1st XV Match Preview V Bristol (a) Fri 28/09/2012 

Match Preview

by Glyn Barlow

 

Following the frustratingly narrow defeat to Plymouth last week the Moseley squad has the opportunity to take another step forward on Friday evening against Bristol in the another traditional fixture which has been going on for over a century (with one of two interruptions)..

 

This will, however, be a game where the challenge should not be underestimated. Bristol incurred a painful 31 – 50 loss to Leeds last weekend and will be determined to make amends for that performance especially in front of home supporters.  To their credit the Bristol players managed to score five tries in Yorkshire in an impressive second half comeback.

 

It hasn’t been the best start to the season for a team looking to challenge for Premiership status again. As well as the loss to Leeds, Bristol also fell to Newcastle on the opening weekend and sit four points and two places above Moseley at present.

 

Bristol Rugby Club was formed in 1888 when three local clubs decided to get together to represent the city. During its early years the club moved around a few locations until it found a long term home at the Memorial Ground. Unfortunately, in the late 1990’s,  as a result of financial difficulties ownership of the ground was lost to co tenants Bristol Rovers Football club.

 

However better times were just around the corner and the club entered the Premiership in 1999 where it remained until 2003 when the departure of the club’s owner resulted in relegation to National Division One. Two seasons of consolidation brought another promotion to  the Premiership which was to last four years until relegation again hit in 2009.

 

In the 2009 / 10 Championship season with the undoubted benefit of the PRL parachute payment, Bristol comfortably topped the regular season table (one of only three losses being against Moseley 30 - 25) but failed to secure promotion when Exeter won the two legged final. This was followed by a poor 2010/11 campaign when the club finished just one place above the relegation play off pool. But after a close season change in coaches, Bristol again returned to the top of the table in last season’s campaign. However the club again missed out on promotion losing to Cornish Pirates in the semi-finals. How Bristol supporters must hate the playoffs!

 

During the summer months there have been a number of changes to playing staff. One of the most significant was the departure of long time prop forward Mark Irish, to be replaced by Scottish International Kyle Traynor from Edinburgh. Further bolstering the Scottish contingent is Scotland A centre Bryan Rennie from Exeter. From further afield Samoan 7s player Alafoti Faosiliva joins the back row and Argentinian International Gaston Cortes takes on the number 3 jersey. The half back positions have also been boosted by the signing of experienced Leicester scrum half James Grindal and London Irish fly half Adrian Jarvis.

 

Familiar faces at Bristol will include Tristan Roberts who scored 144 points for Moseley in 2008/9 including 10 whilst appearing in the EDF National Trophy Final at Twickenham and Matthew Jones who made 11 appearances for the club in 2007/8.

 

On Friday the Moseley players must put the frustrations of the Plymouth game behind them and believe in their ability to win games. One of the key aspects is that the team must avoid leaving the pitch at the end of the game with unanswered “what ifs”. “What if” the ever reliable Ollie Thomas had had a normal (for him) kicking day, “what if” hands had held the ball with the line beckoning, “what if” the referee had seen one of the most not straight line out throws in a long time at Billesley which led directly to a Plymouth score.

 

At this level games are won and lost by small margins such as these, and “what ifs” must be left already answered on the field of play. Tighten up play a bit, don’t try to push things that are not on, and keep up defensive pressure for the full game and this team will start to get the all-important wins.

 

There were many positives to be seen on Saturday. The return of Greg King after injury, Buster Lawrence and Chaz Medic stepping up for their first starts and giving 100%, Ben Pienaar continuing to show why he is so highly rated and Sam Wilkes providing real forward thrust in the loose. Added to this we saw some sublime skills from Simon Hunt, showing his 7s pedigree, for a spectacular solo try. To cap it all Scotland Coach Andy Robinson was spotted at Billesley Common, no doubt there to check out Dave Hilton’s performance! (His son made an impression when he came on in the second half as well!)

 

Despite the loss, last Saturday should be viewed as another step forward in this new squad’s development. Let’s hope that on Friday all the effort being put in by the players results in a continuation of that.