Rotherham Titans have made nine changes to their starting XV ahead of the visit of Ealing Trailfinders in round 3 of the British & Irish Cup on Saturday; kick-off at Clifton Lane is 2pm.
Following Titans disappointing 47-11 defeat last time out in the Championship against Yorkshire Carnegie, the South Yorkshire side are determined to put in a performance that will test the high-flyers from West London.
However, Ealing will come into the game full of confidence having enjoyed an outstanding season to date. They currently sit second in the Championship just 8 points adrift of Bristol, having lost only 2 game all year and in the British & Irish Cup they ride high at the top of pool 4, where they have the maximum points after inflicting heavy defeats on pool rivals Richmond and Connacht Eagles.
Nevertheless, Titans can draw some comfort from their recent Championship clash against Trailfinders where back in late October they pushed the London side close in a narrow but highly-competitive 23-18 defeat.
Of the nine changes Titans have made to the side, seven come in the pack. A new front row combination of Tom Williams, Jonny Murphy and Brandon Palmer all come in for Toby Williams, Luke Cole and Matt Shields.
A new combination is also utilised in the second row department as Rob Louw and James Lasis are given the nod over Matt Postlethwaite and Byron Hodge, whilst the sole change in the back row sees Tom Burns return to the side for Adam Peters.
Along the Titans backline Ben Foley moves to full back as Will Thomas drops to the bench, allowing winger Jamie Cooke to make his second Titans start and rounding off the changes, scrum half Francisco Vieira comes in for Rhodri Davies who also drops to the bench.
Ahead of the game Andy Key explained, “We can’t get away from the fact that we were extremely disappointed in the way the tries came about last weekend against Yorkshire Carnegie.
“You try to be balanced and it’s really difficult when you’ve just conceded 7 tries and 47 points, but there were large parts of the game where we defended really well and we’ve actually performed well in those areas where we’ve been focusing on.
“So it’s a work-in-progress type of environment at the moment, we know there are areas where we’ve clearly got to shore-up, but we didn’t manage ourselves as well as we needed to do. We knew where Carnegie’s strengths were and where they’d come from, and their catch and drive became our downfall in the end.
“We lost heavily and we can’t feel good about ourselves, but in the second half we contained them far better and we controlled the game in terms of territory and possession for most of the second period. So we’re pleased in that sense because we feel just around the corner is an 80-minute performance and when that happens I’m confident that will spark the change in the side.
“We’ve now got back-to-back games against Ealing in the B&I Cup and we have to use them as a real platform to continue developing our style of game and improve the performance so that we can come out of the back of these games feeling confident going into the Doncaster game at Christmas.”
Titans: 15 Ben Foley, 14 Jamie Cooke, 13 Drew Cheshire, 12 Logan Tibbetts, 11 Wesley Hamilton, 10 Lee Millar, 9 Francisco Vieira, 1 Tom Williams, 2 Jonny Murphy, 3 Brandon Palmer, 4 Rob Louw, 5 James Lasis, 6 Dan Grange, 7 Charlie Maddison (Capt.), Tom Burns.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cole, 17 Toby Williams, 18 Andrew Foster, 19 Guy Borrowdale, 20 Tom Calladine, 21 Rhodri Davies, 22 Will Thomas.