Rotherham Titans v Ulster Ravens preview

Rugby Union
Rugby Union

Rotherham’s chances of reaching the quarter finals of the British & Irish Cup have been boosted by the availability of three loan players from Premiership club Newcastle Falcons for tomorrow’s home date with Ulster Ravens.

Scrum half Andy Davies, centre Chris Harris and second row forward Sean Robinson are included in the starting line up as is lock forward Barney Maddison who will be playing from the kick off for the first time in 10 months. Tom Barrett wears the number 10 shirt at fly half, Lloyd Hayes comes back in the centre and James Broadley returns on the wing. In the front row, hooker Johnny Matthews makes a rare first team appearance following excellent form for Hull where he is on loan.

Flanker Max Argyle has made a quick recovery from an ankle injury, so is named as one of the replacements. Rotherham, top of Pool 2 with three consecutive wins, including a 31-29 victory against Ulster last month, take on a team which are bottom of the group having lost all three previous games.

But Titans’ coach Lee Blackett warns: “Ulster will be the toughest of opponents as they showed when we just won over in Belfast. This game is an opportunity for us to get back to winning ways after our narrow loss on Sunday against Bristol.

“I was delighted with the boys’ efforts against the Championship leaders. We were outstanding, but we still lost.

“The B and I Cup is a competition we are taking very seriously and all our efforts will be concentrated on this during the next three Saturdays when we are playing Ulster, Aberavon and then Yorkshire Carnegie.”

The Titans are also pleased to welcome back second row forward Ben Thomas who is one of the seven replacements.

Thomas had been suffering from a serious shoulder injury that had stopped him playing since the Championship game against Leeds Carnegie in April this year.

As Rotherham’s first choice fly half James McKinney is on the bench and eager to play against his fellow Ulstermen, if Barrett fails to dominate the game and is inaccurate with his goal kicking, then Blackett has the perfect solution.

Two other players from Northern Ireland, flanker Ali Birch, who starts, and prop Adam Macklin, will also be determined to prove a point against their old club.

Rotherham Titans: Scanlon, Broadley, Hayes, Harris, Keating, Barrett, A. Davies, Hislop,Matthews,Thiede, Maddison, Robinson, Birch, Preece, Rieder.

Replacements: Argyle, Macklin, Thomas, Ryan, J.Davies, Mitchell, McKinney.