1st XV Match Preview V Gala (a) Sat 08/12/2012 

Match Preview - by Glyn Barlow

Saturday 8st December 2012

3.00pm @ Netherdale


Saturday sees a rare trip north of Hadrian’s Wall as Moseley travel to Galashiels in the Scottish Borders. The re-commencement of British & Irish Cup fixtures may provide a welcome relief to the team from the rigours of Championship rugby. And what a tough time it has been in recent weeks, not least with last Saturdays toll on the bodies of the players.


We always knew Rotherham would provide a big, physical challenge but nobody envisaged losing both centres within 50 minutes and to end the game minus both locks, having at one point to press a hooker into second row duties! Add to that injuries to both number eights on the clubs books and it was a very costly day indeed.


And what of the game? Credit must be given to the team for showing considerable character in continuing to put pressure on the Titans right to the end, despite the considerable disruptions to the team composition they could have won it. Disruption seemed to be the theme of the game as Rotherham continually pushed the boundaries of the law at breakdowns, leading to the award of sixteen penalties, which could have been many more from what was quite frankly a fairly disinterested refereeing input. Let’s be honest ex Billesley player Dan Sanderson spent more time on the Moseley side of the breakdown than he ever did when he played for us.


Unfortunately a sub-standard lineout meant that Moseley were unable to capitalise on Rotherham’s transgressions, and this along with occasional lapses of concentration was the undoing of all the endeavour and hard work in other aspects of the game.


Yet again this seemed more like a game Moseley lost, rather than the opposition won. Eliminating such lapses, getting the set piece right and quite probably re-learning how to enjoy playing rugby again should be the focus of the next couple of weeks.


It is probably fortunate then that we now come to the B&I cup. Not that we should decry the competition as Moseley currently sit top of Pool 6 with a maximum 10 points, and any progress will be most welcome both in morale and financial terms. It is however the opportunity these two weeks give to re-fire the Moseley game that will be of most value.


Without the pressure of league position on them the team can look to go out and work on adapting their style of play to suit challenges they will face over the next few months. Gala will provide a tough opposition, which is just what Moseley need as they find the ways to close out opposition attacks, and if necessary adapt the game that plays out in front of them to put themselves in try scoring chances. In addition it provides a chance to get the walking (limping?) wounded repaired, and for some of those players on the fringes of the match day squad the chance to stand out and prove that the coaches were right to bring them to Moseley.


Gala Rugby Football Club was formed in 1876 and moved to Netherdale in 1912, having won the borders league for the first time in 1906 and appeared in the final of the first ever, world famous, Melrose sevens. The club completed a move to the current ground in Netherdale in 1961.


Among the 44 internationals the club has produced the early seventies saw Gala contribute six players to the Scotland team including Number 8 and Scotland Captain Peter Brown. Other notable Gala internationals include 32 cap back row David Leslie, 82 cap and British & Irish Lion Gregor Townsend and two time Scotland World Cup Number 8 Derek White.


In 1995 Gala became one of the eight teams who formed the new Scottish Premier league, however tough times saw the club relegated from Division II in 2007. The club won promotion back into Premier 1 in 2011, where they currently stand in second place, having won 10 of their 12 matches to date.


In Gala’s two B&I cup fixtures to date they have lost to Llanelli 38 – 28 and beaten London Scottish 27 – 23. If Moseley are to win in the Borders they will need to ensure they do not give prolific goal kicker Lee Miller any opportunities at goal. They will also need to contain the try scoring talents of winger Craig Robertson and Scotland U17 back row Euan Dods. South Sea Islands physicality will be delivered in the large form of 48 cap Samoan back row, and Gala captain, Opeta Palepoi.


We of course have the intriguing prospect of welcoming Gala to Billesley Common on the following weekend for a back to back fixture. It will be interesting to see how both teams approach Saturday’s game knowing they will need to potentially have a different game plan in their pockets for the following week to outwit their opponents.


Let’s hope the team come off the pitch on Saturday with a smile on their faces and a W on the score sheet.