FIVE ex-Titans have been handed starts for the Knights for Saturday’s crunch South Yorkshire derby at Rotherham.
Skipper Chris Hall, Glen Kenworthy, PJ Gidlow, Stuart Corsar and Matt Challinor have all been given the nod by director of rugby Brett Davey to renew acquaintances with their former club.
Davey has made two changes from the 21-10 defeat to London Welsh in the Knights’ previous Championship outing.
Tom Davies and Chris Planchant drop out of the side to be replaced by Corsar and Andy Boyde – the latter rewarded for an impressive performance in the British and Irish Cup defeat at Ulster last week.
Davey is keen on eradicating the two straight defeats with a morale boosting win over the Knights’ local rivals.
He said: “The intensity is increasing from here onwards – we want to put the record straight after a disappointing result against London Welsh.
“All the players understand what the derby game means to us, not just the ex-Rotherham lads.
“It’s always a hard place to play – the ground’s enclosed and the facilities are minimal.
“The Titans know how to use this reputation to their advantage, and they also have great support.
“Those fans are part of the Titans’ home form and make the ground a tough place to visit.”
Titans head coach Andre Best has made five changes to his starting XV for the visit of the Knights.
Dave McCall has been handed his Championship debut at outside centre after impressing in the B&I Cup win over Swansea, replacing Stephen Hamilton.
Jilly Williams returns to the side at scrum half while Ted Stagg and Ben Hooper are back in at hooker and tight head prop respectively.
Adrian Griffiths completes the changes at lock.
Bester is expecting a tough test from the Knights.
He said: “We anticipate a very tough match against Doncaster with immense physicality.
“All of these derby matches that I’ve been involved in has always been very tough.
“We know it’s going to be a tough match up front, we know it’s going to be very physical at the breakdown.
“I always liken these South Yorkshire derby’s to tribal warfare.
“We all like to look at ourselves as part of the ‘Republic of Yorkshire’ and who’s going to have the upper hand over whom, and this is as intense a derby as you are likely to see anywhere in rugby.
“There are many people at both clubs which take this match as very personal.
“You can almost lose every other game, but you need to make sure you beat your rival on the other side of the hill.
“For our club’s supporters the Doncaster game is very important.
“They are the people that have been coming here for many years to this club and this is the one match that we will play for them.”
Knights team to face Rotherham: 15 David McIlwaine, 14 Dougie Flockhart, 13 Oli Goss, 12 PJ Gidlow, 11 Michael Keating, 10 Tom Luke, 9 Chris Hallam, 1 Stuart Corsar, 2 Steve Boden, 3 Alex Brown, 4 Matt Challinor, 5 Glen Kenworthy, 6 Latu Makaafi, 7 Zack Farivarz, 8 Andy Boyde.
Replacements: Tom Davies, Jack Yeandle, Dominic Parsons, Chris Planchant, Michael Noone, Lee Audis, Fred Burdon.
Titans: 15 Tom Foden, 14 Ed Tellwright, 13 Dave McCall, 12 Pale Nonu, 11 Shane Monahan, 10 Garry Law, 9 Jimmy Williams, 1 Shane Cahill, 2 Ted Stagg, 3 Ben Hooper, 4 Sam Dickinson (Capt.), 5 Adrian Griffiths, 6 Robin Copeland, 7 Sean Dougall, 8 Semisi Taulava.
Replacements: 16 Dan Baines, 17 Jamie Kilbane, 18 Rob O’Donnell, 19 Barney Maddison, 20 Steve Hamilton, 21 Matt Rhodes, 22 Cliffie Hodgson, 23 Carl Kirwan, 24 Byron Godfrey.