Rugby Union: Blackett expects Jersey to be a test of Titans ‘physical’ capabilities

Titans Pablo Juan Socino
Titans Pablo Juan Socino
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Rotherham resume their league campaign tomorrow with Titans’ coach, Lee Blackett, describing the Championship game in Jersey as “our biggest test in recent weeks”.

Titans, second in the league, take on the second from bottom Channel Islanders hoping to extend their winning sequence to nine consecutive matches.

Blackett said: “This is going to be a really difficult contest for us. Jersey are under-performing in the Championship, they are massively strong in the forwards and have a talented back line.

“They have a new coach in Harvey Biljon who did a good job at Cornish Pirates and his side will be keen to make an impression on him.

“We are expecting a tough, physical game and when we played Jersey at Clifton Lane in November, we just got over the line.”

The Channel Islands’ side may have lost nine of their 12 Championship matches, but Blackett is right to be concerned if Jersey’s last league performance in the league is considered.

They lost narrowly by 33-26 to league leaders London Welsh who were put under much pressure and Rotherham must be aware of the threat posed by the goal kicking of Ulster fly half Niall O’Connor.

With more than 100 points in the Championship, O’Connor is second to Rotherham’s Juan Pablo Socino,so the Titans must show self-discipline and avoid conceding kickable penalties.

The solid performances by scrum half Dan White in the last league match against Pirates and then in the two British and Irish Cup games against Connacht and Bedford have been rewarded with a starting place tomorrow.

“Just as I like to rotate our hookers, we have two good number nines, both of whom need to play,” explains Blackett.

“Charlie Mulchrone is fit again, but White deserves to start.

“His basics are good, he brings tempo to the game, his kicking has been outstanding and I have been impressed with the speed of his pass.”

Full back Sean Scanlon, who missed the B and I Cup game at Bedford because of a slight shoulder injury, is fully recovered and is back in the side which is captained by second row forward Barney Maddison.

Jersey’s preparations for Rotherham’s visit will have been helped greatly by the knowledge of the Titans possessed by forwards’ coach, Steve Boden,who played against the Clifton Lane club many times when he played for Doncaster.

* Rotherham Titans: Scanlon, Broadley, Roberts, Socino, Keating, Murphy, White, Hislop, Sowrey, Quigley, Maddison, Sanderson, Rieder, Preece, To’oala. Replacements: Cruse, Williams, Tampin, Williamson, Birch, Mulchrone, Hayes.