Battle of South Yorkshire neighbours looms

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A win for Rotherham Titans in tomorrow’s derby against Doncaster is now even more essential following a disastrous run of three successive defeats in the Championship by Nottingham, Esher and Birmingham and Solihull, the league’s bottom club who won 25-24 on Wednesday.

Going into the game, Rotherham, who have earned only two losing bonus points from the three matches are still seventh in the Championship and have moved up to 38 points. So they remain in contention for a top eight finish and a place in the promotion play-offs. Yet they are skating on thin ice; both Bristol and Plymouth, jointly on 32 points, are still in the race, so the Titans, unlike Doncaster, are not certain of finishing high enough to achieve their season’s goal.

With home advantage, Rotherham will be favourites. Knowing they must win in front of their own supporters and determined to show they are capable of reaching the potential that produced wins against Cornish Pirates and London Welsh, they must not repeat the errors which allowed Esher and Bees to win games that Roth had been in control of. In what should be a close contest between sixth and seventh in the Championship table, Doncaster offer more in attack, having scored 53 tries to Rotherham’s 39, but on the narrow pitch at Clifton Lane, Doncaster’s winger Matt Williams (11 league tries) and centre Stephen McColl (9 tries) may not be able to find room to stretch Rotherham’s defence.

The outcome could be settled by the team’s goal kickers and fly halves: Rotherham’s Juan Pablo Socino, who passed 170 Championship points on Wednesday and by Tristan Roberts who has should pass 200 tomorrow.

Now that the Championship is so competitive, parochial concerns as to who is top dog locally, whether in South Yorks or in the South West, may no longer be so significant because the bigger picture is success and stability. Titans might not have Doncaster’s resources, but their forwards may deliver the win the team needs.