HIGH-flying Derby County showed their Championship quality as they put the Millers to the sword following a polished display.
Andreas Weimann put the Rams in charge early on and the Millers hopes were dealt a blow on the stroke of half time when Jacob Butterfield doubled their lead.
The Millers struggled to gain a foothold in the clash and Richard Keogh sealed the deal with a third late on as the home side extended their unbeaten run to nine games.
Following their narrow defeat at the hands of local rivals Sheffield Wednesday last time out, the Millers made five changes to their starting line-up for the visit to the iPro Stadium.
Scottish international Kirk Broadfoot was handed his first start of the season at the heart of the Rotherham rearguard as Farrend Rawson was ineligible to face his parent club while Joe Mattock made a welcome return to the left-back slot following a shoulder injury with Norwich loanee Harry Toffolo being given an opportunity to play further forward.
There was a new look to the Millers engine room as Joe Newell returned following a foot injury and he was joined by Richie Smallwood, who was recalled to the starting line-up at the expense of former Derby midfielder Paul Green, who had to settle for a substitutes berth.
Playmaker Danny Ward was also given a chance to impress as he returned to full fitness after suffering a back spasm while Jonson Clarke-Harris was named to lead the Millers line as Matt Derbyshire was unavailable because of injury.
The Millers were almost gifted an opportunity in the early minutes as Scott Carson had to deal with a well-hit backpass under pressure from Clarke-Harris but the England stopper managed to scramble the ball away from danger just in the nick of time.
However, Paul Clement’s men stunned the visitors faithful by breaking the deadlock with their first foray of note on seven minutes.
There looked little danger as Broadfoot looked to steal possession but a threaded pass released the rampaging Craig Forsyth down the left flank and he planted a delicate cross across the face of the box and Andreas Weimann got on the wrong side of Mattock to stab home from close range into the roof of the net.
The Millers responded positively to the setback and Clarke-Harris pounced on a loose ball to fire a perfectly executed half-volley from distance which had Carson nervously scurrying across goal as it fizzed narrowly wide of the target before Grant Ward stung the palms of the home ‘keeper with an ambitious effort from distance in the Millers next attack.
Just before the quarter hour, the Millers were transfixed by a fine flowing move by the home side which paved the way for Jacob Butterfield to try his luck with a rasping shot from distance which Camp smartly parried to safety before Clarke-Harris shrugged off the attentions of Richard Keogh at the other end and after advancing menacingly into the box, the Millers frontman worked a yard of space on Jason Shackell to fire a low drive which tested Carson at his near post.
The home side twice came within a whisker of doubling their lead when firstly Butterfield’s clever reverse pass caught the Millers defence napping and Cyrus Christie found himself in acres of space to deliver a tantalising cross which saw Johnny Russell blaze over despite having the goal at his mercy before Weimann’s mazy run from the touchline split open the visitors’ defence as the Austrian striker fizzed a daisycutter from just outside the box which shaved the upright as Camp scrambled across goal.
Smallwood became the first to see yellow for a clumsy challenge on Bradley Johnson as he received his sixth booking of the campaign before the Derby midfielder was in the thick of the action moments later as he firstly scooped a cross across the face of the visitors’ defence which saw Chris Martin head over before he got on the end of Russell’s inviting centre but he fluffed his lines as he headed over from close range.
In a rare Millers foray, Newell had a lung-bursting run from halfway which had the Rams backtracking towards their own goal before he was cynically upended by Thorne, who received a yellow-card, and Clarke-Harris almost exacted retribution from the resultant free-kick as his exocet from distance arrowed into the grateful hands of Carson, who was well-stationed on his own line.
The home side almost doubled their advantage when Russell’s corner was flicked on invitingly into the path of Weimann at the far post, who looked to guide the ball into the corner of the net but it fizzed just inches wide of the target but they did not have to wait long to extend their lead as they made it two on the stroke of half time.
Some fine one-touch passing stretched the Millers across the park and Butterfield injected pace into the move to stride confidently forward before striking a fierce drive from over 20 yards which fizzed past the outstretched hand of Camp to find the bottom corner of the net.
It almost got worse for the Millers in the last action of the half as Weimann blasted over with the goal gaping before the referee brought the half to a close to give the Millers a chance to regroup.
Half-time:- Derby County 2 Rotherham United 0
The hosts started the second half as they finished the first as Broadfoot had to be on his toes to head clear Johnson’s dangerous cross before Christie blasted a centre across the face of goal moments later.
The Millers frustration was summed up when Mattock was cautioned for hauling down Russell in full flow before Danny Ward tried his luck from long range but his low drive flew harmlessly wide of the target.
The visitors then had skipper Danny Collins to thank for keeping them in the game as Forsyth’s perfectly weighed ball saw Weimann get the better of Broadfoot before lobbing the advancing Camp but Collins showed fleet of foot to hack the ball clear from underneath his own crossbar.
Just before the hour mark, Redfearn’s men had faint appeals for a spot kick as Danny Ward looked to be tugged back by Shackell in the box but the protests fell on deaf ears.
The Millers boss reverted to a 4-4-2 formation as substitute Aidy White joined the fray but the move failed to stem the tide of the clash as Derby skipper Chris Martin was hauled over by Collins and the Scottish striker dusted himself down to curl a delightful free-kick which sailed over the wall before smashing against the visitors crossbar.
However, the visitors’ respite was only temporary as in their next attack, the Millers failed to clear the danger decisively and sub Jeff Hendrick found himself in space in the box and he pulled the ball back into the danger area and after a home raider failed to turn the ball goalwards, the ball fell kindly into the path of Richard Keogh, who made no mistake to turn the ball home at the second attempt.
The hosts almost added a fourth when Shackell leapt highest to meet Russell’s corner to loop a header which beat Camp but his effort clipped the crossbar as the Millers made the short hop back to South Yorkshire empty handed.
Full-time:- Derby County 3 Rotherham United 0
Teams:- Derby- Carson, Christie, Forsyth, Keogh, Martin (Bent 76), Russell, Shackell, Johnson, Butterfield (Bryson 78), Weimann, Thorne (Hendrick 62). Unused- Grant, Baird, Shotton, Warnock
Rotherham- Camp, Buxton, Broadfoot, Collins, Mattock, Newell (Green 46), Smallwood, D Ward, G Ward, Toffolo (White 62), Clarke-Harris. Unused- Collin, Richardson, Bowery. Thorpe, Maguire
Referee:- S. Duncan
Attendance:- 30,172 (1388).