THE BIG MATCH PREVIEW by Mike Pollak
Just as summer has belatedly made its appearance and the weather briefly warmed up it‟s the threshold of the new rugby season… No wonder Danny Boyle went for British quirkiness as a theme of his Olympic opening ceremony.
But one thing that never changes at this time of year is the anticipation and speculation about the team‟s prospects. Which new players will make their mark? Will the style of play be subtly changed because of the new players? How quickly will the team gel? All questions that have kept the supporters busy on the message board as they‟ve ticked off the days to the new season.
Speculation is particularly pertinent this year as many first team regulars from the recent past have moved on – such as former player of the year Chevvy Pennycook, captain Andy Reay and the record-breaking second row stalwart Richard Stott.
However, this also reflects that head coach Kevin Maggs has been fashioning a squad of his own choosing. Last year, his first in charge, he inherited most of the players. It will be fascinating to see whether a Maggs‟ styled team will enable him to further develop his strategy of playing an expansive game. Last season there was noticeably more emphasis on enterprising back play – much to the pleasure of the supporters.
There‟s every chance of even further development with the backs Maggs has recruited. Glyn Hughes showed immense promise last season when dual-registered with Northampton; he has a booming boot and is a reliable place kicker and will be challenging for a place at either fly half or full back.
On the wing Simon Hunt will need little introduction. The England 7s and former Birmingham & Solihull player is a real flier and has run in a hatful of tries for the Bees – many against Mose. The Moseley backs will have plenty of incentive to get the ball wide to Hunty to use his electric pace for Mose‟s benefit in future.
Centre / wing Charlie Hayter is another player who knows where the try line is; he joins from Worcester, having also been on loan to London Scottish, and has scored 25 tries in 44 starts in the Championship. He could form an explosive partnership with Greg King who was outstanding for Mose last season.
The forwards will be coached this season by 42-cap Scottish international David Hilton who has replaced last season‟s forward coach Craig West who has left to concentrate on business activities.
David will be honing a new pack from a raft of promising youngsters who will join experienced Mose forwards such as Adam Caves and Neil Mason, plus new second row forward, 33-year-old Mike Powell, who has an impressive cv that includes playing Heineken Cup and Magners League rugby, and 27-year-old hooker Sam Wilkes, who has played for Gloucester and England Counties.
On Saturday we will get the first indication about which players will be staking a claim for a regular first team place when the team visits Bedwas for a fixture that has become a regular pre-season friendly.
The Welsh Premier League club, which is located two miles north-east of Caerphilly, south Wales is sure to provide a competitive challenge for the Moseley team – last season Bedwas won 24-19 at Billesley Common.
The fixture will allow the coaches to ring the changes during the game as they try out various combinations in backs and forwards.
The match will be followed by two further friendlies – at home to Aberavon on Saturday, 18 August, and away to Northampton Saints on Thursday 23 August.
Those matches will provide ample incentives for players to try to catch the eye of the coaches and stake a claim to be in the starting line-up for the first Championship match away to Bedford on September 1.
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