1st XV Match Preview V Llanelli (a) Sun 20/01/2013 

Match Preview by Glyn Barlow

Sunday 20th January 2013

2.30pm @ Parc Y Scarlets

 

Last weekend’s results in the British & Irish Cup have ensured we are in for a grandstand finish in Pool 6 with both Moseley and Llanelli winning their respective games. By the fact that Llanelli secured a winning bonus point at Gala means that they are now within striking distance of Moseley. So all to play for.

 

Pool 6

Team

P

W

D

L

F

A

Diff

B Pts

Pts

Adjust

Moseley

5

4

0

1

117

106

11

3

19

0

Llanelli

5

3

0

2

144

131

13

2

14

0

Gala

5

2

0

3

106

121

-15

2

10

0

London Scottish

5

1

0

4

119

128

-9

4

8

0

 

Let’s get the possible outcomes out of the way before pondering on the game itself.

 

Llanelli now stand five points behind Moseley in the pool so to draw level they need a bonus point victory on Sunday while denying Moseley a losing or 4 try bonus point. If Llanelli achieve this they will go through on superior match points difference (all of 2 points!). We should therefore be guaranteed an exciting encounter with Llanelli bound to be going all out in attack. For Moseley any point will do.

 

Firstly can Llanelli secure the required five points? Well any team who can travel from West Wales to Scotland and run in four tries against a team who had only conceded four tries at home in the cup prior to then clearly has the required firepower. Indeed Llanelli have scored 16 tries in their campaign to date putting them eleventh overall in the cup try scoring stakes.

 

Can Moseley stop them? Based on the last few games it’s distinctly possible. One of the impressive features of last week’s game against London Scottish was the fact that it never looked likely that Moseley would allow the exiles to cross the try line. If we discount a 10 minute lapse of concentration at the end of the Jersey game Moseley’s last three matches has saw a steely determination combined with effective coordination of the defensive lines.

 

One factor that allowed Moseley to dominate Scottish was the game management that saw the Londoners forced to try to mount offensives from deep within their own territory. Last week at Gala Llanelli scored three of their four tries via the back row capitalising on some loose play and errors. If Moseley can replicate the performance of last week they should be able to force Llanelli on the back foot and frustrate their try scoring opportunities.

 

Of course Moseley will not be going on the pitch with just defence on their mind. As Prussian General Karl von Clausewitz is attributed as saying, the best form of defence is attack and Moseley seems to have remembered how to do that. Two of the best tries we have seen scored at Billesley Common have been in the last two games. Both finished by Charlie Hayter following some excellent work by fellow backs to create the space for him to score from long range. Its efforts like these which will give the backline confidence to look for the half gap and go for it, knowing that support will be on hand. Of course the other backs won’t want to let Charlie have all the fun so Sunday would be the ideal time for the likes of Simon Hunt (who has been very quiet of late by his standards) to remind us all of their finishing skills.

 

In fairness no amount of flair in the backs will be of any use without the ball to run with and its credit to the pack that they are now delivering the goods. Against London Scottish the lineout was the best we have seen all season, the influence of Ben Evans was again evident at scrum time and the workload around the park was of the highest level. Clearly nobody has told Ethan Waller that in loose play he isn’t one of the back row, so impressive was he around the park. Coupled with the fact Ollie Robinson must be on Duracell (what a luxury the coaches have to pick between him and Ben Pons for the No7 jersey) meant that Moseley could harass the opposition at the breakdown while continually causing problems around the fringes in attack.

 

The icing on the cake was the return of Mike Powell into the second row after such a long injury layoff. His physical presence and experience can only drive the forward improvements even quicker.

 

The added incentive for Moseley to go all out for the win on Sunday is the potential for a home Quarter Final fixture (the home team keeps the entire gate receipts in the QF’s). To achieve this we need one of Pirates, Bristol or Llandovery to suffer a loss and both Leinster A and Munster A to pick up less points than Moseley. While these combinations are too much to worry about at present five points come 5.00pm on Sunday won’t go amiss.

 

Can Moseley do it? Absolutely, let’s just put last week’s result in perspective. Moseley won convincingly against the team who beat third placed Championship contenders Bedford 26 – 23 the previous week and who, just prior to Christmas, had gone to runaway league leaders Newcastle and only lost by 3 points. The fact that Scottish also fielded as strong a team as possible shows how seriously they were approaching the game and gives Moseley a good measure as to how far the team has progressed in recent weeks.

 

Llanelli and Moseley have already met in the Cup at Billesley this season where Moseley were victorious 36 – 26, when a rather youthful Llanelli pack failed to measure up to Moseley conceding two penalty tries. You can be certain it is a more battle hardened set of forwards waiting in Carmarthenshire this Sunday looking to gain revenge.

 

The two teams have played each other in the B&I cup at Parc Y Scarlets before, during the 2009/10 season when Llanelli won 35 – 21, The  team that day contained internationals Travis Knoyle at scrum half, prop Rhys Thomas, locks Vernon Cooper and Aaron Schingler plus (future) England No 8 Ben Morgan. This season Llanelli have looked to the likes of back rows Stuart Leech & Craig Price and Captain Craig Hawkins to deliver results without calling so heavily on established Scarlet’s loan players.

 

Based on the results of these last two encounters we should be in for a very high scoring, entertaining game on Sunday, and hopefully with it progress to the next round of the cup.