Rotherham Titans pre-season campaign continued against a classy and physical Newcastle Falcons side on Saturday, where the hosts ran out convincing 59-14 winners.
The score line was a little harsh on the South Yorkshire outfit, although the Falcons thoroughly deserved their victory as they themselves prepare for the rigours of a new Premiership season.
Titans head coach, Andy Key, will however take a number of positives from the game as he continues to try different combinations and players, as he formulates his playing squad ahead of the upcoming Championship season, which starts at Clifton Lane in two weeks’ time.
The scrum in particular would have pleased the Titans coaching staff; following a shaky start the Titans set-scrum became more impressive as the game wore on. Likewise, Titans line-out work was pretty reliable throughout and they disrupted the hosts in that department on a number of occasions.
Other positives for Rotherham saw Tom Williams and Ifereimi Boladau return from injury to play a part in their first outing, the latter scoring a powerful try from the base of the scrum late on in the game.
Titans other score came on the stroke of half time as fly half Lee Millar made an impressive break through the Falcons defence, before he sent in Drew Cheshire for a nicely worked try under the sticks.
Speaking post-match Titans Andy Key reflected, “I’m not sure that we gave the best showing of ourselves at times, although there were some really nice bits where we scored a couple of tries, a really good one just before half time and another one in the second half which needed scoring.
“The good thing is, and that’s why you have these pre-season games of Championship sides against Premiership sides, is to understand the speed and ferocity and intensity that they play at and the relentless wave of onslaught that they bring.
“We’ll learn some positive, but important lessons from today’s game and I just think these sorts of things hold us in good stead going forward.
“We say it all the time, but you don’t win anything in pre-season; these are games where you get an opportunity to try out permutations, look at players and understand the intensity that we know we’re going to have to play at.
“We are now looking forward to the Coventry game; I’m sure it’s going to be another physical challenge for us. Before that however, in the week we will have a look at ourselves, learn a few lessons about speed of ball and how we have to compete at the breakdown. If we want to play with the ball for long periods we need to learn how to do that.
“We know next week will be a strong challenge, but it all starts in earnest when we play Nottingham at home, that’s when it matters more than anything else. So we’ve now got another two weeks to have a good look at ourselves and our game and how we take it forward.”
Rotherham Titans: 15 Will Thomas , 14 Wesley Hamilton, 13 Luke Peters, 12 Joe Barker, 11 Drew Cheshire, 10 Lee Millar, 9 Rhodri Davies; 1 Toby Williams, 2 Charlie Maddison, 3 Matt Shields, 4 James Lasis, 5 Byron Hodge, 6 Dan Grange, 7 Tom Calladine (Capt.), 8 Tom Burns.
Replacements: Luke Cole, Jonny Murphy, Nathanial Opedo, Tom Williams, Andrew Foster, Rob Louw, Matt Postlethwaite, Guy Borrowdale, Ifereimi Boladau, Francesco Vieira, Caolan Ryan, Jamie Cooke, Yiannis Loizias.
Titans scorers - Tries: Drew Cheshire, Ifereimi Boladau. Conversions: Lee Millar, Caolan Ryan.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Belisario Agulla, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Adam Radwan, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Sonatane Takulua; 1 Trevor Davison, 2 Ben Sowrey, 3 Jon Welsh, 4 Will Witty, 5 Glen Young, 6 Harrison Orr, 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Ryan Burrows
Replacements: Scott Lawson, Diogo Ferreira, Adam Brocklebank, Calum Green, Nick Civetta, Ruaridh Dawson, Craig Willis, Cameron Cowell, Max Davies, Simon Uzokwe, James Elliott, Josh Matavesi, Charlie Wilson.
Falcons scorers - Tries: Will Welch, Simon Hammersley, Adam Radwan 2, Ben Sowrey, Cameron Cowell, Josh Matavesi, Cameron Cowell, Simon Uzokwe. Conversions: Toby Flood 3, Craig Willis 5.