A fresh chapter in the contemporary history of Rotherham Titans opens today as new coach Alex Codling starts work at Clifton Lane.
His first task is to make sure that Rotherham go to Birmingham on Saturday and leave Moseley with a win following successive defeats in the Championship by Cornish Pirates and now Leeds in the Yorkshire derby.
Codling, who watched the latest loss from the touchline at Clifton Lane where Rotherham lost their unbeaten record at home, has, without doubt, been left a decent squad. However, a lengthy injury list means the new coach is short of players.
Codling and the directors are actively searching to strengthen the Rotherham pack by bringing in second row forwards, a hooker and maybe another back row forward.
It is possible that a signing or two may be announced later this week, but Codling is not in any rush, preferring to ensure he recruits forwards of the right quality.
Codling’s expertise as a forwards’ coach should be able to revive what has been the strongest aspect of the side, but against Leeds, winners by two tries to one, the pack did not perform effectively until late in the second half.
Rotherham, after a poor first half in which they trailed 21-6, at last began to apply some genuine pressure near the Leeds line.
The forwards were camped for several minutes close to the Leeds posts and eventually these promising positions were turned into points.
From a scrum, the ball came rapidly to fly half James McKinney. His clever cross-kick baffled the Leeds defence who were expecting a more conventional ploy.
McKinney’s high ball was caught by Irish centre Eamonn Sheridan who smashed his way over to score a much needed try and with Garry Law adding a skilful conversion, Rotherham on 70 minutes were back in the game at 24-13.
There was still time remaining for the Titans to go on and win, but they kept dropping the ball and with the Leeds forwards defending solidly, Rotherham were unable to take advantage of the threatening positions they had created.
As Codling begins his duties, he knows he has a squad which is not only talented but hard working too.
A few of the injured players are on the way back...flanker Latu Makaafi expects to be fit for Moseley, and number eight Rory Pitman is hopeful of returning in a fortnight.
And now that Irishmen, Sheridan and McKinney, are back and looking sharp, Rotherham’s chances of stopping the recent decline are strong.
However, above all else, Codling has to ensure that his pack starts performing again and in particular is ruthless enough to exploit the decent scoring opportunities it is capable of creating.
Rotherham Titans: F Mulchrone, Homan, Sheridan, Law, Doneghan, McKinney, C Mulchrone, Gadd, Stagg, Denman, Freeman, Sanderson, Rieder, Ellyatt, Kirwan. Reps: Cahill, Davies, Kilbane, Dacres, Taylor, Gill, Nonu.
Scorers: Try: Sheridan, Conversion: Law.Penalties: Law 2.
Referee: Darren Gamage.