Macclesfield RUFC (7) vs Rotherham Titans (17) - Friendly
Titans make fourteen changes to the starting 15 that comprehensively beat Sheffield Tigers last time out. One change is positional as Mick Noone switches from number 8 to blind side flanker, whilst Ed Styles is the only player to retain his place and position.
Titans, who narrowly lost a pre-season match to Macclesfield 12 months ago, fully expect to be seriously tested again. However, they believe if they execute their structures and processes efficiently, the result will look after itself.
Looking ahead to the fixture Andre Bester commented, “A number of players will get an opportunity for the first time against Macclesfield on Wednesday. At this stage we are trying to get everybody into systems and into our way of working. Eamonn Sheridan will start at inside centre as we ease him back into the game, following his long lay off through injury at Leinster last year.
“Obviously Macclesfield are a huge step up from our first two pre-season fixtures, they are very good at retaining the ball, they know what they are doing and they have aspirations of reaching the Championship. I expect nothing other than a very competitive match against them, more importantly though, we just need to focus on our game, our systems and our processes and the outcome will take care of itself.
“We expect Macclesfield to test us and we hope that will be the case because we take a huge step up next week when we travel to Worcester. We then face an equally tough challenge the week after when we play Saracens.
“These games are vitally important as we prepare for our first Championship game away to London Scottish, who will be an incredibly hard nut to crack. They’ve already proved that in pre-season by beating Cardiff away and it’s important to us that we can show we can step up.
“Overall however, we are confident of where we are and are quite happy with how our preparation is going. The boys have a spring in their step and smiles on their faces and we want to keep those smiles around the group.”
Titans: 15 Ed Styles, 14 Peter Homan, 13 Lee Blackett, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Oli Denton, 10 James McKinney, 9 Charlie Mulchrone, 1 Shane Cahill, 2 Dan Baines, 3 Ross Davies, 4 Neale Patrick, 5 Barney Maddison (Capt.), 6 Mick Noone, 7 Carl Kirwan, 8 Rory Pitman.
With seven Titans making their debut, it gave Andre Bester an opportunity to look at different combinations with a mixture of personnel. In view of this the Titans would have been pleased with their bright start.
On 7 minutes following a period of Titans forward pressure Macclesfield managed to hold the ball up over the try line. From the resulting 5 metre scrum Titans turned the screw and pushed the home side backwards at a pace. The resulting mêlée saw skipper for the evening Barney Maddison touch down for the opening try.
Titans continued to impress and dominated territory and possession, however, they had to wait until the half hour mark before their next score. Again Titans success came via their dominant scrum as this time from 10 metres out, they steamrolled the home pack backwards for Rory Pitman to touch down from the base.
Neat handling between Blackett,Dentonand Noone almost set up a third try late into the first half, but determined and resolute defending by The Blues ensured the Titans went in at the break 10-0 ahead.
Not quite at the races at the beginning of the second half and following a lost line out, Titans were made to pay for their lacklustre start. Efficient handling between The Blues backs and forwards culminated in a try in the right hand corner, which was nicely converted to narrow the home deficit to just 3 points.
Titans awoke from their early slumber and continued once again to dominate proceedings. Time after time the visiting pack demonstrated their superiority in the scrums and were unfortunate not to be awarded a couple of penalty tries.
Approaching the hour mark Titans deservedly increased their advantage. A scrum close to the host’s line resulted in livewire Charlie Mulchrone dibbing down for Garry Law to convert and extend their lead to 17-7.
The final quarter saw Titans come close on numerous occasions to adding to their tally. Doneghan, Stagg, Patrick and Kirwan all were denied by some last-ditch tackles from the determined home side, who managed to hold out to keep the final score respectable.
Titans Coach Andre Bester was pleased with the workout and remarked, “I am very happy with the outcome, we wanted a competitive match and we got a very competitive match. We started the match with new combinations and we started brilliantly, we completely dominated.
“I was very impressed with our pack, I thought they were outstanding and at scrum time we were devastating.
“We were held up three times and on another day we may have been given two penalty tries. Our defence was good and Macclesfield never threatened our line other than when they got the try.
“Our application in the final third was fairly poor, but that will come as these boys play more rugby together in a competitive environment and that’s what these pre-season games are there for.
“We did taper off a little bit towards the end and we got somewhat frustrated on occasions. Nevertheless we had a good competitive run out and that’s what we need at this stage.
“Our tempo wasn’t great, I didn’t feel we put enough tempo into the game; we’ll take a look at that because it’s important that we have good tempo and rhythm, otherwise you can’t put scores on teams.
“That will come in time because there are a lot of new boys together. But are they good players? Yes, they are a bunch of very good players.
“Overall I am very pleased with the exercise because it’s about getting the game time and getting to know each other and this game has taken us further down the road of where we want to be.”