Match Preview - by Glyn Barlow
Following the hard fought win at Plymouth, and a week of rest for weary bodies, the Championship recommences with the visit of Bristol to Billesley Common, a venue which has proved to not be a happy hunting ground for the men from the West Country in recent seasons.
Indeed Bristol have yet to win a game at the Common having lost last season 33 – 27, in a real fireworks display for the 5th November clash, drew 13 – 13 in 2010 and lost 30 – 25 in their first season of relegation from the Premiership. Adding a 21 – 22 win at the Memorial Stadium earlier this season and an away cup win in 2011 sees Moseley with an impressive five wins, one draw and three losses record over the last four seasons against a team with considerably more resources to call on.
This season Bristol are making a strong play for a top four finish and a place in the playoffs. Currently sitting fifth just two points behind Leeds, who they defeated 12 – 9 at the end of January, Bristol have struggled to replicate their home form on the road having only won two of their six fixtures to date (at Doncaster and Plymouth). That coupled with a desire to gain revenge for Moseley’s victory earlier in the season will ensure that they are totally focussed on securing a positive result.
For this visit Bristol will be without Captain Iain Grieve who is currently out with a torn bicep. What is it with Captains and bicep injuries? At least for Moseley Captain Mike Powell is firmly back in the harness and starting to show why he was brought to Billesley.
It is, however, the players who will be in the Bristol team that Moseley need to concern themselves with, none more so than former Falcons centre Luke Eaves who has bagged five tries already this season along with Winger George Watkins, with four to his name.
When it comes to the kicking of points a familiar face to Moseley supporters will be Tristan Roberts who scored 144 points for Moseley in the 2008/9 season including two conversions and two penalties in Moseley’s EDF Cup Final win at Twickenham. This season Tristan has shared the kicking duties with England Saxons fly half Adrian Jarvis who re-joined Bristol from London Irish during the summer. If one ex-Moseley fly half was not enough Bristol’s ranks also include former Wales and Moseley fly half Matthew Jones.
Other notable players in Bristol’s squad this season include Argentinian internationals tight head prop Gaston Cortes and second row Mariano Sambucetti, Samoan internationals No8 Alafoti Faosiliva and centre Fautua Otto, New Zealand Maori scrum half Ruki Tipuna and Fijian World Cup winger Mike Tagicakibau (good luck with that little lot on the PA system Lee!).
Of course Bristol will be no strangers to the Moseley coaching team of Kevin Maggs and Dave Hilton both having played for the club for a number of seasons. Aside from the coaches Simon Hunt, Sam Wilkes and Chaz Meddick have all had time in the blue and white shirt.
So what of Moseley this week, well they will be looking to build on the form they have found in 2013 which has so far delivered three out of four wins. The week before last’s result at Plymouth, while lacking tries, was a clear testament to the team’s determination to secure an away win at Brickfields for the first time in three seasons.
One of the most impressive aspects of Moseley’s performance was their rock solid defence. The team needs to maintain this discipline and re-find the attacking form which saw Glyn Hughes carve up the Bristol line earlier in the season and we could see the team pull further away from bottom place Doncaster who face a tough trip to Cornish Pirates on Sunday and Jersey who play in form Bedford at Goldington Road. With London Scottish facing second placed Nottingham and Plymouth away to Rotherham there is also a definite opportunity for Moseley to gain momentum for a late charge up the table.
With an almost full squad to choose from, the addition of Sam Dickinson and Scott Armstrong, plus the welcome return to red and black of Tom Warren the future is looking bright; let’s hope Moseley light up the Common this weekend.
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