League Table

P W D L Pts
1 Bristol 7 7 0 0 32
2 Worcester Warriors 7 6 0 1 30
3 London Scottish 7 5 0 2 26
4 Rotherham Titans 7 5 0 2 22
5 Nottingham 7 4 0 3 18

Fixtures

Rotherham Titans (34) vs Plymouth Albion (31) - Championship

Saturday February 9th - KO 2.30pm

Pre-Match Report

Two of the Titans changes come in the backline; with Peter Homan returning on the wing, whilst James McKinney gets the nod to orchestrate the backline in the number 10 jersey; meaning Club Captain Garry Law switches to full back. In the pack Rory Pitman returns at number 8 following his impressive contribution in Jersey coming off the bench.

Saturday’s match between Titans and Albion will be the fourth time the sides have faced each other this season; having been drawn in the same pool for the British & Irish Cup competition. The league encounter back in September saw Albion triumph 15-3 at Brickfields, whilst the two B&I Cup clashes resulted in emphatic victories for Rotherham. The overall head to head between the sides has Titans holding a narrow 13-11 advantage, with one game drawn.

Speaking ahead of the Plymouth clash, Alex Codling commented, “It’s been another interesting week in terms of preparation, particularly with the snow we had on Tuesday. The forwards trained in a blizzard and the backs trained here at a snowy Clifton Lane. But the boys are in good spirits, despite us being pretty frustrated with the outcome of the Jersey game. We didn’t get the result we felt we deserved over there and we are looking to put that right on Saturday.

“We’ve not made too many changes from last time because we thought the boys performed very well in Jersey. I thought the bench made a good impact, with Rory Pitman and James McKinney in particular putting in outstanding performances.

“Saturday’s game is important to us, particularly as our rhythm has been affected by blank weekends, the weather and our involvement in the B&I Cup. It’s great to be playing back in the Championship and even more so at our home here at Clifton Lane.”

Titans: 15 Garry Law (Capt.), 14 Mike Doneghan, 13 Eamonn Sheridan, 12 Pale Nonu, 11 Pete Homan, 10 James McKinney, 9 Charlie Mulchrone, 1 Marshall Gadd, 2 Ted Stagg, 3 Gareth Denman, 4 Ben Thomas, 5 Dan Sanderson, 6 Alex Rieder, 7 Latu Makaafi, 8 Rory Pitman.

Replacements: 16 Harry Hannan, 17 Jamie Kilbane, 18 Ross Davies, 19 Toby Freeman, 20 Carl Kirwan, 21 Lee Blackett, 22 Jimmy Williams.

Match Report

On a cool but dry afternoon at Clifton Lane, it was the host’s that came out of the traps much the quicker. Scrum half Charlie Mulchrone kept the visitors honest as he looked to make early inroads at any given opportunity. In fact it was a Mulchrone quick tap-penalty that saw play travel 50 metres downfield, resulting in a Titans scrum close to Albion’s line on 8 minutes.

Following Albion’s repeated infringements at the scrum under the sternest of pressure from the Titans pack, referee John Meredith had little option but to award Rotherham a penalty try. Law converted in front of the sticks for an early 7-0 lead.

Rotherham continued to dominate the early exchanges as Plymouth appeared to lack the intensity required. On 15 minutes Dan Sanderson rose high at the line-out just inside Albion’s 22 and fed Mulchrone. The livewire scrum half quickly found the onrushing James McKinney who intelligently chipped over the Albion defence to collect and dib down near the sticks for a well worked try. Law added the extras as Rotherham raced into a 14-0 lead.

However, Albion worked themselves back into the game and on 20 minutes Sam Hocking crashed over the Titans line following a catch and drive move from a line out. Paul Roberts nailed a fine conversion from near the touch line to reduce the visitor’s arrears.

Spurred on by their success Albion enjoyed a period of possession and territory and threatened the home line on a number of occasions. Four minutes before the break Mulchrone made a remarkable try-saving tackle on Harrison Tovey near the corner. However, Albion recycled the ball quickly and scrum half Ruairi Cushion was on hand to dive over from close range. Roberts again made a fine conversion from out wide to level the scores.

As the game entered first half injury time, flying winger Mike Doneghan impressed as he made huge ground cutting in off the right flank; taking play up to the Albion line. Titans recycled through a number of phases before Mulchrone collected and sniped over for Titans third try of the match. Law converted to give the host’s a 21-14 lead and bring an exiting half of rugby to an end.

The second period saw Albion this time start the brighter, their eager defence putting Rotherham under pressure. Five minutes in and a Titans pass out of defence was intercepted by Rhodri McAtee who raced in from around 35 metres to stun the host’s. Roberts converted to once again level the scores.

Buoyed by the unexpected gift Albion surged on and began to get the upper hand. From a catch and drive move inside the home 22, Sam Hocking popped up to touch down and give the visitors the lead for the first time in the match. Roberts converted to give Albion a 21-28 advantage.

Going behind seemed to jolt the host’s as their tempo and intensity increased. The Titans pack worked play deep inside the Albion 22, forcing them to concede a penalty. Titans turned down a kick at goal and opted for a scrum close to the line. From the base Charlie Mulchrone showed good awareness and neat footwork to glide through and collect his second try of the match and Titans fourth. Law converted and the match was tied at 28 apiece.

Shortly after Carl Kirwan burst through the Albion defence and made 30 metres before off-loading to Eamonn Sheridan. Unfortunately for Rotherham Sheridan as bundled into touch just short of the try line.

Four minutes from time, with Rotherham in the ascendancy, the home pack forced a penalty at the Plymouth scrum. The reliable Law stepped up and kicked the host’s back into the lead. Credit to Albion however, as within two minutes the scores were level again following a penalty kick from Roberts.

As the clock ticked down the Titans pressed on in search of victory, showing good spirit and character. The pressure told on Albion as they gave away a penalty at the breakdown, 30 metres from their posts. Cool as you like Law struck the ball calmly through the sticks to secure a hard earned, but well deserved victory.

Post match a pleased Alex Codling commented, “I’m obviously thrilled to collect the 5 point win; for the neutral it would have been a fantastic game to watch, but for me it was a bit heart stopping at times. We went 14-0 up with two cracking tries on the back of us creating some real good pressure on them, but maybe at that point we took our foot off the gas a little.

“We shouldn’t have done that because we spoke in the week about what a good combative side they were. We knew they were a good side, they played well last week at Leeds and we have to give them full credit today as they came back into the game very well.

“I think if you look at the whole game though in terms of opportunities and territory, I thought we deserve the victory unquestionably. The key thing was how we reacted from the soft turnover try we gave them early in the second half. It knocked the wind out of us for a while, but we came back strongly and you have to give credit to the boys for that.

“We had some outstanding individual performances today; Charlie Mulchrone was immense and demonstrated what a fine player he is. I also thought Mike Doneghan had a good game, he looked eager and bright and his speed frightened Albion on several occasions. So overall we are very pleased with the 5 points and we’ll move on now and prepare for Bristol next week.”

Attendance: 935
Referee: John Meredith
Titans: McKinney (T), C. Mulchrone (2T), Penalty Try, Law (4C, 2P).
Plymouth: Hocking (2T), Cushion (T), McAtee (T), Roberts (4C, 1P).

Titans: 15 Garry Law (Capt.), 14 Mike Doneghan, 13 Eamonn Sheridan, 12 Pale Nonu (Lee Blackett 45), 11 Pete Homan, 10 James McKinney, 9 Charlie Mulchrone, 1 Marshall Gadd (Jamie Kilbane H/T), 2 Ted Stagg (Harry Hannan 53), 3 Gareth Denman (Ross Davies 50), 4 Ben Thomas, 5 Dan Sanderson, 6 Alex Rieder, 7 Latu Makaafi (Carl Kirwan 53), 8 Rory Pitman (Toby Freeman 25).

Replacements: 16 Harry Hannan, 17 Jamie Kilbane, 18 Ross Davies, 19 Toby Freeman, 20 Carl Kirwan, 21 Lee Blackett, 22 Jimmy Williams.

Plymouth Albion: 15 Rhodri McAtee, 14 Lewis Warner, 13 Toby Howley-Berridge, 12 Bevon Armitage, 11 Tom Bowen (Paul Bailey 50), 10 Paul Roberts, 9 Ruairi Cushion (Paul Rowley 71), 1 Ben Rogers (David Morton 57), 2 Jon Vickers, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 4 Brett Beukeboom, 5 Harrison Tovey (Wayne Sprangle 78), 6 Sean-Michael Stephen (Capt.), 7 Sam Hocking (Sam Matavesi 66), 8 Aaron Carpenter.

Replacements: 16 Paul Rowley, 17 Paul Bailey, 18 David Morton, 19 Jack Andrew, 20 Jamie Salter, 21 Wayne Sprangle, 22 Sam Matavesi.