventually reached the top of the league ladder, playing in the Premiership in seasons 2000/1 and 2003/4.  Whilst the two clubs had not played each other for 34 years, there have been links between the clubs through this period with Lymm’s David Strettle, James Mitchell and current Head Coach Andy Davies, all having enjoyed spells of various lengths with the South Yorkshire outfit.

The Lymm match day squad showed a few changes from the previous week with Jordan Widdrington, Alex Stewart and debutant Jack Stride all on the bus, replacing Ben Thompson, Harry Martin and Andy Williams.

Lymm kicked off on a cool but fine afternoon, but for the first 10 minutes, barely got their hands on the ball, as play was camped in and around the Lymm 22.  The big Rotherham pack tested Lymm at every opportunity, but Lymm’s defence held firm – until, after 12 minutes, the Rotherham scrum-half, Jean-Baptiste Bruzulier, who was a threat throughout, spotted a chink in the defensive armour to jink though under the posts for a try, giving Lloyd Hayes a simple conversion.  7-0.

Over the next 10 minutes, Lymm were able to secure a reasonable amount of possession in Rotherham’s 22 and threaten the try line but patience was in short supply and the telling play that would have got Lymm over the whitewash just never came.  On 23 minutes though, Lymm got some reward for their endeavours when Cormac Nolan slotted a relatively straightforward penalty from in front of the posts.  7-3.

On 29 minutes, Rotherham got their second try.  A line-out steal by Rotherham on the left touch was moved wide.  An interception by Lymm had the travelling supporters on their feet – only to be brought back for a penalty to the home side.  From this there was the inevitable kick to the corner, ending in a score for No8 Zak Poole from a line out front peel, Hayes making the difficult conversion.  14-3.

The next phase of play was exceedingly frustrating for Lymm as every time they appeared to have diffused the threat from Rotherham, uncharacteristic errors would creep into their play which, almost immediately, put them back on defensive duties.  Rotherham, on the other hand were making the most of their opportunities to pressurise the Lymm line – a couple of raking touch-finders taking play from one end of the field to the other were especially noteworthy.  From one of these, the resultant 5m line out and rolling maul gave Rotherham their third try, with replacement prop Reece Ward claiming the score.  This time though, Hayes failed to land the conversion. 19-3.


The second half didn’t start well for Lymm as they failed to secure the kick-off, giving Rotherham a platform to attack the Lymm line.  Although repelling wave after wave of Yorkshire beef with renewed defensive vigour, the Lymm defence was inevitably becoming narrow, which Bruzulier spotted in providing a pass to the blindside for winger Dan Rundle to score the bonus point try in the corner.  With Hayes having rediscovered his kicking boots, after 42 minutes, Rotherham had extended their lead to 23 points.  26-3.

On 47 minutes, Rotherham made a break from their own half (probably the only clean break they made all match – testament to the quality of Lymm’s defensive work) with centre Hayes stretching his legs and looking for all money as if he would score in the corner.  However, neither he nor the entirety of the crowd had factored in the pace and determination of Lymm’s full back Nolan who timed his cover tackle so well that he dislodged the ball preventing a score. Notwithstanding this effort though, Lymm were once again back defending in their own red zone finding it difficult to move play into a less threatening field position.  5 minutes later, in trying to diffuse a backpeddling 5m scrum, Lymm turned the ball over giving the Rotherham flanker Laurence Cowan a simple score from all of 6 inches.  With Hayes off the pitch, Will Milner made the difficult conversion.  33-3.

With the best part of 30 minutes left in the match, the signs were now ominous for Lymm.  However, this was not to be the case as Lymm enjoyed what was their best period of the match.  Firstly, on 63 minutes after several phases attacking within the Rotherham 22, Callum Morris dummied his way over from 10m, giving Nolan a simple conversion.  33-10.

Then, with Tom Shard on the pitch and Jack Reynolds now in the centre, Lymm produced probably the best attacking play of the match.  Moving the ball from left to right inside their own half, a loop move orchestrated by Shard allowed Reynolds to make a telling line break.  As he progressed into the Rotherham 22, Reynolds found Morris for company whose outrageous “no look” reverse pass found his supporting three quarters, unfortunately though, the final pass to wing Joe Senior was dislodged by the last defender and what would have been the try of the match was frustrated.

Shortly afterwards the referee brought the match to a close – with Lymm rightly proud that they denied Rotherham any further score in the last 30 minutes.

Full Time:  ROTHERHAM TITANS 33   –   10 LYMM

Director of Rugby Adam Fletcher, commented:

“I’m extremely proud of how we attacked the challenge. Rotherham were very strong at set piece and had some strong ball carriers. I thought that for the majority of the game we stood up to the test.  We do need to improve our accuracy especially after a transition, and to keep hold of the ball better so forcing teams to defend us for longer periods.  It wasn’t the result we wanted, but the boys are positive going into next week’s home game vs Tyndale.”

Squad: Gav Woods (110); James Pitcher* (45); Matty Hand* (84); James Yates* (c) (101); Ali Sutherland (81); Sean Callender (3); Josh Hadland* (23); Rhys Lilly* (34); Callum Morris (16); Jack Reynolds (3); Paddy Jennings* (29); Ste Pilkington* (45); James Kimber* (89); Joe Senior* (26); Cormac Nolan* (214). Bench – Joe Higgins (7); Jordan Widdrington* (230); Alex Stewart* (5); Tom Shard* (113); Jack Stride (1).

( ) = number of Lymm First XV League appearances

* Former Lymm Academy/M&J player

Referee: Gavin Jones. Assistant Referees: Kieron Henry and Don Helme

Match Report: Andy Leach


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