Rugby union: Titans expect Jersey battle

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Rotherham Titans today begin preparations for the resumption of the Championship programme which takes them to Jersey on Saturday for the first time in their history.

A look at recent match videos showing Jersey in action will reveal a much more competitive side than the league results suggest.

The Channel Islanders may be second from bottom with only three wins from 13 matches but their pack is one of the toughest in the Championship and has been praised by several coaches.

Jersey are intent on consolidating their Championship status during their first season at this level and Rotherham can expect the toughest of battles.

The Titans won the first league game by 54-31 at Clifton Lane in September, but in a high scoring match, Jersey scored four tries, so Rotherham’s defence which, has been excellent against Munster and Plymouth in recent games, must again perform solidly.

One Jersey player Titans must avoid giving chances to is fly half Michael Le Bourgeois whose form has been fairly consistent so far, kicking 13 conversions and 21 penalties. He has also scored two tries, so Le Bourgeios can be a threat in what should be a close contest.

Coached by Ben Harvey, Jersey are only two points in front of bottom club Doncaster, so if Rotherham won, it would be a great favour to the Knights because it is not in Rotherham’s interest for their South Yorkshire rivals to be relegated.

Meanwhile, Lee Blackett, the Titans centre and attack coach, has praised the growing professionalism at Rotherham.

“I’ve been able to establish a close relationship with coach Alex Codling who is doing wonders for the club,” he said. “Kevin Wenham-Flatt, who has been brought in by Alex to be our new fitness and conditioning coach, is exceptional.

“The players are impressed with Alex, there’s a real buzz here and we are hoping to re-sign at least 15 players shortly. That is unheard of at Rotherham where they do not normally start to re-sign players until March.”

Titans, aiming to finish in the top six, are seventh with five wins, one draw and seven defeats from 13 games.