RUGBY UNION: Baines sparkles but Titans lose in final warm-up game

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A HIGHLY competitive performance by Rotherham against Premiership opponents saw them lose narrowly as they played their last warm-up game before taking on London Scottish in the first match of the new Championship season on Sunday.

Rotherham’s pack were particularly strong in the set-pieces, and from a line-out, hooker Dan Baines, man of the match, scored the Titans’ only try of the contest on 33 minutes.

Although Saracens chose to rest the majority of their regular Premiership side, they did include hooker John Smit, the former South African skipper who captained his country when they won the World Cup in 2007.

Rotherham were forced to defend for long periods as Saracens dominated possession and territory. But coach Andre Bester will have been highly satisfied that Titans controlled the scrums in the second half, forcing Saracens to concede three penalties.

What will also have pleased Bester is that one of his new signings, fly half James McKinney from Ulster, not only kicked sensibly when under pressure but also kicked a penalty on 56 minutes.

Both teams spoiled promising attacks by careless handling, but when Rotherham’s line was threatened, the forwards defended solidly and restricted Saracens to only one second half try. The tackling by centres Palepoi Nonu and Lee Blackett was outstanding in a positive display by Rotherham who, will compete again against several of the Saracens players who are dual-registered with Championship club Bedford.

TITANS: Whitehead, Homan, Blackett, Law, Sheridan, McKinney, Williams, Kilbane, Baines, Denman, Maddison, Patrick, Rieder, Freeman,Pitman.

TRY: Baines

PENALTY: McKinney.