1st XV Match Preview V Doncaster Knights (h) Sat 02/03/2013 

Match Preview - by Glyn Barlow

 

Well this weekend we have a very rare occurrence at Billesley Common, a home Championship game!

 

If you cast your minds back you may just remember the last one a 23 – 19 win over Jersey on the 5th of January. A combination of the B&I cup, reserve weekends and the weather claiming the game against Bristol has meant supporters have been withheld a regular dose of Moseley rugby for far too long now. That all begins to change with the visit of Doncaster in a month that see’s four games at the Common. Let us hope the planners at Twickenham look back on this season and realise that clubs need regular home and away fixtures spread evenly across the season to operate successfully.

 

But enough of considering the structure of the season, let’s turn our attention to the matter in hand. This weekend the Knights are our welcome visitors for what may be the most important game, for either team, this season. With both sides looking to pull away from the dreaded 12th place and only three points, and Jersey, separating them things could not be closer.

 

Doncaster, like Moseley have found this a tough old season. Their only successes to date have come from a very impressive win over Leeds earlier this month plus Jersey and Moseley all at home. They will however be ruefully looking at missed opportunities through the season including a 21 – 22 loss to Bedford, 18 – 18 draw with Cornish Pirates, 9 – 18 loss to Bristol and 27 – 22 loss to Plymouth in the opening weekend and wondering what might have been.

 

Results as close as this suggests Doncaster are a better side that the win column suggests, a position Moseley can relate to. This season the Championship has proved to be extremely competitive and it is small margins that have dictated who sit comfortably in mid table and who is beginning to be concerned as the season comes to a close.

 

As the league currently stands it is Doncaster, Jersey and Moseley who must unfortunately endure the most sleepless night. With Plymouth, Rotherham and Scottish having opened up a gap from the bottom three they will still be mindful to look over their shoulders as a couple of results going against them could still drag them back into the mix.

 

For the bottom three though the last few weeks of the season are vital and it’s worth just quickly looking at what they face

 

 

Moseley

Jersey

Doncaster

Sat 2nd March

Doncaster (H)

London Scottish (A)

Moseley (A)

Sat 9th March

 

Plymouth (A)

Rotherham (H)

Sun 10th March

Cornish Pirates (A)

 

 

Fri 15th March

Bristol (H)

 

 

Sat 16th March

 

Nottingham (H)

 

Sat 23rd March

Leeds (H)

Bristol (H)

Bedford (A)

Fri 29th March

 

Newcastle (A)

Nottingham (H)

Sat 30th March

London Scottish (H)

 

 

Sat 13th April

Rotherham (A)

Doncaster (H)

Jersey (A)

Sat 20th April

Bedford (H)

Cornish Pirates (A)

Plymouth Albion (H)

 

The first things to note are that both Jersey and Moseley have a game in hand on Doncaster and while we may have decried the season structure earlier Moseley do have the advantage of five home games out of the seven to play. For Doncaster away games have proved particularly barren this season as they will be still looking for their first away win of the season at Billesley. Doncaster may take some solace in the fact that, Bedford & Nottingham aside, they face more teams in the bottom half of the league than Moseley or Jersey. Saturday 13th April will also prove to be a very interesting day for Moseley both in terms of events at Clifton Lane and St Peter.

 

For the two teams coming together on the Common the last weekend of Championship rugby proved to be of very different fortunes. As was previously said Doncaster pulled off a surprising to some result by beating sixth placed Leeds in a true Yorkshire derby match. Key to this win was fly half Jamie Lennard who collected 18 of the teams 23 points scored. It was by no means a one man show though as the entire team played with commitment from the off storming to a 20 point half time lead, which they successfully defended through the second 40. This Saturday Moseley will need to ensure they are not so generous.

 

In contrast Moseley’s trip North proved to be less successful as they fell to league leaders Newcastle 36 – 6, a result which while disappointing for players and management may be put in some context by Newcastle’s 50 – 3 drubbing of the Pirates a week later.

 

The team will have taken positives from the game including the fact that Moseley’s scrum, one of their Achilles heels earlier in the season, more than held its own against a vastly experienced Newcastle eight bosting international caps well into three figures. In addition the team contested the breakdowns with great vigour and can look to build on this to provide a solid platform to deliver ball to the backs. Areas coaches Maggs and Hilton will have been focussing on during the blank weekend will have included tightening op the defensive lines and ensuring the recently improved lineout gets back to firing on all cylinders.

 

Moseley will be keen to avenge the early season loss at Castle Park, a game which the team will have looked back on and thought was theirs for the taking. A slow start left them with too big a hill to climb from being 18 points down at half time, “winning” the second half 13 – 3 proved to be just not enough. Based on this game and Doncaster’s recent win over Leeds it appears to be particularly dangerous to let the Knights build up an early lead, which they can then defend. Early pressure and points for Moseley seem to be the order of the day, along with ensuring they do not give prolific kicker Lennard opportunities to go for goal.

 

As we enter what may be one of the most interesting and exciting months in the clubs Championship existence now is the time for the team to bring together all those examples of impressive performance we have seen too infrequently and build upon a 2013 that has seen two league wins already.

 

Let’s ensure we get behind the team in their push to secure Championship status for another season.