1st XV Match Preview V Doncaster (h) Fri 01/04/2016 

by Glyn Barlow

It’s the return of Friday night lights as Moseley take on second place Doncaster this week.

Considering the Knights were only promoted back into the Championship last season, where they finished ninth, already securing a playoff place for promotion to the Premiership this season is a remarkable achievement.

In recent weeks Doncaster have enjoyed significant wins over Scottish (20-26), Pirates (19-26), Carnegie (34-28) and Rotherham (34-24). Aside from last weekend’s very close loss to Bristol 29-31 their only other league hiccup in 2016 was an unfortunate one for Moseley when they only managed a draw at Ealing 17 all.

The two teams met at Castle Park in November when the Knights were convincing winners 34-11 after Moseley leading at half time 7-8. In the end Moseley’s defence couldn’t hold out and the Knights ran in four tries. Since that encounter the Doncaster squad has been strengthened further by the return of full back David Mcilwaine from Yorkshire Carnegie. He joins a team already driven by the deadly boot of Dougie Flockhart and the try scoring exploits of a powerhouse back row that includes Tongan Latu Makaafi (16) and Ollie Steadman (10).

Moseley will certainly be hoping for the Friday factor to play a significant part in this game having won all three of their Friday fixtures this season, away to Scottish on the first day 19-23, Ealing 35-25 and Pirates 24-19, both at home. Although it’s fair to say last season’s Friday game against Doncaster wasn’t such a success as the reversed the away win earlier in the season and lost 17-20.

If Moseley are to get anything at all out of this fixture we will need to see a significant improvement in performance from last Saturday’s 32-0 loss in Cornwall. Unfortunately the first half saw Pirates exploit the wind very effectively to pressure Moseley’s line in the first half, coupled with some tactically poor kicking and defence from Moseley. Following the turnaround at half time Moseley performed better but were unable to convert performance to points.

With Ealing three points above them and only three games to go every game is critical to the teams survival in the Championship. This is very much about attitude and mind-set now. We need every player to go out onto the pitch and treat each game as a cup final, last chance to give everything, winner takes all. They must get the basics right, no excuses, and build the performance from there, play to their strengths, create spaces for attackers to exploit.  

Support for the team has been exceptional in difficult times and now is the chance for players to prove that support was justified. Go out and show everyone you are players who deserve to play at this level. Let us hope its Friday night (five point) lights for Moseley.