Monye's reality check for the new boys

Rotherham 15 Harlequins 43
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The Independent Online

While Rotherham continued to bemoan the rules that stack the odds against them among the moneyed élite, Ugo Monye put Harlequins top of the embryonic table.

The dashing wing added a trio of tries to the double he scored in the previous week's win over Wasps, to make it a personal high five for the early high-flyers.

A few miles up the road from Sherwood Forest, this was a comprehensive case of the rich plundering the poor.

Rotherham have recently made personal representations to Richard Caborn, the sports minister, and Chris Spice, the performance director at the Rugby Football Union, one of their complaints being that a club may register 33 players for Premiership action, plus 10 from an academy. Since Rotherham do not have an RFU-recognised academy, they feel unfairly discriminated against. They also have to spend five years in the Premiership before their central funding - currently just over £1m - reaches the level of £2m enjoyed by Quins and the other established sides.

The obvious danger, even at this early stage, is that Rotherham will not last a year, never mind five. Quins were able to do much as they pleased, scoring four tries between the 14th and 40th minutes, and a fifth in added time at the end. Monye, who had a trial for Arsenal aged 15, finished his tries with all the panache of a Thierry Henry or Robert Pires.

The powers-that-be and the public at large will decide whether Rotherham prosper. Only 3,305 spectators turned up to witness Millmoor's first Premiership match, but the home side could not have had a better start, with a try after 42 seconds - at least, that was when Geraint Lewis hit the deck over the Quins line. It took another two minutes for the television match official, Brian Campsall, to confirm it. Jason Strange converted.

Before long, though, Rotherham lost three line-outs on their own throw, and further eased Quins into the match when Luke Gross foolishly hung on to the ball after a penalty award against his side. The Gross indiscretion gave Paul Burke the first three of his 13 points. Monye's opening try - which also needed video confirmation - was the culmination of a slick counter-attack by Mel Deane, Burke, George Harder and Gavin Duffy. Then Rotherham tamely lost the ball, and watched Monye scoot along the left touchline for his second try.

That was followed in quick succession by three incidents which went Quins' way. Some suspiciously offside-looking defence at a ruck held Rotherham at bay, Strange missed a penalty and Harder ran 60 metres for Quins' third try. A couple of minutes later Ace Tiatia got the fourth, after Monye was for once halted by Joe Ewens, and though Strange landed a penalty it was 27-10 to the visitors at the break.

Two more penalties by Burke sandwiched a try in the 59th minute for Chris Johnson, Rotherham's gutsy captain. Quins replaced Burke with Andy Dunne, one of their prominent Irish contingent, who kicked a penalty and converted Monye's final try - another flashing break out wide. Johnson's men played up the Millmoor slope in the second half, but it looked nowhere near as steep as their uphill battle to stay in the Premiership.

Rotherham: J Benson; A Elliott, J Ewens, P Jorgensen, M Wood (J Keyter, 7); J Strange, J Rauluni (C Harrison, h-t); N Lloyd, C Johnson (capt, P Smyth, 74), C Noon (C Loader, 21), L Gross (J Cockle, 55), G Kenworthy (D Cook, 45), L Greeff, G Lewis (C Short, 67), R Earnshaw.

Harlequins: G Duffy; G Harder (S Keogh, 48), M Deane, A Reay, U Monye; P Burke (A Dunne, 68), B Willis; M Worsley (C Jones, 55), A Tiatia (T Fuga, 77), J Dawson (L Gomez, 55), B Davison (J Evans, 55), S Miall, P Sanderson, T Diprose, A Vos (capt, L Sherriff, 77).

Referee: A Rowden (Berkshire).

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