BIG MATCH PREVIEW - Otley

 

by PETER WOODROOFE


MOSELEY v OTLEY - National League One, Saturday, January 27th @ Billesley, Kick-off, 3pm. (but come for lunch!)
 


It’s a warm welcome to the players, officials and supporters of a traditional hospitable rugby club, Otley visiting Billesley on Saturday for a match from which a positive result is needed for both sides.

New experience

Otley are not used to fighting relegation battles. After finishing twelfth in their first season in Division 1 in 2000-01, which was a true relegation battle when they finished above relegated Orrell on points difference, they have finished seventh, eleventh, fifth and last season, ninth, in their six seasons at National 1 level.

Points machines

Two players have figured statistically in Otley’s time in National One DAN CLAPPISON scored 262 points in the promotion season from National Two, and 131 points in the first season in National One, and then SIMON BINNS formerly of Moseley, London Scottish and Rotherham has scored 1,242 points in the six seasons.

Despite injuries this season, Simon is Otley’s leading scorer to date this season with 108 points. He is the brother of Moseley’s ANDY, but Simon’s injury may prevent him playing on Saturday.

Northern pool

Otley, being a Northern club have the opportunity of recruiting from the large number of itinerant streetwise players who move from club to club in the North. Moseley’s PAUL ARNOLD is one and last season Otley signed the ‘evergreen’ DAVE SCULLY who scored seven tries but he has now moved to Doncaster.

Long-standing coach

PETER CLEGG is Otley’s influential coach and has been since their promotion to National One. Of necessity, he has to work on a reduced playing budget this season – we know all about that! – which is why they are fighting for survival in this immensely competitive League.

Signings
He has used his previous Harrogate connections in signing winger STEVE PARSONS, who scored fifteen tries for Harrogate last season, and lock BRENDAN BACK. No 8 MAIFEA MAEFIA was also signed from Harrogate and we send him out best wished for a speedy and complete recovery from an operation which I understand was not caused by rugby. An explosive player, he scored good tries against us in our last season in National Two, and as a member of the rugby fraternity we wish him well.

Clegg’s other signings include DANNY SMITH from Hull RUFC, props ALISTAIR LIVESEY from Plymouth Albion and PAUL TURNER from Cleckheaton, and locks DAVE WHITEHEAD from Blaydon and Australian SCOTT CONNOR, returning to the club. HUSTIN WRING, a prop, moved to Bristol but has been back on loan. Scrum-half NIGEL CHIVERS have moved from Cornish Pirates and a significant signing has been the former England ‘A’ lock DAN HYDE from Leeds.

Experienced group
These newcomers have joined an experienced group of players who have made a large number of appearances for Otley, including centre ROBERT WHATMUFF, full-back IAN SHUTTLEWORTH, centres PAUL MOONEY and KYLE DENCH and a strong back row of JAMES TIFFANY, NATHAN BLAND and MATTHEW STOCKDALE.

The aforementioned Simon Binns’s injury problems have been covered by the loan signing of JON BENSON from Doncaster, who can play full-back or fly-half.

First encounter
Moseley and Otley first played each other when Otley won promotion to National Two in 1993-4. Moseley, with such players as MIKE TEAGUE and SIMON HODGKINSON in their side, did the double winning 30-22 at The Reddings and 26-12 at Cross Green.

Otley had PETER RUTLEDGE, 991 points in his career at Otley 1992-98, winger GLYN MELVILLE, brother of Nigel, the former England captain whose early career was at Otley before winning his caps while at Wasps. Otley were immediately relegated back to National Three, while Moseley finished fifth in that season.

Another double
The two clubs met again in League rugby in 2000-1 when Moseley again did the double, winning 38-17 at Cross Green and 20-15 at the University of Birmingham.
In the following season, Otley won 39-16 at the University, but Moseley achieved a draw at Cross Green. In their relegation season, Moseley won 30-19 at home, but suffered their first defeat at Cross Green 65-27 when their fate in National 1 was already sealed.

Close one
Moseley suffered another defeat at Cross Green earlier this season when Otley won 16-13. It was a close game, Moseley scoring a try in injury time to win a losing bonus point. Lock BRENDAN BACK scored Otley’s try. They have in fact only scored 31 tries this season, the lowest in the League currently, with London Welsh 32 and Moseley 35. So Saturday’s match could be one big cliffhanger.

Focus needed

Moseley must not make the same mistakes as against Waterloo and concentration throughout is of the essence. Last week Moseley lost predictably to Cornish Pirates 48-0 in the 4th round of the EDF Energy National trophy although our side did contain twelve changes from the Bees game with several key players rested. Despite this there was a spirited first half being only down 5-0 until Paul Arnold was rather prematurely yellow carded. Fortunately no injuries were incurred. Otley had to travel to North Walsham, a difficult place to go, and lost 24-22 to the National 3 team.

Both clubs have to shake off those defeats, but Moseley’s task is arguably the easier. Another intriguing game at Billesley which hopefully will not be spoilt by the weather conditions. Good fare for the spectators. Thank you for your support. We hope you enjoy the game and the camaraderie at Billesley.

 

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