Worcester Warriors (50) vs Rotherham Titans (10) - Friendly
Following a perfect three out of three victories so far in pre-season, Titans are under no illusions as to the step-up in opposition they face in Premiership outfit Worcester Warriors tomorrow night.
Coach Andre Bester has retained eleven of the side that beat Macclesfield last time out with one change in the back line and three in the pack. Pale Nonu returns at inside centre, moving Eamonn Sheridan on to the wing as Oli Denton misses out.
In the pack Dan Sanderson comes in for Neale Patrick at lock forward, whilst a change of flankers sees Alex Rieder and Latu Makaafi replace Mick Noone and Carl Kirwan.
Commenting ahead of the clash Andre Bester said, “We are looking forward to the difficult challenge ahead that we know Worcester will present us with. I have not picked a 1st team because we do not have one, all 32 players here are 1st team members and I will change the team ahead of the Saracens match.
“For various reasons, whether that is injury, recovery or differing conditioning phases we have not been able to consider Marshall Gadd, Jimmy Williams, James McKinney, Fergus Mulchrone, Laurence Pearce or Simon Gardiner for the Worcester game.
“We expect a ferocious tempo and great physicality from Worcester and that is exactly what we want, that is why we have chosen these types of games. It is important that we concentrate on our processes and not the outcome. If we get our processes right then the outcome always takes care of itself.
“We are very content of where we are at the moment, both with our conditioning and our application. We are a million miles ahead of where we were at this stage last season. But we need to be more clinical when opportunities present themselves. We are not too concerned with that at this stage however, because we are working with a new set of boys and the more they play together that aspect of the game will come.”
Titans: 15 Ed Styles, 14 Eamonn Sheridan, 13 Lee Blackett, 12 Pale Nonu, 11 Peter Homan, 10 Garry Law, 9 Charlie Mulchrone, 1 Shane Cahill, 2 Dan Baines, 3 Ross Davies, 4 Barney Maddison, 5 Dan Sanderson, 6 Alex Rieder, 7 Latu Makaafi, 8 Rory Pitman.
Warriors came out of the blocks firing on all cylinders and raced into a 19-0 lead after just 20 minutes. Two further tries for the host’s before the break had the Titans reeling as they went in at the break 31-0 down.
Warriors driving maul particularly proved to be an effective weapon that the Titans struggled to contend with early on.
Recognition must be made however for Titans second half performance, a half that they narrowly lost 19-10, conceding three tries, but scoring two of their own.
Titans’ first try came early into the second half following a period of pressure that took them deep into Warriors territory. The ball arrived with the impressive Joel Gill who quickly drew the defence before finding Rory Pitman, who showed good strength to crash over in the corner.
Warriors responded and scored three more tries before the hour mark. Despite this however, Worcester did not have things all their own way. Titans competed tenaciously and broke the gain line on several occasions, their scrum started to edge matters and only a cruel bounce prevented Max Learmonth touching down after showing blistering speed following a chip through.
Titans were rewarded for their efforts near the end when a fine break from Mike Doneghan saw him send in Mick Noone for a neat try in the left hand corner.
Post match Titans Head Coach Andre Bester reflected and said, “In the first half we just imploded by giving them three easy penalties which they kicked into the corner and although our players came through the middle of the ruck it was very difficult for the guy’s to defend and they scored 21 points off those mauls. That is something that we will learn from.
“They got two more very good tries in the first half and suddenly we were 31 points down. But to give those three silly penalties away was very disappointing. We have a lot of new players and some of our guy’s are not used to that level of rugby.
“We also started to panic because the players felt under pressure that they needed to create something. But fair play to the guys, they stuck at it throughout.
“In the second half we saw a huge improvement; we lost that half 19-10 and by three tries to two, but overall if our exit plays been better I think we could have shaded the half.
“I also think you have to take your hat off to Mike Whitehead; when he came on he made a huge difference to us in terms of his organisation, his ability to communicate and his ability to give direction. He took a lot of pressure of Garry in that regard and suddenly we looked very good.
“You also have to give Worcester their due; they look a very good side. They had a lot more sync and a lot more cohesion than we had and I think that was the big difference. But in the first half I thought we looked a little bit rudderless because we were under pressure. We couldn’t perform our exit plays like we wanted to do and our first phase was not as good as we hoped it would be.
“We are very critical about ourselves and we are very analytical about how we do things and we are all hard on each other. Nonetheless it was a very good exercise for us; we came here hoping for a very tough match and that exactly what we got.”