James Thacker scores twice on second start as Bishop's Stortford come from behind late on to beat Rotherham Titans
Bishop's Stortford 30 (3) Rotherham Titans 14 (7), National League 1
James Thacker scored two tries in Bishop's Stortford's 17-point haul in the last 10 minutes as they came from behind against Rotherham Titans.
The lock forward's brace on only his second start for the first team helped Stortford seal their first win in three games, following away defeats at Blackheath and Cinderford, as they overturned a 14-3 deficit.
The least said about the first half the better, as both sides struggled to string together any coherent rugby.
Stortford, who had enjoyed the bulk of possession without really threatening to break through, eventually scored after 21 minutes through a Brad Burr penalty for a breakdown offence.
Almost inevitably, it was one of a number of poor Stortford passes that led to the first try of the game, as Rotherham pounced on a loose ball in midfield and three phases later touched down under the posts on 37 minutes, with Morgan Bunting converting.
The South Yorkshire visitors started the second half strongly and, with the home side slow out of the blocks, had their second converted try after 42 minutes, scored by Anthony Maka, built on a strong driving maul from a lineout. Bunting again converted.
Stortford regained control of possession but once more posed little threat to the visitors’ try line until the 53rd minute, when Sam Winter made a decisive break and found Nick Hankin supporting on the inside to touch down under the posts.
The home side continued to press and narrowed the deficit to one point 6 minutes later with a penalty goal to Tom Banks.
The visitors’ hitherto strong defence now started to wilt under increasing pressure and their cause wasn’t helped by a yellow card for a cynical offside offence, as Stortford threatened again.
Thacker soon took advantage, crashing over close to the posts for a try on 71 minutes, converted by Banks, who added a penalty goal four minutes later.
Thacker’s dream day was rounded off with a second try as time was running out, breaking off the back of a driving maul, after a great 50-metre run by Australian winger Rob Duff. Banks converted from the touchline.
The win lifts Stortford to tenth in the table with 28 points from their 11 games, seven points behind third-placed Blackheath and ten points clear of Rotherham, who occupy the third relegation spot.
Bishop’s Stortford: Hankin, Duff, Winter, Ayrton J, Ayrton M, Burr, Banks; Roberts, King, Harrison-Price, Thacker, Lewis, Apperley, Wilson, Kingham. Replacements: Caulfield, McCrone, Ball, Stannard, Spivey.
Rotherham: Bacon, Leake, Cooke, Dunne, Robbins, Bunting, Dever; Whitfield, Newborn, Dennis, Preston-Routledge, Wade, Wilson, Poole, Maka. Replacements: Bergmanas, Williams, Frost, Laxton, Hollingsworth.
Bishop’s Stortford – Tries: Hankin 53, Thacker 71 & 78. Cons: Banks 54, 72 & 79. Pens: Burr 20, Banks 60 & 76.
Rotherham – Tries: Ward 37, Maka 42. Cons: Bunting 38 & 43.
Referee: Dr Jonathan Cook. Star man: James Thacker (Stortford). Attendance: 425.