BIG MATCH PREVIEW by Peter Woodroofe

Moseley v Stourbridge,
National League 2,
at Billesley,
Saturday, 7 January, 3.00pm

Big, big, big…
It’s a big game for Moseley at Billesley on Saturday – in fact the second half of this season will be full of ‘big games’ for the 1st XV squad as it strives to achieve promotion from National League 2.

There’s also the ‘local derby’ ingredient to the first game of 2006 and, even more lethal, Stourbridge’s impressive away form to date this season.
Stourbridge’s form has been an enigma and one to challenge the best of the professors of logical thinking. It started last season, when Stour finished with a home record of P13, W3, D1, L9, compared to away stats of P13, W7, D1, L5, and a final placing of 7th.
This season they had to wait until their last match before Christmas before they won their first League game at Stourton Park – against Orrell 37-9 – and in fact had gone 12 months and 12 League games without a win at home. Their record this season is Home: P6, W1, L5 and Away: P7, W5, L2 which places them 9th.

First win
Last September this season, Moseley won their first League game (20-7) against Stour at their fifth attempt since the clubs first met each other in League rugby in the 2003-4 season.
Moseley also won at Stourton Park in the fifth round of the Powergen National Trophy last November 10-3 in a closely contested game.

There have been many instances of players representing both clubs, one of the most illustrious being scrum-half BOB LLOYD-JONES, who moved from Stourbridge to Moseley, became a travelling reserve for Wales and played in the match between the two clubs celebrating the opening of Stour’s new clubhouse and ground at High Park Fields, as it was known then, on 14 September 1965. He returned to Stourbridge to become a valued official.
Stour’s Director of Rugby is NEIL MITCHELL, holder of the Moseley record for the most appearances by a forward in League rugby – 107 – and winner of National 2’s Coach of the Month award for November.
Then, likely to be playing, is MARCUS COOK, who joined Moseley in 1988-9 from Bedford and was their leading try scorer with nine in his first season. He went on to play for four seasons, scoring 21 tries playing mainly in the centre.
He then took the direct route to Stourbridge and repeated his feat at Moseley, being Stour’s leading try scorer with nine in his first season 2002-3. He is their leading try scorer to date this season with five.
Other ex-Moseley players who are currently with Stour, reaching their by various routes, are hooker ALAN HUBBLEDAY who competed against RICHARD PROTHEROUGH at Moseley and joined via Birmingham and Solihull; lock SIMON HOMER, via Dudley Kingswinford; and former Moseley Colts captain when they won the National Colts Cup in 1998, STEAN WILLIAMS, via Bristol.

…and Imports
On the other side of the coin, NATHAN BRESSINGTON, who joined Moseley from Stourbridge in 2004-5 and scored 16 tries, two less than JAMES ASTON’s Moseley record of 18 tries, scored in 2003-4. In the same season, while at Stourbridge, he scored their club record of 17 tries. A natural try scorer, he has scored 7 League tries for Moseley to date this season, one behind hooker DEAN BICK.

Heady mix
So it can be seen that there are as many ingredients in Saturday’s local derby as there were in the Christmas pudding. Also, Moseley have yet to win a home League game against Stourbridge… Good fare for supporters of both clubs visiting Billesley on Saturday.
It’s not going to be easy for Moseley, with Stour on the crest of success away from home – they have only lost at Henley Hawks and Launceston – as well as developing a squad blending experience with youth. Players to make their mark this season are young centres ALEX GROVE and MARK EASTERWOOD, who has joined the club from Malvern, and lately teenage full-back RORY TEAGE has joined on loan from Bristol.

The experienced fly-half DUNCAN HUGHES is capable of controlling a game with his accurate kicking and clever running and Marcus Cook adds his own experience with utility back CAMERON MITCHELL. In the pack, the back row of HESSE FAKATOU, on loan from Pertemps Bees, STEAN WILLIAMS, SCOTT WHITCOMB, LEE CROFTS and JULIAN HORROBIN can provide stern opposition, no matter who is selected.

Focus needed
Moseley could introduce former England Under 21 centre ANDY REAY, on loan from Bristol.
To keep their undefeated home League record this season, they will need to shake off the effects of the Christmas and New Year break and the defeat at Launceston against what will be whole-hearted opposition.
A veritable feast at Billesley on Saturday with the usual camaraderie associated with our sport before and after the game.
A warm welcome to Billesley and a happy and rewarding New Year to you all.

Help our 1st XV kick off the New Year in style! It's a great opportunity for Season ticket holders to use one (or more!) of your extra tickets and bring a guest. Great prices for non members also: Entry at the gate: £9; Senior £6; Student £3; Under 16 free


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