BIG MATCH PREVIEW

 

by Joe Heaton


Rotherham v Moseley, at Clifton Lane , National League Division 1,
Saturday, October 4th 2008, k.o. 3.00 pm



For much of the twentieth century the South Yorkshire town of Rotherham was one of the great powerhouses of the United Kingdom. Sitting on a field of best quality coal, the town manufactured much of the country’s alloy and stainless steel and bred proud, strong and tough men to do so, above and below ground.

Few towns, however, suffered more from the decline of British industry, and the move away from coal as an energy source, than Rotherham did. Nevertheless, the town and rugby club survived, and at times the latter prospered beyond expectation.

Way back in the late nineteen eighties, this relatively young club was playing in North East One but within nine seasons had reached the then Premiership 2. At the end of season 1999-2000 Rotherham had gained promotion, only to be relegated to National League One after one season at the highest level.

The club’s immediate response was to win the League, only to have promotion denied because the Clifton Road ground did not meet the standards demanded by the Premiership. Rotherham Football Club’s ground was therefore used for the 2002-2003 season and after winning the League again, the club was granted promotion at the second attempt.

History repeated itself and once again Rotherham could not survive in the Premiership, being relegated back down to National League One at the end of 2003-04 where the club has remained ever since. Few clubs have had such a roller coaster ride.

In 2006-07 Rotherham finished second in Nat One, but last season had a dreadful run of only one win in eleven games between late October and mid-January, but recovered to finish in a safe 12th place. In October 2007 the Titans beat Moseley at Billesley 31-15, but in February this year Moseley won at Clifton Lane 13-11. During the close season, in an attempt to restore Rotherham to former glories, Head Coach Craig West recruited twelve new players, all with considerable Nat One experience.

Although Rotherham has achieved only one win out of the first five games of this season and currently occupies 12th place in the league, Moseley should not be lulled into a false sense of security by this lowly position. The Titans have not been disgraced in losing to clubs lying 1st, 2nd and 5th in the table and came good last Saturday when beating Esher away. These results are:

Sedgley Park (A) Lost 20-12
Bedford (H) Lost 33-10
Doncaster (A) Lost 28-22
Leeds (H) Lost 41-24
Esher (A) Won 59-32

This Esher victory will have taken the pressure off somewhat and the Titans will be keen, against Moseley, to show their faithful supporters that this was not a flash in the pan. They now stand in 12th place in the League.

Last week, Moseley reacted convincingly to the nightmare of the heavy defeat at Exeter the week before. In a thrilling opening spell, which yielded three tries, Otley seemed to be on the rack but then an old fault - the inability to close out a game - re-occurred.

Inevitably, the Yorkshire side forced its way back into the game and for a spell it looked as though, with momentum behind them, the visitors might win after all. The captain, however, steadied the ship and two further tries by the backs enabled Moseley to win 36-26 and sustain the promising position 7th in the top half of the league.

Last week, the sun shone throughout, there was little or no wind, the prize winning pitch looked immaculate and the club’s members and supporters went home happy. The more perceptive of them, however, realised that Moseley will not win, or even get a bonus point, at Rotherham, if the team again relaxes to the extent that it did in the middle period of the game last Saturday. Rotherham will be very tough opponents on Saturday and a very serious approach is needed.

 

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