Rugby: Tom Barrett helps Rotherham Titans forget McKinney inuury blow

Tom Barrett
Tom Barrett

Rotherham Titans, now almost 100 per cent certain of a place in the promotion play-offs next month following their 21-10 triumph at Nottingham on Friday, today begin preparing for their last Championship game against London Scottish at Abbeydale on Saturday.

Rotherham, fourth in the Championship, are currently five points clear of Nottingham and, importantly, have a superior points difference of 127.

Mathematically, it is still possible for Nottingham to qualify, but realistically they won’t beat Bedford by the required amount, and it is unlikely that Rotherham will be smashed by London Scottish who are already through to the last four.

With the play-offs and Saturday’s game coming up shortly, it is essential that flanker Jack Preece, Rotherham’s top try scorer on nine, regains full fitness having missed Friday’s match with flu.

“We are now concentrating on London Scottish and not even thinking of our opponents in the play-offs,” says Titans’ coach Lee Blackett.

“ I’m delighted with the attitude of the whole squad and on Friday night, the replacements made a big difference.

“We were without two major players in fly half James McKinney(serious knee injury) and Preece, yet we still prevented Nottingham gaining a losing bonus point. That made me feel very proud.”

In the absence of McKinney, who will miss the season’s climax, Blackett will be hoping that replacement Tom Barrett will continue the form he showed at Nottingham where he produced a match winning display of 16 points: a try, one conversion and three penalties- a fine return considering that it was only Barrett’s sixth start.

“There was quite a lot of pressure on me because of McKinney’s injury and I was pretty nervous. The night before I was thinking of the game and going through all the patterns of play.

“But when you get on, you feel different. Now, we must nail our place in the play-offs by beating London Scottish and build from there,” explains Barrett.

Another inexperienced player-centre Mark Cooke who’s made just three starts since arriving on loan from Bristol in February-also proved himself against Nottingham by scoring Rotherham’s second try after coming on as a replacement.

“I didn’t expect to be coming to such a good club. I don’t score than many tries and when I got to the line, I almost didn’t know what to do.

“I found coming off the bench nerve wracking because I’ve not had much game time, but that acts as an incentive to do well when you come on.”