ROTHERHAM Titans aim to complete a Championship double over high-flying Nottingham today and keep in touching distance of the top-four.
Their third-placed opponents arrive at Clifton Lane already knowing only too well the potential of the South Yorkshire side.
Rotherham produced arguably their best performance of the season when winning 27-16 at Nottingham back in September and realise themselves they are more than capable of repeating that feat.
Of course, there has been a lot of upheaval since then at the Titans, principally with Alex Codling having taken over from Andre Bester as head coach, and the club are currently down in seventh spot. However, they pushed second-placed Bedford Blues hard before losing out 22-16 on Boxing Day, are in good spirits and remain just eight points adrift of fourth spot with a game in hand.
Codling makes three changes to the side that started that fixture with scrum-half Jimmy Williams, hooker Ted Stagg and No 8 Alex Rieder all coming in, Toby Freeman shifting into the second row for the injured Dan Sanderson.
He said: “The boys have had a few days off over the holiday period to recharge their batteries and had a well deserved rest.
“However, they have trained very well this week and are raring to go following two positive results away from home. We are excited to be back at Clifton Lane and want as many supporters as possible to come down and cheer the boys on.
“The Nottingham game is a crucial one for us and the support we get at Clifton Lane makes a huge difference so we are hoping for a good crowd on Saturday.”
Indeed, Nottingham have rarely fared well there, winning just once in the league and head coach Martin Haag anticipates a difficult trip.
“With every game we test ourselves, our skills, character and belief and that is what we will need huge amounts of at Rotherham,” said the ex-Bath and England lock.
“But we don’t read into what happened last time. That was a long time ago; they played well that day and a lot has changed since then.”
But Rotherham, along with plenty of others including fourth-placed Cornish Pirates and chasing Leeds Carnegie, can all put pressure on them in the new year.
However, Haag – who has winger Rhys Crane back from a calf injury – insisted: “We can’t control what Cornish Pirates are doing, what (fifth) Bristol are doing, (first) Newcastle or (sixth) Leeds or (bottom) Doncaster.
“We can only control how we perform and the only thing we are concentrated on is Rotherham.
“The only pressure that we have is on ourselves, the pressure to perform, individually and collectively.”
England under-20 lock Tom Price, meanwhile, joins the Leicester Tigers dual-registered contingent at Nottingham and is poised to make his debut off the bench.
Wharfedale return from a three-week lay-off looking for their first win since November 24.
Ahead of the visit of Blackheath, head coach Tommy McGee said: “We start 2013 hungry, focused and ready, determined to take advantage of January’s three home fixtures. That means getting back to basics, working on our core skills and attending to details, with emphasis on each player making himself mentally prepared for each match.”