BIG MATCH PREVIEW - Sedgley Tigers

 

 by PETER WOODROOFE -


MOSELEY v SEDGLEY PARK TIGERS, National League Division 1, at Billesley, Saturday, October 21, 2006, KO 3.00 pm (but come for lunch!)


It’s a pleasure to welcome the players, officials and supporters of Sedgley Park, a young but traditional in character rugby club.

That tradition was very much in evidence in the last game between Moseley and ‘Park’ - played at Park Lane, Whitefields, on 24 January, 2004 - Moseley gained an outstanding 39-7 victory over Sedgley who led National 2 at the time by six points.

Camaraderie
In spite of the disappointment their supporters and officials must have felt, the goodwill and hospitality afforded the Moseley travellers before and after the game was immense, illustrating what our sport is all about.

We at Moseley will attempt to emulate that spirit of camaraderie at Billesley on Saturday.

Incidentally, Sedgley Park went on to win National 2 and Moseley struggled to survive in their first season there, hitting the ‘three clubs relegated’ system for the first time. They eventually finished fifth from bottom, followed by 3rd and promotion last season.

New vintage
Apart from the amalgamated clubs, B&S, Leeds (Roundhay and Headingley) and Cornish Pirates (Penzance and Newlyn), Sedgley Park are the youngest club in National 1, founded in 1932 after a meeting of a group of friends in a temperance bar (!) in George Street, Sedgley Park.

Starting in a farmer’s field at Whitefield, they played at several sites in the Whitefield area before settling at Park Lane, a ground with a capacity of 2,500, 350 seated and a large clubhouse.

Ambitious
There is no doubting the ambition of Sedgley Park, tempered with patience and working within their financial resources.

They commenced League rugby in North West 2 when the Courage Clubs championship came into being 20 seasons ago. Only Mansfield in that Division has made significant progress in the Leagues, currently being in National 3 North after just missing promotion in the play-offs in 2004-5.

It took Park 10 seasons before they reached the National Divisions and it was a further four seasons before they won promotion from National 3 North to National 2, after winning the play-off against runners-up of National 3 South, Launceston.

Key men
Influential in the club’s progress to the National Divisions included KEN FLETCHER, coach for two seasons before he guided Park to winning North 1 in 1996-7, and front jumper BOB KIMMINS, formerly of Orrell when they were in Division 1, as well as captaining Lancashire.

Since then, centre / fly-half New Zealander ROB MOON scored 590 points between 1998 and 2003, still a club career points scoring record in League rugby, while former Welsh international fly-half COLIN STEPHENS scored 479 points, 235 in the promotion season to National 2 and 244 points in 2001-2, Park’s first season there when they finished 3rd, with MOON their leading try scorer with 12.

In their next season, they finished 6th when South African ARNO DE JAGER came on to the scene and scored 223 points.

Promotion
In the next season, 2003-4, when Moseley and Sedgley met for the first time, he was the scourge of Moseley in Park’s 23-16 win at Bournbrook. He scored a try and kicked two penalties and then scored the winning try in injury time, which was converted by another South African RYNO UECKERMANN.

Winger NATHAN PALMER – remember him? – scored two tries and OLLIE THOMAS two penalty goals for Moseley.

Spectacular win
The two clubs met again in the return game at Whitefield and there followed a truly surprising result mentioned earlier in the Preview.

Sedgley Park were top of National 2 at the time, leading by six points, but Moseley did what they had threatened to do on several earlier occasions, virtually running riot.

Everything came together. They led 27-0 at half-time, JAMES ASTON scoring two tries and ANDY GRAY and KEVIN WIRACHOWSKI one apiece. OLLIE THOMAS converted two and kicked a penalty.

After the interval, THOMAS ran 30 metres to score Moseley’s fifth try, with Sedgley’s flanker KERN YATES reducing the arrears with a try converted by RYNO ULCKERMANN and ANDY BINNS capping Moseley’s fine day with a break leading to a try, converted by THOMAS. Sedgley Park went on to win National 2, with Moseley finishing fifth from bottom.

Tougher going
In their first season in National 1, Park finished 10th, above Nottingham, also in their first season, with the same number of points (40), but by winning eight games against Nottingham’s seven. Below them were London Welsh and the two relegated clubs, Henley Hawks and Orrell.

Last season Park avoided relegation because of a League reorganisation, finishing 13th with 41 points, again winning eight games, above Pertemps Bees. Their leading scorers were PHIL JONES, ex-Orrell, and Leigh Rugby League, with 219 points, including six tries, and winger JON FEELEY, with 15 tries.

FEELEY has moved to Earth Titans this season with lock ERIL LUND, who missed only one game last season. However, PHIL JONES remains and has scored 56 points this season to date, including two tries.

Newcomers
Newcomers include centres CHRIS BRIERS from Orrell, JASON DUFFY from Sale, and the former Scottish international ANDY CRAIG from Leeds Tykes. Also from Sale is flanker ADAM NEWTON and, on loan, scrum-half CHRIS LECK.

In addition to Newton in the pack, are other newcomers, locks JACO SWART, ex-Rossendale, and ED NORRIS from Doncaster and flanker ALEX BENNETT from London Welsh.

Hooker JOHNNY RODDAM from Doncaster replaces RICHARD OXLEY, who has moved to Plymouth Albion.

A group of Fijians in the Army have played at times this season – winger SAULA ROKO, wing/full-back RATU NAULIVOU and No 8 LEDUA JOPE.

Two more newcomers, prop ANDY HALSALL and lock BEN LLOYD, both from Sale, have come into the side recently.

Stalwarts
These newcomers join the aforementioned ARNO DE JAGER, who has scored 408 points for Park to date, centre IAN VOORTMAN, over 70 League appearances, experienced props PAUL GOZZALA, GERALT EVANS and PETRUS DU PLESSIS, No 8 JOHN SKURR and the captain, flanker JAMES PONTON, who has had Premiership experience with Leeds Tykes.

Connection…
The Moseley connection is PAUL ARNOLD, who joined Moseley this season from Nottingham. He played for Sedgley Park in both games against Moseley in 2003-4.

Struggles
Sedgley Park have won just two bonus points to date, both achieved in the 33-34 defeat by Pertemps Bees at Whitefield, by scoring five tries and losing by just one point.

Their other defeats have been predictably by Doncaster, Bedford and Cornish Pirates, 3-55 last week, and at Leeds Tykes, and at home to Coventry and Otley.

In an uneven fixture list, because of the unavailability of grounds for one reason or another, Park have played five of their seven games at home, which makes their task all the more difficult in the season to come.

Close…
Moseley are still learning how to win in National One, but can take some consolation from the fact they are not far away, having won four losing bonus points, against Coventry, Pertemps Bees, Otley and, last Saturday, against Newbury, where the match was lost in the third quarter.

The backs, without NATHAN BRESSINGTON, have yet to find a cutting edge. It is hoped that CARL COLVIN, who went off injured in the second half against Newbury, will be available.

Self-belief
It’s going to be an intriguing game at Billesley on Saturday because, as a result of their records this season, both clubs will believe they can win.

Moseley need to beware the boot of Park’s PHIL JONES, a quality fly-half behind a streetwise pack, and go one better than last week when they failed to benefit from home advantage, essential with two hard away games to follow.

We hope all at Billesley have an enjoyable time exchanging the intensity of events on the filed with the camaraderie and goodwill in the clubhouse and hospitality boxes before and after the game.


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