Rotherham Titans, preparing for this Saturday’s game at Ealing Trailfinders, know they will face the most improved side in the competition.
And to add extra spice to the contest, one of the major figures behind Ealing’s rise up the table this season - is the ex-Rotherham coach Alex Codling.
Codling, head coach at the London club, was in charge for seven months at Clifton Lane from November 2012 to May 2013, but left after clashing with the directors. However, the disagreement didn’t stopped Codling recruiting several Titans. In Ealing’s win by 24-23 against Bedford last Saturday, the team’s fourth in seven Championship games, four former Rotherham players took part.
Winger Curtis Wilson, scrum half Luke Carter, prop Lewis Thiede and number eight Will Ryan were all selected and as a result of the Trailfinders’ slim victory, they moved to third, above Doncaster Knights, and have now five more points than Rotherham, eighth on 15.
Rotherham’s opponents, who have lost only twice to promotion favourites London Irish and Yorkshire Carnegie, benefit from healthy sponsorship and are ready to pay big money for the right player.
Irish forward Ryan, whose Rotherham’s career came to a standstill last season because of injury, has impressed since changing clubs and has scored twice in the league. Wilson, a popular and exciting player at the Titans, has likewise done well, scoring three tries in the Championship and needs to be marked tightly. Rotherham must avoid a repeat of the final match of last season when they were thrashed 45-12 at Ealing. Following the mauling, Titans’ coach Justin Burnell changed the first team squad radically, recruiting 20 new players.
Of those who survived the cull, skipper and centre Will Owen, prop Toby Williams and fly half Will Robinson, last week’s match winner against Cornish Pirates, will be determined to continue the improvement shown in that contest.