Rotherham Titans (17) vs Nottingham (22) - British and Irish Cup fixtures
All Change for B&I Cup
Andre Bester will make full use of his squad and makes 13 changes for the visit of Nottingham in the British & Irish Cup, kick off Wednesday 3pm Clifton Lane.
Cliffie Hodgson and Ben Harris are the two players retaining their place in the starting 15, whilst trialist Ed Tellwright makes his debut on the wing. Two interesting selections on the bench are 37 year old Rotherham veteran and assistant coach Ben Wade and 17 year old Jan-Francois Bester, son of Andre.
22 year old Tellwright is on a 3 week trial atRotherhamhaving spent the summer on trial with Premiership outfit Sale Sharks. Previously whilst studying BSc Sports Biomedicine and Nutrition at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC), he was a member of the first team competing in Welsh Division One West, one level below the Welsh Premiership.
Ben Wade needs little introduction, currently assisting Andre in coaching duties Ben has made 91 league appearances for Rotherham. Ben made his debut for the club against Bedford Blues back in August 1997 and has an impressive try scoring record for a forward, scoring a try every three games.
At the other end of the age spectrum is Jan-Francois Bester, at 17 should he take to the field he will become one of the youngest ever players to represent Rotherham.
Looking ahead to the match Bester senior said, “We’ve selected a strong side and an exciting side and each player has a big opportunity. But the important thing is to play as a team together because I’m not looking for individual stars, I’m looking for team players. And under pressure it’s how you interact with the team and how you bring your skills to the fore within the team set up.
“We are looking for players that don’t make basic errors, can see space and then take that opportunity and exploit it. On occasions we haven’t done that this season, but we are on a learning curve and we will improve.
“I expect Nottingham to pick a similar side to the one that beat Doncaster in the last round of the competition, although they will have some of their World Cup players back so they may pick some players that played against us in the Championship. This competition gives clubs the opportunity to develop fringe players, but having said that we’ll go into the match wanting the win, it’s on our home turf.”
Team to face Nottingham: 15 Will Du Randt, 14 Ed Tellwright, 13 Elliott Brierley, 12 John McMahon, 11 Peter Homan, 10 Cliffie Hodgson, 9 Dave Marshall, 1 Shane Cahill, 2 Ross White, 3 Ricky Stout, 4 Ben Harris, 5 Neale Patrick, 6 Carl Kirwan, 7 Barney Maddison, 8 Ross Noonan (Capt.).
Replacements: Ted Stagg, Ben Hooper, Sam Dickinson, Ben Wade, Jan-Francois Bester, Matt Rhodes, Byron Godfrey.
Titans suffer narrow defeat
Rotherham Titans slow start coupled with missed opportunities resulted in a narrow 17-22 defeat toNottinghamin the British & Irish Cup.
Titans Head Coach Andre Bester had mixed feeling about his side’s performance, he said, “It was a good exercise but I think it showed that we don’t play ‘A’ team matches at all. We had a complete lack of cohesion where we didn’t know who was where and what we were doing. I thought our front row at times did very well, but we lost the game in the first half.
“The penalties we had were not difficult penalties; they were sitters in front of the posts. We should have kicked those penalties and that would have put daylight between us and them and we would have had the advantage at half time.
“Once again we squandered a lot of opportunities near their line. I have to say though the breakdown was a complete lottery, they got quick ball and we got slow ball and you have to ask how that happened. The interpretation baffles me.”
In the first half that lack of cohesion manifested itself asRotherhamstruggled to put many meaningful phases together andNottingham’s 9-3 lead at the interval - three James Stokes penalties to one from Dave Marshall - was probably a fair reflection of what had gone before. Although Marshall missed a couple of penalties that he would normally knock over on a different day.
Titans start to the second half would not have pleased Bester at all. Just a minute in and Nottingham flanker Jethro Rawling touched down far too easily as the Rotherham defence missed too many tackles near their line. Stokes converted and then kicked a penalty on 55 minutes to extend the visitors advantage to 19-3 and leave the hosts a mountain to climb.
The final 20 minutes however saw a remarkable turnaround inRotherham’s performance. On 62 minutes the impressive Barney Maddison touched down after a series of dominant drives from the Titans pack. Marshall converted and the home side’s belief was starting to grow as they took total control creating several try scoring opportunities, unfortunately those opportunities were not converted into points.
The pressure mounted on the visitors and it told as they repeatedly gave away penalties in their own 22. Referee Andrew Jackson finally lost his patience and yellow carded Nottingham’s Tom Calladine for his side’s cynical approach on 69 minutes. It did not take Rotherham long to capitalise on their numerical advantage.
Just three minutes later fans favourite Ben Wade crashed over from a powerful Rotherham scrum that had the visitors in total disarray,Marshallconverted to narrow the gap to 2 points. All the momentum was now withRotherham, but on a rare Nottingham foray into the hosts half they forced a penalty which Stokes impressively converted to maintain his perfect record for the afternoon.
Rotherham pushed on in search of a wining score, but the ‘Green & Whites’ just held out to secure their second win in the B&I Cup and celebrated enthusiastically on full time. Rotherham now turn their attention back to Championship matters as they prepare for the difficult challenge that awaits them at London Welsh on Saturday.
RotherhamScorers: Maddison (T), Wade (T), Marshall (P,2C).
NottinghamScorers: Rawling (T), Stokes (5P, C).
Referee: Andrew Jackson
RotherhamTitans: 15 Will Du Randt, 14 Ed Tellwright, 13 Elliott Brierley, 12 Jon McMahon, 11 Peter Homan, 10 Cliffie Hodgson, 9 Dave Marshall, 1 Shane Cahill, 2 Ross White, 3 Rikki Stout, 4 Ben Harris, 5 Neale Patrick, 6 Carl Kirwan, 7 Barney Maddison, 8 Ross Noonan (Capt.).
Replacements: Ted Stagg, Ben Hooper, Sam Dickinson, Ben Wade, Jan-Francois Bester, Tom Foden, Byron Godfrey.
Nottingham: 15 James Stokes, 14 Ryan Hough, 13 Charlie Hayter, 12 Joe Munroe, 11 Jack Bradford, 10 Joe Cobden, 9 Finlay Barnham (Capt.), 1 Kieron Stone, 2 Oliver Taylor, 3 Matt Shields, 4 Mitchell Todd, 5 Tom Calladine, 6 Rupert Cooper, 7 Jethro Rawling, 8 Jonny Baird.
Replacements: Jimmy Stevens, Neil Fowkes, Matthew Parr, Craig Hammond, Keifer Laxton, James Wigglesworth, Jack Cobden.