WITH a quarter of the Rotherham Titans side made up of ex-Otley players, the Cross Greeners knew they would have a difficult time at Clifton Lane although they nearly pulled it off.

Otley were winning 25-14 at half-time but in the second half the Titans pulled together and scored another two tries. The visitors then conjured up an exciting finish when they scored their fourth with minutes to play.

With grey skies and a drizzle falling, Otley had the early territorial advantage mastering the wet conditions well keeping mistakes to a minimum. When Rotherham were penalised in their dead ball area, Otley went for the line-out. From there they moved the ball across the pitch with Jacob Holmes curving his way around the opposition defence to score after five minutes.

From a scrum on Otley’s 10 metre line, Rotherham launched their first meaningful attack which was paused when winger Jack Taylor was bundled into touch. However, the home side had already gained a penalty advantage at that scrum, and they kicked the ball into Otley’s 22. Luke Cole threw the ball in and then went to the back of the quickly advancing maul, before falling to the ground with ball in hand once Rotherham had passed the threshold. Richard Hayes’s conversion gave Rotherham the lead after 11 minutes.

After the restart Rotherham were penalised in Otley’s half; Eddie Crossland’s kick taking play close to the 22 flag. From there Otley passed the ball into the centre of the pitch before the Rotherham defence parted allowing Sam Taylor an easy run to the line, Gavin Stead adding the conversion.

A skewed clearance kick gave Otley a line-out 25 metres out and they kept play in the Titan’s half until a Rotherham player stepped across the mark taking Rory Gaffney out, Stead getting the resultant penalty.

On the half-hour mark, another ex-Otley player got a try for Rotherham. From a line-out on Otley’s 22, the Harry Dunne crashed over the line after eight phases of play with Hayes adding the extra two points.

Rotherham dropped the restart 15 metres from their line, and from a retreating scrum Ben Waddington was able to get the ball to Gaffney who scampered to the line for Otley’s third, Stead’s conversion taking the score to 22-14. With two minutes to go Sam Taylor was taken out in the air as he claimed a clearance kick on the halfway line, Rotherham were the then marched back ten metres by the referee. Stead kicked his second penalty.

Otley kicked off the second half, and having changed their game plan Rotherham were able to keep the visitors penned in their half. Otley’s two penalties took Rotherham to within five metres, and captain Zak Poole guided their maul to the whitewash nine minutes in. Five minutes later Jack Taylor went over in the right-hand corner and then on 64 minutes he did the same thing. The conversion hit the upright, although Rotherham extended their lead with a Hayes’s penalty after Otley were caught offside with nine minutes to go.

Now nine points down, Otley weren’t going to go down without a fight and played switched to the Rotherham half. The breakthrough came when replacement Louis Martin managed to slip through two tacklers in his own half, made it to the Rotherham 22 before passing to Stead who went onto score seven points.

The last two minutes of the game had Otley desperately trying to find a way out of their 22, eventually conceding a penalty. However, rather than go for an easy three points Rotherham kicked the ball over the side-line to bring the game to an end at 34-32 in favour of the South Yorkshire side.

Otley’s next home game is this Saturday against Tynedale, who sit just one place above them in the league. Kick-off is at 2:15 pm.