The 1978/79 season saw Moseley reach a Twickenham cup final for the second time. The competition was now known as the John Player Cup and Leicester, appearing in their second successive final were the opposition. In the previous season’s final Gloucester had defeated Leicester 6-3.
Moseley’s first round opponents were Liverpool who were beaten 22-13 at The Reddings. That victory earned the side a tricky away fixture at London Irish, which was won 10-0. Passage out of the third round was less taxing as Richmond were defeated 27-3 at The Reddings. The semi-final draw paired Moseley with two time winners Gosforth in Newcastle. At that stage no side had ever beaten Gosforth in a home cup-tie, however, a Chris Gifford try converted by Richard Akenhead gave Moseley a 6-3 victory.
Leicester’s route to the final was more straightforward with home victories over Northampton (29-3) and Broughton Park (30-7) in the first two rounds, a closer away win over Bedford (22-12) and then a semi-final trouncing of Wasps (43-7).
The appearance of two Midland teams in the cup final was a reflection of the strength of the game in the area at the time. The Twickenham crowd that witnessed the game on a cold and windy day numbered 18,000. The final was reckoned to be the best that the competition had so far produced in its eight-year history as it proved to be an immensely exciting game with the outcome uncertain right up until the final whistle. There was also much interest in the fly-half duel between Martin Cooper and Les Cusworth. The latter had formerly played for Moseley but had joined Leicester when Cooper prevented him from making regular appearances in his preferred position at number ten.
The first score of the match came in the eighth minute when ‘Dusty’ Hare dropped a 40-metre goal from a tapped free kick for Leicester. Moseley scored the first try. Gifford made a blindside break from a scrum just inside his own half and then passed to left-wing Bob Laird still 40 metres from the Leicester line. Laird handed off one defender and out sprinted all of his other pursuers to touch down. Akenhead converted and before half-time Martin Cooper dropped a long-range goal to give Moseley a 9-3 lead at the interval. After 30 minutes centre Barrie Corless had left the field injured, however, unlike the 1972 final, replacements were now allowed and Andy Watson-Jones came onto the field.
Soon after the break Akenhead increased Moseley’s lead with a 45-metre penalty goal, however, Leicester then mounted a dramatic comeback. Hare kicked another penalty before Akenhead missed a difficult attempt. Another Hare penalty made the score 12-9 to Moseley. After 50 minutes another injured Moseley player, Derek Nutt, was forced to leave the field and Steve King replaced him. In the final twenty minutes Moseley looked to be in trouble in the scrum no doubt due to the loss of pack leader Nutt. Throughout the game Moseley dominated the lineouts, however, as the final whistle approached Leicester were gaining lots of possession from other areas. Then five minutes from time Steve Kenny, the Leicester scrumhalf burst over the line from a five-metre scrum and Hare converted. This proved to be the last score of the match and the Tigers were victorious by 15 points to 12 in the first of their three successive cup wins.
The teams were-
Leicester: W.H. Hare; M. Newton, T. Burwell, P.W. Dodge, R.C. Barnwell; L. Cusworth, S. Kenney; S.P. Redfern, P.J. Wheeler (capt.), R.J. Cowling, N.J. Joyce, A.G. Hazelrigg, S.R. Johnson, I. Smith, G.J. Adey.
Moseley: R. Akenhead; A. Thomas, M.K. Swain, B.J. Corless, R. Laird; M.J. Cooper (capt.), C.J. Gifford; K.J. Astley, G.N.J. Cox, W.H. Greaves, R. Field, B. Ayre, N.C. Jeavons, J.D. Beale, D.R. Nutt. Replacements-A. Watson-Jones for B.J. Corless, S. King for D.R. Nutt.
Referee: A. Welsby.
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