Loss of key players is shrugged off by Titans

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ROTHERHAM Titans coach Lee Blackett is convinced their hopes of defeating Championship play-off rivals Cornish Pirates this afternoon will not be undermined by the loss of his regular half-backs.

Scrum-half Charlie Mulchrone has failed to recover in time from a shoulder injury suffered in the impressive 35-6 Boxing Day rout of Bedford Blues, while fly-half Joel Hodgson is also unavailable.

It means Dan White and Dallan Murphy are given the task of controlling the Rotherham team as they face visitors who, like themselves, are unbeaten in five games.

In fact, Cornish – who are sixth but could draw level with their third-placed hosts if they win in South Yorkshire today – have lost just two of their last 13 games in all competitions.

They are beginning to show some real quality and arrive having edged their fierce south west derby with Plymouth Albion 10-3 over the Christmas period.

However, Blackett’s side, who have surprised many with their own form so far, are intent on maintaining their top-four credentials, regardless of absentees, and could even take pole position today.

“Losing a quality player like Charlie is always going to be a bit of a loss,” said Blackett. “But having said that Dan White did enough last week to give himself a good chance of starting this Saturday anyway.

“When Dan came on he made a massive difference and was one of the main reasons why we did so well in the second half. He deserves his chance.

“It’s also great to see Dallan back; we’ve given him another week since his injury and he’ll be back fresh and raring to go.

“Dallan’s got a great attitude and we can’t wait to see him back in a Titans jersey because before his injury he was one of the form 10s in the league.”

Up front, hooker Ben Sowrey has earned a start as has Ben Thomas after some rugged performances off the bench.

Perhaps crucially, Rotherham forward coach Ed Williamson also makes a timely return at No 8 for his first game since being injured in the loss at Bristol back in mid-November.