YORKSHIRE Carnegie head coach Bryan Redpath has urged his promotion-chasing side not to give lowly derby rivals Rotherham Titans a sniff tomorrow or they could come unstuck.
In-form Carnegie are big favourites to push on and rack up their 12th win from 13 Championship games this term as they seek to maintain the pressure on leaders London Irish.
Rotherham have endured a difficult campaign and were grateful when financially-crippled London Welsh lost their place in the competition last month as it removed the threat of relegation.
However, Justin Burnell’s side picked up their first win in eight games last week when they nudged past Richmond 23-10 so spirits will be raised for the short trip to Headingley.
Redpath admitted: “They are a good set-piece side, their scrum is good and their drive, too, while they have got some big ball carriers. It’s like anything, you give them confidence to get their set-piece going and they will.
“It’s a massive game anyway just because it’s a derby let alone anything else. But we know our ball retention has to be huge and then when we have the ball we have got to make sure we look after it smartly.
“If we keep giving opportunities to teams with a good scrum then suddenly it’s three, six, nine, 12 points from penalties so we have to be aware of where we play the game.”
For all of their fine win record, Carnegie have been pushed close on numerous occasions this term, their latest victory being a 26-14 success at London Scottish.
Even unbeaten runaway leaders London Irish are feeling the heat having narrowly won 23-22 at Ealing Trailfinders last week.
Redpath makes only one change to his starting line-up with winger Taylor Prell replacing the injured Seb Stegmann while Sione Faletau makes his home debut and dynamic back-row Ollie Stedman returns from injury on the bench.
Veteran lock Dean Schofield is fit again but must bide his time for a playing return.
Rotherham, meanwhile, have made three alterations.
Club captain Will Owen has recovered from injury and returns at outside centre, moving Callum Wilson onto the wing for Ben Foley, while Northampton Saints dual-registered winger Tom Collins, comes in for Jake Henry.
Up front, lock Toby Salmon – who joins Premiership side Exeter Chiefs at the end of the season – drops out with injury so Miles Normandale comes in.
Hull Ionians fly-half Lee Millar is kept on for a second week after proving influential on debut last Saturday.
Elsewhere, Doncaster Knights, in third, host fourth-placed Ealing today but must do so without dual-registration lock Glen Young who starts for Newcastle Falcons against Bath in the Anglo-Welsh Cup instead.
David Nolan is his replacement in one of only three changes to the side that won at Bedford last week. Declan Cusack returns at fly-half after Simon Humberstone suffered a knock to the head in that game while Aaron Carpenter, is set to debut off the bench after completing his move from London Welsh.