Rotherham Titans will look to complete their involvement in the British & Irish Cup on Friday night with a victory, when they travel to the west coast of Ireland to take on Connacht Eagles at Galway Corinthians RFC; kick-off is 7pm.
Although Rotherham are unable to progress further in the competition they have selected a strong side to take on the Eagles as they prepare to return to Championship action next week with the visit of Cornish Pirates to Clifton Lane.
In the corresponding fixture at Clifton Lane in round 1 Titans ran out 28-23 winners after producing a stunning second half comeback, after trailing 23-10 at the break. Tries from Charlie Maddison, Ben Foley and Tom Burns ensured a thrilling victory for the home side.
However, Rotherham are aware that on home turf Connacht will be a different proposition and equally as keen to register a win, with the winner of Friday’s clash securing the runners-up spot in the group.
Going into the game Rotherham have made seven changes to the starting XV which beat Richmond 31-10 last time out in round 5.
Five of those changes come in the Titans pack with a new front row combination of Toby Williams, Craigavon-born Ulster hooker Jonny Murphy and Andrew Foster. Rob Louw and James Lasis retain their spots in the second row, whilst in the back row Derry-born Tom Burns moves from number 8 to the blindside as captain Tom Calladine returns and at openside is Charlie Maddison.
Along the backline Rhodri Davies returns from injury and will wear the nine shirt, with Lee Millar retaining his spot to partner him in the half backs. Joe Barker and Jamie Cooke remain in the centres, whilst Will Thomas returns to the side on the left wing with Drew Cheshire on the right. Caolan Ryan is given another go at full back after impressing there last week.
Speaking ahead of the match Titans Nic Rouse explained, “I am really pleased with the way the boys have applied themselves over the last few weeks, they’re really making strides and taking it forward and we can see some improvement. There are still lots to work on; we are getting ourselves into good field positions and not really coming away with the points that we should be and we need to improve in that area.
“We’ve shifted a bit of emphasis on trying to be a bit more direct and not giving the oppositions defence time to get organised and in that respect it’s been going well. We need to be putting opposition defences under pressure and then when we create opportunities out wide we need to be clinical in taking them. But we’ve still not won in the league and that is our main focus.
“This week we are looking forward to the challenge of taking on a good Connacht side and it offers us an opportunity to do the ‘double’ over a side and it’s a challenge the players are relishing.
“We’ve had a bit of footage of Connacht’s games from the B&I Cup and we’ve had chance to analyse them; so we know where some of their strengths and weaknesses lie and we feel if our performance is right we’ll have a good opportunity of picking up the win.”
Titans: 15 Caolan Ryan, 14 Drew Cheshire, 13 Jamie Cooke, 12 Joe Barker, 11 Will Thomas, 10 Lee Millar, 9 Rhodri Davies, 1 Toby Williams, 2 Jonny Murphy, 3 Andrew Foster, 4 Rob Louw, 5 James Lasis, 6 Tom Burns, 7 Charlie Maddison, 8 Tom Calladine (Capt.).
Replacements: 16 Luke Cole, 17 Tom Williams, 18 Adam Peters, 19 Nic Dolly, 20 Dan Grange, 21 Ben Foley, 22 Jake Henry.