BIG MATCH PREVIEW by PETER WOODROOFE
Moseley V Launceston, National League 2, at Billesley, Saturday, 22 April,
It’s going to be a splendid occasion at Billesley on Saturday. On the day of
the Moseley (Old) Players Association’s Annual Reunion, AGM and Luncheon,
already-promoted Moseley have the opportunity to win the National Division 2
It would represent their finest achievement in League rugby since attaining
a place in the top Division of the Courage Clubs Championship at its
commencement in 1987-88, after coming third with a 65% success record in the
John Smith’s Merit Table A in the previous qualifying season.
Harking back to the Golden Years…
Before 1987, there were no Leagues in Rugby Union, only Merit Tables at
National and Area levels and, arguably, only Moseley’s winning of the
unofficial Sunday Telegraph Anglo-Welsh Merit Table trophy in 1971-2 and the
Daily Mail Anglo-Welsh Merit Table Trophy in 1976-77 during the Club’s
Golden age can be regarded as superior to this season’s achievement of
winning, or even losing, the National Two championship.
However, it has to be remembered that in Merit Tables, clubs in a particular
table did not play the same number of matches or each other home and away
and positions were decided on a percentage basis.
The situation on Saturday is that, if Moseley beat Launceston with a bonus
point, they also win the National 2 Championship.
At the moment, they are five points (a win with a bonus point) and two wins
ahead of Waterloo who have a superior points difference. However, the number
of wins has precedence over points difference, so a win on Saturday or,
failing that, a win at Manchester will give Moseley the Championship. A
strong position to be in.
Waterloo’s last two games are away at Redruth and home to Henley Hawks, so
Cornwall can have a strong influence on the Championship.
Another incentive for a win on Saturday – if one were needed – is that
Moseley are undefeated in the League at home this season and are unbeaten in
all games since Christmas, a club record sequence of 12 wins. Incidentally,
their total of 106 League points won to date equals Doncaster’s Championship
winning total last season.
Saturday’s opponents will not yield easily. Launceston, who cross the Tamar
Bridge from Cornwall, will give Moseley a stern test. They have hit
impressive form since Christmas, winning nine and drawing one of their 12
games and in the process rising from eighth to fourth in the League.
Their only losses have been away to Waterloo, 43-31 and a blip, losing at
home to Harrogate 33-40. In spite of having to travel long distances, they
have won six and drawn two of their 12 away games played this season.
Launceston started with TONY YAPP, formerly with Worcester and on loan from
Exeter at fly-half, but he was quickly claimed back.
After last season’s top points scorer STEVEN PERRY had taken over, Exeter
loaned STUART ALRED to Launceston, known as the Cornish All-Blacks, and
since November he has scored 211 points, including kicking eight penalties
and a conversion in the 31-15 victory over Blackheath. Perry has moved to
Another newcomer this season is centre MARK SWEENEY, who has moved from
Penzance and Newlyn and scored seven tries to date.
Launceston are coached by former players CHRIS BROWN and JON HILL and
captained by prop DAVE RISDON, who has made over 100 1st XV appearances.
Their leading try scorer is the former England Sevens and Moseley winger
NIGEL SIMPSON, with nine. He played for Moseley in 1998-9 and moved from
Plymouth Albion to Launceston this season.
Another Launceston link with Moseley is scrum-half MARK CHUDLEIGH, who
captained Moseley in 1998-2000 and then returned to his home club. Prior to
2000, he had played for Moseley, then Bristol and Pertemps Bees.
Just three clashes
The two clubs first met each other last season as a result of League rugby.
Moseley have not produced their best form at Launceston’s ground, Polson
Bridge, losing twice – 25-6 last season and 28-7 last December, their
heaviest defeat of the season.
Last season, Moseley won 41-17 in an entertaining game at Bournbrook and
will be keen to redress the balance on Saturday.
It’s been a hard season for Moseley and the squad will benefit from the
Easter break – providing they can start Saturday’s game on a high.
Launceston’s form since Christmas has been excellent and they will be keen
to complete the double and will prove stiff opposition for a Moseley team
that includes National 2’s second leading points scorer OLLIE THOMAS, with
253 and the second leading try scorer NATHAN BRESSINGTON, with 17.
Hooker ADAM CAVES has scored a brace of tries in each of the last three
games, against Orrell, Halifax and Barking.
Head coach IAN SMITH and his assistant DON CASKIE will ensure the squad is
ready as they have all through the season.
So Moseley’s last League match of their first season at their new ground at
Billesley should be some day. Enjoy it!
The Moseley Supporters Player of the Season
award will be presented on the pitch at the end of the match.
Tuesday 18th April, Read the history of the Award and past winners