Having lost their last two League games, it’s with some relief that Rotherham Titans turn their attention to the British and Irish Cup, this week and next.
The two matches against Birmingham club Moseley, always the most resilient of opponents, are an opportunity to regain the form Rotherham produced that took them into the promotion play-offs in consecutive seasons. It was always going to take new coach Mark Jones a while to make an impact, and at the half way stage of the Championship campaign, it is fair to say satisfactory progress is being made, but far more is required.
As Jones admits: “We are not firing on all cylinders yet and we have not seen the best of this Rotherham squad.”
Once the two B&I Cup ties are out of the way, Rotherham return to league action with the derby clash at Yorkshire Carnegie, the Sunday after Christmas, and that’s followed by a home contest at home against Cornish Pirates on January 2.
The next important Championship encounter is the South Yorkshire derby at Doncaster Knights, currently second in the table. The game is being broadcast live by Sky on January 31 and presents the opportunity for Jones to guide his side to a second win this season against their regional rivals.
Rotherham may well have dropped to seventh in the Championship table but are still in with a strong chance of reaching the play-offs again.
The consistent form of forwards Tom Holmes, Barney Maddison and Max Argyle has stood out, but in the pack it’s been the contribution of Australian number eight Tim Cree that has been of major significance.
“It took Tim a few games to adjust to the tempo of the Championship, but he’s settled in very well and delivered. Tim’s great off the field as well and doesn’t moan,” explains Jones.
Cree’s five tries make him Rotherham’s leading try scorer, one behind winger Ben Rath whose progress has been surprising bearing in mind that before this season he was largely unknown.
So, Rotherham can be pleased with some aspects of their league campaign so far, but they should be worried that their rivals for a top four spot are more dangerous on the attack and it should be of concern that they’ve managed only three bonus points in 11 games, five behind Doncaster and eight fewer than Yorkshire Carnegie.