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Bishop's Stortford go up a place in National League 1 despite 41-35 defeat at Rotherham Titans

Bishop’s Stortford were edged out 41-35 at fifth-placed Rotherham Titans in National League 1.

With Stortford struggling in the scrums and the Rotherham lineout misfiring, neither side could count on a consistent flow of possession, so the game was decided by a series of decisive attacking moves, exploiting some patchy defending on both sides.

The first breakthrough went Stortford’s way after seven minutes, with Chris Smith bursting over for a try having cut in off his wing to take a short pass from Tom Banks in the midst of heavy forward traffic, following a good dash up the middle from Matt Tomlinson.

The scrum-half added the conversion, but the scores were levelled nine minutes later through Rotherham’s tall left wing Dan Leake, who leapt high to catch one of many excellent box kicks from scrum-half Alex Dolly and raced clear. The No 9 also added the extras.

Bishop's Stortford's Tom Banks, pictured in action against Ampthill. Picture: Vikki Lince
Bishop's Stortford's Tom Banks, pictured in action against Ampthill. Picture: Vikki Lince

Stortford struck back quickly, with Reuben Bird Tulloch bursting through to make the try-line out wide. The scrum-half again converted from the touchline and it was the same player that added seven points 14 minutes later with a converted try.

Rotherham could easily have turned round all square from a period of sustained pressure, but had to settle for a single further converted try after 38 minutes when an initial break by Zak Poole was taken on and finished off by his fellow forwards under the posts.

The visitors were caught cold after the restart as hooker Jack Bergmanas went over untouched under the posts, from where Dolly inevitably levelled the scores. Worse was soon to come as a missed tackle in midfield and a good long pass found Leake in space on the outside for another easy try. Dolly again converted brilliantly from the touchline to take Rotherham into the lead for the first time.

After Dolly added another three points from a penalty in front of the posts, Stortford finally began to gather themselves and fought their way slowly back into the game.

A poor defensive kick from the hosts cannoned into another Rotherham player, producing a scrum to the visitors for accidental offside. Totally against the balance of previous scrums, the Stortford eight put on a great drive and were awarded a penalty try to narrow the deficit to three points.

After Rob Duff was yellow-carded, the hosts scored out wide on the left through Dan Preston-Routledge, with Dolly adding the extras.

Bird-Tulloch touched down for Stortford and Banks converted, before the hosts added another three points from the tee.

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