by Joe Heaton

MOSELEY v  Doncaster Knights - at Billesley Common - Saturday, November 15th, k. o. 3pm (but come for lunch!)

Doncaster sits at the heart of the road and rail communication system of north eastern England. It is 20 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 claim to fame of the town’s much contracted industry are its former locomotive building and repair shops, which built the ‘Mallard’ &‘Flying Scotsman’s’ steam engines 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 Knights RFC, who are Moseley’s opponents this Saturday at Billesley Common, were founded in 1875 and remained a regional club until they were promoted from North1 to N2N ten years ago. Since then their ascent has been rapid, reaching National League Two in 2002-03 and National League One in 2005-06.

Their impact on National League One has been significant. In their first season at the higher level the Knights 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. They are currently 6th .

The Knights’ leading try scorer last season was Mark Woodrow with 263points, which placed him second in League One’s table of leading try scorers.

Doncaster now play at Castle Park in Armthorpe Road. Their ground, built in part with Lottery funds, has a capacity of 5000, of which 1,600 can be seated under cover.

Since early last season their 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, in spite of its 4th position in the league, was beginning to show the effects of time and long service. The most interesting of the replacements is Allam Boumedienne, a No 8 from Blagnac, France.

The results of Doncaster’s last three matches were:

8th November Plymouth 21 Doncaster 18 L
1st November Leeds 28 Doncaster 13 L
25th October Sedgley Park 3 Doncaster 41 W

The playing records of the two teams in National League One are:

               P W D L BPs Pts Pos

Doncaster 11  6 1 4  6  32   6

Moseley    11  5 0 6  6  26   9

Moseley come into this match on a roll, having scored 10 tries in beating Esher at home and Sedgley Park away. Splendid though this is, both matches illustrated what can happen when Moseley, finding themselves in the lead, lose concentration, sensing that the match has already been won.

This is in an important match, from which at least a bonus point must be obtained, as Moseley’s next two fixtures are away against Leeds Carnegie, who are currently 1st, and Bedford Blues, who are 5th in the League. Life is very competitive in the upper reaches of National League One but, as this is where Moseley aspire to, they will have to lift their game yet again.


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