1st XV Match Preview V Llanelli (h) Sat 13/10/2012 

Match Preview

by Glyn Barlow


This weekend there is a change of direction with the first round of the B&I Cup bringing Llanelli as our welcome visitors.


Many and varied are the views on the B&I Cup; from those who see it as an unnecessary distraction from the Championship to others who believe it is as a very pleasant opportunity to renew some long standing acquaintances with clubs outside England.


Indeed at Moseley we can look back 120 years to the first time the two clubs met at Llanelli. Three games were played during the 1890’s which were then followed, after a long break, with the commencement of regular fiercely competed games, during the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s.


The last time the two team met was in the 2009/10 B &I Cup, where it’s fair to say that, with the relegation playoffs only a couple of weeks away, Moseley’s attentions were elsewhere eventually losing an entertaining game 21 – 35. It’s an interesting indication of the changes at Moseley in the intervening three seasons in that the only players in the 22 in 2010 still in the squad are Neil Mason and Adam Caves.


Llanelli was formed in 1872 and has a history as illustrious as any in British Rugby. The club first moved to its home at Stradey Park in 1879, a ground that has seen many famous matches, none more so than when the Scarlets defeated the mighty 1972 All Blacks 9-3, immortalised by Max Boyce as the day the pubs ran dry. The club again proved to be the nemesis of touring teams in 1992 when Australia fell victim 13 – 9.


Llanelli has proved to be a rich source for legendary Welsh players over the years with Barry John, Ieuan Evans, Scott Quinell, JJ Williams, Phil Bennett and Ray Gravell being only a few of the 167 internationals who have passed through the club’s  ranks.


The world of rugby changed for Llanelli in 2003 when effectively the club became two teams. The regionalisation of rugby in Wales created the Llanelli Scarlets (taking with it most of the existing first team) with the remainder of Llanelli RFC remaining semi-professional and competing in the Welsh Premiership. It is the latter which are our visitors on Saturday.


The start of this season has proved to be one of mixed fortunes for Llanelli with four out of seven games being won to date and a current  sixth place in the league. Moseley will need to focus on nullifying the attacking potential of the likes of Winger Bowdy Davies who has scored three tries already this season and scrum half Justin James plus the physical presence of long serving lock Adam Powell and his second row partner Nathan White.


For Moseley this game will provide an opportunity to move on from the heavy defeat incurred against Newcastle Falcons last Saturday, not that in any way should the players should feel downhearted after the impressive effort put in. Newcastle had a full time squad, assembled to play Premiership level rugby, which proved the key difference between the teams.  A first half performance playing up the slope and with as much passion and commitment as any supporter could ask for, kept Moseley in the hunt.


Unfortunately as the second half wore on Newcastle’s heavier, more experienced forwards started to exert their influence, as was witnessed by all their tries coming from the pack. David Hilton must have been proud that his relatively young and inexperienced eight never gave up trying, right to the last whistle. Kevin Maggs will have shared in that feeling having seen the backs deny their Newcastle’s counterparts any way through to score with a superb defensive effort but it was unfortunate they were denied the opportunity of decent ball to show what they could really do in attack.


Whilst again this season the B&I Cup might not be the number one priority for the club it does provide a great opportunity to build upon the steadily improving performances to date. With two rounds to play before the Championship resumes the management has an opportunity to give further game time to some of the new playing combinations this season. The centre partnership of Charlie Hayter & Greg King has looked very good in the matches since Greg has returned from injury. Addison Lockley and Buster Lawrence have defied their young years to play with great maturity and optimise Kevin Maggs’ belief in picking players who want to play for the club, not just journeymen.


With the pressure of leagues off the shoulders of two teams who like to play open rugby, and a golden opportunity for Kevin to push further his attacking philosophy, we should be in line for a very entertaining game. Croeso i Billesley!