Rotherham Titans’ side to face Doncaster Knights at Clifton Lane tomorrow shows two major changes in a Championship clash which is of massive importance to both.
On-loan Bath hooker Tom Dunn makes his full debut for Rotherham and takes over in the front row from Tom Cruse who’s leaving to join Premiership club London Irish.
Cruse, 26, is named as one of the seven replacements tomorrow. His departure has forced Rotherham to sign another hooker for next season whose identity will be revealed shortly, but it’s understood he’s currently playing for a top club in South Wales. The other surprise in the line-up is the selection of second row forward Ben Thomas who will be making his first start of the season following a long absence because of injury.
Now that Thomas is fit again and as second rows Sean Robinson and Tom Holmes are both unavailable, Rotherham coach Lee Blackett was left with little choice, so Thomas plays and forms a powerful combination in the pack with Barney Maddison.
With only one point separating Nottingham and Rotherham, fourth and fifth in the Championship, a win for the Titans is essential if they are to claim a place in the promotion play-offs. Doncaster, who now appear safe from relegation but need two points to confirm their Championship status beyond doubt, will be keen to gain revenge following Rotherham’s win by only 23-21 at Castle Park in January, the Titans’ fifth successive victory in a South Yorks derby.
“Doncaster have a really dangerous back line and they have an intelligent pack which is good at forcing opponents to give penalties away” said Blackett.
“Full back Paul Jarvis is one of the best in the Championship and he is part of an experienced side that is very direct and physical.
“Jarvis is a threat and Doncaster are good too at the breakdown when both sides are fighting for the ball.
“As regards my team, Dunn has impressed when he came on in the last two league games against Bristol and Moseley, he has forced his way into the side and fully deserves to start. It’s great to see Thomas back. Holmes has a knee injury and Robinson has been called back to Newcastle Falcons but we hope to see him for the last two games of the season against Nottingham and London Scottish.”
Meanwhile, Blackett also remains hopeful that winger Michael Keating, one of Rotherham’s most dangerous backs who’ll be playing against his old club tomorrow, will re-sign for the club.
Rotherham Titans: Scanlon, Keating, Hayes, Davies, Wilson, McKinney, White, Hislop, Dunn, Tampin, Thomas, Maddison, Argyle, Preece, Rieder.
Replacements: Cruse, Williams, Thiede, Parker, Birch, Barrett, Cooke.