BIG MATCH PREVIEW -
by Joe Heaton
The Moseley players face the most demanding home challenge of the season on Saturday when they face Leeds Carnegie. This game exceeds even the recent Cup/League match against Exeter in potential difficulty and the scale of the challenge is measured by the fact that Moseley lost the corresponding away match in November 53-20.
The match can also be considered a rehearsal for the EDF National Trophy Cup Final at Twickenham in a fortnight. This is bound to be on the minds of the players in both squads, for none of them wants to be injured so close to one of the greatest days of their rugby careers.
The Leeds club has topped National League One for most of the season although recent “wobbles” with losses in two consecutive away matches in March against Bedford and Doncaster, have given the Yorkshire club’s coaching staff cause for concern. The club currently sits only four points ahead of Exeter, with both clubs having played twenty-six matches. The statistics tell the story.
P W D L BP P Pos
Leeds 26 24 0 2 18 114 1st
(Exeter 26 22 1 3 20 110 2nd )
Moseley 24 10 0 14 14 54 12th
The results of Leeds’ last three league matches are:
29 March Leeds 33 v Cornish Pirates 9 W
14 March Bedford 27 v Leeds 24 L
07 March Doncaster 27 v Leeds 12 L
The name Carnegie comes from the Scottish entrepreneur and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie whose Trust funded the establishment of a PE teacher training college in Leeds in the 1930s.
Upon promotion back to the Premiership in June 2007, control of the then Leeds club was transferred to Leeds Metropolitan University, with Prof Simon Lee heading up a new board as Chairman.
The extra resources provided by the University saw the newly named Leeds Carnegie play in front of large crowds at Headingley Carnegie. Despite a disappointing season on the pitch, culminating in relegation, crowds grew substantially, with a highest attendance of over 7,000, beating the previous best of 5,573 set in the 2004-05 season, when the previous club won the Powergen Cup. Bearing in mind that Carnegie is located in the heart of Rugby League country, these are impressive figures.
The old Leeds club had been in the Premiership for the five seasons 2001-02 to 2005-06 incl., but, on its return at the start of last season, found that standards and the intensity of the competition had risen. Leeds only won two matches and drew one in that season and relegation was the result.
Carnegie now has a very productive Rugby Academy from which no less than eight of the present First XV Squad are graduates. In spite of relegation the club has recruited well, with the most interesting new player being centre Henry Paul, who is a dual code international. Head Coach is the former England flanker Neil Back.
Leeds will be fired up knowing that, with Exeter right on the side’s tails, no further slip ups can occur again. The Yorkshiremen have been in the Premiership before and are determined not only to return at the first attempt, but to stay there.
Last Saturday, after the euphoria of winning the double-header against Exeter so convincingly and with Twickenham now on the horizon, Moseley fell to earth with a bump as the in form Doncaster Knights won 41-17. Although this pushed Moseley into the possible relegation zone behind both Esher and Rotherham, the club has games in hand.
Can Moseley win in spite of the considerable odds against? To do so, certain minimum conditions have to be met. Discipline needs to be far tighter than in the matches played so far this season, i.e. no red/yellow cards, a penalty count lower than the best so far achieved and, above all, any thoughts of Twickenham have to be banished.
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