Titans to face Bristol in play-offs

Curtis Wilson scored two tries for Titans
Curtis Wilson scored two tries for Titans
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Rotherham’s challenge now is hard but straightforward: how to beat Bristol in the promotion play-offs, the first of which is at the Memorial Stadium, a week on Saturday and then in the return leg at home a week later on May 17.

Titans finished the league campaign at Ealing where they won their 17th Championship game to confirm their fourth place and with it 80 points, a fine return for a side that has showed flair and character since the season started eight months ago.

The squad now has a break of two weeks before the first Bristol clash; this gives time for the club’s medics to make sure that the latest forwards to be injured, flanker Ali Birch(ankle) and prop Mark Tampin(concussion and leg), are fit again for the play-offs. Both should have recovered.

Forwards Tom Cruse and Dan Sanderson will be back as should second rows Ben Thomas and Josh Thomas Brown.

Winger Michael Keating, rested for the game at Ealing who are relegated following Rotherham’s win and Jersey’s at Bedford, will also return to the squad as will scrum half Dan White.

The home leg of the play-offs is scheduled for Abbeydale in three weeks, but it may have to be switched to another venue because the Sheffield ground also stages cricket.

However, senior officials at Rotherham are hoping that a solution can be found soon as the recent Sky match against Leeds Carnegie at Abbeydale was regarded as a success.

Rotherham made far too many mistakes as they beat Ealing by five tries to four. The ball was given away too much, the support play was not up to standard and Ealing were allowed to control the last 30 minutes of the second half when they outscored Rotherham by four tries to two.

Forwards Toby Williams and Ben Morris, both starting a Championship match for the first time, made an impact as did scrum half Charlie Mulchrone and winger Curtis Wilson who both scored two tries each.

Rotherham’s other try was provided by centre Jordan Davies, scoring his first Titans try, as he completed an attack involving fly half Garry Law and winger Jamie Broadley.

Although an unsatisfactory display, a maximum of five points was earned and in 23 Championship games, Rotherham have lost only six-all to the top sides Bristol, London Welsh and Leeds.

Coach Lee Blackett said: “The boys feel upset and frustrated because this was not a performance. Our standards slipped and we hardly touched the ball in the second half.”

Rotherham will need to show a big improvement against Bristol but having scored 725 points, the second best in the Championship, they are a team to be feared.