Improved Titans raise derby play-off hopes

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Rotherham put themselves in the right frame of mind for this Saturday’s South Yorkshire derby with Doncaster by delivering a competitive performance against opponents who may well reach the final.

If Rotherham, who regained their credibility with this effort following the dismal display at Cornish Pirates last Sunday, are able to reproduce the same fire, aggression and commitment at Clifton Lane against Doncaster, they should go on to win their first match in the play-offs.

Rotherham remain bottom of Pool B, having lost all their four games, but they forced Pirates to work hard for their win.

South African fly half Cliffie Hodgson scored his first try in the Championship late in the second half as he continued his improvement.

Rotherham’s pack created several promising positions from which they should have scored, but again, the out let them down.Twice, on 49 minutes and then on 63, Rotherham threw away possession close to the Pirates’ line.

What was also frustrating was the inability to complete clear try scoring opportunities.Unfortunately, prop Rob O’Donnell knocked on as he was to put the ball down over the line in the 55th minute.

And Rotherham conceded too many kickable penalties in the first half, allowing Rob Cook to kick four goals which set up the Pirates’ win.

Later, two second half tries guaranteed Rotherham’s defeat, but skipper Matt Rhodes was delighted with the huge improvement compared with the disastrous result in Penzance.

“After getting a beating like we did at their place, it’s nice to come back and put in a decent, strong and hard performance.

“Pirates are a good side and they think they can beat Worcester, so to turn up and play like we did against a team with those aspirations is a credit to everyone.”

Coach Andre Bester is lining up his recruits for next season when at least 20 new players should arrive, at two signings have been confirmed, both from Birmingham and Solihull.

Forwards Semisi Taulava and Adrian Griffiths are joining the Clifton Lane club who are persisting with their plans to move to Millmoor next season.

And one of Titans’ best forwards, Sam Dickinson, has decided to remain and accepted a new contract.

The future, meanwhile, of the team’s leading points’ scorer, fly half/centre Juan Pablo Socino, continues to be the subject of much speculation.

The Argentinean, who kicked three penalties against Pirates, has been offered a new contract but has still to sign it.

However, there are reports that several other clubs recognise his long term potential, including Leicester Tigers and Nottingham who may recruit him as a dual registered player so he can continue his development in the Championship.

n Rotherham Titans: M.James, Swatkins, Welding, Socino, Rhodes, Hodgson, Bedford, Harris, Loney, O’Donnell, McGowan, Smidt, Doneghan, Baines, Burrows. Reps: George, Kilbane, Aikman, Worrall, McMahon, S.James, Hampsey.

Try: Hodgson, conversion:Rhodes, penalties: Socino 3.

n Cornish Pirates tries: Ward, Burgess (rep), conversion: Cook, penalties: Cook 4.