Match Preview by Glyn Barlow
Doncaster v Moseley
Friday 26th October
7.45pm KO @ Castle Park
Following the pleasant respite of two weeks of the British & Irish Cup we return to more pressing matters, with the Championship back on the Agenda.
This week Moseley will make the trip north to face a Doncaster team fresh from a first victory of the season, a 13 – 27 win at neighbours Nottingham also in the B&I Cup. Clearly Doncaster will be keen to emulate this success in the league, where so far a draw against the Cornish Pirates in September has been the best result. Currently the Knights stand one place and five points below Moseley, with the worst attacking record in the league. To have scored 27 points against Nottingham in the B&I Cup however does suggest this is a trend which is reversing even if squad rotation for both clubs may have distorted the final result.
The Doncaster club came into being two years after Moseley in 1875 and has an interesting history, including a short spell as part of the breakaway Northern Union (Rugby League). Doncaster started league rugby in the Yorkshire Two Division (level 10) in 1987 and following an impressive eight promotions in fifteen seasons reached National Division One in 2005, and have remained at level two ever since.
It is a very different Doncaster squad that takes to the field this season having lost eighteen players including centres Oli Goss, Fred Burden and PJ Gidlow, full back David McIlwaine, prop Alex Brown and hooker Jack Yeandle. In an attempt to compensate for the departures Director of Rugby Brett Davey has brought in a number of new players including Plymouth Albion wing Tyson Lewis, hooker Rhys Buckley from the Newport Gwent Dragons, centres James Ticknell from Leeds & Dante Mama from Leicester Tigers, Ulster tight head Jerry Cronin and fly half Jamie Lennard from Bedford. Also, in an interesting experiment, 6’ 5” lock forward Dan Smith has been converted to the role of winger, no doubt with the hope he will become the next Matt Banahan.
A face familiar to Moseley supporters will be scrum half Louis Silver who appeared for Moseley on loan from Worcester during the 2009/10 season. Within the Moseley ranks it will also be a return to his old stomping ground for Anthony Carter who is an ex club captain of the Knights.
Last season Moseley left Doncaster with a narrow loss 29 – 21. The return match at Billesley in December saw Moseley take the spoils 17 – 15. Indeed close fought games have been the nature of this fixture in recent seasons.
For Moseley this Friday’s game represents the opportunity to build on the impressive performances of the last two weeks in the B&I cup. Saturday’s victory over London Scottish was as much a demonstration of the team’s character as it was about securing five points. To have gone down by 20 points early in the game and then come back to score 41 suggests a refusal to accept what may seem to be inevitable to most. In addition nine tries in two games is a reasonable haul by anybody’s reckoning and is a fair reflection of the emphasis Kevin Maggs has put on attacking rugby.
In order to ensure Doncaster cannot build on the confidence gained at Nottingham the Moseley players must not wait 20 minutes (as they did in Richmond) to get into their stride. Key to the game will be establishing authority from the first whistle. Moseley will surely look to put pressure on Doncaster by using tactical kicks to keep the home team in its own half and then use the well drilled pack to set up the platform to unleash the backline. With Addison Lockley and Ben Pons back in the reckoning expect plenty of hard yards to be made.
The hopeful return of Greg King and Charlie Hayter to the centres means Moseley could again have an abundance of options to consider on the wings. Any one of Simon Hunt, Anders Mogensen, Billy Robinson or last week’s two try hero Brad Hunt can cause concern to the Doncaster back three. Can Moseley afford to leave Ollie Thomas out of the team following another near faultless performance with the boot? Do you start the ever dependable Anthony Carter at full back or go with Robinson who has played very well there for the last two games? Nice problems to have if you are Kevin Maggs.
The last two weeks have provided an entertaining spectacle and the first glimmers of hope that the cup campaign might extend past the pools, but let there be no doubt the real focus of the season starts again this week. For Moseley to achieve the target of mid table or better games against teams of comparable strength, like Doncaster, are the ones they need to win.
Success on Friday would be a significant step towards drawing away from the bottom of the table, let’s hope the Moseley players grasp the opportunity with both hands.
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