Weekend of rest for the tired Titans

Rotherham Titans head coach Lee Blackett.
Rotherham Titans head coach Lee Blackett.
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Rotherham’s players, who were given this week off because there’s no Championship game over the weekend, return to training on Monday to prepare for the league match at Cornish Pirates, a week on Sunday.

After eight days off, following the triumph against Yorkshire Carnegie, the squad should be refreshed mentally and physically as they resume their campaign to finish in the top four.

As coach Lee Blackett told The Star in mid-week: “Our win in the Yorkshire derby has put us back with a real chance of getting into the play-offs. It’s now up to us.”

Titans travel to Penzance in fifth place on 39 points with an overall record of eight wins, seven defeats and one draw in the 16 Championship games to date.

Pirates, just behind Rotherham on 34 points, are themselves still in with a chance of a top four place, so the importance of the televised game, live on Sky at 3.15 pm on Sunday March 8, can’t be stressed too much.

Several of the players reporting back on Monday took part in the morale boosting victory at the Mennaye Field in April last year.

The win by 40-20 was the first by Rotherham in Cornwall since 2008, so that outstanding performance should be used to inspire a repeat of that result.

Rotherham may not be as strong as last season, but if they can reproduce the same level of intensity and collective determination that overcame Yorkshire Carnegie, a second win this season against Pirates may be the outcome.

In the November game at Clifton Lane, Rotherham clinched a close match by 21-13, and next week’s encounter may be settled by the teams’ respective goal kickers. Blackett will be emphasising to his players they must be just as disciplined as they were against Yorkshire Carnegie.

His message will be: don’t give away any kickable penalties to Pirates’ fly half Kieran Hallett.The second highest points’ scorer in the Championship with 165 - three tries, 33 conversions and 28 penalties-Hallett is a proven match winner.

And so is Titans’ fly half James McKinney as he showed last Saturday with his excellent kicking to drive the team forward.

But down in Penzance,McKinney,sixth in the Championship table on 109 points-one try, 16 conversions, 23 penalties and a drop goal-will be hoping he’ll have more luck than he did at Clifton Lane with his goal kicking: while striking two penalties and a conversion, he missed four kicks against Yorkshire Carnegie.