BIG MATCH PREVIEW -
by Joe Heaton
So near, yet so far! In spite of earning two bonus points, Moseley’s heroic second half efforts to beat Leeds at Billesley last Saturday afternoon were to no avail. Esher and Rotherham both earned five points and Plymouth matched Moseley by earning two losing bonus points. That Bedford, Moseley’s opponents on Saturday, beat Doncaster 42-20 at home merely rubbed salt in the wounds, bearing in mind that Doncaster beat Moseley 41-17 the previous Saturday.
Whilst beating Bedford is not essential for Moseley’s survival in National League One, failure to gain any points would increase pressure on the four remaining fixtures against Manchester (away 25.04.), Plymouth (home 29.04.), London Welsh (away 02.05.) and Otley (away 09.05.).
Bedford is a very pleasant and prosperous County Town, situated on the River Great Ouse, and conveniently close to Oxford, Cambridge and London. It has a population of around 150,000 and one of the finest river settings in England. Bedford owes both its origins and continued development to the river; once essential for defence and transportation, it remains one of the most attractive parts of the town. The wider area was the national centre for lace making during the 17th-19th centuries.
Bedford Blues, as the club is now called, was formed in 1886 and plays at Goldington Road, which has a capacity of 4,700 spectators. Although the club has a distinguished history, over the years it has tended to be overshadowed by East Midlands neighbours, Northampton and Leicester.
Bedford was a founder member of the Guinness Premiership but the club was relegated at the end of season 1999-2000. Since then the Blues have been in National League One.
Bedford’s best season was 2nd in 2005-06 and worst was 11th in 2001-02. Last season Bedford finished in 6th place. The Blues remain, like Moseley, a semi professional side, with player links to Leicester and Northampton.
At the end of last season no less than seventeen players moved on, necessitating significant recruitment, including Greg Gillanders, who was such a hit at Coventry last season. Mike Rayner remains Director of Rugby with a new player/coach ,Nick Walshe, the former England player.
The results of Bedford’s last three matches were:
4th April Bedford 42 v Doncaster 20
28th March Plymouth 14 v Bedford 31
21st March Sedgley Park 0 v Bedford 62
The present relative positions of Bedford and Moseley in National League One are:
P W D L BP P Pos
Bedford 28 21 0 7 17 101 3rd
Moseley 25 10 0 15 16 56 12th
Last season (2007-08), in beating Moseley both home and away 62-17 and 43-5, Bedford scored over one hundred points against us, a chilling thought.
Can Moseley win? The players demonstrated against Exeter and Leeds that they have the footballing ability and commitment required. They have had great difficulty, however, playing continually at the level needed for the nominal eighty minutes and particularly during the crucial time added on for injuries. This is where enthusiastic vocal support can make such a difference, as was shown in the matches against Exeter and Leeds, not only when the team is on the rampage but, even more importantly, when desperately defending the try line. “Hold them out, Moseley!”
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