Wizards see signs of hope in defeat
ABERAVON went into this first pool match low on confidence — but there were enough signs that when some of their injured return, there will be a fight for places and the wins will come.
In truth, they deserved to win this one, beaten more by decisions from the officials than by the Titans, who only seriously threatened the home line on one occasion.
The manner that Aberavon began in — they were 13-0 up after 19 minutes — was their best opening of the season.
That it did not continue was down to some indiscipline, poor decisions and a few chances that went begging at the last moment.
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They also had prop Rowan Jenkins yellow-carded after 24 minutes, while flanker Daryll Thomas, who was brought off during that time to bring a prop on, was then carded after 47 minutes.
Backs coach Craig Warlow was pleased with the start.
He said: "They gave everything that we had asked for, but when confidence is low there are little signs.
"The final pass, the decisions at crucial times — things that can make up a try. But there was progress."
Jonathan Phillips showed he is an exciting full-back, Steffan Andrews was again excellent with ball in hand and Joe Heatley continued his fine form.
Up front, the duo of Ian Moore and Darryl Thomas were excellent. Morgan Allen ran with power and when the Wizards had a full eight players in the pack, the Titans were rocked.
But the downsides were crucial missed goal-kicks, the missing of touch or wayward kicks and wild passing at times.
The sight of Richard Carter and Nathan Strong in light training means both could be back this year, while the next games — at Munster and home to Llandovery — are massive tests.
Two Jamie Davies penalties were followed by a superb try, engineered and finished by Phillips with Andrews playing a huge part.
Davies converted but then the decisions started going against the Wizards and the visitors landed four penalties.
Then lock Dan Sanderson touched down and Ireland Under-20 fly-half James McKinney converted before landing his fifth and sixth penalties and missing a seventh.
Davies only kicked one penalty from three attempts, though he ran well for Andrews to score and young Nic Damjanovic placed a penalty on his debut from Trebanos.
Aberavon : Tries: J. Phillips, S. Andrews. Con: J. Davies. Pens: J. Davies (2), N Damjanovic.
Rotherham : Try: D. Sanderson. Con: J. McKinney. Pens: J. McKinney (6).