A RAFT of missed place kicks proved crucial as Rotherham Titans finished 2017 with yet another defeat, the 27-18 reverse at Hartpury meaning the relegation trapdoor is now gaping wide open.
But it could have been so different had Rotherham made the most of their penalty and conversion attempts - only one being goaled as 12 points went begging during a dour game in which each side scored three tries.
New head coach Nic Rouse didn't blame kicker Caolan Ryan because of the difficult, blustery conditions but wasn't happy with some of his side's decision-making. "I thought we did well in the first half and were in the game but a couple of lapses in the second hit us," he said.
Titans had turned round 7-3 down but well in contention, Ryan's initial kick at the posts being followed by a Hartpury try when Dan Murphy burrowed through and James Willams added the extras.
But the hosts scored killer points after the break, Will Tanner scoring twice and Willaims converting both plus adding a penalty to open up a 27-8 gap.
To their credit, Titans didn't give up and scored late tries through Drew Cheshire and Rhodri Davies, but the defeat means they are now 22 points adrift of Jersey at the bottom with nine to play, the Channel Islanders having a game in hand.
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