Tougher tests ahead as Sam shines on return

Rotherham Titans ( white/blue) v Esher (black) at Clifton Lane, 8th October 2011'Semisi Taulava
Rotherham Titans ( white/blue) v Esher (black) at Clifton Lane, 8th October 2011'Semisi Taulava
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Rotherham are now preparing for much tougher opposition this Saturday when they take on one of the most dangerous sides in the Championship, London Welsh, at Old Deer Park.

Two players, who missed the victory against Esher at Clifton Lane, forwards Neale Patrick and Rob O’Donnell, should be back as they have recovered from injury.

Rotherham may well have struggled to overcome the Surrey club, bottom of the league with six consecutive defeats, but they achieved four points which keeps them comfortably in the top half of the Championship table.

They are also delighted that skipper and forward Sam Dickinson played well after a long absence because of a broken arm.

The Titans can thank Scottish fly-half Garry Law, who struck three penalties, on 37, 45 and 58 minutes. He also controlled the game.

Law’s tactical kicking was frequently of the highest class as the Scotsman from Hawick gave another reminder of why he has rapidly become one of the best summer signings made by coach Andre Bester.

However, at the start of the game, Law was one of the replacements and would not have normally come on until late in the second half.

Cliffie Hodgson began the game in the number-10 role as Bester decided to rotate players, so that each member of the first-team squad plays regular, competitive games in the league.

To start with the South African did not put a foot wrong as he dropped a goal from 35 metres to give Rotherham the lead.

But as Rotherham failed to deliver tries which their control suggested would be the outcome, Bester formed the opinion that Hodgson’s decision making at fly-half was not quite right.

Even though Hodgson had been on the field for little more than 30 minutes, and was about to take a penalty kick, Rotherham’s coach called him off and sent on Law in his place.

Law instantly put over the penalty and then kicked two more which enabled the Titans to stretch their winning sequence at home to three games on the trot.

What will be of concern to Bester is that Rotherham’s pack controlled events from start to finish without taking several chances against the Championship’s worst team.

“In the wet conditions and with a slippery ball, we are happy to take the four points. When I saw the conditions, I did not think we would score four tries,” Bester said.

The decent start to the Championship season made by the forwards owes much to the impressive performances in the second row by 23-year- old Scotsman Neale Patrick from Perth.

Before the Esher game, which he missed because of a neck injury, Patrick had appeared in the previous five league matches.

Rotherham’s new lock has represented Scotland in two junior World Cups and then played for Edinburgh club Boroughmuir.

“There is a lot of competition for places here and it will be a difficult decision for Andre Bester to put me back in against London Welsh,” he said. “I have to hope that I have done enough so far against London Scottish, Leeds, Plymouth, Bedford and Nottingham.

“I’m enjoying playing in the Championship, which is the highest standard I have played at. I knew some friends in South Yorkshire and it has been easy settling in.

“I did not know any of the players, but they are a good bunch. We have played well at times but we have a lot more to offer.”

Titans: Hamilton, Foden, Godfrey, Nonu, Monahan, Hodgson, Williams, Harris,

Stagg, Hooper, Dickinson, Griffiths, Copeland, Dougall, Taulava. Reps: Baines, Stout, Kilbane, Maddison, Kirwan, Brierley, Law.

Scorers: Penalties: Law 3, drop-goal: Hodgson.

Referee: Ian Tempest.