by Joe Heaton

MOSELEY v  Rotherham Titans - at Billesley Common - Saturday, January 24th 2009, k. o. 3pm (but come for lunch!)

After the diversion of the EDF Trophy and the comparative luxury of playing a team from National Division Three South to get the cobwebs out of the system following the three week layoff, National League One action returns to Billesley Common this weekend with an eagerly anticipated rematch against Rotherham Titans

Moseley lost the corresponding away match heavily in October 23-47 in a performance which embarrassed the players and they are anxious to give a better account of themselves. The closeness of the two clubs’ league positions and the need for points to ensure an invitation to The Championship next season, adds spice and importance to what already was scheduled to be an intriguing encounter.

The situation, at present, in National League One is:

                P W D L BP P League Position

Rotherham 19 8 1….10 8 38 9th

Coventry    17 8 0 9 6 38 10th

Moseley      17 7 0 10 10 38 11th

Esher, the club immediately below Moseley in twelfth place has 14 points less than the three sides immediately above. This is an important gap, as only the first eleven teams in the present National League One will qualify for The Championship next season. Moreover, it will not be acceptable for the directors/coaches, let alone the members, for Moseley to be placed at the bottom of the proposed new league.

The results of the Titans last three National League One matches are:

4th Jan 2009 Leeds 28 Rotherham 3
27th Dec 2008. Rotherham 26 Doncaster 29
20th Dec.2008 Bedford 32 Rotherham 18

Last Saturday, in the Fourth Round of the EDF National Trophy match, the Titans were well beaten at home by Coventry 16 – 26.which adds up to four losses in four consecutive games. Moseley can be certain that Rotherham’s coaches will fire up their team in an attempt to prevent a fifth straight loss.

Last Saturday Moseley, whose players were very rusty after the lay-off due to frozen pitches, beat Henley Hawks of National Division Three (South) in a Trophy Cup match 34-6, scoring six tries in the process. However the team cannot afford to surrender to Rotherham as much possession as was given up to Henley.

In season 2006-07 Rotherham finished 2nd in National League One but fell back to 11th last season. The Titans Head Coach, Craig West, and his Directors, will be very disappointed, indeed, if they do not improve on this by April, especially as during the close season the club had recruited twelve new players, all with substantial National League One experience.

Traditionally, as befits a club based at the heart of one of Britain’s premier steel making areas with tough men, the Titans played a forward orientated game, but recently the emphasis has moved more towards a more fifteen man game. We shall see on Saturday how successful this has been or whether, under the pressure of successive losses, the Titans revert to what they have always done best.

We should not forget that, in the last decade, the Rotherham club has had two separate seasons in the Premiership, but on both occasions has been unable to consolidate into the elevated status.

At the end of season 1999-2000 the Titans were promoted, only to be relegated to National League One after one season at the highest level. Their immediate response was to win this league, yet to have promotion back to the Premiership denied them due the unacceptable standard of their ground and facilities. They were acceptably promoted at the end of season 2002-03 but again only lasted one season, rejoining National League One at the start of 2004-05. Few, if any, clubs have had such a roller-coaster ride!

In the middle of this heavy winter, with the weather having an inordinate influence on the result of so many matches, it would be nice to watch a game of rugby without frost, sleet, rain and wind although Moseley’s strong pack may welcome such conditions. The Moseley players are committed to providing a far better performance than they gave at Clifton Lane earlier in the season. We must wish them well in that objective.


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