Plymouth Albion (24) vs Rotherham Titans (20) - Championship
Bester makes two changes for Plymouth game
After the euphoria of Rotherham Titans well deserved victory over local rivals Leeds Carnegie, Titans head coach Andre Bester makes just two changes to his starting 15 for the away trip to Plymouth Albion on Friday evening.
The changes are part of Bester’s squad rotation policy and sees Stephen Hamilton make his debut at full back in place of Cliffie Hodgson.Hamilton, formerly of Blackheath, arrived in the summer from fellow Championship sideNottingham.
The other change also in the back line sees Elliott Brierley come in at outside centre for Byron Godfrey. Brierley, formerly of Macclesfield and Wilmslow also joined the club in the summer and he too makes his debut.
Plymouthaway is seen as a difficult challenge and the stats back that up. In 8 previous league visits Titans have only come away victorious on two occasions. Although, overall Rotherham just edge the head to head in league meetings between the clubs 8-7, with one draw.
Titans Andre Bester is under no illusions to the difficulty of the task ahead of his side and commented, “It will be a very hard away game, it always is down there. Plymouth had a very good away performance against London Welsh last time out and like ourselves Plymouth have been written off pre-season and they are standing up to deliver.
“Last year when we went down there we were on a roll and they gave us a good hiding. So we are acutely aware of just how tough a challenge Plymouthwill present.
But we intend to set the record straight because I haven’t won down in Plymouthin my four previous attempts.”
Jamie Kilbane will start at Plymouth providing he comes through a fitness test on a knee injury he picked up in the victory over Leeds.
15 Stephen Hamilton, 14 Shane Monahan, 13 Elliott Brierley, 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.
Titans pick up Bonus at Plymouth
Rotherham Titans collected a losing bonus point as they agonisingly fell short in their 24-20 defeat to Plymouth Albion.
Once again a lack of discipline cost Titans dearly! A constant stream of penalties conceded and another yellow card proved ultimately the deciding factor in the game. A game in which Rotherham dominated for long periods and that had Albion defending for their lives at the end.
Rotherham’s 7-3 lead at the break flattered Albion and the visitors efforts should have yielded more than a Semisi Taulava converted try on 26 minutes.
A loose pass just 2 minutes into the second half gifted Albion winger Cameron Mitchell with an easy interception try, which was converted by James Love to nudge the hosts into a 10-7 lead. Two further Garry Law penalties to James Love’s one levelled the scores as the game entered its final quarter.
Crucially fifteen minutes from time, ex Albion player Robin Copeland was yellow carded for his team’s persistent infringements. Just three minutes later Albion took advantage of their extra man on the pitch when their pack drove hooker Gareth Evans over to touch down near the corner. Shortly after, another Love penalty increased Albion’s lead to 21-13.
Two minutes from time Copeland redeemed himself with a fine try which Law converted to reduce the arrears to a point and set up a tense finish. On 80 minutes however Titans conceded another penalty for Love to convert and give his side a 4 point cushion.
Referee Terry Hall allowed 7 minutes of injury time and Rotherham spent that time camped in Albion’s 22 looking for what would have been a deserved victory. However, credit toAlbion, they defended like lions and were mightily relieved to hear the final whistle.
Rotherham will be frustrated and disappointed at not securing the win, but they will recognise you can’t win tight games conceding so many penalties and having players yellow carded. The positive however, is once again Rotherham return home with a well deserved bonus point.
Post game a frustrated Andre Bester said, “We were completely in control of the match and we were excellent in the contact, but the penalties we conceded destroyed us the whole match! We played very well and could have put the match to bed by half time, but time and again we kept giving away penalties, it was ridiculous.
“The first try we conceded was a loose pass that was intercepted and the second was while we were down to 14. We’ve conceded 58 points this year and something like 27 of those points has been while we’ve had a man in the bin, it’s just not acceptable.
“But it’s a process, we know we aren’t the finished article right now and maybe the players do not trust each other as much as they should be in defence, but we will fix it. The positive is we didn’t come away from a very difficult away match with nothing and that’s important.
“There’s no doubt about the potential of this squad, there’s nothing broken it’s a development process and through our cohesion and processes we will improve as the season progresses.”
Scorers Titans: Taulava (T), Copeland (T), Law (2P,2C)
Scorers Albion: Mitchell (T), Evans (T), Love (4P,1C)
Referee: Terry Hall
Rotherham Titans: 15 Stephen Hamilton, 14 Shane Monahan, 13 Elliott Brierley, 12 Palepoi 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, Rob O’Donnell, Talite Vaioleti, Byron Godfrey, Matt Rhodes, Cliffie Hodgson.
Plymouth Albion: 15 James Love, 14 Michael McGrath, 13 Bevon Armitage, 12 Keni Fisilau, 11 Cameron Mitchell, 10 Paul Bailey, 9 Ruairi Cushion, 1 David Morton, 2 Gareth Evans, 3 Rob Dugard, 4 Dan Collier, 5 Sean-Michael Steven, 6 Michael Stupple, 7WayneSprangle, 8 Samuel Hocking.
Replacements: Dale Farnham, David McGregor, Mark Lee, Ryan Hopkins, Tyson Lewis, Addison Lockley, James Tyas.