Rotherham Titans (48) vs Blaydon (7) - Pre Season Friendly
After a terrific 22-21 away victory over Premiership side Newcastle Falcons last week, Rotherham go into their final warm-up game against Blaydon in high spirits. However, they are fully aware that Blaydon are a dangerous, physical side and if the Titans are not on top of their game, the underdogs will be quick to exploit any deficiencies.
Reflecting on Titans result last week at Falcons and look ahead to the Blaydon clash, Head Coach Lee Blackett explained, “We were happy with the result at Newcastle last week, I thought the boys were outstanding, but I think the result has just hidden a few of our flaws because we weren’t good enough in certain areas during the game.
“If we are being honest with ourselves we are better than we showed in the set piece; I know the conditions were difficult, but we’ve got to be better there. On the flip side, with the ball that we did create, the backs and forwards took the opportunities well and we were very clinical.
“What pleased me the most however, was how much the boys wanted it and they really gave their all on the day and that’s all you can ask.
“We’ll not get too carried away with the result, after all it was only a friendly and we need to keep on working hard if we are going to make the necessary improvements in our game. We said beforehand Newcastle would identify our weaknesses and that’s what they did.
“In our first two pre-season games we’ve seen quite a lot of the boys and now against Blaydon we have the opportunity for us to make sure everyone has the equal amount of game time. So there will be some changes and it’s a chance for those boys who didn’t start last week to try and fight their way in to starting against London Scottish.
“Every player in the squad wants to start in our opener against Scottish; we’ve not picked our best 15 for that yet and so there’s opportunity for the boys to stick their hands up and put in a huge performance against Blaydon.”
Titans squad v Blaydon
Rotherham Titans concluded their pre-season preparations in style as they ran in eight tries against National One side Blaydon to secure a ruthless and entertaining 48-7 victory.
Following two impressive pre-season performances against Premiership sides Northampton Saints and Newcastle Falcons, Titans Head Coach Lee Blackett, used this fixture to ensure all members of his squad had significant game time ahead of the new Championship campaign, which starts for the Titans with a tricky opener next week at London Scottish.
Despite Titans making thirteen changes they quickly settled into their task scoring two tries inside the first ten minutes through second rower Perry Parker and full back Lloyd Hayes. In the bright late-summer sunshine Rotherham began to enjoy themselves and at times threatened to run their determined opponents ragged. It took some creditable last-ditch defending from the visitors to keep the Titans at bay.
However, the pressure exerted by the hosts eventually took its toll and another two tries from scrum half Andy Davies and hooker Johnny Matthews saw the Titans extend their advantage to 24-0.
The visitors continued to battle on manfully and just before the break were rewarded for their graft when loose head prop Trevor Davison crashed over from close range.
The second half started in similar fashion to the first as Rotherham secured their fifth try from winger Craig Dowsett just three minutes in. Yet again though Blaydon showed an enormous amount of character as they repelled the hosts for long periods and at times showed their own capabilities going forward.
However, the full time professional Titans finished strong and scored three further tries inside the final twelve minutes. Flanker Ali Birch, second row Sean Robinson and centre Jordan Davies put the icing on a competent performance. Sean Robinson’s try being a particularly outstanding one as a terrific break from winger Ben Rath saw the ball arrive with the big second rower, who then proceeded to gallop in from in excess of 30 metres with players hanging off him to score a marvellous try.
A satisfied Lee Blackett post match reflected, “It was good to give some of our boys who hadn’t had much game time in pre-season 80 minutes. We were a little bit rusty on occasions and at times it did feel like a pre-season game. There were some good individual performances and we had plenty of guys out there who will play against London Scottish next week, but we still have a lot to work on going forward.
“I thought when we put more depth into our game and we came on at pace we looked dangerous. That’s what we’re about; we have the ability to play at high speed from deep and whenever we play like that we always cause the opposition problems.
“Blaydon deserve credit for their part, they’re a really good side with a physical pack of forwards. They like to play in the right way in the right areas and any side coached by Micky Ward is going to be a good side, especially when it comes to the tough stuff up front.”
Titans: 15 Hayes, 14 Rath, 13 Gill, 12 J. Davies, 11 Dowsett, 10 Barrett, 9 A. Davies, 1 Gadd (Capt.), 2 Matthews, 3 Macklin, 4 Parker, 5 Robinson, 6 Argyle, 7 Morris, 8 Ryan.
Replacements: 16 Freer, 17 Williams, 18 Tampin, 19 Parkinson, 20 Birch, 21 McGaffin, 22 Lound, 23 Hall.
Titans Scorers: Tries; Parker, Hayes, A. Davies, Matthews, Dowsett, Birch, Robinson, J. Davies. Conversions: Barrett (2), Hayes (2).
Referee: Matthew O'Grady