Rugby Union: Sanderson boosts Titans’ play-off tilt

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As Rotherham Titans prepare for the first leg of their promotion play-off clash against Bristol at the Memorial Stadium, the Clifton Lane club will be strengthened by the return of second row forward Dan Sanderson.

Sanderson, a major player in the Rotherham pack and a ball winner in the line-out, has not played for five weeks, but now that he has served his RFU ban for foul play, the Titans’ chances of causing a huge upset at Bristol have been boosted.

Rotherham coach Lee Blackett may need to make a late change in the forwards because Ulster flanker, Ali Birch, is still nursing an ankle problem, meaning he faces a late fitness test before kick off.

If Birch is unfit, back row forward Alex Rieder, will start in a Titans pack which sees hooker Tom Cruse back in the front row having fully recovered from a shoulder injury.

As well as being able to call on the strength and experience of Sanderson, Blackett has decided to employ, right from the start, the power and passion of number eight Alfie To’oala who will relish appearing against his former club.

Blackett said: “We are really excited by the challenge of reaching the semi-finals for the first time in 10 years. The next two games are massive for us.

“We are delighted to have reached this stage and we will not be overawed at Bristol. The boys have trained positively in the build-up and are in the right frame of mind. We are facing the best team in the Championship.”