Doncaster v Moseley,
at Castle Park , National League Division 1,
Saturday, March 28th 2009, k.o. 2.30 pm
After the euphoria of last Saturday’s historic Cup Semi Final win over
Exeter, the Moseley players will return to earth with a very big bump,
especially since they are bound to have had a physical reaction from the
prodigious efforts they made for the ninety-three minutes it took to achieve
victory. They could hardly be faced with a more demanding task than to
travel away to Doncaster Knights, who are fourth in National League One and
who are playing at the very top of their form having beaten league leaders
Leeds in recent weeks.
The town of Doncaster sits at the heart of the road and rail communication
system of north eastern England. It is twenty miles from both Rotherham and
Sheffield and straddles the South Yorkshire coal field. The town is the
largest in England not to have been awarded city status, although Greater
Doncaster has a population of 286,000.
The main claims to fame of the town’s much contracted industry are its
former locomotive building and repair shops, which built the steam engines
of the ‘Mallard’ & ‘Flying Scotsman’ for the London North Eastern Railway.
The area suffered badly from the rundown of the coal industry in the
1970s/80s but has been successfully regenerated, profiting from its key
Doncaster RFC was founded in 1875 and remained a regional club until
reaching National League Two in 2002-03 and League One in 2005-06. The club
now plays at Castle Park in Armthorpe Road where its ground, built in part
from Lottery funds, has a capacity of 5,000, of which 1,600 can be seated
The club’s impact on League One has been significant. In the Knight’s first
season at the higher level they were 10th but in 2006-07 they were 3rd and
last season 4th. No side, promoted from National League Two, has done better
in League One so quickly. The Knights’ leading try scorer last season is
Mark Woodrow with 263 points, which placed him second in League One’s table
of leading try scorers.
Since early last season the club’s Director of Rugby has been Lynn Howells,
who is assisted by Justin Bishop. In the close season he made a considerable
number of changes with a view to reducing the average age of a squad that
was beginning to show the effects of time and long service. The positive
effects of this have been evident in the recent form of the team whose
league record reads:
P25 W18 … D1…L6 …BP 14 Points 88…Position 4th
The results of the clubs last three matches are:
21st March . Newbury 17..v Doncaster 50 W
14th March Doncaster 28 v Plymouth 23 W
&th March Doncaster 27 v Leeds 12 W
In the match against Moseley at Billesley Common in mid November Doncaster
won 19 12, a close margin that provides us with some encouragement.
If the Moseley players are to bring anything back from South Yorkshire, they
have to put Twickenham out of their mind and concentrate on improving their
discipline. Two yellow cards, and a serious adverse penalty count in the
first half, could easily have cost them the match had Exeter kicked the
penalties instead of taking scrums in pursuit of four tries and a crucial
bonus point. Doncaster will not be so forgiving.
They must also avoid the thought that this match is not one that the
management has designated as ‘must win’ in order to gain Championship status
next season. The sooner this is mathematically achieved the better and we
can all sleep soundly in our beds at night.