Rotherham Titans: Blackett targets return to winning form

Jack Preece has been declared fit for the Titans
Jack Preece has been declared fit for the Titans

A return to winning form at home is what Rotherham Titans’ coach Lee Blackett is demanding of his players, who take on the vastly improved Nottingham at Clifton Lane tomorrow.

After losing their last two games in front of their own fans, Rotherham, who have dropped to fifth in the league, must make use of home advantage if they are to regain a top four position which they must achieve to compete in the promotion play-offs.

So a win tomorrow and then next Saturday when Rotherham are again at home against Bedford, is essential.

Blackett, highly satisfied with many aspects of the victory against Doncaster, is expected to make a couple of changes to the side.

Hooker Tom Cruse will start now that his red card has been rescinded and there will have to be a change in the backs following a knee injury to centre Joel Gill who will be out of action for a month.

Other than Gill’s injury, Rotherham have a clean bill of health which means that forward Jack Preece, who suffered a bang to the head at Castle Park on Sunday, is available having passed medicals this week.

Winger Craig Dowsett, who withdrew shortly before kick off at Doncaster, is now ready to be included in the Titans’ squad to face a Nottingham side that has leaped into third place in the Championship.

“Nottingham deserve to be where they are, they have a strong line out and driving maul and a good attack,” says Blackett.

“This is going to be one tough battle for us. Nottingham are well coached and have dangerous players.

“I was disappointed with some of our execution against Doncaster in the second half when we struggled to get the ball in hand.

“Our line out didn’t function well for much of the second half, but when you look at the possession stats we dominated and I was satisfied with our attack in the opening 50 minutes.”

Rotherham will be chasing their seventh win in 11 league matches and will be relieved to have Cruse back because he is such an important forward who has the knack of scoring tries.

If Nottingham are to be beaten, two Irish players, who are match winners, must again reproduce their form which has been consistently good in the Championship so far.

Winger Michael Keating, the Titans’ top try scorer with five, needs to repeat his ability to seize opportunities that was evident at Doncaster, and fly half James McKinney, who had a 100 per cent kicking record at Castle Park, must be just as accurate; the Ulster number 10 now has 87 points in the Championship-one try, 11 conversions, nine penalties and one drop goal.

Rotherham Titans from: Scanlon, Keating, Dowsett, Hayes, Davies, White, Mitchell, McKinney, Barrett, Hislop, Cruse, Tampin, Gadd, Macklin, Matthews, Parker, Holmes, Maddison, Thomas, Rieder, Argyle, Preece, Birch, Ryan, Morris, Thiede.