BIG MATCH PREVIEW - Doncaster

 

 by PETER WOODROOFE -


MOSELEY v DONCASTER KNIGHTS, National League Division 1, at Billesley, Saturday, November 11, 2006, KO 3.00 pm (but come for lunch!)


Lances drawn

It’s going to be quite a joust on Saturday when the newly named Doncaster Knights sally forth from their Castle (Park) to do battle with Moseley in a National One encounter providing good sport for spectators bearing the colours of their teams.

Wanderers
Doncaster RFC was founded in 1875 and moved from ground to ground in the area until the club finally settled at Armthorpe Road in the 1950s on a ground that consisted of a single pitch, two changing rooms and a small club room facility.

Now the ground, still in Armthorpe Road, is Castle Park with a capacity of 5,000 and with seating for 900, 750 covered, a clubhouse and a conference centre, four full-sized pitches, junior and mini-rugby pitches, upgraded floodlights. All in all, an impressive complex, financed in part by a £1.86 million lottery grant.

Survived schism
Early on in their history, Doncaster survived the broken-time dispute in 1893 when the Northern clubs broke away from the Rugby Union to form the Northern Union, later the Rugby League.

Now the two codes are played in Doncaster, the League club being founded in 1951-2 and there is a Coca-Cola League One soccer team as well.

Upwardly mobile
Doncaster, nicknamed the Donnys before recently incorporating ‘Knights’ into their name, started League rugby in 1987-88 in Yorkshire 2 and first qualified for the RFU Senior Cup in 1997-8 through success in the Yorkshire Cup.

By that time, they had reached Thwaites North 1 and in 1999-2000 they reached National Division 3 North when the extent of the club’s ambition was demonstrated by the signing of JOHN LILEY, formerly of Leicester, Moseley and Worcester. In his first season he scored 279 points, followed by 244 points and in the next season,
2001-2 when they won promotion, he scored a club and personal record of 359 points.

Dynamic Derek
Donny signed DEREK EVES from Coventry in 2000-01 and he was made Director of Rugby in 2001-2. With John Liley kicking points, Eves was Donny’s leading try scorer in his first season with 13 and in their promotion season he scored 24 tries, equalled by winger CHRIS CONWAY. With John Liley’s record points tally, Doncaster scored a total of 1,074 points, still a club record.

In their first season in National 2, they finished 7th, with Eves leading try scorer with 11 and John Liley’s brother Rob, signed from Wakefield, scoring 196 points.

The aforementioned Chris Conway finished his career at Doncaster in that season and his 59 tries is still a club career record in League rugby.

Eves scored 48 tries in three seasons before KINGSLEY JONES replaced him as Director of Rugby. A Welsh international, Jones won 10 caps and captained Wales against South Africa in 1998. He had spells with Gloucester and Worcester.

First meeting
It was in Doncaster’s second season in National 2 when they first met Moseley in League rugby. In a close game at Castle Park, they won 20-18. Moseley did well, but they lost their player-coach STEVE OJOMOH, injured just when his influence on the Moseley set-up on and off the pitch was becoming evident.

Doncaster won 38-12 at Bournbrook and finished the season 4th, while Moseley had a struggle to avoid relegation when the bottom three clubs went down.

On a mission…
In their programme when Moseley visited Castle Park on 6 December 2003, Doncaster RFC set out their Mission Statement and Statement of Intent.

The Mission Statement as: “All playing and non-playing members of Doncaster RFC shall receive maximum fulfilment from the game of rugby in an environment of friendship, enjoyment, pride and comfort.” A statement with which Moseley is in full agreement. ‘Friendship, Enjoyment and Pride’ – we are there. ‘Maximum fulfilment and Comfort’ we aim to achieve and are getting there.

In their Statement of Intent, they have achieved their first target, “sustainable promotion to National One within two seasons” has been achieved.

Their second target, “to become the highest-placed of all the ‘non full professional’ clubs in the Division” has also been achieved. They are there, lying 6th, 11 points ahead of 7th-placed Pertemps Bees, and they have some 23 or so full-time professionals in their ranks. The clubs above them in the League are fully professional.

Eyes on Premiership
Their other target, Premiership rugby on the field and meeting the RFU criteria, is on the way. There is also a commitment for the club not to lose sight of its roots and the continued development of its youth, ladies and amateur sections. All highly commendable and we wish the club the best of good fortune in its ambitions.

We should like to do that at Moseley, but our past experiences show us that to achieve such ambitions, we need stability, which is being achieved, financial resources and support through the gate, which has to be earned on the pitch, often before the financial support is forthcoming. Catch 22!

Men in charge
To achieve its ambitions, Doncaster have appointed CLIVE GRIFFITHS, the former Swansea full-back and Wales Defence coach, and a new player-coach-captain JASON FORSTER from Newport Gwent Dragons, who was joint top try scorer in the Celtic League last season. Griffiths succeeds Eves, Kingsley Jones and South African PIETER MULLER, who left the club last February.

Doncaster finished10th last season, their first in National 1, which appears a good achievement when one considers Newbury’s 11th place last season and Moseley and Waterloo’s struggles this season in their first season after promotion to National 1.

Kicking boots
ROB LILEY has retired after four seasons with the club where he scored 1,013 points and in the last match of last season, he converted an injury-time try to win the game against Pertemps Bees and completed 2,000 points in his League career.

Doncaster’s kicker this season is MARK WOODROW from Nottingham and formerly Pertemps Bees whose four conversions, one penalty and one dropped goal in their 39-13 win at Sharman’s Cross Road last week has taken his total points for the season to date to 97.

Try men
JASON FORSTER’s two tries against the Bees last week takes his total for the season to 13, top try scorer in National 1 to date.

The Knights have scored 38 tries this season. In addition to Forster’s 13, other newcomers, utility back WES DAVIES from Cornish Pirates, has scored four, as has No 8 GLEN WILSON from Otley, while centre SPENCER DAVEY from Bath has scored three and WOODROW two.

Other newcomers this season include the evergreen peripatetic, talkative scrum-half DAVE SCULLY, from Rotherham and Otley, and another scrum-half, BEN JONES from Northampton, hooker BEN PHILLIPS from Pontypridd, and another itinerant, 6ft 9in lock, American international LUKE GROSS, ex-Newcastle Falcons, and prop JOHN RAWSON, from Leicester.

Classic encounter
On the face of it, Moseley face a huge task at Billesley on Saturday, but they can gain some encouragement from the past – that 21-20 at Bournbrook on 11 December, 2004, when they inflicted on Doncaster, their first defeat of their promotion season, an outstanding performance of concentration and resilience.

Doncaster led 13-0 after 16 minutes with ROB LILEY kicking two penalties and converting a blindside try by No 8 OLIVER COOK.

OLLIE THOMAS kicked a penalty and, with Cook yellow-carded, Moseley’s pack began to believe they could dominate their more experienced opponents. THOMAS kicked a penalty and converted a try by CARL COLVIN. With the scores equal at half-time, centre BRAD HUNT restored Donny’s lead with a try converted by LILEY.

Moseley kept their shape and COLVIN went in at the corner and THOMAS, after missing the conversion and a penalty, had the final say with a dropped goal in the 74th minute. Heroic defence, the kind Moseley will have to show next Saturday, won them the game.

By the time Doncaster won the return game at Castle Park 31-16, they had won promotion, losing just two games and drawing one. Moseley missed promotion, finishing third.


Still there…
BRADLEY HUNT, props SIMON BUNTING and back-row RUSSELL EARNSHAW, SIMON GRAINGER and OLLIE COOK are still in the Doncaster squad and played in the game at Bournbrook. South African winger DONOVAN VAN VUUREN, scorer of 30 tries for the club in his career, was injured on that occasion.

At least eight of the Moseley squad who took part in that game will remember the occasion as they take the field on Saturday, including the Moseley coaches IAN SMITH and DON CASKIE.

Reality check
After a good performance at Headingley Carnegie Stadium, when they came close to winning a bonus point, or even two against Leeds Tykes, Moseley could not repeat that performance at Sandy Park last Saturday, though they had early opportunities to score against a so-far underperforming Exeter Chiefs in the first 20 minutes.

And with 20 minutes to go, they had reduced the deficit to six points, but two tries and one in injury time, to a try by ANDY BINNS clinched the win for Exeter.

On song
Doncaster scored five tries in a convincing win at Pertemps Bees, so the Moseley defence will have to be at its most incisive to blunt JASON FORSTER and his pack who have scored 26 of the squad’s 38 tries scored this season to date.

OLLIE THOMAS has scored 112 points to date for Moseley this season, and he and Mose will have to take their opportunities to compete against the intensely ambitious Knights.

Enjoy…
But whatever the result on the field, there will be the usual hospitable welcome to our visitors and our own supporters at Billesley in our clubhouse and hospitality boxes before and after the game.


p.s.

Dave Scully - Some of Moseley’s young team weren’t even born when Doncaster’s 41-year-old Dave was already playing rugby. The evergreen scrum-half started at Wheatley and since then has clocked up 20 seasons with clubs playing in the top two divisions – Wakefield (11), Rotherham (5 – including one in the Premiership), Otley (3, including two as skipper), and now Doncaster

Along the way he’s picked up a World Cup Sevens winners’ medal with England 1993 and is one of only three players to score 100 League tries (Eddie Saunders of Rugby and Nick Baxter, Worcester and B&S, the others).

Not surprisingly, fireman Scully is known for his legendary fitness, as well as his banter and organising ability at the base of the scrum.


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