Hull Ionians (7) vs Rotherham Titans (60) - Friendly
Titans get their 2012-13 season underway with a pre-season warm up against SSE National League 2 North side Hull Ionians. In the starting 15 are four trialist’s aiming to make an impact.
Starting at full back is Oli Denton, who has previously played at Leeds Carnegie and who made his Leeds debut during the 2010-11 season in the Amlin Challenge Cup against Bucharest. Oli is the younger brother of Tom who has recently joined Heineken Cup kings Leinster.
At outside centre is Max Learmonth; the former Heriot’s and Watsonians wing/centre has represented his native Scotland at age group level, scoring on his debut both at U18 and U19 levels.
Debuting at blind side flanker is Sam Farmer who has a fine pedigree having come through the academy system at Northampton Saints.
Bringing up the rear of the quartet is number 8 Joe Ellyatt who came through the Bath Academy and is the youngest ever player to represent Jersey Rugby Club.
Looking ahead to Titans first run-out of the season head coach Andre Bester remarked, “What we need at this stage is to get some competitive contact practice. It’s not about the score; it’s about getting the players contact ready and to apply a little bit more pressure on them with the ball in hand.
“There will be rolling substitutes throughout because it is about giving players the opportunity to play a bit of rugby. We’ll use a lot of the younger end of the squad and a lot of the new boys and give them the opportunity to get into the swing of things. We want them to just enjoy themselves in the contact environment, rather than them just smashing into each other the whole time.
“It will also give the boys an opportunity to get to grips with the new law changes around the scrum and ruck areas of the game and that will be important. We are looking forward to the encounter and it should be very competitive as it is a new bunch of boys that we have picked together.
“The conditioning of the boys is good, but they will still get tired and that is to be expected playing 3 periods of 30 minutes. But we do want to see a little bit of awareness from them on Saturday.”
15, Oli Denton (Trialist), 14 Peter Homan, 13 Max Learmonth (Trialist), 12 Pale Nonu, 11 Mike Doneghan, 10 Mike Whitehead (Capt.), 9 Charlie Mulchrone, 1 Jamie Kilbane, 2 Jan-Francois Bester, 3 Gareth Denman, 4 Toby Freeman, 5 Dan Sanderson, 6 Sam Farmer (Trialist), 7 Alex Reider, 8 Joe Ellyatt (Trialist).
Replacements to include: Ross Davies, Marshall Gadd, Ted Stagg, Neale Patrick, Latu Makaafi, Michael Noone, Joel Gill, James McKinney, Lee Blackett, Laurence Pearce, Ed Styles.
The Clifton Lane based outfit ran in ten tries to one in the glorious East Yorkshire sunshine against an Ionians side that competed throughout.
The match consisted of three periods of thirty minutes and it took the Titans just 2 minutes of the opening period to breach the host’s Tryline. Trialist Oli Denton touched down after a neat build up which saw Pale Nonu create the opening. Unfortunately for Denton he afternoon came to a premature end just 7 minutes later after sustaining an eye injury.
On 18 minutes Max Learmonth, who was impressive throughout, made an incisive break through the home defence and offloaded to the equally impressive Peter Homan who had the easiest of touch downs.
Just before the break Titans pack took play close to the Hull line, quick ball ensued and the beneficiary was Learmonth who crashed through near the sticks for Titans third try. Into injury time and a catch and drive move close to the Titans line saw Hull bulldoze over for a converted try; ending the first period with Titans holding a 19-7 advantage.
The second period saw the visitors dominate with the majority of the game played inside the Hull half. Mike Whitehead who controlled matters masterfully threw a delightful miss-pass after 3 minutes to Jan-Francois Bester on the left flank and the youngster touched down near the corner.
Another Whitehead miss-pass sent in Homan on 9 minutes after a good break by Joel Gill who looked sharp after entering the fray. Homan secured his hat-trick 10 minutes later following a quick tap from Gill which also saw in the move good work from Alex Reider.
At the close of the second period Reider got himself on the score sheet, touching down from the base of a dominant Titans scrum, ending the period with Titans extending their advantage to 43-7.
Again, early in the period Titans scored a try. This time tight head prop Ross Davies found himself on the right flank when he received the ball and proceeded to run in from close range for unexpected glory.
Midway through the period a speedy thinking Charlie Mulchrone took a quick tap close to the try line and darted through for a clever try. Just before the end and following another break from Learmonth, Peter Homan raced in for his 4th and Titans 10th try of the match, making the final score 60-7.
The afternoon proved to be a positive exercise with all the players making a contribution; however, Learmonth, Homan, Bester, Whitehead and Reider will be particularly pleased with their efforts.
Post match a contended Andre Bester remarked, “The important thing was we needed to get some contact training in and we got 90 minutes of that against Ionians, so all in all it was a great exercise for us.
“We still have a lot to work on but this is where you learn, you learn a lot about the players, nevertheless we are in a good place right now. Particularly if you look at who were sat on the bench and even more so with the guy’s who weren’t even playing.
“I thought the scrums went very well but there’s still plenty of work to do there, we not even at 30% of where should be and technically and tactically we are still making errors, nonetheless it was a good starting point for us and I’m happy at where we are at this stage.”