by Joe Heaton

Newbury Blues v Moseley, at  Monks Lane, Newbury , National League Division 1,
Saturday, Setember 6th 2008, k.o. 3.00 pm


Newbury Rugby Club plays at Monks Lane , in the prosperous Berkshire town of the same name. However the surrounding wealth does not mean that the Blues are immune from the financial problems and sudden budget cut-backs which are becoming a feature in National League One in this ultra competitive era. In the close season it has not only been Coventry , but Newbury, which has come close to extinction, saved only by the most drastic financial action.

In Newbury’s case the necessary budget restrictions caused a mass exodus of players at the end of last season, in the run-up to which the club lost eight of its last nine games and narrowly avoided relegation. It is thus not surprising that the pundits and bookmakers have made the Blues favourites for relegation, especially as little is known at present about the players in a virtually new 1st XV Squad. Andy Reay, who has returned to Moseley, may be able, however, to help the coaches in this respect, as he spent last season at Newbury

On the face of it Moseley should be confident about getting some return from the game as Newbury’s morale will not have been improved by losing away 48-5 to Cornish Pirates last Saturday. All followers of rugby know, however, that life is not like that and the Moseley players will have to be at their most committed and disciplined if they are to bring the points home. In a desperately competitive League every point earned will be beyond price. The probable return from injury of Captain Neil Mason should help.

The steady increase in National League One of the number of fully professional teams, from which Moseley would only expect to beat by playing exceptional well, means that the majority of points and bonus points will have to be garnered from the semi-professional sides such as Newbury. This is another factor that influences the importance of this match.

Moseley’s performance at home last Saturday, losing against London Welsh 9-15, drew mixed reviews. So much was promising for the future, and the team did just enough to win but at this level you cannot make two crass errors and expect to get away with them.

The first ever game between Moseley and Newbury took place in season 2003-04 after Moseley had been relegated from National League One. Moseley won a close game at Bournbrook but the Blues had their revenge at Monks Lane scoring seven tries in a convincing victory. In the four seasons since then, the results between the two clubs have been variable and unpredictable. Let us hope that the expectations for this match, of a Moseley win, are for once valid.


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