Rotherham Titans (20) vs Plymouth Albion (8) - Championship
Titans ready for Plymouth test
Rotherham Titans are likely to make three changes ahead of Plymouth Albions visit to Clifton Lane on Saturday, kick-off 2pm. That number could rise to four should club captain Sam Dickinson recover from a rib injury.
Titan’s two changes in the pack are in the front row; Jamie Kilbane returns at loose head prop for Shane Cahill and on the other side Rob O’Donnell comes in for Ben Hooper at tight head. In the back line Matt Rhodes starts at scrum-half in place of Jimmy Williams.
Rotherham will be looking to get back to winning ways after suffering a narrow defeat at Yorkshire rivals Leeds Carnegie last Friday. However, Plymouth Albion are expected to test Titans fully despite their lowly league position. Peter Drewett has recently been appointed Albion’s new Director of Rugby and Plymouth will be anxious to impress their new boss.
The clubs have met on 19 previous league occasions with Titans just edging matters 10-8 with one draw. Coach Andre Bester anticipates a tough challenge on Saturday from the Devon based outfit and said, “People have been talking about us taking all five points this week, but I have to keep repeating myself when I say anyone can beat anyone in this league…because it’s true. We are going for the win and that’s the important thing and if the bonus point comes along, then all well and good.
“Plymouth will not be a pushover; they will have a spring in their step as they try to impress their new coach Peter Drewett. They’ve also added Phil Greening to their set-up this week and as a result their defence will be tidier. They will be a different kettle of fish to what they were at the beginning of the season and there’s a little bit of history between the clubs, Plymouth came up here last year and put one over on us.
“It will be a tough game against a tough set of forwards, it will be physical and I expect a real battle. They have got their big-name players back, people like Sean-Michael Stephen their captain and he’s very inspirational. We won’t be underestimating Plymouth at all.”
Rotherham Titans: 15 Tom Foden, 14 Ed Tellwright, 13 Dave McCall, 12 Pale Nonu, 11 Shane Monahan, 10 Garry Law, 9 Matt Rhodes, 1 Jamie Kilbane, 2 Daniel Baines, 3 Rob O'Donnell, 4 Barney Maddison, 5 Adrian Griffiths, 6 Robin Copeland, 7 Sean Dougall, 8 Semisi Taulava.
Replacements From: 16 Ted Stagg, 17 Shane Cahill, 18 Ben Hooper, 19 Sam Dickinson, 20 Steve Hamilton, 21 Jimmy Williams, 22 Cliffie Hodgson, 23 Carl Kirwan, 24 Elliot Brierley.
Titans beat Albion in slugfest!
Rotherham Titans maintained their unbeaten league record in the Championship at Clifton Lane with a dogged 20-8 victory over Plymouth Albion. Tries from Rob O’Donnell and Ed Tellwright and ten points from the boot of Garry Law ensured Titans made it six out of six at home in the league.
Titans started the game in enterprising fashion and got points on the board as early as the 8th minute. Winger Shane Monahan pierced the Albion defence and made 25 metres before being tackled close to the line. After a couple of phase’s tight head prop Rob O’Donnell collected and crashed over from close range. Garry Law converted to give the hosts an early 7-0 lead.
On 16 minutes Titans doubled their advantage after good work by both forwards and backs. From a line out Titans pack mauled their way onto Albion’s 22, Matt Rhodes then fed along the line with the ball ultimately arriving with Ed Tellwright, his turn of foot enabled him to round the Plymouth defence to touch down in the corner. Law converted from out wide.
Five minutes later and Titans’ skipper Sean Dougall received a yellow card for persistent infringements at the breakdown. Albion took advantage of their extra man immediately as prop David Morton bulldozed over from a 5 metre catch and drive move.
Titans lost a little of their early momentum and the game developed into a battle of attrition between both sets of forwards. Garry Law’s attempted drop-goal on 31 minutes just drifted wide and no further scoring opportunities arose in the first period.
The second half also presented very few scoring chances as the game became a stop start affair with both sides culpable of handling errors. Law’s penalty on 44 minutes was matched by James Love’s effort 7 minutes later. Two minutes from time Semisi Taulava thought he had scored near the corner, but referee Knowles deemed his effort just short of the try-line and awarded Albion a scrum.
Four minutes into injury time Garry Law’s penalty brought the final score to 20-8 and earned Titans a well deserved victory over a very tough and physical Plymouth Albion.
Post match a satisfied Andre Bester commented, “We were brilliant in the first 20 minutes against the wind, but it became too easy and we tailored off and got caught by playing at Plymouth’s tempo. Before the game we said it was going to be a 50-50 game because of the weather conditions, particularly the strong wind.
“We were very good in the first 20 and I thought we should have scored more points, but to win the game and deny Plymouth anything; I would have taken that before the game. The win takes us to 41 points and keeps us in contention for a top-4 spot.”
Referee: Paul Knowles
Rotherham Scorers: O’Donnell (T), Tellwright (T) Law (2P, 2C).
Plymouth Albion Scorers: Morton (T), Love (1P).
Rotherham Titans: 15 Tom Foden, 14 Ed Tellwright, 13 Dave McCall, 12 Pale Nonu, 11 Shane Monahan (Hodgson 70), 10 Garry Law, 9 Matt Rhodes (Williams 67), 1 Jamie Kilbane (Cahill 50), 2 Ted Stagg (Baines 50), 3 Rob O’Donnell (Hooper 75), 4 Barney Maddison, 5 Adrian Griffiths (Dickinson 50), 6 Robin Copeland, 7 Sean Dougall (Capt.), 8 Semisi Taulava.
Replacements: 16 Dan Baines, 17 Shane Cahill, 18 Ben Hooper, 19 Sam Dickinson, 20 Carl Kirwan, 21 Jimmy Williams, 22 Cliffie Hodgson.
Plymouth Albion: 15 James Love, 14 Mick McGrath, 13 Bevan Armitage, 12 Keni Fisilau, 11 Steve Johns, 10 Mark Lee, 9 Ruairi Cushion, 1 Dave Morton, 2 Gareth Evans, 3 Ryan Hopkins, 4 Dan Collier, 5 Tyler Hotson, 6 Sean-Michael Stephen, 7 Sam Hocking, 8 Aaron Carpenter.
Replacements: 16 Paul Rowley, 17 Paul Bailey, 18 Michael Stupple, 19 Rob Dugard, 20 Rupert Freestone, 21 Addison Lockley, 22 Luke Cowan-Dickie.