Match Preview - Moseley's brave new dawn
Sep 1 2005 - By Nick Pullen, Evening Mail
MOSELEY enter a new chapter in their history when they entertain Manchester at Billesley Common.
A new ground, new challenge and expectations are running at a high after finishing third in National League Two last term behind promoted sides Doncaster and Newbury.
Like it or not, Moseley enter the fray with a tag of title favourites hanging on them.
Director of coaching John Beale accepts it's a pressure they have to cope with and said: "The expectation this season is shared by everyone at Moseley from players to supporters and officials." Fate has handed Moseley an identical start to last season by hosting Manchester.
Moseley did the double over the Mancunians last term and Beale added: "I expect them to be very similar this time as they've made few changes to their side.
"We had a hard game against them at Bournbrook last season, but we beat them well away from home.
"They'll be good in the backs, but we should more than hold them up front." Beale believes it's Moseley's away form that holds the key to their season and admitted: "We let ourselves down on our travels last season, but this time we'll be a little more wiser."
Moseley have made three significant recruits to a side that just missed out on promotion last term.
Former England A centre Daren O'Leary has arrived from Worcester, having previously been with Gloucester and Harlequins. Another recruit from Worcester, Neil Mason, packs down in the back row, while the formidable presence of Tom Skelding steps in at second row having joined Moseley from Gloucester.
Beale said: "Both will bring an abrasive nature and added cutting edge to the pack."
The only other major move sees a change in skipper, scrum-half Gareth Taylor taking charge from full-back Andy Binns.
Beale explained: "Andy opted to step down by choice, because he felt at full-back, he was too distant to lead the side. Gareth is a good talker and will be more involved."
Pivotal to Moseley's performance this season is fly-half Ollie Thomas, fresh from touring Uruguay this summer with the England Counties side.
Beale confirmed: "We need to have Ollie firing on all cylinders. Last season was his first full season at fly-half.
This time he will become a target of attention from the opposition."
Off the park, Moseley are also gathering force and Beale added: "We've already obtained over 40 new members.
"It might not sound a great deal, but it has already given us several extra thousand pounds."
O'Leary just the trick for
Sep 5 2005
By Nick Pullen, Evening Mail
MOSELEY 27 MANCHESTER 7
MOSELEY kicked off life at Billesley Common in winning fashion - which was just what director of rugby John Beale wanted.
Beale had stressed the importance of turning their new home into a fortress if they are to fulfil expectations as National Two title favourites.
Despite the scoreline, this was a far-from-vintage Moseley performance and the outcome was in the balance until the hosts were handed a huge slice of luck.
Having threatened to steamroller Manchester in the first quarter, the visitors came back strongly and, by the second half, were asking all the questions before new signing Daren O'Leary turned the game in Moseley's favour.
The England A player, who arrived at Moseley this summer from Worcester, showed his sleight of hand with a lovely reverse pass that sent right wing Nathan Bressington scampering clear for the opening try.
Bressington made light of rounding Manchester's last line of defence in full-back Jon Lowdon in the process.
And the hapless Lowdon handed Moseley their second try on a plate when he inexcusably knocked on close to his own line.
Moseley opted to take the line-out, from which they drove over with hooker Dean Bick credited with the final touch which fly-half Ollie Thomas converted. Thomas then added a penalty.
At 15-0 up, Moseley were threatening to run away with the game, but Manchester staged a recovery. They pulled a try back just before half-time when back-row player Dan Collins forced his way over from a rolling maul before Andre Wilson landed a penalty early in the second half.
Moseley's lead was looking anything but healthy, especially as Manchester applied increasing pressure, pinning the red and blacks back inside their own 22.
Manchester tried numerous attempts to breach the home line, but from one such effort managed a misplaced pass which O'Leary pounced to gather.
The centre raced the length of the pitch to score, just evading some desperate Manchester cover.
It was a killer blow for Manchester, who never really threatened from that point, and Moseley added insult to injury with a fourth try from the final passage of play.
Once again Bick supplied the final touch as Moseley drove over from another line-out to secure the bonus point, which Thomas duly converted.
It was hardly convincing and coach Ian Smith admitted: "I was happy with the result, but not necessarily the performance. We took our foot off the pedal too often and lost momentum as a result. But we will improve from this.''
MOSELEY: Binns; Bressington, O'Leary, Cox, Colvin; Thomas, Taylor; Coles, Bick, Buxton; Skelding, Stott, Mason, Warren, Evans. Subs: Fallon, Hughes, Southern, MacDonald. MANCHESTER: Lowdon; Hannah, Cooper, Richmond, Wood; Wilson, Bramhall; Latham, Hewson, Flynn; Marsh, Rawlings; Collins, Martin. Owen. Subs: Wareham, Hulme, Marsland, Dalton.
REFEREE: R Draper (RFU).