by Joe Heaton

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 location.

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 under cover.

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.



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