Rotherham Titans (12) vs Esher (3) - Championship
Five Changes For Esher
Rotherham Titans have made five changes to the starting 15 that earned a creditable draw away to Nottingham last time out.
There are two changes in the back line, with the half back combination of Cliffie Hodgson and Jimmy Williams coming in for Garry Law and Matt Rhodes. The three changes in the pack sees Ben Hooper replace the injured Rob O’Donnell at tight head prop. Whilst the second row combination of Sam Dickinson and Adrian Griffiths replace the injured Neale Patrick and Barney Maddison.
Saturday’s opponents Esher are coached by ex Rotherham favourite Mike Schmid and he recognises what a difficult challenge his team face, Mike said, “Rotherham are playing really well and had a terrific win over Bedford so we know it’s going to be a huge challenge.
“They have a monstrous pack and you have got to compete physically and if you don’t measure up you are going to get beaten. But we have got to play to our strengths. We have some elusive runners so we have got to keep the tempo high and play smart rugby.”
Rotherham have played Esher on six occasions since league rugby was introduced and hold a slender 4-2 head to head advantage over their Surrey based opponents.
Titans head coach Andre Bester expects a tough encounter despite Esher still searching for their first win, Bester said, “I’m not reading anything intoEsher’s results so far, I’ve said it before, and on any given day any team can beat any team in this league this year.
“We are rotating our team again this week and it’s no reflection on whoever our opposition is. The important thing for us is to keep the players fresh and motivation levels very high. We have a close squad and they are all very competitive and there’s not a lot to choose between the players.”
Kick off atClifton Lane,3pm.
RotherhamTitans: 15 Stephen Hamilton, 14 Tom Foden, 13 Byron Godfrey, 12 Palepoi Nonu, 11 Shane Monahan, 10 Cliffie Hodgson, 9 Jimmy Williams, 1 Ben Harris, 2 Ted Stagg, 3 Ben Hooper, 4 Sam Dickinson, 5 Adrian Griffiths, 6 Robin Copeland, 7 Sean Dougall (Capt.), 8 Semisi Taulava
Replacements: Dan Baines, Ricki Stout, Jamie Kilbane, Barney Maddison, Carl Kirwan, Elliott Brierley, Garry Law.
Esher: 15 Ollie Lindsay-Hague, 14 Charlie Ingall, 13 Tom Loizides, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Charlie Walker, 10 Rob Kirby, 9 Clive Stuart-Smith, 1 Ollie Mines, 2 Stuart Mackie, 3 Ricky Nebbett, 4 Perry Parker, 5 Ian Kench, 6 Mike MacFarlane, 7 Sam Stitcher, 8 Chris Goodman
Replacements: 16 James Gethings, 17 Rob Buchanan, 18 Mike Blakeburn, 19 Peter Synott, 20 Andy Wright, 21 Richard Mill, 22 Andy Garner.
Titans win at a soggy Clifton Lane
Wet weather rugby made its first visit toClifton Lanethis season (And undoubtedly not its last) as Rotherham Titans beat Esher 12-3 in a one sided affair.
Rotherham were not at their best and allowed numerous try scoring opportunities to pass them by, nevertheless the four point win consolidates Titans promising start to the campaign.
Titans head coach Andre Bester wasn’t too disappointed at not collecting the four try bonus point considering the weather conditions, he said, “It wasn’t a close match at all, but if you had asked me before the game if I would have taken four points, I would have. When I saw the conditions I didn’t think we would score four tries today. We are still learning as a group and we are happy with the win and that’s the business we are in.”
In what was a stop start encounterRotherhamstarted much the brighter and were rewarded for their efforts on 6 minutes, with a very neatly taken drop goal from Cliffie Hodgson. Shortly after Esher got their only points of the afternoon with a long range penalty from Rob Kirby after Titans had infringed at a maul.
Rotherham totally dominated territory and possession throughout, but missed opportunities and resilientEsherdefending resulted in a low scoring game. Titans could have had a try on 15 minutes but a knock on close to theEsherline cost them. Ten minutes later Esher lock Perry Parker was lucky to stay on the field after punching Titans hooker Ted Stagg.
Two minutes later Titans looked dangerous as they pressed the goal line; howeverEsherturned the ball over and cleared the danger. Five minutes before the break visiting skipper Sam Sticher was yellow carded as his sides repeated infringements were punished. From the resulting penalty replacement Garry Law converted to give the hosts a 6-3 lead at the break.
Early in the second half a neat break in midfield by Garry Law resulted in the visitors conceding another penalty and once again the Hawick native slotted over nicely to extendRotherham’s lead to 9-3. Law was having a good game and his kicking out of hand was first-rate, turning Esher frequently and creating good field position for his side. And whenEshergave away another penalty on 58 minutes Law punished them again with ruthless accuracy.
Titans continued to press and on two separate occasions had the final pass been better then surely the hosts would have breached the whitewash. As the game went deep into injury time Rotherham virtually camped on the visitors try line, forcing them into repeated penalty infringements. Unfortunately once again Titans lost possession and referee Tempest blew his whistle to end proceedings.
Post match Bester reflected and said, “The conditions made it difficult, when we saw the rain and realised what the conditions were going to be, we knew we were going to be in for a battle. It is a 50-50 game when you get conditions like that, but Esher never once threatened our 22 and never looked liked scoring the whole match.
“Because of the weather conditions we did make it difficult for ourselves, particularly the execution of our final passes. We played the million dollar passes and they didn’t come off. We knew we had to play it tight in those conditions and it was difficult, but as I said they never threatened our line once the entire match.”
Referee: Ian Tempest
RotherhamScorers: Hodgson (D/G), Law (3P).
EsherScorers: Kirby (P).
RotherhamTitans: 15 Steve Hamilton, 14 Tom Foden, 13 Byron Godfrey, 12 Pale Nonu, 11 Shane Monahan, 10 Cliffie Hodgson, 9 Jimmy Williams, 1 Ben Harris, 2 Ted Stagg, 3 Ben Hooper, 4 Sam Dickinson (Capt.), 5 Adrian Griffiths, 6 Robin Copeland, 7 Sean Dougall, 8 Semisi Taulava.
Replacements: Dan Baines, Rikki Stout, Jamie Kilbane, Barney Maddison, Carl Kirwan, Elliott Brierley, Garry Law.
Esher: 15 Ollie Lindsay-Hague, 14 Charles Ingall, 13 Tom Cheeseman, 12 Andrew Wright, 11 Tom Loizides, 10 Rob Kirby, 9 Clive Stuart-Smith, 1 Ollie Mines, 2 Stuart Mackie, 3 Ricky Nebbett, 4 Perry Parker, 5 Ian Kench, 6 Michael Macfalane, 7 Sam Sticher (Capt.), 8 Chris Goodman.
Replacements: James Campbell, James Gethings, Michael Blakeburn, Peter Synnott, Charlie Walker, Richard Mill, Andrew Garner.