Doncaster Knights v Rotherham Titans: New-look Titans look to increase Knights’ woes

Rotherham Titans coach Justin Burnell.
Rotherham Titans coach Justin Burnell.
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FANS of both Doncaster Knights and Rotherham Titans have not had to wait long for the first South Yorkshire derby of the new season.

The great rivals meet at Castle Park tomorrow on only the second weekend of the 2015-16 Championship campaign.

They arrive with contrasting fortunes from opening day, Doncaster having endured a tough afternoon at relegated London Irish, being kept scoreless in a 19-0 defeat.

Rotherham, though, enjoyed a fine start with a thrilling 33-32 injury-time win over much-fancied London Welsh at Clifton Lane following a stunning late comeback.

They will look to build on that now and, with a considerably bulked up pack from last season and so many new signings, will fancy their chances of still catching Doncaster a little out of sorts.

Of course, it was Clive Griffiths’s Knights side who made such a surprise impression last season, finsihing second and reaching a maiden Championship play-off final.

Rotherham were the ones out of kilter, dropping down the rankings alarmingly but, with Justin Burnell having now had a full pre-season to work with his new-look squad, most onlookers expect the near neighbours to be far more closely matched in the campaign ahead.

Two players who will be keen to make a mark are Lloyd Hayes, the dynamic centre who swapped Clifton Lane for Castle Park during the summer, and front-row Robin Hislop who made the same switch.

Furthermore, Latu Makaafi, the prolific flanker, is set for his 100th appearance in Doncaster colours and looking to get his try-scoring feats up and running once more.

He is promoted to the starting line-up in the only change to the side that lost at Irish, coming in at blindside with Glen Young switched to lock and David Nolan dropping to the bench.

For Rotherham, Burnell has changed his entire front-row with Tom Williams, Charlie Maddison and Danny Herriott replacing Toby Williams, Joe Graham and Joe Rees.

Only Toby Williams gets a place on the bench as Luke Cole and Ian Williams come in.