BIG MATCH PREVIEW by PETER WOODROOFE - Moseley V Launceston, National League 2, at Billesley, Saturday, 22 April, 3.00pm

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 Championship.

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.

Simple mathematics!
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.

A toughie…
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.

Playing strength
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 centre.

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.

Club links
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.

Hopefully refreshed…
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.

The motivators…
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!

And afterwards.......

The Moseley Supporters Player of the Season award will be presented on the pitch at the end of the match. Voting closes Tuesday 18th April, Read the history of the Award and past winners HERE.


















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