Saracens (10) vs Rotherham Titans (8) - Friendly
Titans go into their final pre-season match on Sunday against Premiership side Saracens, content with the progress that the squad has made to date.
Following three victories and one defeat so far in their preparations, Titans Head Coach Andre Bester is still experimenting with various combinations as he attempts to gel a new squad of players together.
Looking ahead to the Saracens game Andre Bester said, “We haven’t played a first team so far this season and we are trying to get to a phase where we know which is our best squad of players and which are the best combinations to start with. We know we have to rotate this year.
“I was very happy with our workout against Worcester but there were three aspects of our game that was not up to scratch and those three aspects resulted in 50 points against us. However, we’ve addressed that this week and we’ve addressed our cohesion. We know our cohesion will get better and we will be looking at that this week against Saracens.
“We were very happy with our last 25 minutes against Worcester, it was very good. But we were a little bit overawed and we showed them too much respect in the first half.
“Saracens is an exceptional club and they have an exceptional set-up, they are one of the best in world rugby. But when we go onto the pitch we can’t give them too much respect, we need to get stuck into them and remember all men have only two legs and two arms. Sometimes it courage and determination that makes things work for you.
“Once again we will look at new combinations in certain areas; we are happy with our conditioning and the way we have done certain things, but it’s about putting the thing together that’s been a bit of an issue so far. We want to give all the guys a run out because we want them all to be ready to play their part for the team.
“The positive for us is we have better continuity than we had last year, we have a better set-up. We did have star players last season but I believe we have a better squad this time around and stars will be born out of this squad of players.”
Titans: 15 Mike Whitehead, 14 Peter Homan, 13 Lee Blackett, 12 Garry Law, 11 Eamonn Sheridan, 10 James McKinney, 9 Jimmy Williams, 1 Jamie Kilbane, 2 Dan Baines, 3 Gareth Denman, 4 Barney Maddison, 5 Neale Patrick, 6 Alex Rieder, 7 Toby Freeman, 8 Rory Pitman.
Titans’ pre-season preparations came to a close with a battling performance against Premiership outfit Saracens. In the final warm-up match before the serious business of Championship rugby commences on Sunday, Titans have much to be pleased with despite the 10-8 reversal.
Saracens looked very bright, particularly early on and deservedly took the lead when winger Nathan Earle touched down for Nils Mordt to convert.
Titans responded well showing great tenacity, particularly in defence where they repeatedly snuffed out the attacking threat from the Premiership side.
Titans received the reward that their endeavour warranted just before the break. Following a line out close to Saracens line the visiting pack rumbled forward and from the back of the maul, Dan Baines emerged to touch down for an unconverted try.
Despite both sides creating a number of second half opportunities, the only scores came from Nils Mordt and James McKinney swapping penalties, which was enough to give Saracens a 10-8 victory.
Reflecting on the match and with an eye focusing on the start of the Championship season, Titans Head Coach Andre Bester said, “We made a good step-up from the Worcester game and we eliminated many of the mistakes that we have been making recently.
“Our intensity was better and we are gaining a little more continuity. We know this year that we will rotate heavily and it was pleasing to see in the second half when we put a lot of the young boys on that we can compete.
“There’s no doubt that Saracens are the most professional outfit in the country right now and they aspire to be Kings of Europe. So for us to go down there, even though we played against a side that consisted of a number of youngsters, it was exceptional for us to be able to compete with them. Therefore I was very happy with the exercise.
“It was a good step-up but the focus is now we have to make that step-up again when we play London Scottish on Sunday. Scottish are now used to the Championship level and they are not an unknown quantity to us.
We know they will threaten us from all areas on the pitch. Last year they gave us a rugby lesson and we are 0 from 2 against them from last season. So we know we will have to work very hard this week on our preparations and we know if we prepare well, then we will play well.”