Cup still to forefront of Blackett’s thoughts

Lee Blackett has continued to emphasise the importance of the British and Irish Cup as Rotherham Titans chase success on two fronts.

Rotherham Titans' Dan White. Picture: Scott Merrylees.

The B&I Cup is an after-thought for some coaches in the Championship, but as he prepares to welcome Aberavon to Clifton Lane, Blackett has once again stressed how his side are taking the competition seriously.

“The B&I Cup is a competition that we as a club take serious; I think there’s some other clubs that don’t, but we see it as a chance to win some silverware,” said Blackett.

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“As a Championship club you can only win two trophies and the B&I Cup is one of those.

“Also, financially for the club it means a lot if we can progress out of the pool stages. But we know that won’t be an easy task as we’ve been drawn in a really tough group.”

They began that group stage with a 20-3 win over Yorkshire Carnegie last week, an occasion which Blackett felt his side handled handsomely.

Blackett said: “We had four boys making their first starts for the club and they all acquitted themselves really well.

“There were loads of positives from the game, but what pleased me the most was our physicality in defence; it was miles better than against Worcester the previous week and it had to be.”

Rotherham have been decimated by injuries and recalls with their quartet of Falcons players returning to Newcastle for the European weekend and Ben Rath (groin), Dan White (back), Robin Hislop (ribs), Lewis Thiede (foot), Scott Freer (neck), Ben Thomas (shoulder) and Barney Maddison (knee) all out.

Doncaster Knights director of rugby Clive Griffiths hopes today’s visitors Cornish Pirates show more ambition than they did when the two teams met just two weeks ago in the Championship.

A Knights side on form after defying the odds by winning three of their first four games in the second tier, came unstuck against the Pirates, who held on for a 24-22 verdict.

With the British and Irish Cup pitting the two sides together again so quickly, Griffiths has challenged the Pirates not to ‘park the bus’.

“I think they defended better than they had previously done this season, but I still think that we were the better team on the day,” said Griffiths.

“They didn’t compete at the breakdown and just put a line of players across the field and ‘parked the bus’ as it were.”

Griffiths makes five changes from the side that won 37-32 at Cross Keys last week.