IRISHMEN SEAN SCANLON, Michael Keating and Charlie Mulchrone played important roles in a 17-14 defeat for Rotherham Titans in the first leg of their RFU Championship semi-final against Bristol at The Memorial Stadium.
Two second-half yellow cards for the Titans allowed Andy Robinson’s Bristol side to recover from a 9-0 deficit at the break, as they scored three tries in the closing 30 minutes.
However, a last-gasp try by Jamie Broadley means Rotherham now have only a three-point disadvantage to overturn in the second leg of the play-off tie next Saturday at home stadium Clifton Lane.
Scanlon was making his 21st start of the season at fullback, having moved to England’s second tier from Munster last summer. The Limerick man has played for Ireland at U19, U20 and Club level, as well as starting a Pro12 game for his native province in 2011 against Connacht.
Also in his first season with the Titans, Keating has scored 10 tries in 22 starts in the Championship this season. A former Ireland U20 cap, the 6ft 1ins wing spent two years with Doncaster after leaving Leinster in 2011.
Rotherham captain Mulchrone played for Ireland at U18 level and has been one of the stand-out performers in the league this season. The 24-year-old scrum-half has already agreed to join Worcester ahead of next season.
All three players will be desperate to help the Titans win by more than three points next weekend, thereby ensuring progress into the Championship promotion final against Leeds Carnegie or London Welsh, who play their semi-final first leg tomorrow.