Rotherham Titans ring the changes before Aberavon game

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Rotherham coach Lee Blackett has made several changes to the team that beat Ulster Ravens 52-17 for the fifth round clash in Pool 2 at Aberavon.

In the backs, James Mitchell returns at scrum half as Alex Davies has gone back to Newcastle Falcons for two weeks along with Chris Davies, Ben Morris and Sean Robinson to take part in European Challenge Cup matches.

The other changes in the three quarters are the recall of winger Craig Dowsett who comes in for the ill James Broadley and in the centre Jordan Davies starts in the absence of Harris.

The Rotherham forwards, whose recent performances against Bristol and Ulster have been highly competitive, show four changes: flanker Max Argyle takes over from Ali Birch, Perry Parker replaces Robinson and in the front row of the scrum props Marshall Gadd and Adam Macklin are selected instead of Robin Hislop and Lewis Thiede as Blackett rotates his squad.

“We are confident of more success but as Yorkshire Carnegie found out last week against Aberavon this Welsh club are tough opponents and we expect a hard challenge. When Aberavon came to Clifton Lane in October it was only in the last 20 minutes that we began to play well and then went on to win” said Blackett.

“Selection has been tough this week because players are so keen to be play, so when you look at the fly half position, we are blessed with two good players in James McKinney and Tom Barrett. Both have different styles in the number 10 shirt and when you are a coach it helps to have options” explains Blackett.

As he looks ahead to next weekend’s derby at Clifton Lane against Yorkshire Carnegie in the same competition, Blackett is hopeful that two major players, who are injured and miss the Aberavon match, hooker Tom Cruse (ankle) and second row forward Tom Homes (shoulder), will be fully fit to return.

The Welsh club are suffering a poor season: bottom of the Welsh Premiership with seven defeats in eight games and their form in the B and I Cup is also weak.

They’ve won only once in four games in Pool 2 and have five points compared to Rotherham’s 19 which puts them at the top of their group and favourites to clinch at quarter final place.

Rotherham’s priority, though, is earn a home tie in the last eight which they hope to achieve by beating Aberavon tomorrow and then Yorkshire Carnegie next Saturday.

Rotherham Titans: Scanlon, Keating, Hayes, Davies, Dowsett, Barrett, Mitchell, Gadd, Matthews, Macklin, Parker, Maddison, Argyle, Preece, Ryan.

Replacements: Birch, Hislop, Tampin, Thomas, Rieder, McKinney, Gill.