1st XV Match Preview V Rotherham Titans (Home) Sat 07/11/2009 



by Joe Heaton

MOSELEY v Rotherham Titans - RFU Championship, at Billesley Common - Saturday, November 6th 2009, k. o. 3pm (but come for lunch!)

For much of the 20th century, Rotherham, in South Yorkshire, was one of the UKís largest alloy steel manufacturing and processing centres, where strong men were bred and beer was brewed to match their thirst and their rugby reflected the harsh environment within which their players lived and worked. Surprisingly Rotherham RUFC was only founded in 1923 although the club now goes by the name of Rotherham Titans following its more recent sponsorship by Titan Environmental Ltd.

After two very close games (the late loss against London Welsh at home, and the away victory over Bíham/Solihull), both of which stretched the nerves of the Moseley faithful to breaking point, it is to be hoped, from a Moseley perspective, that next Saturdayís home match against the Titans results in a comfortable and less stressful victory for the home team.

The present relative positions of the two clubs in the Championship table, however, would suggest another tight match:

                    P W D L   F    A    BP P Pos
Moseley      9  4 0 5  205 259 4 20 7th
Rotherham  9  3 0 6 166 237  3 15 10th

After a worrying start to the season, the Titans are now playing closer to their potential as reflected in their last three matches:

31st October Rotherham 29 v Cornish Pirates 20
24th October Exeter 43 v Rotherham 10
17th October. Rotherham 25 v Bedford 27

Last season Rotherham convincingly won the fixture at Clifton Lane 47-23 but, in the New Year, a much improved Moseley, playing at home, turned the tables and won 43-21.

By virtue of beating Bíham/Solihull last Saturday 16-23 in an unconvincing performance, Moseley now sits at 7th in the league but the congestion in the middle is such that, should the away side be successful at Billesley on Saturday and other results go a certain way, this could be altered dramatically.

In the last decade the Rotherham club has had two separate seasons in the Premiership, but on both occasions was unable to consolidate this elevated status.

At the end of season 1999-2000 the Titans were promoted, only to be relegated to National League One after one season. The immediate response was to win this league, yet to have promotion back to the Premiership denied due to the unacceptable standard of the clubís ground and facilities.

The club was acceptably promoted at the end of season 2002-03, but again only lasted one season, rejoining National League One for the 2004-05 season where an 8th place finish was obtained. Few, if any, clubs have had such a roller coaster ride. Since then Rotherhamís end of season positions have been:

2005/06 4th
2006/07 2nd
2007/08 11th
2008/09 10th

After a second place finish in 2006/07, Rotherham faced an arduous task to rebuild a squad which had lost key players to the Guinness Premiership and Magners League. Other clubs, too, were aiming to strengthen their teams and this became a finance driven exercise. The coaches also hoped to bring balance to the side by moving away from the forward-oriented rugby of the previous decade by adding a backs division that could add an extra dimension.

As can be seen from the outcome of the last two seasons, however, the new strategy clearly affected by the financial strictures and the personnel departures has not yet had the desired result.

In the Moseley camp, the Moseley coaches are still bedding down a talented squad which clearly has not yet reached its full potential. There have been glimpses of what the team can achieve, and when avoidable errors are reduced and better options taken with the hard won possession which only come from experience, there could be some exciting and winning rugby ahead. All the home support will be hoping that this manifests itself on Saturday.


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