National One: Doncaster Knights 27 Moseley 24
Moseley will be wondering how on earth they failed to take more from this game than the losing bonus point John Beale would have settled for before kick off.
And with Otley getting nothing out of their defeat by Newbury, the pill will be doubly hard to swallow.
On a dry pitch made for running rugby, Moseley started full of pace and intent. Ollie Thomas cut a swathe through the home defence in the first minute; and Andy Binns follow up on his kick ahead was only thwarted by a desperate dive on the ball by Russ Earnshaw, who knocked on in the process to set up the attacking scrum from which Daniel Hunter smartly broke blind to score wide out on the right.
Moseley continued to run the ball at Doncaster, their backs looking threatening every time and fully testing one of the league’s best defences. It was no surprise when a second try arrived as early as the 11th minute. Swift handling created an overlap on the right and a deft offload by Tommy Hayes out of the tackle gave Nathan Bressington a stroll to the line. Thomas had converted both with ease from wide positions and a real shock was on the cards.
Such was the Moseley confidence that a kick at goal was spurned after a scrum collapse, Thomas going to the corner; but somehow Jason Forster stole the ball within the ensuing maul and broke out to relieve the pressure.
Back came Moseley, though, and great interplay between forwards and backs created another opportunity, advantage was played, and with a score looking certain Bressington’s pass to Richard Bignell went astray to give the home side a huge let off.
The opening quarter had been all Moseley and they should have led by more.
The Knights did finally begin to assert themselves. Hooker Ben Phillips worked a neat move off the front of a line out to make big yards, Binns was offside attempting an interception; and a quick penalty saw the ball moved quickly left for Donovan Van Vuuren to score on the home left.
On the half hour, a powerful home maul made some 20 metres and a try looked inevitable when Ben Buxton cynically disrupted it from the side and referee Phillips immediately awarded the penalty try. Gollings converted and the home side were somehow in the game. So much so that a third try arrived before the break to give them a surprise lead. Turnover ball was run out of defence by Gollings, Van Vuuren took it into the Moseley 22, and Netaini Talei in support was just able to burst the last tackle and dive in to score.
Moseley were level again soon after the break when Thomas struck a tackle penalty; but Doncaster regained the lead with their fourth try almost immediately when replacement ten Mark Woodrow somehow stepped and danced his way through a bemused defence to score at the posts to make Gollings extras a formality.
In end-to-end fashion, Moseley took just three minutes to equalise once more. Taking full advantage of a stretched defence, Andy Binns sailed through the home centres to score at the posts, and Thomas was again on target with the extras.
It was anyone’s’ game. The Knights still looked off colour and Moseley pressed to be awarded three penalties in quick succession just after the hour.
All were around the ten metre line, all in Thomas’s range and amazingly all three hit the uprights and Doncaster managed to scramble clear.
With the one chance Doncaster were offered, Gollings rubbed salt into the wounds by coolly slotting his kick from 40 metres and the Knights had a lead with three minutes to play that would be decisive.
In stoppage time, Thomas spurned three points for a draw by going to the corner to try for a win, but to no avail as a determined defence held out.
Doncaster: Gollings, Bailey, Hunt, Cannon, Van Vuuren, Rees (Woodrow 40), Jones, Bunting (Davies 47), Phillips (Boden 53), Tau, Kenworthy, Gross (D Cook 62), Earnshaw (Grainger 77), Forster, Talei (O Cook 65).
Moseley: Hayes (Macdonald 70), Bressington, Binns, Reay, O’Leary, Thomas, Hunter (Knight 71), Buxton, Caves (Bick 62), Moran, Arnold, Skelding (Stott 53), Mason, Bignell (Lightowler 70), Rodwell.
Referee: R Phillips (RFU)