Bristol v Rotherham Titans: No grudge match with Bristol, says Blackett

Michael Keating.
Michael Keating.
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Bristol claimed five wins from five games with Rotherham last season but Titans head coach Lee Blackett insists that has no bearing on tomorrow’s fixture.

Two of the division’s in-form teams meet at Ashton Gate, with Bristol having won all 10 of their games in the Championship and British and Irish Cup, while Rotherham have won eight out of 10.

Last season, Bristol won twice in the regular season, ended Rotherham’s B&I Cup campaign at the quarter-final stage and then shattered their promotion dreams in two keenly-contested legs of the play-off semi-final in May.

But Blackett chose to reflect on the positives of his own side’s start to the present campaign rather than focus on the past.

“Last year was last year, it has no bearing,” he said.

“We’ve won eight out of the first 10 games to start a season. A Rotherham team hasn’t done that since they won 10 out of 10 to start the 2002-03 season, when it was National One and still a largely amateur league.

“So we’ve made this great start and yet we’re not as happy as we should be.

“The players are working hard to get to a stage where they are better, and the pleasing thing is, we all know there’s still a lot more to come from us.

“We played in the rain three times last season. This time, I can think of only one game where it’s not been raining – so we’ve not been able to express ourselves as we know we can do.”

The weather forecast for the West Country tomorrow is cloudy and breezy, but dry, giving Blackett hope that his team can complete a hat-trick of wins in this block of Championship fixtures.

“It’s a challenge to face someone whose not been beaten and it’s a tough ask,” said Blackett, whose side have already been thrashed by Worcester this season.

“But it’s an exciting challenge.

“Let’s be honest, there are two standout teams in the league this season so it’s a massive challenge.

“But we’re not thinking beyond minute one. We’re going to take each minute and each phase of the game in turn and not think beyond the next action.

“That’s what we’ve got to do to give ourselves a chance.”

Michael Keating returns on the wing for Rotherham, with Andy Davies replacing James Mitchell at scrum-half. Lewis Thiede starts at prop.