1st XV Match Preview V Plymouth Albion (h) Sat 22/09/2012 

 

The Big Match Preview

- by Glyn Barlow

 

The 1st XV, and the large travelling Moseley contingent, return to Billesley Common this week after a successful trip “abroad” bringing back not just a few souvenirs but the all-important first win of the Championship season.

 

Saturday’s win over Jersey represents another step in the progress of the new look Moseley squad. The harsh experience of the opening weekend’s game against Bedford was followed by a better performance against Nottingham which was improved again in the Channel Islands.

 

This weekend, however, the players will need to up their game once more for the visit of a Plymouth Albion team whose confidence must also be on a high following an impressive 32 – 31 victory over Leeds.

 

The present Plymouth Albion can trace its history back to 1876 when a group of Royal Navy apprentices from the local Devonport Dockyards came together to play rugby. In 1915 Plymouth RFC and Devonport Albion merged to form Plymouth Albion.  Following a number of ground moves the club finally settled at Brickfields in 2003.

 

The club’s recent history since the advent of leagues has been one of ups and downs. From holding a place in Division 2 during the early 1990’s the club slipped down to a point where, at the end of the 1998/99 season, it looked like disappearing from the National Leagues altogether.

 

Former England hooker Graham Dawe then took on the role of Chairman of Rugby and the challenge of returning the club to its former position in English rugby. He, and the team, rose to this challenge quickly achieving promotion to National 1 in 2001/2. Like Moseley the team has successfully fought off the spectre of relegation during the last two seasons play-offs.

 

This season new Head Coach Nat Saumi has brought in a number of new faces to the squad. The latest in a line of Canadian players to join Plymouth is International lock Brett Beukeboom from Ontario. He will be playing alongside fellow new signings full back Louis Messer from Cardiff, flanker Sam Matavisi from Racing Metro, Cornish Pirates favourite Rhodri McAtee on the wing, Leicester Academy player Tom Bowen and Fijian International 2nd row Rupeni Nasiga.

 

The dual registration agreement with Exeter has also facilitated Tom & Luke Cowan-Dickie, Henry Slade, Jack Arnott and Lloyd Fairbrother, who made four appearances on loan at Prop for Moseley last season, joining the Brickfields club.

 

Moseley and Plymouth will be very familiar with each other having met eleven times in the last three seasons. Moseley won six, Plymouth four and one game was drawn.

 

Last season’s results were:

 

Wed 21st Sept

B&I Cup

Moseley

29 – 25

Plymouth

Fri 28th Oct

Championship

Plymouth

21 – 20

Moseley

Fri 27th Jan

Championship

Moseley

9 – 3

Plymouth

Fri 9th Mar

Play offs

Moseley

25 – 17

Plymouth

Sat 21st April

Play offs

Plymouth

54 – 24

Moseley

 

If this familiarity was not enough, Albion centre Bevon Armitage also played for Moseley in 2011 and Moseley 2nd row Addison Lockley appeared for Plymouth last season on dual registration from Exeter.

 

Moseley will be looking for the forwards to put in another hard working shift against an Albion pack not used to taking a step backwards. With Ben Pons playing some of the best rugby of his 1st XV career Moseley will need to disrupt opposition possession and curtail the successful expansive game which has been a feature of the West Countrymen’s opening games. A similar effort needs to be made in securing phase one possession from the scrum and lineout.

 

If enough good ball passes quickly through the scrum half’s hands, the home team’s backs must be confident in their ability to cause Albion problems in defence.  In Jersey Charlie Hayter set an example in the Moseley backline with three tries, and you would expect that this is a gauntlet the likes of Simon Hunt will happily pick up.

 

With Billy Robinson also putting in a good performance in the centre, Greg King hopefully nearing match fitness and Brad Hunt challenging strongly to get his starting wing position back, there will be significant firepower waiting to be unleashed across the whole Moseley backline.

 

Moseley and Plymouth have been playing in entertaining styles this season and with the stated objective of both clubs being to finish mid table, Saturday’s game should certainly be a fiercely contested and exciting encounter.