As both Rotherham and Doncaster lost their opening games in the Championship promotion play-offs, Saturday’s South Yorkshire derby promises to be even more competitive.
If the region’s professional sides are to make an impact in the play-offs, they will need to raise their standards substantially, particularly Rotherham whose thrashing by Bedford, 58-15, angered coach Andre Bester. It’s too early to say whether Bester will make any changes to his side, but there will be at least one alteration in the pack because flanker Sam Dickinson broke his arm against Bedford.
Rotherham can expect Doncaster to rely on an attacking flair which has delivered almost 70 tries in the Championship, and bearing in mind that the Titans’ away record is poor, only one league win all season, it would be a shock if the Knights did not exploit home advantage. However, Rotherham do have the potential to deliver as was seen in the same derby in February at Clifton Lane where they won a thrilling contest, 35-34.
Although Doncaster lost by 33-25 at Cornish Pirates last Sunday, they are capable of recovering and going on to achieve their first win in the play-offs, not least because fly half Tristan Roberts has the ability to dictate events at Castle Park. Rotherham concede too many kickable penalties, they are weak on wide pitches, like Doncaster’s, and taking into account their lack of confidence away from home, the Knights should be favourites.
Just as Roberts, scorer of more than 200 points during this campaign will play an influential role on Saturday, so will Rotherham’s fly half and goal kicker Juan Pablo Socino who has also passed the 200 mark.