Rotherham Titans make changes as they try to contain title favourites London Irish at Clifton Lane

Rotherham Titans Head Coach Justin Burnell. Picture Scott Merrylees
Rotherham Titans Head Coach Justin Burnell. Picture Scott Merrylees
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Rotherham Titans have made three changes to the side for today’s Championship clash against promotion favourites and league leaders London Irish at Clifton Lane.

Coach Justin Burnell has brought in hooker Joe Graham in place of Luke Cole, who misses the game because of a knee injury. The other replacement in the pack sees Tom Hicks back in the team instead of Oli Curry who joins the replacements’ bench.

The one change in the backs is at scrum half where George Tresidder is preferred to Matt Walsh and Matt Dudman.

The challenge facing Rotherham is huge as London Irish are comfortably the best team in the Championship. They also have several internationals, including prop Ben Franks - who won the World Cup twice, in 2011 and 2015, as an All Black.

Irish have won all their 10 league matches and not one Championship club has come close to beating them.

After losing a lead of 19-12 at Nottingham last Sunday and ending up with a 19-all draw, Rotherham must avoid the errors that ruined an otherwise solid performance, not least by the forwards.

“I am sure the boys have learned some valuable lessons. I’d be disappointed if they haven’t,” says Burnell.

“London Irish will punish us for any mistakes we make and we understand that they have some incredibly talented players.

“But once the game kicks off, it’s just two Championship sides out there doing battle.”

For many of the Titans, today’s match will be the toughest they’ve played in, not least fly half Caolan Ryan, the Rotherham number 10, who is starting only his second Championship contest for his new club.

London Irish will not allow Rotherham any space to create try scoring opportunities, so their best hope of points may come from penalties - which is why Ryan must produce the goal-kicking form he showed on his debut in the second half against Jersey two weeks ago.

Amongst an Irish side that can score tries from almost any position on the field, one familiar face is the former Rotherham back Fergus Mulchrone, who played at Clifton Lane in the 2012-13 season.

Mulchrone plays in the centre in a team with five internationals in the line-up.

Rotherham Titans: Goodwin, Foley, Owen, Barker, Henry, Ryan, Tresidder, Tom Williams, Graham, Rees, Salmon, Hicks, Grange, Calladine, Lawrence.

Replacements: Hutchinson, Herriott, Normandale, Curry, Sanderson, Walsh, Robinson.