by Joe Heaton

Exeter Cheifs v Moseley, at Sandy Park, National League Division 1,
Saturday, 20th September 2008, k.o. 3.00 pm

This week Moseley Rugby Club faces one of its biggest challenges of the season, when the 1st XV squad travels down the M5 to play Exeter Chiefs, one of the favourites for promotion.

The Exeter management has made no secret of its ambition to join the Premiership. Boosted by the extra income generated from a purpose built ground, Sandy Park, the club has assembled a talented and fully professional squad, recruiting widely, notably from their close rivals in the South West. This should ensure the Chiefs have the numbers to overcome injuries and loss of form over a long season.

At the start of the campaign it looked to be between Exeter and Leeds for the National League One title. That Exeter only lost at home to Leeds 13-14 on the second Saturday of the season would tend to support this view.

Peter Drewett, the Chiefs’ Director of Rugby (a former England U21 coach), has a real job on his hands. To bring in sixteen new players (and dispense with the services of thirteen), whatever their track-record and potential may be, does not in itself guarantee a successful team. In that sense the jury is still out.

Exeter Rugby Club has come a long way since league rugby started in 1987-8, when it started in National League Two. This is now an eleventh season in the second tier, with the best finishes being second in 2004-05 and second again last season.

The match is given spice by the fact that the Chiefs are fourth in league with Moseley one place behind them on fifth, with both clubs having won two and lost one so far.. Last Saturday, while Moseley convincingly beat Coventry 34-12, the Chiefs won a tough battle at Cornish Pirates 23-32. .

The Moseley players will have to be at their very best to win, or even secure a bonus point. Should Moseley lose, however, the match will still provide a measure of the standards which have to be met consistently if the club’s aspirations to finish in the top half of the league are to be met, in spite of the full time – part-time professional divide. Last season Exeter won both home and away fixtures, 36-3 at Billesley Common and 35-15 at Sandy Park.



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