Rotherham Titans (22) vs Leeds (18) - Championship
Two changes for Leeds Carnegie game
Titans Head Coach Andre Bester has made just two changes to his starting line up from the 15 that started last week at London Scottish.
At scrum half, in comes Jimmy Williams for Matt Rhodes and at tight head prop Ben Hooper will start in place of Shane Cahill. Both Williams and Hooper will be making their full debuts for the club.
Leeds will provide stiff opposition as Rotherham Titans open their home campaign on Sunday, kick off 3pm.
Rotherham and Leeds suffered opening day defeats to clubs from the capital and will both be eager to register a tick in the win column. The fixture over the years has provided some memorable moments for theClifton Laneoutfit.
Perhaps the most memorable was back in February 2000 when over three thousand Rotherham supporters made the short journey to Headingley and witnessed their team in effect “win” the league with a nervy 17-16 victory.
Also notable in the 06-07 season was the league double Rotherham enjoyed over their Yorkshire rivals. However, Rotherham had to settle for the runners-up spot that season, as Leeds won the league by five points to ensure their return to the Premiership.
Andre Bester expects that close rivalry to continue again this season and is sure a tough encounter lay ahead of his squad on Sunday. Bester said, “We fully respect Leeds Carnegie, Diccon Edwards has assembled a good squad with real quality in certain positions. It’s a local derby and pride is at stake, both teams will be desperate for the victory.
“Leeds are similar to us in that they are in a transitional period and they know, like ourselves, you can’t win the league in September. So whilst the Leeds game is of vital importance, it will not determine the outcome of the league.
“But it’s on our home patch in front of our own supporters and I’m positive the players will enjoy the atmosphere and rise to the challenge.”
Rotherham Titans team for Sunday.
15 Cliffie Hodgson, 14 Shane Monahan, 13 Byron Godfrey, 12 Pale Nonu, 11 Peter Homan, 10 Garry Law, 9 Jimmy Williams, 1 Jamie Kilbane, 2 Dan Baines, 3 Ben Hooper, 4 Neale Patrick, 5 Adrian Griffiths, 6 Robin Copeland, 7 Sean Dougall (Capt), 8 Semisi Taulava.
Replacements: Ted Stagg, Shane Cahill, Ben Harris, Talite Vaioleti, Carl Kirwan, Matt Rhodes, Stephen Hamilton.
Titans topple Leeds in local derby.
Rotherham Titans secured local bragging rights with a hard fought but well deserved 22-18 victory over local rivals Leeds Carnegie.
Played in blustery conditions, it wasRotherham who settled the better and exerted their forward presence to good effect. ForcingLeeds into early penalties, Titans fly-half Garry Law punished them with two well taken kicks to give the hosts a 6-0 lead.
Leedsfound the Titans defence hard to breach and Joe Ford’s drop goal from 30 metresgot the visitors on the board in the 16th minute.
However,Rotherhamcontinued to press and dominated both territory and possession. Prop Jamie Kilbane was impressive both in the tight and the loose andLeedscontinued to concede penalties.
The Titans scrum was totally dominant now and on two separate occasions smashed their counterparts into conceding further penalties. Both of which were nicely converted by Law to increase their advantage to 12-3 on the half hour mark.
The polished Titans performance received its rewarded as half time drew near. Shane Monahan caught a clearing chip from Curtis Wilson on theLeeds22. The ball was recycled and spread along the line to Robin Copeland near the left flank. The back-rower showed excellent skill and pace to dummy theLeedsfull back Steve McColl, to touch down in the corner.
The impressive Law tagged on the extras to giveRotherhama 19-3 lead at the interval.
With the wind behind them, the visitors made a brighter start and some decent kicking from Joe Ford gaveLeedssome good field position. Ford and Law exchanged penalties and as the game entered the final quarterRotherhamheld a comfortable 22-6 lead.
Leedshowever, was increasingly becoming a threat. The dominant Titans scrum had lost some of its bite and when replacement prop Shane Cahill received a yellow card for repeated technical infringements,Leedstook their opportunity by forcing a penalty try. Ford converted.
On 80 minutes and with the momentum now with the visitors, a catch and drive move saw replacement front-rower Phil Nilsen driven over for an unconverted try in the corner, to narrow the gap to just 4 points.
Although a nervy couple of minutes ensued,Leedsnever had another opportunity to score and overall it was a much deserved victory forRotherham.
Post match a contented Rotherham Head Coach Andre Bester said, “We were 22-6 up and we lost impetus in the scrum, we gave away silly penalties, then the penalty try and that put them right back into the match. But it’s a win and that’s the most important thing. We’ve got our feet on the ground and we’re not going to get carried away.
“We won the match, but we should have won it by a greater margin. I felt we played all the rugby, we broke them a number of times and we had three occasions where the last passes didn’t go to hand and I can’t recall one time where they went in at all.
“We spent a lot of time with the scrum this week and it’s starting to get to where we want it to be. It’s not there yet, but it will be. The cohesion was better and we are improving, but it is still going to take some time for us to get to where we want to be.”