Rotherham Titans, refreshed mentally and physically after a few days off last week, today step up their preparations for one of their biggest challenges of the Championship campaign.
On Friday they travel to Headingley to face Yorkshire Carnegie.
It will be the second time this season that the two clubs have met: a month ago Rotherham beat Carnegie by 20-3 in the British and Irish Cup at Scarborough.
Titans’ coach Lee Blackett welcomes back three on-loan players who are now available having returned from Premiership club Newcastle Falcons.
Centre Chris Harris, scrum half Andy Davies and second row forward Sean Robinson went back to Tyneside to take part in two competitions: the European Rugby Challenge Cup against Bucharest Wolves and Newport Gwent Dragons and the LV=Cup.
Friday’s league match is Rotherham’s first since the early October defeat by Worcester Warriors who won 47-7, so after three successive victories in the B and I Cup, Blackett’s ambition is to keep this momentum going as the Championship restarts.
Following this weekend’s game, Rotherham, fifth in the table, then face Cornish Pirates at Clifton Lane a week on Saturday and after that they travel to Ashton Gate for arguably their toughest test against leaders Bristol on Sunday the 23rd.
The Yorkshire Carnegie side is likely to be a lot stronger than the one beaten by Rotherham a month ago.
Ninth in the league with only two wins in five games, the Headingley club have started poorly with defeats by Bristol, Doncaster and Nottingham.
However, with skipper and former Rotherham forward, number eight Ryan Burrows back in the side, Carnegie will be far more competitive.
Going into the Yorkshire derby, Carnegie’s confidence has grown after improved performances which brought victories against Ulster Ravens and Aberavon in the B and I Cup.
Blackett is well aware that in a derby previous league form is not an accurate guide and he knows that Carnegie can be a dangerous team as Aberavon found out recently when they were thrashed 85-0 as they conceded 13 tries.