Rotherham Titans travel to the Capital on Saturday looking to record back-to-back victories when they take on Richmond in round 2 of the British & Irish Cup; kick-off at the Athletic Ground is 3pm.
Following Titans’ first win of the season against Connacht Eagles last time out in the British & Irish Cup, the South Yorkshire side are eager to notch-up successive victories before returning to Championship action.
Rotherham’s impressive second half display against Connacht means confidence is high at Clifton Lane and the Titans believe a similar full 80 minute performance will give them an opportunity of adding a second victory to their tally.
However, having lost at home to Richmond in the Championship just 3 weeks ago, they will be acutely aware of the challenge they will face at the weekend.
Going into the game Rotherham have made eight changes to their staring XV, five of which come in the pack.
There are two changes in the front row; at hooker Jonny Murphy returns to the side for Charlie Maddison and after impressing from the bench last week Brandon Palmer is given his first Titans start at tight head for Andrew Foster.
A new second row combination sees James Lasis and Byron Hodge come in for Rob Louw and Guy Borrowdale respectively, whilst in the back row dual-registered from Wasps, Tom Willis starts in place of Matt Postlethwaite.
Along the backline; at scrum half and also dual-registered from Wasps, Will Porter is given the nod over Francisco Vieira, coming in on the wing and making his full Titans debut is Jamie Cooke, he replaces Drew Cheshire and round-off the changes Joe Barker returns from a dead-leg and will captain the side in place of Luke Peters.
And included on the bench is 21 years-old Jake Pope. The former England U20’s loose head prop has been drafted in this week on dual-registered terms from Sale Sharks.
Speaking ahead of the match Titans Andy Key explained, “We were very pleased with the outcome against Connacht last week; we weren’t too happy with the first half because we put ourselves into unnecessary waters, but we challenged the character of the side at half time and I think we saw a team in the second half that understood what it meant to go out and nil a side in the second half.
“To do what we did, to have the territory and possession that we had, not to allow the opposition to get a stranglehold on the game and to score the points that we did, showed not just the character but more importantly to the team that they do have the ability to score tries and win games.
“That same character and belief will be needed again when we take on Richmond at the weekend. There’s no doubt they’ll present us with a challenge as we continue to develop our style of game and instil a never-say-die attitude about what we do.
“I’m not sure what team they are looking to put out, but we’re still looking at one or two guys in our squad, whilst at the same time giving a few of our regular senior players a bit of a rest.
“We are looking forward to the game as we’ve asked the players to back-up what they did in the second half against Connacht and that’s important to us all that they do that. Right from the start we want to see the same level of play that we saw in the second half last week.”
Titans: 15 Ben Foley, 14 Wesley Hamilton, 13 Yiannis Loizias, 12 Joe Barker (Capt.), 11 Jamie Cooke, 10 Caolan Ryan, 9 Will Porter, 1 Tom Williams, 2 Jonny Murphy, 3 Brandon Palmer, 4 James Lasis, 5 Byron Hodge, 6 Tom Willis, 7 Adam Peters, 8 Tom Burns.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Maddison, 17 Jake Pope, 18 Andrew Foster, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Tom Calladine, 21 Francisco Vieira 22 Lee Millar.