1st XV Match Preview V Plymouth Albion (a) Sat 26/01/2013 

Match Preview - by Glyn Barlow

 

This weekend Moseley make the trip south to resume their Championship campaign against Plymouth Albion, and perhaps the sooner we can start looking forward to this game and not back on the last one the better.

 

What caused the wheels to come of the B&I cup challenge so badly, it’s hard to say. Was it the number of changes in the team since the win over London Scottish, as the coaches kept one eye on the Plymouth fixture? Was it the lack of being able to train due to the snow disruptions? Was it an underestimation of the opposition after Moseley had comfortably beaten them at Billesley? Certainly a large part of it is that Llanelli are a good team who play some incisive attacking rugby.

 

Whatever the reasons, and you can be sure the squad has dissected them in great detail this week, the cup is history and all that matters now is the league (as it always did). Let’s be honest it would have been good to have picked up £10,000 for progressing to the quarter finals but that pails into insignificance compared to the loss of over £300,000 for getting it wrong in the league. Perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise that the only focus the team now has is their Championship position.

 

And just to remind you they stand in tenth place currently, two (and seven points) behind Saturday’s opponents Plymouth. To say the two teams know each other well would be an understatement. In the preceding four seasons the teams have met thirteen times, with Moseley winning seven, Plymouth five and one being drawn. Games between the two have been characterised by either being close fought affairs or one team running up a significant advantage. Let’s hope Moseley opt for the latter this week.

 

In addition they have already met at Billesley this season when defensive errors cost Moseley dearly ending the game on the wrong side of the 22 – 24 score line. Thorn in Moseley’s side that day was back row forward Sam Hocking who scored two tries. He has proved that was no fluke by currently standing seventh in the Championship try scoring table.

 

Since the Billesley encounter Albion have agreed a dual registration agreement with Exeter to bring Prop forward Alex Brown into the squad along with 6’ 10” second row Will Carrick-Smith. Plymouth have also taken the opportunity during the cup campaign to try out England U20 prop Luke Cowen-Dickie in the role of hooker.

 

Recent months have proved interesting for Plymouth having found themselves subject to a suspended five point deduction following a mass brawl in a game against Bristol. They again had a match come to the attention of the RFU when their game on the newly laid pitch at Leeds Carnegie was amazingly reduced to uncontested scrums within 13 minutes due to the state of the pitch. Leeds, who won the fixture 34 – 16, have been instructed to replay the game so Albion will have another bite at the cherry.

 

Plymouth will be keen to get back to winning ways in the Championship having lost their last four matches since beating London Scottish 24 – 20 (Including the Leeds non-game), indeed this contrasts somewhat with the start of their season when they won four of their first five games.

 

For Moseley one of the few positives to come out of last weekend was that Mike Powell started his first full game since September. In a strange case of symmetry the next Championship game Mike would have played, had he not been injured, was against Plymouth, so things come full circle as he picks up where he left off.

 

Powell’s re-introduction into the pack along with the recent signing of Ben Evans will boost the experience of the forwards considerably against a team who have always prided themselves in providing a tough challenge up front. If they can get back to the sort of performances they delivered against Scottish and Jersey its then over to the backs to step up a gear or two. We still wait in hope for Simon Hunt to suddenly burst into action and do unto others what he so regularly did to Moseley.

 

Let us hope last week was a blip in the resurgent approach of the team in 2013 and that they can maintain a 100% Championship record for the year.