The champions were staring defeat in the face a week after securing a resounding 36-21 win over the English outfit, but Hanrahan struck to make up for two earlier lapses that might have given his side a better shot at victory.
However, Munster’s predicament certainly didn’t come down to anything that happened behind the scrum, as articulated and agreed upon afterwards by coach Ian Costello: “It was a poor game, we’re disappointed we got dragged into an arm-wrestle that we didn’t intend to get dragged into. We didn’t build any period of pressure, we didn’t have the ball long enough to put them under pressure, they played to their strengths and unfortunately we played a little too close to their strengths as well.
“Look, on the positive side we’re still in control of the group, we’re four points ahead of them and so we have to make sure we stay ahead of them in the next two games in January (away to Aberavon and home to Plymouth Albion).”
Costello’s plans were disrupted prior to kick off following a call-up of Luke O’Dea to the senior squad in place of the injured Keith Earls. It didn’t help either that Danny Barnes was ruled out with injury although the main problem for the home side was an inability to dictate the trend of play against a resolute Titans pack.
Munster found themselves in first half trouble despite enjoying a fair share of possession and position. Hanrahan kicked them into the lead after 11 minutes but James McKinney was up to the task when given a succession of chances, mainly against the run of play. He kicked penalties in the 19th, 21st and 30th minutes after rare assaults to establish a flattering but nonetheless deserved lead for the visiting side on the basis of the fact they took their chances.
Munster will have been disappointed with that first half display but asserted themselves in the early stages of the second half, with Hanrahan taking advantage of a platform laid by the pack to secure early points after three minutes. Unfortunately he missed another penalty after nine minutes to ease the pressure on the visitors before finally knocking over a beauty from long range to keep them in pole position for a quarter-final place.
MUNSTER: J Murphy, D Moroney, S Deasy, I Dineen, R O’Mahony, JJ Hanrahan, C Sheridan, J Cronin, S Henry (captain), J Ryan, D Foley, I Nagle, B Hayes, D Dougall, B O’Mahony.
Replacements: R Murphy for B O’Mahony (60), A Cotter for Ryan (65), R Mullane for Moroney (79).
ROTHERHAM TITANS: F Mulchrone, P Homan, E Sheridan, L Blackett (captain), J Gill, J McKinney, C Mulchrone, J Kilbane, T Stagg, R Davies, T Freeman, D Sanderson, A Rieder, R Pitman, L Makaafi.
Replacements: G Denman for Kilbane, S Cahill for Davies (both 60), G Law for Homan (62), B Thomas for Freeman (70), J Williams for C Mulchrone (79).
Referee: S Rees (Wales).