Rotherham Titans (23) vs Doncaster Knights (10) - Championship
Titans make five changes for Doncaster
Ahead of the big South Yorkshire derby, Andre Bester has made five changes to his starting 15 as they prepare to entertain Doncaster Knights, kick off 2pm at Clifton Lane.
The two changes in the backline sees Dave McCall make his Championship debut after impressing in last week’s B&I Cup match in Swansea. McCall will start at outside centre in place of Stephen Hamilton, there’s a spot on the bench for the latter. Jimmy Williams returns to the side at scrum half for Matt Rhodes who is also expected to be on the bench.
In the engine room Ted Stagg and Ben Hooper come back in for Dan Baines and Rob O’Donnell at hooker and tight head prop respectively, whilst Adrian Griffiths replaces Barney Maddison at lock.
Saturday’s encounter promises to be a tight, uncompromising affair with both sides enjoying a successful season and a bigger than usual attendance is anticipated at Clifton Lane. The league head to head between the two sides sees the visitors with a healthy 11-3 advantage, although last seasons corresponding fixture saw Titans edge a 35-34 thriller.
Looking ahead to Doncaster’s visit, Head Coach Andre Bester is acutely aware of the threat that Titans near-neighbours will pose, Bester stated, “We anticipate a very tough match against Doncaster with immense physicality. All of these derby matches that I’ve been involved in has always been very tough. We know it’s going to be a tough match up front, we know it’s going to be very physical at the breakdown.
“You only need to look at their squad to realise how experienced they are from 9 to 13 and they also have very experienced guys in the pack. We are aware that we have a tough assignment in front of us.
“We had a particular poor showing by our standards last time out against Pirates, although the score line did not reflect the match itself. But we now need to set the record straight and show what we are made of.
“We are not a form side; we want to be a side that can have consistency of performances. That is what Championship rugby is about, consistency of performance. I’m not looking for million dollar performances, I’m just looking for solid performances from each and every individual within the team and then the result will look after itself.
“We do have a level of consistency, but within certain matches we have lacked that consistency on occasions.
“I always liken these South Yorkshire derby’s to tribal warfare. We all like to look at ourselves as part of the ‘Republic of Yorkshire’ and who’s going to have the upper hand over whom, and this is as intense a derby as you are likely to see anywhere in rugby.
“There are many people at both clubs which take this match as very personal. You can almost lose every other game, but you need to make sure you beat your rival on the other side of the hill.
“For our clubs supporters the Doncaster game is very important. They are the people that have been coming here for many years to this club and this is the one match that we will play for them.”
Titans: 15 Tom Foden, 14 Ed Tellwright, 13 Dave McCall, 12 Pale Nonu, 11 Shane Monahan, 10 Garry Law, 9 Jimmy Williams, 1 Shane Cahill, 2 Ted Stagg, 3 Ben Hooper, 4 Sam Dickinson (Capt.), 5 Adrian Griffiths, 6 Robin Copeland, 7 Sean Dougall, 8 Semisi Taulava.
Replacements From: 16 Dan Baines, 17 Jamie Kilbane, 18 Rob O’Donnell, 19 Barney Maddison, 20 Steve Hamilton, 21 Matt Rhodes, 22 Cliffie Hodgson, 23 Carl Kirwan, 24 Byron Godfrey.
Titans topple local rivals!
Rotherham Titans beat local rivals Doncaster Knights 23-10 in an uncompromising battle at Clifton Lane and in doing so maintained their unbeaten home record in the Championship.
Two Tries from Robin Copeland and 13 points from the boot of Garry Law ensured Titans claim the South Yorkshire bragging rights.
A highly charged and competitive encounter saw both sides defence fully tested throughout and it wasn’t until the 20th minute when a Garry Law penalty got the scoreboard moving. This came as a result of Doncaster’s Tom Luke receiving a yellow card for infringing at the ruck.
Then in the space of 6 minutes Rotherham added a further 14 points to rattle the visitors, with two spectacular tries from Robin Copeland. The first on 23 minutes saw Copeland collect from Jimmy Williams around halfway and proceed to gallop through a big hole in the Knights defence, before handing off David McIlwaine to touch down.
Three minutes later and it was déjà vu, as this time Copeland collected 60 metres out and quickly spotted the wide open spaces ahead. Copeland showed terrific pace as he raced away from the Doncaster cover defence to score and send the locals wild with jubilation. Law converted both tries to give Titans a 17-0 lead.
Doncaster came back into the contest and pressed the Rotherham line ferociously, however the hosts defended manfully to ensure no further points were added in the first half.
A Tom Luke penalty early in the second period was quickly cancelled out with a neat Garry Law drop goal from around 30 metres. Law added another 3-pointer with a massive 50 metre plus penalty on 53 minutes after Doncaster had again infringed at the breakdown.
Around the hour mark Rotherham spent the best part of 10 minutes almost camped on the Knights line, however the visitors withstood the onslaught and eventually managed to turn the ball over and clear the danger. Doncaster enjoyed the majority of possession in the final 15 minutes and were rewarded when Michael Keating broke through and off-loaded to Tom Luke to score. Luke converted for a final score of 23-10.
Post match a satisfied but frustrated Andre Bester remarked, “We couldn’t get quick ball because they were all over our ball and I disagree with the interpretation. We try not to give penalties away and other teams get quick ball, we get slow ball the whole time and today was worse than ever before. There were so many incidents off the ball; we need to have a look at that.
“How can there be so many incidents off the ball and they not be spotted, this needs to be right and the players protected! Derby game or not, you cannot have these many off the ball incidents. I saw knees going into player’s heads today. In terms of a spectacle for people to watch it was poor and this has to be sorted out and sorted out very early on.
“Under the circumstances I am satisfied what with we did, I don’t think they ever looked like winning the game. They got their try from a blocker runner who stopped our defender and the try shouldn’t have been allowed and except for that, they never looked like scoring today.”
Titans next action is the short away trip to Leeds Carnegie in the Championship on Friday evening, kick off is 8pm at Headingley Carnegie.
Referee: Dean Richards
Rotherham Scorers: Copeland (2T), Law (2P, 2C, D).
Pirates Scorers: Luke (T, P, C).
Titans: 15 Tom Foden, 14 Ed Tellwright, 13 Dave McCall (Hamilton 75), 12 Pale Nonu, 11 Shane Monahan, 10 Garry Law, 9 Jimmy Williams, 1 Shane Cahill (Kilbane 64), 2 Ted Stagg (Baines 50), 3 Ben Hooper (O’Donnell 64), 4 Sam Dickinson (Capt.) (Maddison 67), 5 Adrian Griffiths, 6 Robin Copeland, 7 Sean Dougall, 8 Semisi Taulava.
Replacements: 16 Dan Baines, 17 Jamie Kilbane, 18 Rob O’Donnell, 19 Barney Maddison, 20 Steve Hamilton, 21 Matt Rhodes, 22 Cliffie Hodgson.
Doncaster: 15 D McIlwaine (F Burdon 49), 14 D FLockhart, 13 O Goss, 12 PJ Gidlow, 11 M Keating, 10 T Luke, 9 C Hallam, 1 S Corsar (T Davies 49), 2 S Boden (J Yeandle 65), 3 Alex Brown, 4 M Challinor, 5 G Kenworthy (D Parsons 49), 6 L Makaafi, 7 Z Farivarz (M Noone 29), 8 A Boyde (C Planchant 49).